Jan 18, 2010

Swim Fin Survey Results...

The fin survey was a great success, with a lot of you weighing in. About half sent photos, and I provided shots here and there to help avoid too much confusion. Not every fin mentioned got an image to go with it...but generally, it's pretty clear what's what.

3 or 4 of you couldn't resist sending shots of your gnarly fin-feet. Sorry dudes, George G has the corner on that market! Since Tom T's was the only foot pic sans bloody toe knuckles, I chose to run it as general representation.

Anyone else have anything to add? Use the comments section. Hopefully, we'll get more feedback as time goes on. We would especially like to hear from more women about their fin preferences.



Hey Paul,

My foot size is 9.5 and my favorite fins are Da Fin ML for bare foot. They don't mess up my feet at all so no need for neoprene socks or wrapping the strap in neoprene.

In the winter I use Force Fin Rip Force over 7 mil booties. Not as great as Da Fins however but the most comfort you'll get with a thick bootie on.

Justin V
Brooklyn, NY

PS How could I forget the Scubapro Jet Fins? Those rock too! Ultimate propulsion, just not as portable as Da Fins. I use them size L with 3 mm booties.


Hi Paul;

After 5 other brands, settled on Duckfeet! Perfect fit for my size 10-1/2 feet (my fins are in San Diego, I'm in Nevada--don't remember what size they are.) And they cost the least.

Your new web site looks great! If you ever want to use my drawings for something else, just let me know.

Tom T
San Diego, CA
Las Vegas, NV



In response to your post on the blog, here are my fins (winter set).

Hydro Tech fins. As you can see, I’ve trimmed down the outside edge so that they don’t overhang the rail of my kneeboard.

In the summer, I wear Hydro Tech II fins which get the same scalpel treatment but I’m “in between pairs” at the mo having left me last pair in the car park at Widemouth Bay, North Cornwall.

Don’t notice any loss of drive with the trim and for me Hydros (particularly the Tech II) are the most comfortable things out there.





Currently I am using a mis-matched pair of Duckfeet (XL). Usually worn up side down.

I use several different sized pairs (L-XL-SXL) depending on how thick a pair of booties I'm wearing.

I also use a pair of UDT's that I am still thinning out. (Size Large)

They are the only ones that are wide enough out of the box. (They will be perfect one day!)

I also use mis-matched shaped fins on occasion. ie one Tech fin and one Duckfoot.)

Size 10 feet triple EEE

Looking forward to seeing the data from your survey!

Bruce C
The OC


Hi Paul:

See attached photo of my favorite fins.

Jay B
San Marcos, CA



I use Vipers V7 (inch blade) always w/booties (or fin socks in tropics). I Aquasealed a fat layer of neoprene inside the heel strap to take up a bit of slack. They are very comfortable for me and I pool tested them against regular Duck Feet and the Vipers won on speed, acceleration, and maneuverability. About equal in comfort.
Tried UDT's but could not even get them on my feet they were so stiff. Either it was that pair, weak arms/legs, or something else but literally could not get them on! Had some Tech fins a number of years ago and after 45 minutes was driven from the ocean by foot pain. Could barely walk to get back to car. Crushed my feet laterally even though felt ok when first put them on.

I wear a size 7D shoe. When they made them, I used to wear a 6E

Dig the Surfmatters blog!

Thank you,
Geoffrey L
Bay Area, CA


Hi Paul,

I use UDEET's most of the time; also have a pair of Da Fins I use in the summer for body surfing.

Best Regards,

Hal F
San Clemente, CA



I have two different pairs of UDTs. The black pair are pretty new, only a month or two old. New rubber is really really good, only mods are to the middle rib, top and bottom, foiled flat, and of course the neoprene/plastic inserts to the top of the footpocket. The plastic stiffens the pocket to transfer stress away from the ankles/calves (per PG's directives, Thanks Paul.)

I use the black pair for pointbreaks or anywhere with a long paddle, or when the waves are big and I need a lot of horsepower.

The black/blue marbled pair are a few years old, have been extensively modified. Shortened a couple inches, thinned all ribs, and thinned the entire blade at the tip. Altered the ankle straps to accommodate my bony ankles, then added the neoprene heelstrap made by Balin. Blue pair also has the neoprene/plastic inserts. I use the marbled pair for surfing smaller waves, or shorter paddles, and whenever I bodysurf. They are much faster to sprint with, easier on the legs, but produce noticeably less horsepower than the longer black pair. As for sizing, the black pair are size Large. The marbled pair are odd, the left foot is a Large, the right is an XL. That was a happy mistake. They came as a mismatched pair from the factory, and conveniently my right foot is bigger than my left, so they fit PERFECTLY. The black pair fit well too, but the right foot is a little snug. I wear size 11.5 in Vans, a pretty standard measurement.

