To start off, for the past year I have been diving Aqualung’s Express ADJ Fins. These are an open heel fin designed to be worn with a bootie. I have found them to be ULTRA durable and a good performer. I prefer them to split fins because they work well with a frog kick and while they can accelerate fast they can also cruise at normal dive speeds very comfortably. The most important thing to note about these fins is that they do have a break-in period. I feel like they got much more “flexi” and comfortable after about 40 dives or so. If this seems like a lot of dives then maybe the X-Shots are a better choice for you. My co-worker Zac also did a very long stint on a pair of Express fins and came to the same conclusions. One of the few “downsides” of the Express fins is that they are quite long, physically. Of course, this is only a downside if you’re trying to fit them in to carry-on luggage. If getting a good travel fin is what you are looking for you should go with the Hotshots.
When I saw the new X-Shot fins from Aqualung I knew I had to get them as soon as possible. The X-Shot and Shot FX (for women) are Aqualung’s newest paddle fins. They have several improvements over their Express fins. In addition to spring straps, which make getting in and out of the fins SO much easier, they also have a very nice feel to them even brand new! No break-in necessary, although I think in a couple of months they could be even better.
The first thing I noticed underwater was that the X-Shot did give me a noticeable increase of propulsion for a given kick, I feel like the “glide” portion of my kick was significantly increased. They say it is due to their new V-Boosters. Regardless of the technology, they work quite well. I chose the orange color for the increased visibility for my students. They also come in blue and black. The women’s version are identical to the male version except slightly shorter and have black and “twilight” (purple) color choices.
The only thing I have the slightest reservation about is the center portion of the fin. It is comprised of a hard panel encased in a soft rubber that allows it to make a scoop shape while kicking. I don’t know if this design is as rugged as Express fin. On the plus side, I feel like this is what adds to a smoother feeling kick right out of the box which is much appreciated.
Dive Booties: The last time I went to Olowalu I had two boot punctures from keawe thorns. That was it! I decided to get a heavier-duty boot. So when I ordered the fins, I also got the Ergo Safe Sole booties. I got the 5mm not because of the warmth, but because of the added structure the thicker neoprene adds to the boot. First off (and this is not a commercial), let me tell you how much I LOVE the Ergo boot series. The anatomical fit is so logical, I have no idea why nobody has come up with this before. My big toe LOVES the extra room that this design affords. In addition, these boots have a layer of felt built into the center of the sole that increases protection like steel belts on a automobile tire. The boot also goes higher on the leg then any other so wetsuit inside the booties is required. The booties have a super heavy duty Velcro closure over the zipper that keeps everything in place. These particular boots are special order but we can size you up with our other Ergo booties and get them ordered and here in quick fashion.
Overall conclusion: I will be keeping my Express fins for ultra rocky entry/exits but plan on putting all of my South Maui diving on the X-Shots. In addition, my Ergo Safe Sole booties are the only booties for me now – I’m in love!
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