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cheap fins or expensive

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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B

brando

New Member
Aug 21, 2006
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I have never spent any money on a decent set of fins and my question is are they worth it? I guess my real question is how much exta time or distance do they give you on say a 30m dive. I have owed a few pairs of no frills esclapez and picasso freediving fins with full foot pocket and have been very happy with them, they are hard wearing and work. I do a bit of pool training on average just 1 hr a week but mostly get practice when actually out there spearing. Should i upgrade my fins or train harder?

Thanks for any wisdom.

Brando
 
hteas

hteas

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
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I held off for a long time before going to fiberglass blades in stiff Omer footpockets, but really like them. I have a pair of modified Picasso Black Teams (thinner and shorter) and when I went to SpecialFins medium Blue Water Specials I really did get to the bottom at 50 ft for spearfishing faster and easier. One day I tried both. There was just no comparison.

The other part of it is the softer medium blades worked a lot better than stiffer blades for me. I can't separate effect of the softer blades from the fiberglass. I don't know any divers who have gone back to plastic after using fiberglass or carbon fiber, so that may be a pretty good recommendation.

have you read the stuff on Deeperblue about blade performance? Here is one review of the blades.


Plastic vs Fiber Fins: Another View by Sven Anderson on DeeperBlue.net - Fanatical About FreeDiving, Scuba Diving, Spearfishing & Technical Diving
 
Erik

Erik

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
4,731
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Your fins are fine, but an upgrade will improve your experience in the water. If you had an opportunity to try both in succession, you would feel a noticeable difference (you would feel you were doing much less work in the upgraded fins), and would not likely return to the plastic fins.
 
M

Mullins

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2004
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I've used (and still have) C4 carbons and Matrix fibreglass blades. I now use Cressi 3000LD plastics because I've found I get minimal performance benefit from carbon/glass. They do feel more 'springy' but that doesn't necessarily translate to better performance. After a day of testing a number of fins in relatively controlled conditions (repeat 30m dives on a line) and graphing the dive profiles, I found all fins of the same stiffness produced nearly identical graphs regardless of what material they were made of. My subjective 'tiredness level' at the end of the dive was also the same, as far as that can be measured.

I know there would more statistically sound ways of testing fin efficiency. However this is the best I could realistically do, and it was enough to convince me that there was no need to go past the Cressis.

I seem to be doing this a lot lately, dropping into threads and being all contentious. Oh well...

Note: I tested each fin twice (not back-to-back!) and averaged the results, which were practically identical anyway. In the future I would like to do a more comprehensive, blind test that includes monofins, and maybe even some way of restricting kicking cadence and amplitude to get things consistent.

20070429_003112_Taupo_Fin_Test_.jpg


All the fins were within 1s of each other (1:17 - 1:18) with the exception of the C430s and Mustang 30s which were slower (the colours can be hard to distinguish, sorry). I gave these ones another go just to make sure - same result. Bit stiff for me I think.
 
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flying_spanner

flying_spanner

Gravity Is Optional
Sep 20, 2007
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While on the last No Bubbles course in Wellington, Fran Rose was kind enough to let me have a try at a few dynamic's wearing a pair of her Gary Fisher Power Fins. At the time I hated them and they felt like they were going to tear my feet off at the ankles.

While on the course still unsure as to what fins I should be looking to buy I looked at what fins that Dave, Kerryn, Kathryn, Paul & Fran were using on the course while they were coaching us students.

Fran and Paul use the Gary Fishers, Katheryn was wearing a nice pair of C4 Carbon's, where as Kerryn and Dave were using plastic blades (Omer Millenium Ice, and Cressi 300D respectivly)

I thought to myself that If those two guys are happy with plastic blades seeing as they can both swim Dynamic's over 200 meter's then that's good enough for me.

I have just recently purchased a pair of Immersion Esclapez Greens and find that there is no comparison between these and the old Dacor scuba fins I was using previously. I'm quite happy with "cheap" plastic blades for now.

But who knows, maybe when these fins are getting stuffed I may look at the Fisher's again....... and so it goes on.
 
chrismar

chrismar

Well-Known Member
Aug 15, 2007
740
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Probably more important than what you get is how stiff they are. I've used: Escalpez greens, Omer Milleniums, Gary Fisher powerblades, C4 flaps and C4 falcon 30s. Here are my (extremely subjective and personal) opinions:

The omers were too stiff for me and didn't give much return for my efforts. I suspect that this was because if I kicked hard enough to bend them enough, I was wasting too much energy. If I didn't kick enough, I just didn't go anywhere.

The Escalpez were/are good. Subjectively they didn't have much grunt or power transfer, but they served well. I may have to do a more subjective test sometime, like Dave's Taupo effort.

The powerblades (long fibreglass, soft-medium for those that don't know) were good, though too long for some situations. Mine had a manufacturing fault, so they're on the floor right now, cracked through where they meet the footpocket. Getting replaced shortly.

C4 flaps are soft almost to the point of stupidity. These are the only ones I haven't tried in the ocean, so I can only comment so much on them. Very efficient, but you've probably guessed I favour soft fins.

