Fin straps. They really aren’t that bad, typically a piece of rubber that ratchets tight through two plastic clips often with a quick release making it easy to remove. Simple contraption, easy to use, so really something that wouldn’t need an upgrade right?
The moment I got my new fins earlier in the year I heard, “sweet, those are great fins, now what you really need are some spring straps.” Most of my scuba buddies have spring straps, and all of them exclaim how wonderful they are, but I never really bought into it. I’d never had too much trouble getting my fins on and off in the surf, so why spend extra money on something that wasn’t really necessary?
Well fast forward a bit to a couple of beach dives where tiny bits of sand got stuck in the quick release mechanism of my regular fin straps. Those granules made it impossible to fully depress the button and release the fin straps which meant I was stuck sitting in the surf zone getting battered by wave after wave as I tried in vain to remove my fins. On one occasion I even had to crawl out of the water, sit in the sand and then pull them off, pretty embarassing. Not to mention that I was cleaning sand out of every piece of gear for weeks. Needless to say, the idea of spring straps began to grow on me.
So what’s so great about spring straps? Basically they are a high tension spring that you fit to the size of your foot in your fin so that there is no longer any adjusting of straps to get the proper tightness keeping the fin secure on your foot. In addition, since it’s a spring, you no longer need the quick release for getting out of your fins because you just pull back on the large, easy to grab (even in gloves) loop and then slide the fin off your foot. Magnificent.
I pushed the idea of upgrading to the back of my head because I had much more important (and expensive) things I needed to be putting my money towards, namely my Instructor class, and the upcoming Instructor Exam. Then I went out with Brett as an assistant one Sunday when he had 9 students for Open Water and ended up rescuing a student’s fancy expensive watch from the bottom of the ocean. It really was just luck; he had tried to stay in one spot while floating on the surface looking for it, but I noticed he was drifting, called him back over and said we’d do a quick search on the bottom once we descended. I then glanced down below me and noticed something shining on the bottom. Once Brett surfaced with another diver he was completing a CESA with, I asked him if I could drop down real quick and see if it was the watch. It was, and the student was so grateful that I managed to recover it, that he put a $100 credit on my account at Eco.
All in all I was amazed, it was totally more than necessary, especially since it was total luck that I happened to spot the reflective face of the watch from the surface, and that it didn’t get buried in the sand when it sank. However, the credit was there, and now I had free money to spend. So I bought myself a nice shiny new pair of spring straps for my fins. It took a little bit sitting on the couch to get them adjusted and installed on my fins, and then later in the week I went out for a dive and got to test them out.
It was beautiful. The ease of being able to slide my foot in the fin then just let go and the strap sprang back tight against my foot immediately was fantastic. There was no struggling to adjust the strap and get the next fin on before the next wave hit, no issue of making sure I had them loose enough before entering the water, just pull, let go and swim away! The straps were comfortable and held my foot securely in the fin the whole time, and exiting the water was a breeze. I just had to grab the loop, pull back the spring and off the came. No more struggling with a finicky quick release.
Seriously, I would recommend spring straps to anyone now, especially if you do any beach diving. I totally understand why they exist and why everyone kept telling me I needed to get them. So thanks Dan, for your gracious credit, and I can’t wait to get in the water again!
(ps. I’m being good with the remainder of the credit, it’s going to go towards my class in one way or another) :o)