Author Topic: 7 Open-Heel Fin Review  (Read 2516 times)

Aqua Galaxy

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7 Open-Heel Fin Review
« on: 12 Jun 12, 10:13 »
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  • The below review was conducted by Scuba Gear Reports.

    You should ignore the price below since they are for US market.

    Due to the restriction on words of Scubasg, I can not post a whole report. You guys can see the full article here You guys can find the source here However, all of the main contents can be found below


    These fin reviews are presented in alphabetical order by manufacturer. SGR Favorites for this go-round follow the final review.

    APOLLO BIO-FIN PRO C-SERIES: Long Live the King

     MSRP: $279. MADE IN: Japan. WARRANTY: 1 Year. WEIGHT (each, size M): 3 lbs., 4 oz. FIN STYLE: Split. FOOT POCKET: Open Toe. BUOYANCY: Negative. SIZES: 5.

    SPEED TEST RESULTS: 2.05 mph


    Apollo Sports has been making the Bio-Fin Pro for more than 10 years. During that time, theyíve adjusted the rubber durometer, enabling them to offer three slightly different versions, from super flexy to a little bit stiffer; theyíve expanded the color range to satisfy just about everybodyís color pallet; and theyíve added the option of a heavy-duty spring strap. But in the midst of these modifications, one thing has remained constant, and that is the Bio-Fin Proís Top Gun position when it comes to kicking performance and pure comfort.

    Compared to most kickers, the Bio-Fin Pro is pretty heavyóit weighs close to twice as much as many of its competitors. Its blade is shorter than average, it sports big beefy side rails, and even the stiffest Bio-Fin Pro is flexier than virtually any fin youíll strap to your foot. These design characteristics donít tend to endear the Bio-Fin Pro to all divers, especially techies and photographers who often prefer longer blades that offer more feedback and more minor movement control. But for the average scuba diver who likes to cover a lot of underwater acreage with minimal effort, who wants to be able to chase a down bat ray without thrashing their leg muscles, and who loves to dart in and out of finger reefs like a sea lion, the Bio-Fin Pro is a dream-come-true.

    For 2011 Apollo has released two new models, the Bio-Fin Pro Orange and Bio-Fin Pro Pink. Both are built with a rubber durometer hardness of about 70óthis is a little stiffer than the Black and Blue (65 durometer), a little flexier than the Gray (75 durometer), and about the same as the White and Yellow. Standard Bio-Fin Pros come with a buckle and heel strap assembly, but our test model was a ďC-SeriesĒ equipped with a spring strap.

    Consistent with its color cousins who dominated past fin tests, our Orange Bio-Fin Pros got things started by smoking the competition in SGRís speed tests. From there they shifted over to the ergo tests where they earned the best scores of the group for acceleration and power vs. stress, and then tied for best in class in maneuverability. Test divers rated it their favorite fin for the flutter kick, and among the better fins for the dolphin kick.

    But beyond pure kicking performance, the Bio-Fin Pro C-Series also earned high marks for comfort and ease of use. The spring strap allowed for easy donning and doffing, and test divers never had to bother with strap adjustments. The all-rubber construction made for a soft pliable foot pocket that testers deemed found to be super comfortable while also providing some effective non-skid.

    Bottom Line: Any way you slice it, the Bio-Fin Pro C-Series is a pack leader. It generates ear-bending speed and power with virtually no leg stress, itís responsive in turns and nimble when negotiating tight places. Plus itís comfortable and easy to use. Of course, itís also the priciest fin in this go-round. But when you plunk down your money on a Bio-Fin Pro C-Series, youíre buying into scuba fin royalty.

    APS MANTARAY: Ultimate Open-Heel Travel Fin

    MSRP: $149. MADE IN: USA. WARRANTY: Limited lifetime. WEIGHT (each, size M/L): 1 lb., 9 oz. FIN STYLE: Modified Paddle. FOOT POCKET: Closed Toe. BUOYANCY: Positive. SIZES: 3.

    SPEED TEST RESULTS: 2.00 mph (Soft Version); 1.95 mph (Stiff Version)


    The APS (Advanced-Aqua Propulsion System) Mantaray is small in size, simple in function, and pretty impressive when it comes to kicking performance. The fin is made from a thermal plastic elastomer/monoprene compound and is offered in two versions; one has a flexy blade, the other is a bit stiffer.

