Buying Bodyboard Fins
When do I need bodyboarding fins and what are their benefits?
Now it's time for you to try using swim fins or what none-bodyboarders call flippers. They're a neat piece of kit that will have you riding waves with majestic prowess in no time.
Read this quick handy guide about why never to hit the water without these vital slabs of rubber. The benefits of fins are:
- They propel you through waves more easily, giving you acceleration to catch more waves
- Catching more waves increase the fun factor and can take your bodyboarding ability to the next level
- As you become more experienced, fins help control your rail edge as you trim across waves
- From a safety point of view, they make it easier to get back to shallow water when needed
How do I enter the water with fins on?
Simply follow these basic rules and you'll get behind those waves in no time:
- Walk forwards carefully into the water
- At ankle depth, walk backwards to avoid tripping
- At hip depth start paddling out
How do bodyboarding fins differ from diving fins and what features should I look out for?
Paying more for your swim fins means you'll get a better quality experience - and we're not saying that just to make you dig deeper in your wallet.
A good fin will have softer rubber on the foot pocket, stiff rubber on the blade and stiff rails that connect the foot pocket and the blade. This will keep the fin moving as one unit as you paddle.
Unlike diving fins, you want your fin to stay rigid throughout the whole stroke. This will give increased comfort and faster acceleration - exactly what you need for a top quality bodyboarding session.
How comfortable should my fins be?
The most important factor to consider when buying fins is to ensure they're a comfortable fit. Unsure how to make this call? Make the following checks when trying them on:
- Feet shouldn't be squeezed together, cramped or have pressure applied to toe ends
- Make sure the side of your foot isn't nipped, otherwise this will cause cramp in the water
- Ensure the heel strap and top of the fin don't cut into your foot
- It's important fins are snug but don't feel tight
Remember, fins feel different to your shoes. They will never be as comfortable, so you need to give them a chance. If they are too tight or feel like they could rub, it's a good idea to try a different size or brand.
How can I check that my fins are the correct fit?
Take note – we've reached the most important bit. Focus. Getting kitted out with the correct sized and most comfortable fins is vital for immense bodyboard pleasure. And that's why you're reading this mini guide – to make sure you know what to look out for, right? Congratulations, you've come to the right place. While trying fins on we suggest you ask yourself the following questions:
Is the ankle strap comfortable?
If it's a snug fit, you're 95% there. If it's too tight, you'll get cramps. Too loose, the fin will come off.
Are your toes comfortable?
If your digits are pressed against the end of the fin pocket, it’s likely that the fins will be uncomfortable.
Does the fin feel loose on your foot?
If it does, the fin will flap around in the water and cause fin rub, you'll have less power and it's likely they'll come off more easily in the surf.
Remember, your feet can change size slightly. In cold water feet shrink or they can expand when hot. So keep in mind, whatever the fit feels like dry it will be slightly different in the water.
Your feet may also feel ok when sat in a chair trying fins on, but what will it be like when you're paddling? You're not likely to spend much time standing around in them so it's the paddling motion that needs to be replicated. Have a few air kicks to see how they feel. Go on – it's quite fun. Are you going to wear wetsuit socks, inserts or flipper slippers? If you wear wetsuit socks we recommend buying one fin size up from your normal size.
What size fins should I go for?
Fins come in a range of sizes:
- Extra Extra Small
- Extra Small
- Medium Large
- Extra Large
- Extra Extra Large
Beware! Each brand size varies slightly, so it's important to check our sizing chart or ask for more advice before you purchase. Each brand also has foot pockets that suit different types of feet, such as wide fit, narrow fit or designs for a high instep.
What happens if I buy the wrong sized fins?
From time to time, this can happen. As long as they have no signs of use you can return them to us and we'll exchange them for a suitable size. No worries.
However, we will need as much information as possible about why they don't fit, or why they don't feel comfortable. We can then select the perfect pair that should see you on your way to the fin comfort heaven. You will need to pay postage costs for returned fins and their replacements.
What fins should I choose for prone riding?
If you're a prone rider and spend most of the time laying on your bodyboard then the most tried and tested fins are of asymmetrical traditional design called the Churchill shape.
However, smaller ladies and children often find symmetrical fins work better, as the surface area of the fins are often a little shorter which make for easier kicking.
What fins should I use for drop knee riding?
