Bodyboard Fins get you out there. Stealth S1 Classic Bodyboard Fins
Bodyboard Fins are unique to Bodyboarding. You get a soft foot pocket and strap with firmer blade area and an identifiable fin shape. Various design technologies are used in the blade to maximise propulsion, your power from each kick. Some fins though are optimised for moves and mobility.
Like shoes, size and fit is vital. Paddling with an incorrect fin fit will fatigue your feet, can lead to cramps, and rashing. Almost in no other area of surfing is it as important to come in-store, try on different brands and models, along with fit accessories, to get the best fit with the features and performance you want.
This size chart from Limited Edition gives you an indication of where your Bodyboard Fin size fits against your shoe size
Bodyboard fins come in generic sizes such as XS for extra small through to XL for extra large. A size chart can be used to match your shoe size to your fin size.
You’ll note that within each fin size there’s a range of shoe sizes. So if you’re someone who’s used to half sizes such as a 10.5 to get your perfect fit in a shoe, you’ll see your fin size goes from a 9 to 11. There’s no way the fin will fit perfectly across 2 whole shoe sizes and if you include half sizes, a Bodyboard Fin covers 5 sizes!
You can’t guess-timate fin size. It’s something you have to come in-store and get right. Between brands there’s always variation as well. So if you’re changing brands and models you need to take the time to try on fins and get fit right.
You should never go down a size or get your fins too small. Small means short in the foot pocket or too narrow. If the front of the pocket is rubbing, sometimes touching on your toes, this will develop into a lot of discomfort. You want your toes to be free moving. You want the side of your foot barely touching the sides.
Another fit issue is that of the strap. Bodyboard Fins have a non-adjustable strap. On most Bodyboarders this is a little loose. So there’s a certain amount of rubbing that takes place. If this rubbing is excessive you will rash, develop a blister and may end up out of the water.
Fin Socks can be the solution to getting great fit and preventing rash and blistering. On the left are two purpose designed Bodyboard Socks. Note the one on the left has a low cut, low on your ankle. The other has a sealed heel and a high cut that can be folded up your ankle. Both of these Socks have great heavy duty stitching and reinforcement on the sole for durability. On the right these are not Bodyboard socks. However if you’re having problems with fit and rubbing a pair of swim socks, 2mm, could be the answer. You can always cut them down to size. From left to right, Creatures Neo Fin Sox Lo Cut, Creatures Neo Fin Sox Hi Cut, Orca Swim Socks
The solution to the problems above, in addition to trying the fin on, is to try a fin accessory like a fin sock. A Fin Sock is neoprene that is like a sock. The front you slip your foot into. The rear is open and has a strap like your fin. The neoprene of this sock adds volume to your foot so when you’re trying on a larger size fin, with the sock, you can get the perfect fit.
The neoprene is also soft so if your toes touch the fin through the neoprene it’s not going to rub to the extent to cause a blister. Once wet the foot sock will reduce pressure and friction.
Another option in the strap area is the use of Fin Savers. Some Fin Saver models fit over your fin strap and have a neoprene padded section. So abrasion of your ankle is removed.
Bodyboard Fins are designed primarily to give you propulsion. So that when you kick you go forward. This gets you out to the waves quickly. Gets you onto the waves for good rides.
To achieve this various brands and models have features to optimise propulsion. This can be the use of side or edge bars that are raised to greater thickness than the rest of the fin. They can also use firmer compounds so do not flex as much.
Some fin models include another bar on the underneath middle to achieve the same increase in propulsion performance.
Bars and other textures can also run across the fin bottom. These are designed to give grip when you’re walking over rocks. The bottom of your fins also has flush holes. These let excess water come out of your fin so you’re not carrying that extra weight. They also allow weed, sand, unwanted pebbles to be flushed out so they don’t irritate your foot. Some are a basic circle others are high tech vents designed to let water out without letting any in.
Fins with different shapes and sizes. In terms of shape you’ve go an asymmetric dolphin tail on the left, to ducks feet in the middle and tech shape on the end. Note they also reduce in terms of size. The fins on the far right being easier to bring up onto your board to do drop knee. From left to right, Limited Edition Sylock-Flippers, Nife N2 Flippers, Manta Clone Bodyboard Fins
Some fins have a shape that is reflected, where the left and right fin are a reflection of each other. These are called asymmetric. When placed together they look like a dolphin tail.
Taking this asymmetric dolphin design other fins have increased the length of the outer edge of the blade. So there’s a definite point. This design aims to give you propulsion from the fin body and then control from the fin tip. By jamming the tip in the wave you can change direction, control speed, get stability.
Other designs incorporate very different features. Some have a duck foot shape with a central edge or spine running down the middle of the fin. Then there’s fins with a curved outer edge, the complete opposite of coming to a point. Each has their own design philosophy and advantages they offer.
In terms of shape some fins are also shorter, aiming to give you increased maneuverability so you can get them up on your board for drop-knee surfing. These shorter fins can also be easier to use in the wave face.
Comparing Bodyboard Fins is not an easy task even online. There’s lots of design features that need to be considered, with the over-riding importance of getting a brand and model that fit. Even within brands there’s features unique to each model that could be right what you’re after. Above, Stealth provide a comparison between the S2 and S4 fins. Note the big difference the end of the blade shape
You may be surprised by the variation in price between fins. This reflects the materials, design and features incorporated in your fins.
For example, it’s ideal to have a very soft foot pocket, and stiff side bars. This means using different flex or dual compounds in the fin construction. Getting the softest and strongest flex rubber will give you a better fit, feel and performance.
In terms of design, while a lot of fins copy the asymmetric dolphin shape, there’s few who really understand it. Looking closely you can see shape refinements that will give you much better performance. At the other extreme there’s fins with unique approaches and shapes to give you high performance. Getting a super tech design can give you great performance.
Getting a good fit of your Bodyboard Fins, with or without fin accessories, is where your fin journey starts and there’s no better place to get fit right than in-store. You can also see and feel the different design shapes, their weight, thickness and flex getting an idea for their dynamic. Getting the right fins will give you an edge in the surf.