    The Mantaray is super short, measuring less than 20 inches long overall, and itís really light. Its blade design is interesting; youíll find a sort of a gill pattern on the main body of the blade, hidden beneath a molded cover that reminds one of a hood scoop on a Ď60s muscle car. The finís designer says the gills and  the scoop work together to focus kicking thrust, reduce water resistance, and provide stability to the fin blade.

    So how does all this translate into kicking performance? Turns out, pretty good. On SGRís underwater straightaway the Mantaray turned in the second (flexy version) and third (stiff version) fastest speeds in this shootout. Like on the speed course, when it came to ergo performance the flexy version held a slight edge, and it also garnered more favorable comments from test divers. Overall, it was able to crank out better power strokes with less leg or ankle strain, and its ability to get up and go when divers wanted some acceleration was second only to the Bio-Fin Pro. Both versions turned in above-average scores for both maneuverability and stability, the flexy version just did it with less leg stress.

    Thatís not to say nobody liked the stiffer version. On the contrary, a couple of test divers preferred the stiffer blade with its increased feedback. All test divers appreciated the light weight and fins aps uw1comfortable foot pocket found on both versions, as well as the universal fin strap. Itís simple to use, holds the fin on the foot well, and installs easily.

    Bottom line: The Mantaray is a pretty nice kicker. Both versions are relatively fast, stable, very maneuverable, and easy on the feet. While perfectly suited for any dive environment, traveling divers who prefer to use open-heel fins so they can wear booties when traversing rocky beaches or climbing encrusted ladders in the tropics should pay close attention to this fin. Its size and weight make it an easy fin to pack (it will fit in a carry-on bag better than virtually any fin weíve ever seen), yet its kicking performance outshines many full-size fins. The SGR test team preferred the flexier version, but either one will get the job done. The flexy version comes in pink, metallic blue, and white, while the stiff version comes in bright yellow (a test diver favorite) and basic black.

    AQUA LUNG EXPRESS ADJ: A Fin for Cruisers

     MSRP: $120. MADE IN: Italy. WARRANTY: 2-Yr. Ltd. WEIGHT (each, size R): 2 lbs., 3 oz. FIN STYLE: Paddle. FOOT POCKET: Closed Toe. BUOYANCY: Negative. SIZES: 3.

    SPEED TEST RESULTS: 1.77 mph


    At first glance the Express ADJ looks like a traditional paddle fin, but closer inspection reveals some modern touches. One example is the blade/foot pocket joint. Rather than connecting at the toe, the blade attaches about midway up each side of the foot pocket. Aqua Lung calls this the ďmid-foot flex joint,Ē and itís intended to take the strain off your toes and ankles during a kicking stroke. Filling the gap between toe and blade, Aqua Lung installed a rubber membrane they call the ďArmadilloĒ to provide some additional elasticity and prevent water from flowing through the open space which otherwise would have created turbulence.

    Measuring about 26 inches overall (size Regular), the Express ADJ is the longest fins in this group. Its big blade is reinforced with molded-in longitudinal ribs and flanked by rubber side rails. The foot pocket is made from varying thicknesses of rubber, the heel plate is extended to improve stability, and the fin comes with a really nice buckle system with a large finger pull-on loop centered on the heel strap and finger loops on each strap end for easy adjustment.

    Get the Express ADJ in the water and you find itís a pretty stiff fin compared to most of the other fins in this go-round. While a couple of test divers appreciated the increased feedback created by the stiffer blade, the majority of test divers found the fin put too much stress on their legs and ankles, especially when they tried to pour on the power. However, they also found if they didnít try to break any speed records they could propel themselves through the water at a decent clip with a greatly reduced effort. When it came to maneuverability, the Express ADJ, in spite of its size, turned in some pretty good test scores. During stopping, turning and backing-up drills the fin proved to be responsive and easy to control.

    Being only slightly negative in the water, the Express ADJ feels light on the feet. The foot pocket is pretty comfortable too, and according to test divers, no fin equipped with a buckle assembly offered better strap adjustments than this one. On the other hand, the finís non-skid pattern, while it looked soft and sticky, wasnít able to maintain its grip on our wet test surfaces as well as we thought it would.

    Bottom line: For divers who like to swim with fins that provide a bit of feedback, the Express ADJ is a solid kicker. At cruising speeds it delivers a comfortable, stable ride on the straightaways and good maneuverability down among the reefs, and it feels pretty good on the feet. If you want to crank on the power, you better prepare to feel it in your leg muscles. But as a slow-kick cruiser, this is a good performer. The Express ADJ is available in black trimmed with black, red, blue, pink or orange.

