I speak with customers nearly every day about swimfins. Most want advice on which fins to get based on their needs and foot type (see our Blog post about choosing the right swimfins). Usually, at the end of the conversation or transaction, I recommend that they add a pair of fin tethers. I am not and have never been the type to upsell strictly for the sake of upselling. I genuinely want to prevent them from losing their swimfins and having to come back a week later because they didn't think they needed fin tethers.
The conversation usually goes like this:
ME: I recommend a pair of fin tethers. They're cheap insurance!
THEM: Nah, I don't need 'em. I've never lost a pair of fins.
ME: Well consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
THEM: Don't my fins float?
ME: Yes, but when they get sucked off your feet, they don't pop up like a cork; they get held underwater by the waves and don't come up until they're several yards away, and it's nearly impossible to find them.
At that point, they either come to their senses and buy a pair of tethers or throw caution to the wind and carry on without them. Inevitably, a fair percentage of them end up coming back to us to replace the fin they thought they'd never lose. So, while certainly it's in our best financial interest for them NOT to buy tethers so they will have to buy a new pair of fins, we haven't built this business purely based on short-term gains. We want our customers to be stoked enough with their experience that they come back for years to come.
So, on to tethers. There are three basic types:
These are simple nylon string or laces. Some people make their own. If doing so, I don't recommend cotton. It weakens quickly with salt water exposure and soaks up a lot of water and is tough to untie when you get out of the water. These are the type I personally have been using since the 1980s. They are cheap, lightweight, low drag and very reliable. If the fin comes off, it will dangle from your ankle, so all you have to do is reach down and pull it back on.
These are by far our best-sellers. We have them from several brands, and essentially they consist of a simple Velcro strap that wraps around the ankle with nylon cord or webbing that loops around the fin strap. They are super-simple to put on and take off and the neoprene padding makes them very comfortable. Like the string type, if the fin comes off, it will dangle from your ankle, so all you have to do is reach down and pull it back on.
This type combines the comfort of a heel pad with the security of an instep strap that keeps the fin from coming off in the first place, as long as you tighten the instep strap. Some riders like this type for big conditions because anyone who's dropped in on a big wave and had their fin sucked off right as they're pulling into the barrel knows what a nightmare that can be.
Whichever type you choose, they will protect your investment for years to come!