How to choose a new pair of swimfins
Swimfins are the most important accessory you can buy for bodyboarding! It's like buying a kayak and a paddle. Bodyboards are designed to be ridden with swimfins on the feet. They not only help you paddle out, but also help you catch waves and also help you steer and control the board. But how do you choose which fins to get? Most of your "paddling" around should actually be kicking with your swimfins.
This is quite possibly the most-asked question I get in our live chats, on the phone and here at our warehouse with our walk-in customers and our JrGuards.com customers.
Swimfins are notoriously difficult to shop for because they are much like shoes in that there is "a fin for every foot".
What that means is, everyone's feet are shaped differently, so a fin that is comfortable for person #1 might be completely wrong for person #2.
Using myself as an example, I've been bodyboarding since 1979. Since I started, the shape of my feet have changed.
When I was younger, I was a size 9 1/2 with a D width. I am now a 10 1/2-11 with a 4E width. Fins that fit me during my 20s and 30s no longer work for me.
So, when you are choosing fins, without question, the most important characteristic is comfort. You can get the coolest fins in the world, but if they aren't comfortable, you'll be miserable in the water. Start with a basic understanding of the shape of your foot. It is wide or narrow (or normal width)? Do you have a high instep? Narrow ankles? Have prior fins given you blisters? Once you are armed with this knowledge, it will help us recommend fins that will generally match your foot type.
The next piece of the puzzle, which is also related to fit, is will you be wearing heel pads or cinches, fin socks or booties with your fins? If so, how thick are the socks/booties? Do they have a hard rubber sole on them? A general rule of thumb is if you add these to the mix, they will increase the size of your foot, and you have to buy larger fins to fit over them.
- *2mm fin sock: Adds 1 shoe size to your foot.
- *3mm fin booties: Adds 2 shoe sizes to your foot.
- *5mm fin booties: Adds 2 1/2 shoe sizes to your foot.
- *3mm hard-soled booties: Adds 3 1/2 shoe sizes to your foot.
- *5mm-7mm hard-soled booties: Adds 4 shoe sizes to your foot.
Finally, how's your leg and ankle strength? If your legs and ankles are used to the torque that wearing swimfins places on them, a stiffer fin will give you plenty of propulsion. However, if you're new to wearing fins or your legs and ankles aren't super-strong, a more flexible fin will take some of that stress away.
If you want advice on fins, feel free to contact us via our online chat or you can email or call and we'll be happy to provide professional guidance.
One more thing, be sure to pick up a pair of fin tethers. They are cheap insurance! If your fin gets blasted off your foot, don't expect it to pop up like a cork. The waves will hold it underwater and it will get pulled several yards away before it comes up, and you will likely not find it. Tethers will keep the fins attached to your ankles. Check our BLOG post on this topic!
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