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11 Things to Know About Bodyboard Fins

The time has come when you realised you need extra propulsion and acceleration to help you get out to those unbroken waves. This ultimate guide on fins for bodyboarding will help you understand why you need fins and which ones to will suit your needs.

Putting on bodyboarding fins on the beach

You’re standing in shallow water, bodyboard in hand as you watch with envy as bodyboarders way out yonder are catching some of the sweetest looking waves around.

You know you can catch them and you’re at the skill level that you’re happy with but you’re pooped! You are either simply too tired to swim against the strong currents or you just don’t have the power to give you the acceleration you need to catch the wave.

If this is you, the time has come to invest in a pair of bodyboard fins. In this article we help you understand more about fins for bodyboarding so that you can make an informed decision on the best pair to invest in.

Fins Do No Feel Like Shoes

While this may sound like its common sense, you’d be surprised how many people find the bodyboard fins difficult to use at the start.

This is because they started out with unrealistic expectations so we thought we’d set you straight so you don’t go down the same path.

The sides of the bodyboard fins are designed to be very stiff as they prevent the fins from bending too much when you are kicking. This will help you generate the power that you need which is the entire purpose of investing in these fins in the first place.

Because they don’t feel like shoes and it is so awkward to walk in them, I put them on close to the water.

The fins need to feel snug but not too tight but we will discuss a little later in this article about getting the best fit from your bodyboard fins.

Wearing bodyboarding fins on the beach
I’m ready to go!

Can I Use My Diving Fins?

Fins for bodyboarding are very different from scuba or snorkeling fins. You will struggle if you try to wear the longer fins while bodyboarding.

This is because the deep-water fins that divers wear are designed for longer, slower strokes for underwater propulsion, whereas the bodyboarding fin is stiffer and is perfect for the more compact surface water strokes and short bursts of power that you will need.

What Sizes Do Bodyboard Fins Come In?

This is a very general US sizing guide for bodyboard fins but it will give you an idea. Best to always check the sizing guide of the retailer if you’re purchasing online.

S6 – 85 – 6.5
M8.5 – 107 – 8.5
ML11 – 129 – 10.5
L11 – 12.511 – 12.5
XL15 – 1613 – 14.5

It is recommended that you purchase bodyboard fins from an actual bricks and mortar shop so you can try them on.

It’s much like buying shoes from a brand you don’t know online. You can always make an educated guess but until your feet are in those shoes, you’re never 100% sure it will fit properly.

Having poorly fitting bodyboarding fins can be a real problem and take away from your enjoyment of the sport.

Short vs Long Bodyboarding Fins

Shorter fins provide quick release for spins and if you need deeper bursts of power. If you love to do tricks, this is your best bet.

Longer fins are great if you’re doing a lot of paddling out. If you frequent a particular beach as it’s the only one that you have easy access too and you know lots of paddling is required, we recommend that you get the longer fins to reduce the amount of effort required to get out to those elusive waves.

If you need to be able to do both well, we recommend that you get a medium length fin that will satisfy both needs. If you like to ride drop-knee, opt for a fatter, stiffer fin with a softer composite around the foot.

Shape of Bodyboard Fin

There are 2 main types of fins for bodyboarding that you can invest in, asymmetrical or symmetrical fins.

Asymmetrical Bodyboard Fin

The most popular asymmetrical fin is the Churchill fin. The Churchill Makapuu floating fins have been around since 1936. It is made of natural rubber and it was designed to resemble a dolphin tail.

This means there is actually a left and right fin.

The blade and the side rails are stiffer so that it can give you better thrust power and gives you maximum acceleration. This does however mean it is slightly harder on the legs and feet.

The Churchill fin has a thicker heel strap so its more secure, they are buoyant and consists of a drainage hole for small pebbles, sand and water to escape so they are not stuck in the fin.


Symmetrical Bodyboard Fin

The other style of bodyboard fins are the symmetrical shaped fins where there are no left or right fins and can be worn on either foot.

Again, you’re looking for a good rubber construct so that they can propel you through the water more quickly.

The same shaped fin on both feet gives you excellent control when you’re swimming and makes your kicks more stable.

It has a flat bottom without an extended tip like the Churchills which make it easier to walk on the ocean floor. The rigidity of the inner and outer ridges of the fin helps to maximise propulsion and they are built for comfort and durability.

Neither one is better than the other and, in the end, comes down to a personal choice. The best bodyboard fins to buy is one that suits your bodyboarding style, how much swimming you do, the ocean you frequent and the types of waves you catch.

What Fin Material Is the Best?

We also encourage you to purchase fins which are made from natural rubber as opposed to synthetic fins.

Select bodyboard fins which are lightweight, so they are easy to carry around and it won’t weigh you down unnecessarily. Fins which can float above water are particularly useful if you lose one and it re-surfaces.

What Are Fin Savers?

If you are using fins in big surf, it is a good idea to get a set of fin savers.

These little velcro devices attach to your ankles and the fin strap and make sure that if you slip a fin it doesn’t get washed away in the surf. Fin buoyancy won’t help you in this scenario!

Putting on fin savers on the beach

How to Attach Fin Savers

Just loop the strap to the back of the fin and pull the velcro part of the fin saver through. Ensure that it’s nice and taut so that it doesn’t come off.

How to attach a fin saver

Fin Socks

Fins for bodyboarding take some time to wear in and they actually do feel rather foreign. If you’re not going out into the water a lot throughout the year, which would mean it gives the fins the opportunity to get worn in, you might like to also invest in some bodyboard fin socks.

Bodyboard fins can give you blisters and it doesn’t take much for that to happen. The constant rubbing against the skin while in salt water is not a great mix.

