Every part of a successful diver’s kit is important, but one of the most crucial elements (and one of the hardest to get right), is the scuba fins. This is the tool that transforms an hour-long submarine float into a dynamic journey beneath the sea. For her aquatic-dwelling denizens, Nature has spent millennia developing a variety of appendages that enable them to propel themselves efficiently through the water. And just as we do for so many of our innovations, humans have borrowed that knowledge to help us achieve feats we couldn’t dream of without augmenting our natural abilities.

That said, we’ve adapted so many different fin designs that finding just the right one for your individual needs can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. The Mares X-Stream open heel scuba fins combine some tried-and-true technologies with new innovations to create a fin that’s light to carry, easy to don, and powerful in the water.

Mares X-Stream Fins
Mares X-Stream Fins

With folding two-button clips that open on either side, it’s easy to adjust the straps for a perfect fit and keep them set for the next dive.

Pro tip: don’t over-tighten the straps. For a while I was getting cramps in my instep, but once I loosened it up a little that problem disappeared.You can also exchange the factory straps for the Mares bungees if you prefer. Whichever configuration works for you, the X-Streams fit snugly and won’t rattle around on your feet.

The perforated foot pockets cut way down on resistance as you move through the water, and the rigid bottom of the pocket provides a solid surface for your foot to push against while you fin. The soft silicone in the center of the blade provides maximum thrust with each kick, so you don’t have to work as hard to create forward momentum. This is especially helpful in situations such as liveaboards where you’re doing many dives in a condensed period and can use the help to minimize fatigue. An OPB notch at the top of the blade gives these fins a nice snap that has made it easy for me to wrangle snorkeling teenagers (I literally swam circles around them), penetrate WWII shipwrecks, successfully fight ripping currents off Bonegi Beach in the Solomon Islands, and keep up with manta rays in Fiji.

Lightweight materials make these great travel fins — they’re not too big to toss in a standard suitcase and will far out-perform any rental fins you might run across in your travels. The only catch is that you have to bring your boots, which I prefer anyway as a way to protect my feet while trekking across hot parking lots and coral-rubble beaches. I’ve intercepted many an envious gaze from fellow travelers paddling slowly along in their rental fins — as I flew right by them.

The Mares X-Stream fins are available in blue, pink, red, black, white, and yellow, and feature a sharp aesthetic with a black X centered over the foot pocket. The lower legs of the X curve around and act as struts to reinforce the articulation point between pocket and blade. The blade itself is rimmed with the color of your choice, while the silicone blade channel and hard plastic foot cup are a frosted clear that gives the impression of a streamlined fin pared down just to bare essentials.

At $179.95 USD, they are a bit on the pricey side. That said, I can’t put a price tag on the satisfaction I feel at finally being able to keep up with my longer-legged dive buddies. Having traveled to multiple countries and done duty in all kinds of conditions, my X-Streams are only just starting to look a little scuffed around the edges. I anticipate years of faithful service, and would definitely buy a replacement pair when they finally give up the ghost.

Whether you dive regularly at home or only occasionally on vacation, the X-Stream fins will help you handle any conditions with speed and maneuverability. They handle extreme (no pun intended) currents and long surface swims without missing a beat, and are compact enough to faithfully propel you in the tight swim-throughs. These fins definitely earn the space they take up in your luggage.

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Features

  • Available in sizes XS, S, R, and XL
  • ABS plus buckles and perforated pull tab
  • Riddled foot pocket avoids “parachute effect
  • Next generation OPB
  • Tri-material blade construction reduces turbulence
  • Channel thrust technology Pricing
  • Mares X-Stream fins $179.95 USD / ~ €168.35 Euro / £145 GBP

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Performance
Comfort
Looks
Value For Money
Erin Durbin-Sherer
Erin began diving in 2012 as preparation for a trip to Hawaii and before the year was out she'd left her old life behind to work in the dive industry full-time. When she's not out exploring the deep and collecting c-cards, you might find her making art or working on her master's thesis in cultural anthropology at San Diego State University. Erin is an Associate Editor with DeeperBlue.com.

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