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Open or closed heel

Discussion in 'Fins, Masks and Snorkels' started by earlgrimm, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. earlgrimm

    earlgrimm Angel Fish

    Ok open vs closed heel. Reviews show closed are better, but open seam to make more sense?

  2. Rupert Vidion

    Rupert Vidion Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: United Kingdom
    There probably isn't a universal "best" fin, although there are plenty of very strong opinions.

    Full foot fins are good if you can get ones that fit your foot. If you wear a thin pair of neoprene socks under them they shouldn't rub.

    If the water you dive is cold or you need to walk across hot or rocky surfaces to get to the water you are better off in a full boot with open heel fins.

    On top of this there is a healthy dose of personal preference, what fins are available where you are and which side of the split/paddle debate you come down on.

    If you are looking for fins the best thing to do is find out what the instructors in the area you dive/intend to dive use.

  3. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    Closed heel means you have to walk around barefoot before entering the water. Fine for a boat, not so good for shore entries.

    Open heel allows use of booties that provide thermal protection. Water temperature will dictate your requirements for thermal protection.

    Closed heel are generally lighter, which may be an important consideration if you are travelling and/or paying for airline excess baggage.

    Closed heel are generally cheaper, especially when you factor in the cost of booties with open heel fins.

    Open heel uses a rubber strap and buckles, which can snap and ruin your dive (although you can replace them with steel spring straps).

    Closed heel generally cause more issues with fit and are more likely to rub/chaff your feet when you first use them.

    Open heel offers more variety of designs, allowing you to choose fins that may be more powerful, manevourable etc.

    Edited because I wasn't concentrating when I wrote this...thanks for noticing QatarDiver!
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
  4. QatarDiver

    QatarDiver Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Qatar
    Hi Devon diver, are you sure you've got your 'open' and 'closed' round the right way in your post?

    You say' Open heel are generally cheaper, especially when you factor in the cost of booties with open heel fins.' soudnt that be Close-heel etc? and further through the post?
  5. smellzlikefish

    smellzlikefish Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Oahu, Hawaii
    Another important addition: closed heels don't have buckles to snag on kelp/debris/drag in the water. I have both open and closed heeled fins.

    The open heeled fins I use for shore diving since I can tap dance over my algae covered shore entries in my felt soled booties. I also use these for boat dives only because their other characteristics (flexibility, etc.) are better suited for scuba in general.

    I use closed heal fins for freediving and when working for the marine debris program. Closed heal fins are more hydrodynamic, so I can get significantly deeper (plus they are on my long blades) and they lack of dangling straps means I wont get tangled in the nets. At least not by my feet anyway.
  6. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Atlantic Northeast (Maine)
    For versatility open heel means boots and that opens the door to diving anywhere. A full foot fin has you in socks or less and severely limits where you will dive.

    As a new diver any of the advantages of a full foot fin pale against the access restrictions they bring. If money is no object then get both and have at it.

  7. RJP

    RJP Scuba Media & Publications

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New Jersey
    Neither do properly configured open-heel fins...


  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    When I began snorkelling back in the early 1960s in England, full-foot fins were the fins of choice for many UK scuba divers. They were also much more expensive than open-heel fins of the period. Many divers owned two pairs of full-foot fins, a smaller pair for the indoor pool and a larger pair for open water to accommodate booties. When I purchased my first pair of Typhoon Rondine full-foot fins at my university diving club in the mid-1960s, I found them blissfully comfortable after years of using uncomfortable open-heel fins. I vowed back then that I would never revert to open-heels and I never have since. I still snorkel two or three times a week in the cold waters of the North Sea off the North East coast of England, wearing full-foot fins over my suit. The bonus nowadays is that full-foot fins are cheaper than open-heels too.

    Open-heel aficionados often assume that full-foot fins are always worn barefoot or over the thinnest socks. This may be true of divers who only dive in tropical waters, but it certainly isn't true of every full-foot fin user. What about freedivers, for example, who almost always prefer full-foots to open-heels?

    Some full-foot fins are even designed to be worn with boots: the full-foot Apollo Uni Bio split fins come to mind. What matters is the capacity of the full-foot fin's foot pocket (click the images below to make them bigger):


    which is why any prospective footwear should be worn when trying on any type of fins for size, whether open-heel or full-foot.

    Over the years, the choice of open-heel or full-foot has often been dictated by the prevailing fashion. Open heel just happens to be in vogue at the moment. At other times in history, diving fin manufacturers have made full-foot fins with huge foot pockets to accommodate even dry suit boots. I'm thinking here of Cressi's Uni fins with European foot sizes in the 50s (US sizes 15 and well over) for the Unisuit dry suit market in the 1960s/70s. There's also evidence of national preferences at work, e.g. European divers preferring full-foots, their American peers sticking with open-heels. After all, full-foots were invented in Europe.

    Yes, personal preference can still play a large part when contemplating what type of fin is appropriate for a given individual and in a given context. We live in a diverse world, with different priorities and different preferences. That's a good thing.
  9. BettyRubble

    BettyRubble Orca

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Delaware
    In my pools sessions I used closed. Loved it. Felt more like an extension of my foot. In my OW certs, I used open. Open were ok but I was leaning towards going with closed. Till a buddy explained that in boat diving, alot of times you have to take off the fins before going up the ladder. open makes it easier (with spring straps!). Also, open give you more flexibility in different sized/thicknesses of booties.
  10. BDSC

    BDSC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    I dove open heel fins for years and never really considered closed heel because like many, I considered them "snorkel fins". But then a little over a year ago I saw a review done by ScubaLab and they rated as the highest fin a closed fin by Mares called the "Avanti Superchannel Fullfoot Fin". It beat out all the other full and open heel fins that were much higher in price. So I decided to give them a try because I could get them for $69 I think it was.

    Well now it's all I dive with unless I'm going to Bonaire where shore diving is the norm. They fit great and perform as well as my ScubaPro Twin Jets and maybe weigh about half as much. I can highly recommend them.

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