Falcon 30s are what I'm borrowing at the moment and are the pick of the litter as far as I'm concerned. They handle current better than any of the others and for me are probably just right in terms of stiffness. Depth feels comfortable and turning is a lot easier than in the Fishers.

If i was only swimming in the pool or freediving with little or no current, I'd take the flaps. For general use, falcon 30s are the pick and for price, the escalpez greens are great value. Gary's fins lose to the carbons, but they're still good. Milleniums can suck a tailpipe.

Me: 6', 78kg, good fitness. My brother (5'9", 90kg, strong but not fit) liked the milleniums.
 
J

jome

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2004
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I would second Dave (of who's posts I'm quickly becoming a fan of). I haven't done such mesurements but from experience I would claim the following.

Far more important than material or price is the correct fit and stiffness - this goes for mono's as well as bi fins.

Fins may well "feel" different, but as far as actual performance, at least for me, pretty much any decent fin will get pretty close to the same result. The differences are really marginal compared to for example correcting your technique by choosing a correct stiffness or being able to wear your fin for more than 5 minutes without agony.

With cheaper fins you have the freedom of trying out more combinations of stiffness/fit. It's pretty much impossible to say what's the idal combo, because it is completely individual and what's more, keeps changing with your experience level. So better try a few combos for a while (trying a pair once or twice doesn't really tell anything).Once you find yours, then maybe buy those $500 fins...? Generally for beginners it is safer to start with too soft rather than too hard. Even though the opposite seems to be what beginners usually think (Better get "stiff enough" so I don't run out of power!") :)

My next bi-fins will be made of plastic and relatively soft. Mainly because I would use them for (non-competitive) spearing, recreational freediving or photography, so I don't need every % of performance, at least as a compromise to comfort in long surface swims and long sessions and the fact that I don't have to worry about hitting a few rocks or splitting the fin with a sideways motion...If the purpose was competitive dynamics or CW with bi-fins at world class level, it'd of course be a little different - but not much.
 
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Old Man Dave

Old Man Dave

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Feb 19, 2005
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Ifiberglass. I don't know any divers who have gone back to plastic after using fiberglass or carbon fiber, so that may be a pretty good recommendation

I've given GRP and carbon blades a good testing but have returned to my Omer Ice 3's plastic blades for the type of diving I do.

I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here. It depends on your physique and type of diving. The best answer (the only answer) is to borrow some different fins/blades and give them a go, then make up your own mind.

Dave
 
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B

brando

New Member
Aug 21, 2006
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Thanks for all the advice. The feedback has been most helpful. I am a little cynical of what the magazines say as it obviously in their interest to keep their sponsors sweet. I will stick happily to my cheap plastics that fit like a glove. Good vis and happy days to all.
 
P

Pastor

Supporter
Supporter
Mar 17, 2004
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Well I have to say this has been a bit of an eye opener. While I would have always agree with Old Man Dave's post for UK spearing in general DM's graph is a bit of a stunner for slightly deeper diving! Anyone else back that up?
 
spaghetti

spaghetti

Campari Survivor
May 31, 2005
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Well I have to say this has been a bit of an eye opener. While I would have always agree with Old Man Dave's post for UK spearing in general DM's graph is a bit of a stunner for slightly deeper diving! Anyone else back that up?

Mullins is Mullins: a champion at the world's top of preparedeness, technique and fitness. I have doubt that his graph may apply to us humans.
 
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Fondueset

Fondueset

Carp Whisperer
Jul 27, 2004
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Spaghetti, you resemble the very handsome coral; hexagonaria!

I have not used any fancy carbon bi-fins - and generally have little patience for bi-fins. Since I discovered monofins I use mine for all diving. I have tried Cressi Garas, sporasub HDs, Omer ice and millenium runners. Of these the ice fins are the most comfortable (I have hundreds of hours on mine) - The millenium runners kick exactly like the ice fins but with a tad over twice the stiffness. Both have a very smooth return and are really nice to swim with - the runners feel better coming off the bottom in deeper water. The sporas foot pockets are a bit sloshy for me - and the rounded blade tends to side-slip. The Cressis are wonderful, but the pocket sizes don't quite hit it for my feet.

I like the polymer in the omers (runner and ice)- it has a very nice even return which makes the fins really enjoyable to swim with. I'd go with comfortable foot pockets first and foremost. I think the Cressis stand out as a very good value.
 
J

jome

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2004
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Mullins is Mullins: a champion at the world's top of preparedeness, technique and fitness. I have doubt that his graph may apply to us humans.

On the contrary, that is makes the experiment interesting. With all the attributes you mention, you can expect consistency from him. With a less experienced diver such an experiment would be useless, since ever dive would be different even with the same equipment :)

Although I do wonder. Maybe a diver such as Dave is so used to going his normal speed that he will subconsiously adjust his kick cycle to keep the dive time and speed constant? Hard to say what the absolute true conclusion is. But I do think it is safe to say that there is no huge difference.
 