    DIVE RITE EXP: A Blast from the Past

    MSRP: $149.99. MADE IN: China. WARRANTY: 1-Yr. Ltd. WEIGHT (each, size M): 2 lbs., 7 oz. FIN STYLE: Paddle. FOOT POCKET: Closed Toe. BUOYANCY: Negative. SIZES: 4.

    SPEED TEST RESULTS: 1.68 mph


    Old salts, tech divers and a lot of photographers are going to love the EXP, which is made from traditional monoprene and sports an old-school design and shape. It also comes with an efficient marine-grade stainless-steel spring strap with an overmolded rubber heel guard. Dive Riteís literature says the EXP is a lighter fin than traditional rubber fins, and thatís true, but itís heavier than just about everything else. Itís also, no surprise, one of the stiffest fins in this go-round. Divers on SGRís test team who have tech diving backgrounds, as well as those who were trained with and have remained loyal to the traditional fin style, had no problem with the stiffness or performance characteristics of the EXP. They were, however, outnumbered by those who felt the EXP was too long, too stiff, and too hard on both their ankles and the tops of their feet when it came to kicking.

    Of course, these complaints echoed loudest when test divers were trying to push the EXP as fast as they could for as long as they could, and this fin is just not designed for that. The EXP is not a rocket fin; rather, itís a slow-kick fin that performs best when sculling or frog kicking, and it does a decent flutter and dolphin if you take it easy. Itís also a stable fin, and more maneuverable than you might think considering its size.

    The EXP is an easy fin to don and doff, thanks to the nice spring strap thatís fitted with a big comfortable heel pad and easy to grab finger loop. In addition, the fin provides some good non-skid to keep you from slipping and sliding on wet boat decks.

    Bottom line: This fin is clearly not for everyone. But for divers who lean toward old-school kickers, who like a stiff fin thatís stable and delivers a higher level of feedback than what can usually be found in more modern flexier designs, the EXP has a lot to offer. Itís not our cup of tea, but a lot of divers are partial to this type of fin. The basic design has been around for a long time, so if it ainít broke, donít fix it.

    : Kicking in Style

    MSRP: $120. MADE IN: China. WARRANTY: 2-Yr. Ltd. WEIGHT (each, size R): 2 lbs., 2 oz. FIN STYLE: Paddle. FOOT POCKET: Closed Toe. BUOYANCY: Positve. SIZES: 4.

    SPEED TEST RESULTS: 1.82 mph


    Maresí new Wave is a big kicker. Sporting the longest and widest blade in this go-round (measured from its widest point and from blade tip to the end of the foot pocket), this fin is made from a combination of thermoplastic rubber and technopolymers. You have a large flex panel in the center of the blade thatís flanked by a couple of stiffening strips, which are in turn flanked by a pair of overmolded siderails. The foot pocket sports soft uppers and a slightly extended heel plate. The fin is equipped with Maresí ABS Plus buckle system, which allows you to get in and out of the fin without losing your strap adjustment.

    The Wave turned in solid kicking performance in virtually all test categories. In the speed tests it came in right behind the Bio-Fin Pro and the Mantaray. A nice surprise for such a big fin, test divers also rated it high for maneuverability, and noted its ability to negotiate turns and perform stop and back-up maneuvers with minimal foot movement. When turning on the power, the flexing of the soft blade tip seemed to help minimize ankle stress. Rating specific kicks, test divers found the fin performed well using the frog and flutter kicks, but its big blade shined brightest when doing the dolphin.

    While not any lighter than many of the other fins in this group, the Wave felt light on test diversí feet. The foot pocket was comfortable and the ABS plus buckle offered a convenient way to don and doff the fin; rather than having to lose your strap adjustment each time, you leave the strap alone and open and close the swivel buckles instead. There are, however, more moving parts to the ABS Plus than a standard buckle system; beach divers should take extra care to keep the mechanisms from getting clogged with sand. Finally, the finís soft-rubber non-skid pattern was found to be more effective than most in preventing slips on a variety of wet surfaces.

    Bottom Line: The Wave is a good-looking, well-performing slow-kick fin. You can coax some pretty good power out of it but it takes a little more effort than whatís required from some of the more flexible fins. This will be welcome news for divers who prefer diving with stiffer fins, not so much for divers who prefer a flexier feel. With a choice of five colors to choose from (black, blue, grey, yellow and red), you can dive this kicker in style.

