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A Fin Review: SP Jet Fins VS Force Fins VS blade (normal) fins

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by g1138, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    This is a review of 3 different fins types I've had the pleasure of trying out over the course of my dive career.
    I posted this in the Basic Section because I feel that new divers are most likely the ones to be buying new fins. And as new divers on the board, they aren't as likely to visit the equipment section. (speaking from personal experience)

    About me/Background
    I'm a certified Rescue and AAUS scientific diver working towards my BS in Marine Biology. I've been scuba diving since Feb 2010 and have logged 63 dives to date. Currently doing my Divemaster training at my university UC Santa Cruz, so more dives to come.
    I feel like I have control over my buoyancy and trim.
    My technique in flutter kicking is great, and specialty kicks such as the frog kick is descent.
    As a disclaimer I have only tried these 3 sets of scuba fins in this review, along with Mares Avanti Quattro. I'll be reviewing these 3 fins because I've used them for an extended enough period of time that I feel confident in my opinions about them.
    Force Fins have NOT been tried outside of a pool b/c the pair I was borrowing were pool fins only. All fins have been tried on scuba as well as skin diving
    Having said that, these are strictly opinions.

    Opinions: (Click the blue names for pictures)
    Scuba Pro Jet Fins
    Great set of fins that allows for fast, but short bursts of speed. The hallmark of these fins, and those like it, is control. These fins excel at pinpoint precision kicks that allow you to turn on a swivel and swim backwards with ease.
    Heavy, stiff, classic, copied, moderately priced new but easy to find used

    Force Fins
    Top notch fin that slices through water and makes it feel like you're wearing nothing on your feet. Energy spent to thrust ratio these fins seem to allow you to flutter kick for miles at speeds that seem on par, if not greater, to Jet fins. Extremely light, neutrally bouyantish, extremely expensive new

    Blade Fins (Scuba Max Aero)
    Average run of the mill fins that everyone will recognize. Depending on the stiffness of the blade you can get some pretty descent speed. A jack of all trades fin, good at everything, excels at nothing

    To start, lets talk Scuba Pro Jet fins. These fins are heavy, stiff, and made to push through water. The only part that flexes is the very end of the fin, not reinforced by a side panelling of rubber. These fins allow you to push water and therefore gives you as much thrust as your legs can provide. You will feel every movement you make with these fins.
    Because of this, specialty kicks (frog, helicopter, back kicks) are a breeze. You get so much control with these sets of fins.
    With these fins I usually frog kick, or do a modified frog kick, because flutter kicking will tire you out in a short amount of time, compared with other fins.
    However having said that, I am able to keep pace with other divers who flutter kick exclusively. This is because frog kicking with these fins allows you to glide for a lot longer than with other fins, you get that much thrust out of them.
    When traveling distances and cruising, Jet Fins are meant to kick and glide. Constantly kicking and pushing water WILL destroy your calfs and leave you crying in the cramp release position.

    The Force Fins are on the exact opposite side of the spectrum. The foot pocket is designed to relieve stress on your calf muscles. AND THEY WORK! You will not feel any movement with these fins apart from flutter kicks.
    The fins are stiff like the flexing tip on a pair of Jet fins, but they're able to flex like split fins when flutter kicking.
    The first time I kicked with these fins, I felt absolutely NOTHING, except for my toes leaving the fin. It was a mixture of astonishment and oh-$***-my-pants moment. I thought I had just lost both fins. But there they were on my feet.
    The Force Fin allows you to flutter kick and get a tremendous amount of thrust with little energy expenditure. As you kick, the fin flexes, the harder you kick, the more it flexes. It's like a split fin, until you get to the recoil. A split fin would be on par to a piece of paper recoiling, the Force Fin is on par with a bullwhip recoiling. I felt in all my honest opinion that I was actually going faster with Force Fins than I had ever gone with Jet Fins. The best part was I felt I could keep my pace up forever. Every kick felt like a kick with no fins on, yet I was going super fast.
    Specialty kicks were another story. Heavy tweaking is needed to get the Force Fin to perform any specialty kick. The reason for this is because when moving sideways, the fins cuts through the water like a hot knife through water (no effort at all, it's not even there). You can do jumping jacks with these fins on at the same fast pace a bunch of hyped up preschoolers would do, both on land and in the water.
    The Force Fin works on recoil. You need a strong kick to get that big amount of thrust. The upside is you never feel that strong kick, but you feel the result of it.
    Using small tweaking kicks will get you no where. With big kicks the recoil of the fin is BAM, off you go. With small kicks it's only peh, did you see me move?
    For back kicks you really have to penguin toe and present the largest surface area to even move backwards at a snails pace. This is different from Jet Fins in that Jet Fins actually use the side wall of the fins for the back kick, and you ARE able to move much faster backwards with Jet Fins.
    Frog kicking is possible but you move very, VERY, slow in comparison to other fins. Helicopter turns are a little sluggish too but are easy enough with the Force Fins. You can turn, but it will take a few more kicks to get 180 degrees around.
    Overall with specialty kicks, Force fins take too much effort to move at a descent pace, however this extra effort is not felt, because Force Fins are simply not felt. What is felt though is your frustration, especially if you're used to the control a pair of Jet Fins give you.