M

Mullins

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2004
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Yes, that was the big problem. I could never be entirely sure I wasn't compensating for above or below average fin performance in order to maintain my usual speed. The only way of judging this was how tired I felt after the dives. I couldn't tell any difference, but then the difference after only 30m would have been slight anyway. Any thoughts how I could control effort input? One way might be to cover all exposed skin so that I couldn't feel how fast I was going and close my eyes or dive with my back to the line. I never count kicks but that might also be a good idea when doing these tests. Increasing the depth would probably help - it would be more difficult to compensate on a 50m dive without feeling the effects somewhat. However I'd like to include more fins and 20 back-to-back 50m bifin dives would make me very fatigued, which would skew the results. I'm not even sure I could complete a test like that. It would also be asking for a DCS hit!

Another way might be to do a monofin dive after each bifin dive, to 'reset' my perception of speed.

It was interesting that the two shortest, stiffest fins in the test were also the slowest. I really got the impression I was going quite fast with the C4 30s, but the graphs showed otherwise. It kind of demonstrates that the 'feeling' of a fin can be very misleading with regards to its actual performance.

This is how the graph looks when you take away those two C4s (the 80s are still in the mix and their acceleration is just as good as the other fins'). Absolutely nothing in it:

20070429_013845_Selection.jpg
 
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azapa

azapa

51% freediver 49% spearo
Jan 31, 2007
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I think the green imersion Escalpez fins are great and very cheap too. Hard not to love 'em. I have managed to buy 4 pairs of fins, (Omer black runners, Cressi 3000ld, beuchat mundiales) and still go back to using these most days.
I am 5,10, 65Kg, strong legs, skinny body, dive in 15deg C water with 7mm suit to about 30m on a good day. Sounds like internet dating?
 
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OceanMan

OceanMan

Well-Known Member
Feb 22, 2005
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I am sorry to say that I think that not much thing can be said about the efficiency of the fins out of the test you did Dave.
Speed is irrelevant when judging the efficiency of a fin because you also need to know the amount of energy you spent to reach that speed which is, as you said, totally subjective here.

Maybe by using a good pulse oxymetre at the end of the dive... and doing enough dives to do statistics...

If I rely on my own experience, I would say that fiber is alway better than plastic if the stiffness is the same.
 
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hteas

hteas

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
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There is another factor in the stiffness dialogue. How much time do you spend swimming on the surface? I have no problem getting to 30 m (in Hawaii) with my Picasso Black Teams, but send me off on a 1/2 hour surface swim to get to a dive site, or while fighting to stay in position in a strong current and I be glad to tell anyone what I think of stiff fins. I HATE THEM.
My medium glass blades also get me to 30 m with no difficulty, but they are so much better on the surface that there is simply no comparison.
I just got a pair of Omer Winter blades, and am very curious to try them out now that the water has cooled off. The glass blades may still win out however, since, when the surface water drops to 2-3 degrees C, even the winter blades may get pretty stiff, while the glass blades don't seem to change enough to notice. At that temperature I tend to notice more problems with my performance than with my fins.
Howard
 
Spaniard

Spaniard

Cider tester
Jun 22, 2005
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Good info. from everyone. I suppose you have to factor in what your main freediving activity is i.e. pool training for dynamics, depth disciplines up and down the rope, spearfishing, recreational freediving etc. etc. I can only base my experiences on UK spearfishing where I have used plastic Dessaults, Sporasub Radicals, Sporasub Pure Carbon, Cressi Gara and Omer Millenium. I have never had to dive deep in the UK but I would say that when fighting tide and current and long surface swims I really got on with the Sporasub Pure Carbon. I am quite slight in build, weigh 70kg about 5'7" tall. However I did mentally 'worry' more when wearing them because of bashing them against rocks etc. whereas with the plastic Dessaults you don't care so much!

When I did my freedive course in the 30m SETT tank I swapped between the plastic Dessaults, Sporasub Radicals and Sporasub Pure Carbon and didn't really notice any massive difference? Horses for courses I guess.

Interestingly, Old Man Dave had a go with my Sporasub Pure Carbons in Guernsey for spearing and didn't really get on with them and he is someone who has thousands of hours of spearing experience under his belt. Perhaps we get acclimatised to one fin and adapt accordingly to it and that becomes our benchmark?
 
M

Mullins

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2004
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I am sorry to say that I think that not much thing can be said about the efficiency of the fins out of the test you did Dave.
Speed is irrelevant when judging the efficiency of a fin because you also need to know the amount of energy you spent to reach that speed which is, as you said, totally subjective here.

I am pretty confident that energy input was similar across the dives, if not exactly the same. If it was significantly different, I would have felt it. This is a subjective measure but it is better than relying on the 'feel' of the fins, which can be very misleading. e.g. the C4 30s felt 'snappy' and fast, but the profile said otherwise.

What the graph does say is that I can do identical dives with fins of any material and not feel any more or less tired. I think that's fairly significant. There are probably differences in efficiency, but they must be very small ones.

I do agree though that a totally objective test would be fantastic.

If I rely on my own experience, I would say that fiber is alway better than plastic if the stiffness is the same.

If you think my test was uncontrolled (and it was to an extent), then personal experience with no objective data is even more unreliable!
 
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M

Mullins

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2004
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Surface swimming would depend on blade angle, stiffness and length. I think material would be even less relevant here.
 
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