When it comes to diving fins, there is a lot to consider to make the right choice. The first decision you face will be whether to get Full-Foot also called Closed-foot or Open-Heel or Open-foot fins.
You wear Full-foot fins over a bare foot while you need neoprene booties to use Open-Heel. It is important that both fits you properly for comfort and swimming efficiency while underwater. Proper fit is even more critical with Full-foot diving fins. Indeed, you may lose the fin underwater if it is too large. You could also get blisters if it is not adjusted properly, you may use socks to prevent those.
CONSIDER THE DIVING ENVIRONMENT YOU DIVE IN.
Open-heel diving fins are a requirement for diving in cold waters as Full-foot fins offer no exposure protection. Booties are available in different sizes and thicknesses exactly as your wetsuit. Identify the ones that are suitable for the water temperature you are diving in. The colder the water, the thicker your booties will be. You can commonly find booties in 1, 3, 5 or 7mm thickness.
Furthermore, booties also offer protection against debris, corals and marine life stings and cuts. So if you don’t use those, once you remove your diving fins, your feet will be bare. This can be a problem when it comes to climbing a ladder or walking on sand and rocks if you are shore diving.
THINK ABOUT OTHER ACTIVITIES YOU LIKE.
Full-foot fins on the other hand are lighter and less voluminous when it comes to packing them. This can be a real advantage for long-term or adventurous travellers. They also provide less drag underwater as they are usually smaller and do not have straps. Therefore the energy provided by your foot is directly transmitted to the fins. Open-heel fins are harder to use on the surface because of their increased drag.
So if you enjoy snorkelling as much as diving and you want a pair of diving fins for both activities, then Full-foot fins are probably what you look for as long as you remain in warm enough waters. But make sure you buy diving fins and not snorkelling fins. Snorkelling fins will be cheaper but may not be good enough if you have to fight currents.
COST VS LONGEVITY FOR DIVING FINS.
In terms of costs, Open-heel diving fins require a greater investment. They are usually slightly more expensive from the start and you also need to purchase the booties that go with them. However, divers who travel and dive across the globe will tend to buy Open-heel fins. Indeed, they are suitable to a larger variety of diving environments and water temperatures and you don’t need to rent or purchase a new pair of fins as soon as the water get chilly.
In terms of longevity, as you put them on and off Full-foot fins as well as booties tend to break with time. Heel straps of the Open-heel fins can also snap as you tie them off or get lost. Replacing booties or strap only engender less cost than buying a new pair of fins! So professional divers tend to buy Open-heel fins as they wear them every day. As a professional diver, I use Open-heel diving fins. I need to replace my booties every 2 or 3 years but I have been diving with the same fins for over 15 years and have so far never broken a strap!
At the end, the most important is that you choose the diving fins that suit your kind of activity and the environment you are using them for.