What is an Open-Heel Fin?
Open-heel fins have larger, stiffer foot pockets and are open at the back to accommodate neoprene dive booties and/or drysuit boots. These kinds of fins are held in place with an adjustable heel strap or bungee.
Pros and Cons
1. Don’t Get Cold Feet — They are worn with booties, which provide additional insulation. Open-heel fins are required for drysuit diving, the large boots will not work with a full-foot fin.
2. Put Your Foot Down — Booties protect your foot from cuts and stings. They provide protection even when you aren’t wearing your fins, so they are beneficial for rocky, hazardous shore entries.
3. Adjust Accordingly — Adjustable heel straps can be loosened and tightened to achieve a great fit — they also make it easier to get the fin on and off. This makes it easy to wear the same fin with booties of varying sizes and thicknesses.
4. Expense — They are generally more expensive than full-foot fins. Especially when you add in the additional cost of a pair of booties.
5. Bulk — Open-heel fins are generally larger and bulkier than full-foot fins. This makes them powerful work-horses underwater, but more difficult to travel with.
Full-foot fins would be an appropriate choice for divers who frequent warm-water destinations and prefer to dive from boats. They are also well-suited for folks who travel or enjoy snorkeling as much as diving — provided that they purchase actual dive fins, not just snorkel-specific fins that are not suitable for current or moving bulky dive gear underwater.
Divers who visit destinations with cooler water will want to consider open-heel fins. This will allow them to wear neoprene booties appropriate for the dive environment. Booties can also be worn in warm water and can be useful for divers who get cold easily.
The added protection is ideal for divers who like to shore dive or have long walks between where they gear up and the dive site. They may be slightly bulkier and more expensive than full-foot fins, but open-heel fins offer greater flexibility and are a good investment for any diver.