In these reviews, we will give you the facts from our personal experience with each swim fin brand. We simply want you to have the best time handboarding, and part of that is having the best knowledge to be able to choose the equipment that best suits your needs and skill level. We may have our personal favorites, and we will let you know, however, be aware that everyone has their own requirements. So know what you are looking for in your handboarding equipment and buy according to those requirements. I like my fins to be above all comfortable, light and compact as I tend to do a lot of travel surfing.
Paul Watts, an accomplished bodyboarder and bodysurfer, has bodysurfedand bodyboarded around the world, from Sumatra to South Africa, and has used just about every fin under the sun on his travels. He has lost more fins in wipeouts in exotic places than most people have thought about fins.
"As a bodyboarder, the fins that I like are generally smaller, as I like to get up drop-knee. Therefore, I prefer a fatter, stiffer fin with a softer compound around the foot. I always struggled to find good fins that do not give me blisters. The problem with a lot of the fins is that they are all very much designed to control flow above water when you are on the wave and add control for the "bodyboarder" and little to no thought is given to the fin being used for bodysurfing." - Paul Watts
From a bodysurfing point of view, we have a relatively small selection of fins to choose from that are specifically designed for bodysurfers. However, our sport is growing, and companies are starting to design fins for bodysurfers.
Size matters! Sizing and comfort for bodysurfing fins go hand in hand. In the past, most fins came in small, medium and large, 3-sizes-fits-all. Since then fin companies have done their research on what the customer wants. A perfect fitting swimming fin is by far and above the most important thing to get right. It doesn't matter how well the fin performs; if it's too big or too small, it will ruin your session. The best way to get the sizing right is to try a fin on at your local surf shop. Some fins run slightly bigger or smaller than your actual shoe size.
Natural rubber is the most comfortable and we always choose a natural rubber over synthetic. Choose a material that floats and is lightweight. Swim Fins are relatively expensive, and you will want to be able to find it in the water if it comes off. Lightweight material is essential, both for carrying your fins and for wearing them in the water. You will want to be quick and agile in the water, not weighed down by your equipment.
Drive and flow is referring to the way the fin performs in the water. As our Slyde rider Paul pointed out above, most fins are designed for bodyboarders these fin designs focus on control of water when the bodyboarder is out the water. A true bodysurfing fin will be concerned with not only flow under the water but also control and hold while bodysurfing the wave. As an example bodysurfing fins have rails that channel water.
Dafinare light and compact and are great for easily throwing in your backpack on for a quick session. We love to travel and I don't want a heavy fin to lug around. Also, The Soft the natural rubber is very smooth and soft unlike a lot of other chunkier fins. There is a reason we only supply Dafin.
Dafin are one of our favorite fins well refined, tested and proven in some of the most critical situations in the world from north shore Hawaii to Teahupoo, Fiji. What impressed us most about Dafin's is the incredible comfort of the foot pocket. When bodysurfing fins are essentially doing the same things fins on a surf board do, they steer you. The Dafin's rigid fin and contoured edge is a perfect balance of propulsion and steering. Dafin are also designed specifically for swimming and body surfing and handboarding, the fins are a perfect length for thrust and kick and not for flow outside the water like many fins designed for bodyboarding
There is very little we didn't like about the Dafin. They are fantastic fins, however, fins are a personal preference and I have heard complaints of a too rigid fin. In the end it comes down to what you prefer and for bodysurfing you really cant go wrong with these fins.
Made in Brazil from what seemed like the softest rubber I have come across, especially around the foot pocket area. Even though they were not designed specifically for bodysurfing you couldn't tell as they are not asymmetric like a lot of other bodyboard fins and they have great control and maneuverability.
Rated by 2016 World Bodysurfing Champion for boys division 15-17 Dylan Biggerstaff had this to say about the Kpaloa fins. They have great explosive power without overexerting my knees and legs. The first thing I noticed was how soft and comfortable the foot pocket was. They were "super slick" When on the wave they did not hold me back at all. The symmetry of the fins provided great control and maneuverability. The Kpaloa also had a surprisingly powerful kick they got me in the wave earlier and allowed me to get barreled for longer. The bright green color was great if they come off you can find them a lot quicker than other fins. Kpaloa are great fins!
There is little to complain about with the Kpaloa's. They look like they last a long time given the right care and are really comfortable. The only real issue we see is they are a few dollars more and that might turn some people off the Kpaloa but we think they are worth it.