Tatum wears a size 7 in girls, and uses the Viper V-5 (the orange dot) in medium. She also has the Balin heelstraps because the medium fits a little loose, but the next size down was too small. Otherwise unmodified and work very well for her needs.

Jamie M
Queensland, Australia



I've almost exclusively worn Viper V-7's. I wear size XL because of the 3mm booties (shoe size = 10) I need up here in the bay area.

I love my new hybrid mat!!

Take care,

Nate K
The Aforementioned Bay Area, CA


Hi Paul,

I had a long drawn out fin-related story for you but, this is more to the point. I like the "good" Duckfeet (soft blade/hard pocket) from Deets/Voit or getting lucky at a Big 5, etc.

I am a 10.5 and wear an XL in Ducks or a L in UDTs. For me, Ducks provide enough power in everyday surf and are easiest on my feet (this after a long stint in Churchills, and a few months in too-big for my feet XL UDT's). I do use a piece of 1/2 inch "yoga Mat" material in the top of each fin which is buttery soft on foot, toes, etc, which seems to transfer some power away from my toes and higher up the foot (less cramping possibilities). After a short break-in, the material stays in place with no glue too which makes it easy to use in your next set of fins. I do have a gummy pair of L UDT's from Greg Deets in the on-deck circle which may be my next "best fin ever."

Jeff C
Encinitas, CA

PS. Beware of the great majority of Duckfeet out there with soft pocket/hard blades. They do not work!!


Hi Paul,

I'm loving my new Fatty! We haven't had any spectacular surf this last week or so, but I've been having a blast riding the mat! I started getting the hang of the squeeze/release technique for bottom turns and cutbacks this morning. I can't wait to get out in some nice clean waves.

I've attached a pic of the fins I've been using for about the last year. They are Propel brand fins, and they have a slightly longer blade than Churchy's, deep full length side ribs, and the blade also fans out from about halfway down the foot cup. They are a bit stiff, but very comfortable. They accelerate very well, but are a bit short for long paddles. I've ordered a pair of UDT's so I'll be able to compare them soon.

Billy-joe S
Victoria, Australia



I use those blue Tech fins. They're pretty good. I like that ankle leash.

However, I think they're a bit short. I can't kick hard enough to get into a wave without also paddling. Still, I got them for free, and they work, so I'm not complaining too loudly!

Mary M
Los Angeles, CA


Hi Paul

UDT's here, Large size, black/blue marbled, cut down in both length and stiffness. I wear them with a 1mm neoprene sock.


Richard S
Byron Bay, Australia


Hey Paul

I've attached some fins.......all tweaked UDT's

We all use the UDT's coming from your initial recommendation along with Mr Morlat, and Jamie (who gave me some great trimming tips). I think what I/we like about the UDT's is the narrowness and the flex/snap that can be achieved with some foiling time-belt sanding etc. I just kept thinning mine out, at the end and the side rails also, to take of some weight and add flex-I know some people use these un-neutered but for me they were just too rigid/heavy (for my sticks at least)

I think taking an inch or two off the length also helps with scrambling in/out over the rocks. I tried DA-Fins to ill effect and also Vipers, and kept going back to the UDT's.

Washed up flippers, Lennox Head, 2009. Where'd the other foot go?

Ricky S
Los Angeles, CA


Hi Paul,

Currently using Vipers (V5 yellow dot) when mat riding, gave UDT’s a go for a year or so, liked the thrust, did not like the weight of UDT’s, find Vipers a good compromise...
Thinking of getting a pair of Force Fin Pro’s, used them for bodyboarding in mid 80s for a couple of years, made the feet feel very free, probably not quite enough trust, but life’s all about making compromises in certain situations.

Henry M

PS Piskian’s comment on the blog of this topic made me laugh! When we had the UK Mat Meet, his feet were ripped to shred by the fins he was using, blood pouring of them (so much so that if I had been surfing in sharky water, I would not have gone out where he was surfing.) Hopefully your research may help him...(He has a great fluid style on the mat, easily the most stylish mat surfer of the day when we had the meet...)



I use Flips, but I'e not had much success with them over socks. I attached some fin savers (which snagged on the straps, so I may drill a hole in the foot) on my last session but both fins came off at different times so I'm going to keep them as summer jobs. I bought a pair of Lagunas which are super comfy but don't provide enough drive, too short I reckon. I've discussed fins with Cookson from Ukmatsurfers and he has similar problems i.e very wide feet causing cramp in most hard rubber fins. He's recommended Da Fins so I'll be getting a pair. If anyone could combine the foot pocket of Lagunas and the same blade as Flips they would be the ultimate fin!



Matt D


Hey Paul,

I'm wearing either Duck Feet or UDT's...depending. Did the UDTs for a year until I started having some ankle issues and then went to the duck feet last summer and loved em. Rode em steady until I got to Puerto Rico last couple of weeks and needed all the power I could get to make it out. Went back to the UDTs and loved em. No chronic issues but I was only there a couple of weeks. Foot size is 9 1/2 and I prefer the blue and black UDTs as the blacks are way too stiff. Don't use booties unless I have to and then its 2 mil fin socks.

