FF Pro first impressions (vs Go Sport and SuperChannel)

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lowwall

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I've been curious about Force Fins for a long time, but not to the point of paying $290 for a new pair. However, when a pair of used Pros with bungees showed up in the classifieds here, I jumped on them. Note that the person I bought them from did a field fix on the bungee retainer. He sent along replacement parts, but I haven't installed it.

I'm mostly a warm water diver and my regular fins for the last decade have been full foot Mares SuperChannels. A couple of years ago I added Scubapro Go Sports to have something possible to pack into a carry-on. Here's the three fins:

IMG_20210121_170226_1.jpg


And some additional info. Weight is per fin, multiply by your number of feet to find total weight :)

Mares SuperChannel
Size: 44-45 9.5-10.5
Made in Czech Rep
Weight: 1380g 3.05lbs

Scubapro Go Sports
Size: Large
Made in South Africa
Weight: 826g 1.82lbs

Force Fins Pro
Size: Large
Made in USA
Weight: 743g 1.64lbs

I first tested the fins in a pool doing timed laps free swimming underwater. I tested both flutter kick and frog kick at an easy effort like I would do on a normal dive and maximum effort to check ultimate performance. I was barefoot in the Mares and Force Fins and used a 3mm booty with the Go Sports. I should mention that I'm a former competitive swimmer. My specialty was breaststroke and I have a very strong frog kick while my flutter kick without fins is relatively weak. My flutter kick with fins is decent because the slower cadence is better suited to my physiology.

The results were very consistent. The Go Sports and FF Pros performed nearly identically while the SuperChannels were considerably faster in every test. Incidentally, I originally purchased the SuperChannels because they tested so well in the instrumented tests Scuba Diving Magazine used to do. In fact they were the fastest and highest thrust fins they ever tested before they abandoned quantitative fin tests in the late '00s. I should note that they never tested freediving fins. Anyway back to the pool.

To verify these results, I put on mixed pairs of fins and swam with closed eyes. Again, mixing the FF and Go Sports resulted in very small differences. There was a consistent mild deviation to the left whichever way I was wearing the fins because my right leg is apparently somewhat stronger. Mixing either of those fins with a SuperChannel resulted in a strong deviation away from the side with the SuperChannel.

On to actual diving. I finally got a chance to use the Force Fin Pros while diving over Christmas break in South Florida. Due to weather, I only got two days of boat dives with Starfish out of Boynton Beach plus two Blue Heron Bridge dives.

Diving with the Force Fins reinforced my thoughts after the pool tests. They are quite similar in power to my Go Sports and less than the SuperChannels. Maneuverability/precision/control is similar to the Go Sports and slightly better than the SuperChannels. I never learned to back kick so cannot comment on that. Helicopter kicking was easy. The Force Fins did require a slightly different technique for frog kicking, but it was something I was able to figure out in a few minutes as I was moving along.

Where the Force Fins really stand out is comfort and convenience. They are short and light for packing and easy handling. They are extremely easy to get on and off in and out of the water. On both of the BHB dives, I had some sand across my instep which got irritating once I was finning. It was no problem to remove a fin midwater to brush off the sand. I've done this with my SuperChannels, but it's a lot harder. And they are still very secure when you are kicking with them. Finally there wasn't a hint of a foot cramp with the Force Fins. I sometimes have to slow down or temporarily stop kicking with my SuperChannels because I can feel a cramp coming on.

All in all, I really like these fins. These will be my go to travel fins and I'm going to keep an eye out for a larger pair that I can use with boots for cold water diving.
 

sibermike7

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Glad to hear that you had a decent experience since I was doubting that you would. Here's why. FF generates all their power on the forward stroke NOT on the backstroke. The human leg can generate A LOT more power forward (think kicking something in front of you vs. kicking something behind with your heel and bending your knee). All other fins POWER in reverse of this anatomical advantage. Since you said that you were frog kicking, you were in reality putting power into the REVERSE side of FF. Frog kicking has to be taught/learned. It is not natural. We are humans, not frogs! Try using the fins bending the knee naturally and power-stroking on the forward "kick". Just do what would be natural to you if someone had not pulled you aside one day and said, "Hey, let me show you how to frog-kick, i.e. fix the inherent problem with most fins!"
 
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lowwall

lowwall

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I'm not sure what this means. I did have to modify my foot positioning during the kick somewhat. But it happened more or less subconsciously. I'll be back in the pool in a couple of days and will try to figure out what I'm doing differently.

Since I could already swim before I started diving and have never done cave training, I've never had formal instruction in kicks. Maybe I'm doing them all wrong :)

One odd thing that I did notice that may be related to your point is that the fins are difficult to tread water with. I normally use an eggbeater kick for treading without fins, but I couldn't figure out any technique that worked well with the fins in the pool. It wasn't an issue on the dives because I could lean back on my wing on the surface.
 