The biggest benefit that Leblon fins have over any of their competition is the propulsion that they provide. I have never used a pair of fins with this much speed with very little effort. The foot pocket is built from a very soft natural rubber and the blade starts next to the foot pocket which is designed to maximize energy conversion on thrust with minimum effort. The lateral rails are completely separated from the foot pocket, allowing the water to flow between them, eliminating drag. The side rails really are quite high and more pronounced and you do feel like you have a lot of control on the face of the wave. One thing I will note is these are heavy fins and bulky and would probably not be a travelers first fin option
These are a pair of fins I would recommend to anyone who wants to make sure they get into the pocket on big days over 5-8 foot. They gave me a lot of confidence I was going to make the drop on the set waves and not head over the falls. They were also really fun doing underwater takeoffs popping out at the last second to get pitted, super fun. They were not as much fun in shore break on smaller days as there is a lot of fin. They also took a little getting used to with the high rails and I they got hooked on each other a couple time, but the more I used them the better it got
This may not be a bad for everyone but one thing I will note is these are heavy and bulky fins and would probably not be a traveler’s first fin option. However if you are on a trip to surf Nazare or any one of the bigger breaks around the world look no further. But for the recreational bodysurfer this will be a lot of fin. Be sure to wear fins savers (as you should with every fin) I lost mine twice on a big day at Salt Creek but they float so I found them on both occasions. Also it may be worth noting these are one of the more expensive fins on the market ,however if you are surfing big waves the money for good equipment is immaterial
Duck feet fins are made Voit UDT which stands for Underwater Demolition Team. The Duck feet are a staple with a lot of older generation watermen and woman, especially the lifeguards and open water rescue crews. The longer bladed version are great for longer swims and rescues in open water, where the shorter blade is great for explosive bodysurfing style that requires maneuverability off the mark speed.
Voit Duck Feet are a staple of the older generation but have fallen out of favor with the new generation, who have all but turned to Dafin for their bodysurfing fin needs. Also the older Voit Duckfeet where not focused on comfort as they were the propulsion. This is were Dafin took over and created the ultra comfy foot pocket. However, Duck feet have up'd their game with a new rubber combinations that have really made the fins a lot more comfortable with the same old propulsion they are known for. We felt that if you find the foot pocket comfy then the Voit Duck Feet are the way to go
For me the foot pocket was little narrow and my foot started to ache after about 45 minutes in the water. That being said the propulsion from theses fins are phenomenal and beat out most other fins.
The first thing you will notice about the Repellor is how well they made, truly the best made fins we have seen. The reverse VEE rails really do what they say and channel lots of water and has the effect of stabilizing your ride. The Spaceship like folded up rails fold out flat when you are kicking effectively making the fin a third bigger and really giving you a huge boost when you need it most and steering when you are on the wave. An ingenious piece of engineering
These might be a a bit flexible and although that generally means more comfort it means less propulsion, for us anyway.
The first thing you will notice about the vector series is the high rail system that is designed to aggressively channel water down the blade of the fin. These are the highest and most pronounced rails of any fin we have seen. They also come in awesome bright yellow and orange great for finding in the ocean if they come off. They have a strong thrust for confident take-offs and deep duck-dives in big surf.
I originally tried the v7 yellow vectors that I swapped out from a pair of Dafin. I felt the longer fin were great for long swims or treading water. The v5 yellow with the shorter fin and speed burst would be a great bodysurfing fin. Once I was on the wave I had an amazing ride the longer blade made it really easy to control and steer
Vectors are an either, you love them or hate 'em kind of fin. Some watermen and woman swear by them and others hate them. The foot pockets of the older version had to have the neoprene inserts or the hard rubber cut up your feet. The newer Vectors have the newer rubber compound and are way more comfy.
The Propel Fins are designed with the name in mind "propulsion". We found significant increase in propulsion because of the wider fin blade and outside contours.
These are cheap fins but the work great. For a relatively unknown fin we were very impressed with the propel the moment we put these on and rode them they excelled in every aspect from Drive through to comfort (No Cramps or Blisters big + when it comes to Fins) I lost one in a heavy wave, but they floated really well and found them straight away. All in all these are great fins and I will be using them on a regular basis.
