Even though the Power-Loop Monocoque term sounds pretentious we have to give them a pass because the fin really does resemble and have performance qualities of flying and racing from which the monocoque term emanates. And, just so you don’t have to click over to WikiPedia to lookup the term monocoque, it comes from the French “single shell.” It came into play when planes transitioned from a WWI era ribbed structure that was covered with cotton or Irish linen, to today’s design having a body that doubles as the supporting structure. You see the roots of this functional design in the BladeFin’s integrated winglets and water shaping “power rails.”
Atomic Aquatics‘ BladeFin possesses what we’ve come to expect from Atomic and equally from all the Huish Outdoors companies: quality of form and function coupled with elegant style. Like Atomic’s SplitFin, the Bladefin will likely stand out in its category for many years.
First off, the fin is pretty. Like a fashion house, Atomic has learned to create a consistent couture to unite the product line. The Bladefin carries the same clean and “wicked” styling of the masks and other products in the Venom line. Even the ES-LOK buckle now has a color accent.
But it would not be Atomic if it was only about the look. These fins step up with both quality of build and performance. Just in case you’re not impressed yet, Atomic even throws in a highfalutin term into the bargain with the description of their “Power-Loop Monocoque’ engineering structure.”
What this means for the diver is a fin that merges with your body to create a natural flow of power from your legs to the water. All of our testers immediately commented on the flat-out power and thrust they felt with the BladeFin. All reported that the fins track extremely well. They hugs the water like a formula one race car’s tires hug the track. But they also allow you to perform nimble and delicate moves and yes, frog kicks much better than you would only expect from a much shorter fin. We even saw a report of a cave diver who used and liked this fin. We only received one negative comment — one tester said it was not great on turning well when on a sprint kick (think of a seal making a hard turn at speed). But since very few scuba divers would need this we decided that it would not be a significant drawback.
We also appreciate the power to weight ratio. The BladeFins are lighter then they appear and are nearly neutral in the water. We do see comments from divers reporting that the BladeFins run small compared to other brands so make sure you look at the sizing chart.
Like any paddle fin, it comes with a higher leg rating than a split fin: we gave it a leg rating of six (1 to 10 scale from no fins to stiff boards on your feet). But I was expecting a stiffer feel. This means that divers moving from split fins will have a shorter transition time. As with any transition from a split to paddle fin you will notice your leg muscles have been worked out. We recommend that you need to allow about 10 dives to adapt to any change in fins. But I found that these fins need less time then with any other paddle fin I have tested. If you are currently a split fin user but want a bit more power and control, the BladeFins are a good choice. Likewise, if you are using a paddle fin but want a softer leg without losing the power and control of your current paddle fin, BladeFins are, again, a good choice.
Most brands of fins come with standard straps which are fine in warm water (i.e. no gloves). But Atomic has made a buckle that works well in both tropical and cold water (i.e. gumby or dry gloves). With most other fins you have to pay extra to get spring or bungee fins straps to use in cold water. Bungee and spring straps often do not have the range to work on heavy rock boots and thin bootees. The Atomic EZ-LOK Squeeze-Style” quick-release buckles are very well designed, secure and work as name implies, “EZ” to use in any gear. Also the Atomic strap is thick and sturdy with large pull-tabs which are easy to grab with and adjust with thick gloves. Our only grumble is that the Atomic fins have pin is small and will not fit any other’s fin strap. I carry an extra fin strap in my save a dive kit which will fit most other manufacturer’s fin but not Atomic.
Before you purchase your AA fins check the buckles carefully. Our demo fins came from an early batch that had a few defective buckles. The buckles were not closing completely and one came off at the slightest bump. It is unlikely that you will find the problem but it can’t hurt to give it rigorous test at the shop.
We give the Atomic Aquatics BladeFins 4.5 out of 5 for great performance, stylish design and quality manufacturing. We can also say this. If you need a fin for recreational diving you cannot go wrong with an Atomic fin because both the BladeFin and the Atomic SpltFin are at the top of the field in quality and performance. With Atomic you only have to decide which one suits you best.