Like most water activities, bodyboarding is a fun, stress-free, and healthy hobby. Likewise, it also requires a set of gear to perform safely and correctly. One of those is a pair of bodyboard fins. Not only will it grant you more control over your movements in the water but also improve performance by a mile.
With quality fins, you can swim quickly and easily, catching waves like nobody’s business. That brings us to the question: how do you choose the right fins?
Types of Bodyboard Fins
Before you go about bodyboard fins selection, it’s important to know what’s out there. Essentially, you can choose from two types of fins: symmetrical and asymmetrical.
The latter is the more popular of the two and comes in a dolphin-tail shape. On the other hand, despite being the less used option, the symmetrical fin comes with benefits that align with many bodyboarding styles. Also, its propulsion power and joint-protection qualities easily match its counterpart.
How To Choose the Right Bodyboard Fin
There may be only two types of bodyboard fins to choose from, but that doesn’t mean the right choice is always easy to make, especially for a beginner. The ideal pair should suit your physique for optimal use. That said, here are the key factors that should influence your choice:
No part of bodyboarding would be fun or stress-free if you wore uncomfortable fins. A good pair should allow your feet to flex and move with ease. If the fins don’t adapt to your feet’ shape and movements, they’re not good ones.
In particular, a perfect pair should be soft around the instep region to ensure a high chance of injury prevention. It should neither nip at nor squeeze the sides of your feet. Features such as rubbers on the blade and foot pocket contribute to optimal comfort. However, make sure the rubber on the blade is stiff and the one on the foot pocket is soft and comfortable.
Size factors into the comfort equation, as well. The bodyboard fin should fit you to a T. It should be neither too small nor too large, as that would be a recipe for pain and discomfort. Fins appropriate for your foot should not only be comfortable; they should also prevent gliding-related injuries.
Note that sizes don’t work the same way across the board. Brands may have their own specific size charts, so research your prospective brands before making a decision.
2. Fin Shape
Outside the symmetrical and asymmetrical shape discussion, there’s also the matter of fin wideness and narrowness. In wider fins, the propulsion is outstanding, but there are limitations when it comes to movement and execution.
In other words, while you may be happy with the speed and power, your maneuvers could leave much to be desired. Then again, experienced surfers should have little trouble working around these restrictions.
In narrow bodyboard fins, beginners and professionals alike should find maneuvers easier to execute. Yet, beginners, more so, should find the lack of propulsion exhausting. Professionals are likely used to the activity enough or have developed the limb strength to compensate for the fin’s reduced forward-pushing power.
3. Fin Flexibility and Rigidity
The fins’ softness, hardness, and flexibility tie into their shape, so it’s vital to consider these factors simultaneously. The more flexible the fin, the faster and more comfortable it tends to be. Flexible material also lends to propulsion power.
Flexible fins are often made of softer material, which factors heavily into the beginner learning experience. Rigid fins are tougher to get used to and have less propulsion, so riders are expected to put in more effort to push the board forward.
What a pair of rigid fins lack in beginner-friendliness, it makes up for in training performance. It holds all the qualities necessary for experienced riders to deliver their special moves in the water. That said, it also takes a seasoned surfer to deliver power using these fins.
Apart from bodyboarding experience, you’d have to be in good physical shape to take full advantage of rigid fins. These fins’ lack of flexibility means they displace larger volumes of water. Thus, they are great for providing short bursts of speed.
Note that a rigid fin’s structure demands more from your body. These fins can cause leg muscles to fatigue more quickly and, as such, cease to be comfortable after some time. To address this, wear these fins with neoprene socks to provide comfort and protect from chafing and blisters.
Improve Your Fins’ Durability
The right pair of bodyboarding fins are likely to be either for performance or comfort. Thus, it can be surmised that bodyboarding fins are either for beginners or seasoned riders. Based on that and the above-mentioned tips, it shouldn’t be too difficult to come to the right decision.
In the end, what matters most is preserving your fins’ quality. Aside from choosing durable products, it’s also vital to care for and maintain these products accordingly. Remember, for all the ocean’s fun and excitement, it easily holds the power to damage and drifts fins away.