    Note: size XS will be available in July.

    : Good Performance at a Great Price

    MSRP: $79. MADE IN: Thailand. WARRANTY: 1-Yr. Ltd. WEIGHT (each, size M): 2 lbs. FIN STYLE: Paddle. FOOT POCKET: Open Toe. BUOYANCY: Positive. SIZES: 5.

    SPEED TEST RESULTS: 1.79 mph


    Scubaproís Jet Sport comes with a tri-material blade featuring a pair of soft rubber panels framed in semi-stiff plastic and flanked by narrow rubber side rails. The blade and soft rubber foot pocket are two pieces; they connect via a pair of short braces that are supported by the side rails. The fin is fitted with a standard buckle and strap system, and comes in red, blue, yellow, pink and graphite trim colors.

    The Jet Sport not only looks good, itís one of the lightest fins in this go-round, and it delivers some pretty solid kicking performance. Speed-wise, it falls about in the middle of the pack, delivering respectable propulsion in return for not too much leg stress. But if you try to turn on the juice, youíll top out pretty quickly in spite of expending a lot of energy.

    On the other hand, when you employ a casual slow kick and slip into cruising mode, the Jet Sport comes into it own. Its stiffer-than-average blade provides stability and makes efficient work of frog and dolphin kicks, yet the design of the blade/foot pocket joint seems to knock the edge off of potential leg strain. The fin is easy to maneuver, itís very responsive in turns and does itself proud negotiating tight corners. The rubber foot pocket molds to your foot, making for a comfy fit, and the strap adjustments and quick release buckles performed as expected. Standing around on a wet deck, test divers found the Jet Sportís non-skid did a better-than-average job of keeping their feet underneath them.

    Bottom Line: the Jet Sport is not going to be breaking any speed records or delivering any jaw-dropping performance. On the other hand, itís a comfortable middle-of-the-road fin that delivers solid kicking power, decent acceleration and pretty good maneuverability with relatively low leg stress, and you all get this for a very good price. Thatís not all bad.

    A Traditional-Style Paddle Fin

    MSRP: $59. MADE IN: Thailand. WARRANTY: 1 Year. WEIGHT (each, size M/L): 2 lbs. FIN STYLE: Paddle. FOOT POCKET: Closed Toe. BUOYANCY: Positive. SIZES: 3.

    SPEED TEST RESULTS: 1.75 mph


    Subgearís Wake is another traditional-style paddle fin that used to be sold under the Tilos Torrent banner. It sports a relatively stiff polypropylene blade interspersed with strips of thermoplastic rubber. The belly of the blade has a couple of contoured thermoplastic rubber ribs to give the blade some stability, and the side rails are notched to assist in blade flex. The body of the foot pocket is part of the polypropylene mold with a thermoplastic rubber panel inserted on top to provide some stretch and comfort to the top of the foot.

    This is a pretty standard paddle fin that delivers pretty standard performance. Itís stiff but not overly so. While not a speedster, it will get you through the water if you maintain a steady kick. It tops out really fast, though, so try to push it and all youíll do is trash your leg muscles without really gaining any horsepower. Test divers found the Wake did best when they shifted into the frog kick, and they found it could do a dolphin kick pretty good too. While not real nimble in the turns, the fin does okay at maneuvering, and itís relatively stable. Test divers felt the quick release buckle and strap system did its job. The non-skid, on the other hand, while it looks really aggressive, is actually too hard, which prevented it from biting into wet surfaces to keep test divers from slipping.

    Bottom Line: The Wake is not a great fin, but itís not a bad fin either. Its foot pocket is cut narrow which caused some comfort issues among some test divers, and the non-skid could be more effective, but the price isnít bad at all. So if you can find a pair that fits, you could do worse. Available in black, blue, yellow and pink.


    After spending a couple days kicking with these fins, the Apollo Bio-Fin Pro C-Series Orange turned out to be the head-and-shoulders favorite among SGR test divers. Which was really no surprise. Combine maximum performance and minimum effort, and throw in the comfort factor, and itís hard to beat the Apollo. But the APS Mantaray flexy version came close. Itís a high achiever in its own right, and its compact size makes it the most versatile kicker of the bunch, good for local diving and an easy traveler. Third place was won by Scubaproís Jet Sport, a fin with performance and comfort attributes a click or two above average, that you can pick up for less than 80 bucks. SGR