The only reason we don't stock these fins is because the manufacturing was very poor. The difference between the Repellor (also an Aussie brand) is like night and day. That being said they are half the price of the Repellors. These are all I wore for 2 years until I lost them at an event and it seems sad that they are not more popular and more effort being put into making the manufacturing and materials better, because the shape and fin works so well. if you can find them they are great value for money.
The Churchill Makapuare probably one of the oldest fin shapes in the world and have had amazing success. So much in fact that they are ripped off by a lot of different companies. What sets the Makapu fins apart is they where designed off the shape of a dolphin fin and allow you a lot of thrust especially when you place both feet together and kick together.
These classic fins have been around a long time. They achieve very good drive and control. Great for the all round water man or woman. They are not a swim or bodysurfing specific fin regardless I got a lot of great waves. They did quiet have the propulsion a traditional bodysurfing fin has but they were very adequate.
The Makapu are not a traditional bodysurfing fin which is why it gets put down our list and loses a few points. Also they are pretty chunky and heavier than the other fins on this list.
ERS4 fins are very similar to the classic Redley fins in design and shape. They are individually shaped left and right foot pocket molds for the best performance and fit. They are very explosive fins made from 100% natural rubber. They also come with a thermo molded ankle strap and a foot pocket that has a traction pad on it for those sprints out the shore break or if you are bodysurfing a reef or walking on slippery surfaces this comes in handy. The drainage holes are great to get rid of that excess sand from barely shore breaks. They also float in case you lose a fin.
The ERSA 4 fin are incredible fins designed for bodyboarders. However, they work really well bodysurfing or handboarding too. They are a little heavy but they make up for it in being a more compact fin. I found my pair to be a great in shorebreak where you need smaller fins and had adequate thrust to get into steeper quicker waves.
These are making a comeback thanks to 662 board shop in Hawaii bringing out their own version and making some cool colors. The fact that they are designed for bodyboarding means they get a lower rate on our scale. However, if you are looking to do both bodyboard and bodysurf the ERSA4 are a solid choice.
the Biggest difference from the other brand here is that the entire hydro range is made from silicon and not rubber. The Company says " The benefits of using this material far outweigh the extra cost; the silicon does not cause blisters as rubber tend to" what we say: If there is a possibility of using a fin that doesn't cause discomfort, we are all for it . The actual blend and hardness of the silicone used has been the result of extensive collaboration with the molder, the material is soft, yet resistant to tearing and splitting, and is UV proof as well. The shape of the foot pockets has been the subject of considerable research, and along with the dedicated left and right foot fins, give exceptional comfort, and greatly reduce the incidence of cramps.
The Hydro tech Fins live up to their reputation as being a comfortable fin. The silicon is way more comfortable than the rubber on most other fin brands. However, update and advances in rubber have all but caught up to to the comforts in silicon. Also, they have a great thrust to them and are small enough to be able to walk up the beach or into the water without too much problem. Great fins and very comfortable
We found the Hydro tech are little on the soft side and don't quiet have the stiffness and spring of the rubber versions and are more suited to beginner riders. However, the price tag on the Hydro tech make them a little steep for beginners.
The Ms Viper are designed for bodysurfing, and quick acceleration. As performance driven fins, they are best suited for a strong swimmer. Mike Stewart has said they are his favorite and he has a number of world Championships under his belt, so they come with great backing. The also have a wider blade that really help with thrust.
I found that the MS Viper are great when you need a really sharp burst of speed and I really liked them in shore break. I felt I had considerable amount of control.
The MS Vipers are a great choice for wave-riders in powerful surf. Sizing can be a bit difficult, I personally had a problem with the foot pocket being a bit constrictive on my foot. Maybe I needed a bigger pair but, I felt like the rubber was a bit too hard for my liking.
Churchill fins have amazing pedigree and have been around since 1936. The Slashers are really a great alternative to the more aggressive Makapu range and the slashers are great for beginners. They have a shorter fin have have the great Dolphin inspired outline
The Churchill Slashers are not my go to fins by any means and I felt like they were a bit heavy and way to small a fin for bodysurfing. The foot pockets were also fairly uncomfortable so I would suggest a bigger size up. I felt I got the most thrust and power form the Slashers when I placed my leg together and kicked like a dolphin. On the wave I felt dragged down somewhat in comparison to the lighter fins.
Fin Making and construction has moving on and the Slashers is a very old mold. Today fins are lighter and lot more comfortable. However for the price the Slashers are a viable option for someone looking to save some money.