But what if you’re a drop knee shredder? You just love that semi-stand position while hurtling across a wave, but you're struggling to get your front foot in to position...
To make climbing into the drop knee stance much easier try cutting down your front fin. This can be achieved by carefully cutting down the blade with a Stanley knife or similar. Be careful not to cut through the foot pocket though or cut yourself!
What should I be looking at with the drainage holes in my fins?
All fins have holes positioned on the bottom for drainage. The idea is that shale, stones and sand drain whilst you're paddling. Some cheaper fins annoyingly allow your toes to be pushed through the drainage hole when exerting extreme stress on the blade. This is not cool. Be kind to your feet by paying that little bit extra. Better quality kit means higher quality rubber and less chance of this happening.
Take care of your fins and they'll take care of you. Here's a little tips list to keep them on top form:
- Always rinse your fins in fresh water after use
- Don't store them with the blades bent or they will stay that way
- Be careful walking over sharp rocks as they could split the drainage holes if you snag them
- Rubber perishes in cold temperatures so don't leave them out in the garden all winter!
What should I do if I get fin rub?
No matter, we can help. Just follow these simple rules:
- Don't ruin your surf trip, take action immediately
- Change fins to a different model that don't apply pressure to the affected area
- If your fins fit an insert, heel shield, flipper slipper or wetsuit sock then use them immediately
- Clean out the rub using fresh water and Savlon (or similar antiseptic), then cover with a *Compeed pad
*Compeed pads are super sticky plasters that protect your feet from further rubbing and are the only kind that stay put whilst you're in the sea.
Socks and padding
It's every bodyboarder's dream to have a pair of well-fitting fins that can be worn without wetsuit socks. The fins are nice and light, you can get good depth with your kick and it's less tiring. Unfortunately, achieving this Holy Grail isn't always easy as flipper rubber has a tendency to rub when friction is created.
Winters in the UK and northern Europe see all but the most hardcore bodyboarders wearing fin socks. Many riders have a pair of well-fitting fins they use without socks in the summer and a pair of larger fins with neoprene fin socks for use in the winter.
Trying to make one pair fit with socks and then fit without socks doesn't work. Sorry! Not to worry, we've got plenty of kit that can help you out whatever the season.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using neoprene fin socks?
Want to keep your feet warm and comfortable inside your fin while carving the surf? Then neoprene socks will fast become your best buddies.
OK, there is a drawback. Your feet may feel heavier in the water and they'll certainly be more buoyant so getting a deep paddle stroke is more difficult. It's a trade off, but socks will almost always eliminate fin rub and that's a major bonus.
If you choose to use neoprene socks with your fins you should generally go up a size so they fit comfortably. However, if your fins are a loose fit you may not need to do this.
Always use socks with no rubber soles, as these are boots, not socks. They're designed for surfers rather than bodyboarders. The rubber soles stop your feet from bending inside your fins and often creates cramp. So don't go there, it's really not worth it.
Should I use flipper slippers?
These comfy numbers are great if you get a good fit - so choose wisely. They're small neoprene socks that provide great protection from rubs. If they're too big they have a tendency to slip down, so make sure you get a pair slightly too small instead. They are lighter on your feet than full neoprene socks, so many bodyboarders prefer them. They also create much less drag if you are wearing a short wetsuit or shorts.
Should I use heel shields?
If your swim fin is a little big it's a good idea to use a heel shield for an even snugger fit. Heel shields also protect your ankle and heel from rubbing. The soft neoprene stops the rubber ankle strap rubbing against your ankle or Achilles.
Should I use inserts?
Exclusive to the Bodyboard Depot are our fin inserts, specially designed for your bodyboarding comfort. These neoprene fin inserts have Velcro straps that fit securely round the heel of your swim fin. The insert covers your foot to prevent rubs while keeping drag and buoyancy to a minimum. A great option if you need protection around the heel and your toes.
Should I use fin tethers?
Don't lose your fins in the surf! You can't buy fins individually so if you lose one you'll need to buy a new pair. Fin tethers or fin strings help keep your fins attached to your leg.
If you're wearing a wetsuit, roll up the leg and attach the tether above your ankle. Then roll your wetsuit down over the top to hold it in place. This also helps reduce drag in the water.
What shall I do next?
Then take a look at our Fins and Fin accessories range. With the right gear, you'll have many happy days ahead in the surf. So go get some!