-JD-

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One odd thing that I did notice that may be related to your point is that the fins are difficult to tread water with. I normally use an eggbeater kick for treading without fins, but I couldn't figure out any technique that worked well with the fins in the pool. It wasn't an issue on the dives because I could lean back on my wing on the surface.
As @sibermike7 pointed out the FF and P-FF are asymmetric in their stroke-force depending on direction of travel.
Forward catches the water and flattens and bends the blade down, loading it up to take advantage of the PU materials recovery snap at the end of the stroke.
Backward, the blades tends to fold more, making the motion easier, but with less thrust.
Look at the geometry of the blade with the up-sloping wings on either side.

I recently tried a buddy's Dive Rite XTs Their blades are flat side to side but have a notable bend with the main part of the blade bent down. Makes sense if you are frogging and allows you to "clap" them without having to fully rotate the feet. But man are the weird to flutter with, relatively easier kicking forward and harder backward (compared to say a flat Eddy or Slipstream). Would probably work better in a cave-position bent-knee modified flutter, allowing the knees to unfold a little and producing less silting below, than in my relatively straight-legged open-water kicking. I found them fatiguing and would have to learn how to kick them effectively. But they are cave fins from a company with its DNA in caving.


ETA: I have seen commentary, that the FFs real benefit is not raw power, but the ability to allow users deliver solid power for extended periods with less fatigue.
i.e. distance = speed * time - pulling figures out of ....
If I can produce 75% of the speed for twice as long, with the same level of net fatigue then I have a 50% gain in distance traveled.
 

gqllc007

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I would like to chime in here....I have very weak legs...always have...I had a pair of Scubapro Jet fins back in the day and my legs would be dying after 5-10 minutes....then I went to Mares Quattro and they were better but still way too stiff for me...I also had Atomic split fins....I liked those....then I tried force fins...and they remind me of pedaling a bike in first gear....but now I wasn't tired anymore and my legs were cramping....then I wanted something with a little more power...now came ion the FF pro....Now I was pedaling in 2nd-3rd gear.....even better....next I bought the ones that had the thrusters on the sides.....now I was pedaling in 3rd-4th gear....however people like the OP could swim circles around me even if I had a DPV...LOL Anyway for me the benefit of the FF was less cramping, less exhaustion, less air consumption and it made my dives way more enjoyable...I literally just ordered another pair of FFpro to travel within waiting for them to arrive
 

scubadada

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Excellerating Force Fins vs. Dive Rite XTs

I've had a pair of FF Pros for a long time, believe I got them pretty cheap off Scuba.com back in the day. They never really made the grade, perhaps I will have to give them another try next time I'm down in FL. I'm still diving XTs, perhaps the perfect fin for me.
 
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lowwall

lowwall

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ETA: I have seen commentary, that the FFs real benefit is not raw power, but the ability to allow users deliver solid power for extended periods with less fatigue.
i.e. distance = speed * time - pulling figures out of ....
If I can produce 75% of the speed for twice as long, with the same level of net fatigue then I have a 50% gain in distance traveled.
I was trying to see that effect, but equal low perceived effort resulted in equal lap times for the FF and the Go Sports. Maybe the lower effort is true for people who use a high cadence flutter kick, but I'm terrible at that.

To be honest, I was surprised at how normal everything felt. From reading reviews over the years, I thought they'd feel really odd and I'd need several dives to figure out if I could get along with them. On the contrary, within a few laps they just felt like a fin. Except maybe more comfortable.

After a few dives, I am starting to suspect that more precise control is possible than any fin I've owned. So that's something to look forward to working on.

Bottom line, the highly awarded Go Sports don't do anything better than the Pro Force Fins and do some things worse, such as being a lot bulkier. I've given my Go Sports to my son. And while the FF don't have the ultimate power of my SuperChannels, I'm amazed at the amount of power they can put out given their relative size and weight. Diving isn't a race. I'll trade off some top end which I almost never use for comfort and convenience.
 

scubadada

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Hi @lowwall

And then there is the need for reserve power, when needed. I spend the majority of my time leisurely frog kicking with my XTs, expending very little energy. However, occasionally, on one of the SE FL wrecks, swimming across the reef or against a current pulling on or off the reef, considerable power is required for a short or prolonged period. My XTs give me all the power I can muster, not at all sure my FFs could do that. I have dived with a couple of folks in FL who rate the Scubapro Go Sports more highly than you do. I have not dived them. I will give my FF Pros another run.
 

Bob Evans

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20180926_111911.jpg
,kind of sounds like we cut the muster? Noticed the white bungee straps that were made over twenty years ago. So the pair of Force fins you tested were over 20 years old. I will say today's production in our Pennsylvania Plant brings the highest standards in our 40 year history. But thanks for your honest testing. I do appreciate.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/swift/

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