    And now the blade fins. I started diving with my trusty Scuba Max Aeros. Their fins is made of a mixture of rubber and plastic. You get descent flex and descent propulsion when allowed to flex and recoil, but they also have some stiffness for those specialty kicks.
    Not much to say. I constantly have to flutter kick real hard and with straight legs to keep pace with my friends who flutter kick CASUALLY with Jet fins.
    I'm able to do helicopter turn very easily, although some foot tweaking is necessary. Frog kicks are a breeze, but back kicks are a little slow to gain speed. Like the force fins I need to penguin toe to be able to get enough thrust to move backwards. However, I am able to move faster and turn faster with these fins on than with Force Fins, but only when concerning those specialty kicks.

    In comparison to another type of blade fin: Mares Avanti Quattro. The Mares AQ is a whole lot stiffer, having been made out of pure plastic it seems. They allow you to get more thrust and move faster than my Scuba Max fins.
    More control for the specialty kicks, although some finesse if required as they feel longer than Jet Fins.
    Other than that pretty similar to Scuba Max Aero.
    I have a friend who passed GUE Fundies with these fins. He's an amazingly neutral and well controlled diver too.

    Flutter Kicking Energy to Thrust ratio (low-high) - you want a low energy-thrust ratio to get a lot of thrust for little energy or effort spent.
    Force Fins, Jet Fins, Blade
    *Jet fins beat Blade fins only when you do a kick-glide-kick method; else you get tired faster with Jets than with Blade fins and the situation becomes moot*

    Specialty Kicks
    Ease of Performance (easy to hard) - ability to perform this kick with ease
    Jet Fins, Blade, Force Fins

    Effectiveness (high to low) - distance covered per amount of effort/frustration expended; high indicates more distance covered with little frustration or concentrated effort
    Jet, Blade, Force
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
    peterak and redive like this.
  2. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    I am done editing.
    I promise I will not touch the above post now :D

    Follow up:
    When surface swimming belly down, Jet Fins were the easiest to get under the water, where as Force Fins were the worst. It was way to easy to pull my feet above the water, they're too dang light. My trim had to be a little inclined to be able to get a good kick rhythm going. BUT swimming on my back made them much better than Jet fins.

    Force fins can only be reconfigured with bungee, no spring straps. Although bungee works just as well (words from my instructor) There's also upgrades you can get from the website although I have no knowledge as to how easy they are to come by.

    The pair I was using had a nylon sash, exactly like those tightening straps you see on your backpack's shoulder straps.
    They worked well =]
    See link (minus padding)
    Nylon Sash
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  3. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    Thanks for a well written and unbiased review.

    Add split fins into the comparison and it would be a a potential debate ender.. :wink:
  4. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    Thanks Andy. Means a lot coming from you. You're always giving out helpful info.

    And UGH if only I had a pair to try.
    Everyone who owns a pair either doesn't come to the pool session I TA
    the fin doesn't fit or even worse, the spring strap doesn't fit
  5. Garrobo

    Garrobo Great White

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    Force Fins=NO stress on calf muscles? TRUE, TRUE. That's why I use them. When I started diving I was getting all kinds of cramps in my calfs and thought I might have to give up diving. A DM let me use a pair of his Force Fins and the problem went away. They throw all the force on the frontal thigh muscles which are stronger and have less of a tendency to cramp. Bought a used pair cheap on Ebay the next day and haven't looked back. Big problem with Force Fins is the cost of new ones. Personally, I think they are a rip-off as far as price goes even though I swear by them.
  6. fnfalman

    fnfalman Orca

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California, USA
    Very nice comparison. I like the way you address the fins both subjectively and objectively. If you can get a pair of split fins to do review on, I'd love to read it.
  7. g1138

    g1138 Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, SC
    It's on my want to do list :wink:
  8. Blackwood

    Blackwood DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Southern California
    Take some scissors to your blades. Done and done :D

    In all seriousness, nice comprehensive if unscientific review. Thanks for sharing.

    You may be interested in a thread I started last year about fin physics.
  9. TN Traveler

    TN Traveler Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Knoxville, TN; St Croix, USVI
    You need to get Bob Evans to loan you a pair of the new Hockey Force Fins. They are basically a blade fin with the Force Fin foot pocket and all that nice "snap". Because of their shape they can do any of the specialty kicks as well as any blade fin (Jets, Quattros, etc) and still feel like you have nothing on your feet.

    You should be close enough to Force Fin HQ that they will loan you a pair. Would really like to read your report after using them.
  10. ScubaVideo

    ScubaVideo Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Monterey, CA
    OMG, only $786 for Extra Force Fins Let me jump right on those!

    If they guaranteed 100% money back if I did not like them, it would still be hard to pull the trigger at that price. I think I would rather put that towards a scooter which will tow me VS fleece me.

    Found this on their site:

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