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open heel really worse??

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Apr 28, 2002
I have heard that full foot pockets beat open heel. But is that really the case? who has tried both and can tell us about it?

The reason I am wondering is because most monofins have open heel, and people seem to be doing fine with those. Granted, Sebak is producing one with Omer foot pockets, but many other brands stick with open heels.

Why can't open heels work for regular freediving fins if they work for monos?

For example, Waterway manufacture longfins as well, and they are open heel. And they have lots of experience, it seems like, from great swimmers.

I am confused, and I wonder if the full foot dogma is a myth.

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I don't think full foot pockets are INHERENTLY better than open heels, but the design of open heel freediving (and SCUBA) fins is such that you can fit a rubber-soled bootie into the fin. This makes the pocket big and bulky, as well as not-so-tight fitting to allow for different booties. You can cinch the straps really tight to prevent the fin from moving around, but your feet will cramp. Monofins are designed around the bare foot or a neoprene sock, just like full foot freediving fins. That makes them lighter and tighter fitting than any fin designed around reef booties.
Even with good fitting open heels, I always felt that the power transference was hampered by its design.

Whether that's true or psychological is debatable, but a vast majority of free-divers agree and there must be more of an inkling of truth to it.
It's again some religious war about open-full heels. :)
I've never seen the full pocket for the monos. And I've never seen full pockets for the professional fins that demand high performance (monos for racing and freediving and bi-fins for livesaving) but for scuba/spearfishing (high performance is not cruitial). The professionals always work with the best performance. It's obvious. If the fullpocket was the best you'd never seen the open heel.
Mako has told absolutely right - the fittability of open heel is much higher -you can reglue the straps but cannot full-pocket. It's cruitial for the performance.
The other thing - WaterWay did some estimations and calculations of performance and has fond that for open heel it's better because worse freedome of the heel in the full-pocket and tension (it's not big, but can be important for competitions) of the rubber on the heel makes some problem with finger-kick - it's professional technique and if you don't use finger-kick than no difference for you.

I think this problem is psychological and not mechanical.
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Ive played underwater hockey with both open and closed heel fins and find that closed heels have better propulsion than the open heels ,if youre kicking hard, the open heels strap tend to move around a bit and sometimes even slip off, that bit about the cramping feet is also true if you pull the heel strap too tight. For calm relaxed diving the open heels work fine.
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I'm sure it all boils down to preference, but I can't really see how anyone would prefer open heel to full foot, especially in our warm water climate. Each one of the above posts speaks volumes and are very helpful.

Go into the "Florida Freedivers" store at 804 US HWY 1, and talk to Mike. He may have some answers for you (a real shame for us that Mike would rather hangout at spearboard.com). He also has a huge selection of fins available if you're looking.


I can talk about a direct comparison using the same brand of fins.

When I got back into freediving after about 40 years wandering in the scuba wilderness, I got open heel black Esclapez fins. I used them for a few months and though they were just great. Then a friend on my boat had closed heel black Esclapez and I asked if I could try them for a few minutes.

I made three or four drops and got back in the boat. The difference in power transfer from my legs to the blades was so dramatic that I bought my own closed heel black Esclazez the next week.
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I've had a similar experince to Bill's. I've owned open-heel Cressi's, the old kind with the yellow blades, and open-heel Esclpaez fins. They simply can't compare to a closed, full-foot, pocket type fins that I have owned. The full-foot pocket transfers so much more energy to the blade than the sloppy fit of the standard open-heel foot pocket.

Trying to compare the open-heel footpocket on a bi-fin to the open-heel on a monofin is like comparing apples to oranges. They are two completely different animals.

The bi-fins have loose fitting footpockets that can accept large scuba, or even drysuit, booties. The open-heel footpockets on most monofins are made to fit so tight that many people lube their feet with silicone spray just to squeeze into them. If you can get an open-heel foot pocket that tight, and Waterway used to make some like that, then you would have a footpocket to compare against a standard full-foot pocket.

The standard open-heel scuba fins just aren't even in the same ball game. Still, for some people with Sasquatch size feet (Sven) the open-heel's may be your only option.

If your worried aobut getting a booty inside to keep your feet warm I can tell you that I can get a 6mm sock in my OMER foot pockets without too much trouble at all- and they stay warm even under the ice.

Bill McIntyre, Ive got a quick question for you, how do you find the durability and performance on the esclapez? as im considreing the same type.
deep thinker said:
Bill McIntyre, Ive got a quick question for you, how do you find the durability and performance on the esclapez? as im considreing the same type.