The chafing will start to hurt in not time. Nothing worse than being fully kitted out with the best gear only to get a blister the size of a coin after 3 waves and you can’t continue because of the pain!

Types of Fin Socks

There are 3 kinds of bodyboard fin socks you can purchase and they are not better than one another. Essentially it comes down to personal preference as to the style that suits you.

  • Full ankle boots
  • Ped sock style with heel
  • Ped sock with no heel
Types of bodyboarding fin socks

Bodyboard fin socks also comes in different levels of thickness and material.

If you’re after a lightweight and thin sock, a nylon/lycra option may be best for you. They do have less cushioning though and it won’t keep you too warm. It will however help with all the rubbing so perhaps this is a good option to explore if you’re finding the water quite warm.

Most fin socks are made of neoprene, which is the same material as your wetsuit. Depending on whether you get the full ankle boot or ped sock style with no heel, the warmth factor will vary.

Putting on bodyboarding fin socks on the beach
These are the full ankle boots that I like wearing.

Tips for Getting the Best Fit

When you’re trying on your fist pair of fins for bodyboarding, here are a few things to look out for:

Front of The Fin

Ensure that your toes are not jammed up against the front of the foot pocket and there is enough room for them to wiggle. Your feet shouldn’t feel compressed or crushed when they are in the foot pocket. The best feel is tight but not restrictive.

Back of The Fin

Make sure that the strap on the back of the fins do not cut into your Achilles or that the sides of your ankles are too loose as otherwise your fins will fall off.

Top of The Fin

The top of the foot pocket should not be digging into your foot. You will be able to gauge this when you take the fin off. Have a look at the top of your foot and if there is a big red welt or mark there. That is a clear indication that the fins aren’t fitting properly.

Remember that you won’t be standing very much in your fins, and in fact you will be laying prone and kicking in the water while on your bodyboard. Try to simulate this motion with the fin on to see if it moves too much of strangles your foot at all.

If you plan to wear fin socks, it’s a good idea to wear these when you are trying on and fitting your bodyboard fins.

How to Wash Bodyboarding Fins

Much like all the equipment you are using for bodyboarding, taking care of your fins is also part and parcel of the process.

Just like your wetsuits, wash your fins with fresh water to avoid the rubber from cracking and corroding over time. You can own the best bodyboard fins money can buy but if you don’t take care of them, they won’t last the test of time. Your fins will thank you in the long run.

Washing bodyboard fins with hose in garden

How to Store Bodyboard Fins

Before you store your fins away, make sure they are dry. Store your fins in a dry, cool place, out of direct sunlight.

Do not stack them one on top of another as the heat can cause them to stick together. You will damage them when you try to pry them apart.

Lay then flat. Don’t hang them as it can cause the heel part of the fin to distort.

Do not crush them against something hard as it can get bent out of shape which inevitable will affect the performance of the fin. Even the best bodyboard fins require some major TLC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need fins for bodyboarding?

Bodyboarding fins provide propulsion and helps to save energy when you’re trying to get out to catch the bigger waves. There are many reasons you need bodyboard fins but none more than if you wish to improve your skills.

If however you’re happy to stay close to shore or if you will only ever bodyboard when you can touch the seabed, you may not need fins as you don’t have to go out very far. But if you want to swim past a few breaks and really head out to blue yonder, you need fins not only to get you there but to ensure that you can get out of sticky situations.

Are bodyboard fins expensive?

You can get a solid pair of bodyboarding fins for approximately USD $50. For what it can do for your bodyboarding, it is extremely well priced.

How much faster can I swim with fins?

While there is no definitive stats on how much faster you can swim, yourswimlog.com has shown that in the pool, you can reduce your kick frequency and energy expended by 40%. While this can’t be compared to the surf, it does illustrate the fact that it will allow you to conserve energy and help you improve your skills in the long run.

What is the best technique to use for bodyboard fins?

The most common technique is the flutter kick which is essentially the same as how you would kick if doing freestyle in the pool. This is the best way to get you out as well as when you’re trying to catch a wave. The ferocity and speed at which you kick will depend on the surf and what you’re trying got achieve.

I personally cannot live without my fins in the water. With the waves that I am trying to catch, it would require too much arm and leg power and I would tire too quickly.

It is also important for me to conserve my energy when I’m with my family as I continue to keep a watchful eye on my daughter in the water.

I also don’t have the patience to spend all my time paddling out without fins to only be able to catch the occasional wave when I could be catching so much more.

Wouldn’t you rather be able to catch the same number of waves in a shorter period of time? If you do, have a look at some of the best bodyboards fins on the market today.


bodyboard101.com Amy and Andrew at the beach

We’re Andrew & Amy and we are a small blended family that love to bodyboard! We’re here to share everything we know to help you with your bodyboarding adventure as a beginner, with your family or if you’re transitioning onto intermediate level. Let’s go!

18 thoughts on “11 Things to Know About Bodyboard Fins”

  1. Those look like great fins! My husband and kids really enjoy swimming, and my husband scuba dives. It is interesting just how many kinds of fins there are.

    1. I would love to scuba dive one day! He uses slightly different fins to bodyboarding ones but the function is the same. Love that your family love the water so much!

  2. Growing up in a beach town I love body boarding, I never got serious enough for fins though. Love all of these tips for getting the most out of using them though.

  3. There is so much to know! I had no idea that fins were even used, much less how much you need to think about their design. I love all the information here.

  4. Reading this makes me realized that I have really limited knowledge about fins! I didn’t know there are so many kinds and now I feel information overload! haha! Indeed this is a good and helpful reading!

  5. Wow, I never knew there was so much to consider in regards to body board fins. I’ve never actually tried body boarding, but I think I may have to now. Sounds like fun!

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