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Choosing Special Operations Swimming Fins

SEAL SubWhat type of fins do you swim with? For the casual swimmer, a slip on pair of flippers is fine, but if you are SCUBA diving or training for Special Ops programs, you will need REAL fins. Below are several of the issued fins at a variety of our military’s Special Ops programs such as Navy SEAL, Army Diver, Air Force PJ, and Rescue / SAR swimmer training programs:

The focus of this post will be on the different types of fins our military uses as well as an open discussion on what types of fins the readers prefer for open water swimming or SCUBA Diving. Most of the fins purchased by our government agencies occur between the US Diver and ScubaPro companies with two age old competitors – Rocket Fins and Jet Fins. See below for the similarities and differences:

U.S. Diver Rocket Fins:

Fins3Rocket Fins have been a military / special ops / public safety diver gear issue for decades.  The Large “Big Foot” pocket fits over heavyweight dry suit boots or dry land combat boots / shoes.  Being neutrally buoyant in water helps with losing a fin to the deep, darks depths of the operational areas.  Heavy duty stainless steel buckles with bolt and locknut for easy field repair.  LARGE = Sizes 9 to 11, SUPER = Sizes 12+

Average Price $60-75

ScubaPro Jet Fins:

Fins2SCUBAPRO Jet Fins have a long and celebrated history of performance. They set the standard for power and durability in 1965, and are still immensely popular today.

  • " Proven vented design decreases drag on the upstroke and enhances thrust on the downstroke
  • " Adjustable heel strap secures strap for ease of pre-dive preparation
  • " Spring heel straps available as an option. Available in Black in sizes L and XL for easy donning and doffing.
  • Average Price $100-129
Spare Foot Straps:

Fin StrapBoth require you to purchase spare foot straps.  Personally, I always keep a spare foot strap on swims or dives as these break due to overuse or dry rot.  There are very few differences in these fins as both have similar comfort and durability, but the affordability is quite different between the cost of Rocket Fin and Jet Fins.

Is there a particular SCUBA fin you recommend prior to training for Special Ops Training? 

Fins1Actually, as long as you have SCUBA diving fins that require you to wear booties (versus slip on bare feet flippers) then you are good to go. The goal is to get your feet, ankles, hips used to swimming with stiff fins prior to attending any training.  I used my old Mares Power Plana SCUBA fins prior to BUDS and they transitioned nicely when issued Rocket Fins or UDT Duck Feet.  So you can use what you have or get the Rocket Fins if you wish.

I personally use these type of fins for SCUBA diving or open water swimming today.  I find them lighter and easier to use than the above military issue brands.

Do you have a favorite fin?  How does it compare with what I call the ACDs of Comparing Products:

A – Affordability

C – Comfort

D - Durability

-- Stew Smith is a former SEAL and a fitness author.

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