They were one of the best of their era, but I think there are much better fins available now. They definitely lost stiffness with age, as I suppose other plastic fins do, and wearing a wetsuit and weighted neutral at about 20 feet, they felt like noodles trying to get started off the bottom at 50 feet. Also, while the foot pocket was very comfortable, the sole wasn't stiff, so you still lost a bit of thrust. For a replacement I got Matrix #2 fiberglass blades and put them in Picasso Black Team foot pockets, and they are a big improvement.


The Picasso pockets are every bit as soft and comfortable on the top, but the sole is very stiff. They get me started up from depth very nicely, and after two years I haven't noticed any reduction in stiffness. The fiberglass seems to require a bit different kick, more of a long slow motion, and then they almost seem to give you something for nothing, with the blades rebounding from being bent.

The Matrix blades don't have an offset angle like other fins, but come straight out of the pockets, so they require a bit of adjustment for swimming on the surface, but soon I didn't even notice any change. Since I bought the Matrix, the company has developed the Edge blades, which are fiberglass but have an offset angle. I haven't tried them and don't know anyone who has, but they might be a good alterntive.

I would caution against getting the stiffer blades unless all you do is swim up and down ropes. I tried a friend's #4 stiffness blades, and they felt like boards. I came off the bottom like a rocket, but I don't think my legs would have tolerated using them all day spearfishing and they were very awkward swimming on the surface.

I have not used carbon fiber, but of course many people love it. Its expensive though, and I feel like the fiberglass is a cheaper and more durable alternative.
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I also found a huge difference when moving from open heal to closed around 15 years ago. Fin keepeers can also make a big difference to power transfer, especially if there's a bit too much "play" in the foot pocket.

Re the Esclapez - I used then for about eight years - the green as my first true freediving fin, and then a black pair after one of the green fins cracked through the middle.

I agree with Bill - they were very good in their time, and are still a decent and cheap plastic fin option. If you have the cash though, consider a glass / composite blade like the Matrix etc, or spend up a bit more on a carbon fin, like a Falcon from C4.
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Yeah, the matrix blades are great! They are soooooo great that I am willing to sell my brand new 42/44 (9/11) #3 blades in Omer pockets. Hint ;)




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jimdoe2you said:
Yeah, the matrix blades are great! They are soooooo great that I am willing to sell my brand new 42/44 (9/11) #3 blades in Omer pockets. Hint ;)



I gather that's code for "I don't like them?"

If so, why not tell everyone why and add to the pool of knowledge. I love mine, but it won't hurt my feelings if everyone doesn't agree, and someone else may have your priorities instead of mine.
I can see now how it looks like that, but actually I was insinuating they are for sale even though this isn't the "Goods For Sale" thread. Poor context on my behalf.

I am listing them for two reasons. As much as an Omer fan that I am, the Omer foot pockets just don't fit me real well, and the #3 blades are a bit on the stiff side. I can handle them, but the lack of flex during my kick cycle is just plain inefficient. I am going to get the newer style #2 blades and figure out which foot pockets to buy.



In that case, I'll say that I have heard that most people get blades that are too stiff. When I asked Dennis Hausler which blades I should get, he recommended #2. I was a bit irate and told him that I may be older than dirt, but I still had a strong kick and I did want to get off the bottom. He replied that he had used #2 blades at the Nationals in Rhode Island wearing a thick wetsut and had no problem with repeated dives to 70 feet. That was good enough for me, and I'm glad to have taken his advice.

As to foot pockets, I can only say that I am very happy with my Picasso Black Teams. The tops and sides are every bit as comfortable as my old Esclapez, but the sole is rigid so that I get a better transfer of my leg energy.
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Well the thing is...

Attaching anykind of fin to your feet, you will require that you get the used energy back in the most efficient way.

I don´t have the biggest experience in bi-fins, but I can´t imagine that they are far away from my theory.

When you are using an open-heel fin, you will notice that when you kick downwards, you will feel that the fin is grinding into the middle of the foot.(I don´t know the name of that exact area of the foot, but I hope that you understand ;-)) This part is a "soft" area wich means that the energy is not beeing used as efficient as if it was a "hard" spot!!!
So this explains most of the idea of using a full footpocket that supports the heel -because this makes the transfering of energy more efficient, bucause the energy goes into a "hard" spot of the foot...

Another benefit of using the full footpocket is that you will get more control of the fin. It is simply easier to "feel" the fin.


Peter P, Denmark
I never dive with open heel fins without a booty, In general, I find closed fins much more comfortable...
Howzit going everybody, I hope youre all out there getting big fish. Just an update I decided to go with the Picasso black teams in the end and man what a dream, through the rough water they work like a charm and in the open water theyre even better, the first time I used them I hit 15m easily and the way up is also much less effort than with shorter and open heel fins. Its also true about the footpockets you cant go wrong there especially if youve got wide flat feet like me.:)
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