Thanks for the web site. Its great to hear about other guys that ride air and plastic. Learned a bit from the site about technique and I can always use more of that.

Rich H
Beach Haven, NJ


Hey Paul -

I saw on your blog that you were compiling fin data. Here is a pic of three types I've used. They're all pretty good... certainly more thrust than my old Churchills. I don't have a pic of those but they felt kind of feeble. I don't have any experience with some of the new fins like 'Da Fin' or the latest Churchills for Boogie riders. They seem short and perhaps made for the guys who do the one knee thing(?) I just ride prone.

In order of preference, my fin choices are:

Viper Yellow Dot

The Vipers are the lightest and most compact of the bunch and the side blades seem to maintain stiffness and directional control. If I were going on a long hike and weight were a factor, the Vipers are a solid 2 lbs lighter (3 1/2 lbs vs 5 1/2 lbs.)

The Force fins are somewhere in between weight wise. They have a nice neoprene pad that inserts across the top for comfort but the blades are a weird shape for kicking in to waves - they seem somewhat floppy. I'm also not sure about durability of the bungie cord heel retainer although these have held up alright.

The UDTs and Vipers feel stiffer and seem to have better thrust when stomped on.

The UDTs are claimed by Greg Deets to be a softer formula but these feel about the same as my old ones. He insisted that his formula was softer and asked me to bend the old ones like a taco... "Can't do it , right?" He asked. I could. In a side by side comparison, my old ones felt essentially the same.

I broke one of the straps on my old pair and was stoked when Greg Deets made the new model available. I just use them stock and that has raised a few eyebrows with other dedicated mat riders who apparently follow whatever George Greenough is up to, including modification of UDT fins. At a mat gathering in Santa Cruz a few years ago, I was questioned when one guy saw my fins.... "UNMODIFIED?!!!" (gasp!)

I'd better get with the program I suppose. I could use any of these for body surfing, mat, or bellyboard riding but the UDTs are my 'go to' fins.

I wear size 12 shoe.

UDT = "Super" - fits well with 3mm split toe booties with light outer sole.
Viper = XL (11-13) - fits well with 3mm bootie with light outer sole.
Force = XXL - biggest of the bunch even with inserts. I use these with a pair of 5mm booties with no outer sole. (Dive socks)

John M
Los Osos, CA


Hi Paul,

I wear size 11 wide shoes. I have been wearing UDT fins, size XL, no booties, for several years now. I like them a lot as far as thrust and planing, although if I surf too much like this winter (roughly 2-3 hours a day), then my feet wear out and they don't heal until the surf goes flat for a while. I sometimes think about shifting over to something softer like Da Fin, which will be my next choice once I'm in the market for a new flipper.

Dirk B
Santa Barbara, CA


Hi PG,

After decades of fin frustration, I'm really stoked on pod PF2s, even though they are short-blade bodyboard-type flippers.

PF2s are the only swimfins that don't hurt my fat knobby feet. And they have superb side rails for gripping the wave. Kicking speed is not all that great, but they accelerate quickly for catching waves, plus are a big help in steep waves and when getting around foamy sections. I ended up padding the straps with neoprene so that the edges don't rub my ankles. (pod PF3s are excellent small wave fins, except that they cause pain on one particular bump on on my feet.)



Surfsister said...

It will take me awhile to get through this post, but I'm more than happy to take that time. I'd been trying to decide on another pair of fins to buy. Since I'm female with average-sized feet, I have to take much of what the guys say with a grain of salt as their big/wide feet issues don't apply to me.

However, discussions about the blades of the fins are truly getting my attention. I'm thinking the Viper fins (based on my previous research and this post). I may, though, take a hard look at Da Fins (or whatever they're called). Thanks for this post, Paul. It truly helps.

Piskian said...

I have narrow,long toed,very sensitive feet,worn(for considerable periods) Okespors,Redleys,Hydrotechs,Fangz,Vipers,Flips,UDTs,Scuba fins,all with neoprene socks.Now Dafins,won't change again.Comfy,enough power,light for my high speed kicking style,and I got two sizes for socks and without.Only drawbacks are poor drainage, you have to rinse them or the rubber will perish and straps will go,and sometimes the blade folds under your feet when walking in the shallows.But no cramping in legs or feet,and they are very cheap in the US.
Saying that,you just have to try them yourself,there's nothing else to be done!

Tom Threinen said...

If you look closely at the photo of my Duckfeet, you will see that I have thinned the ribs down, to give the blades more flex. Seems to dial them in for me. And I wear thin neoprene socks with them. I have a pair of DaFins that I've only used twice with my mat. I seem to slap the water surface with them (too light or not long enough?), and they don't seem to have the directional power (they feel side-to-side wobbly when I kick--too wide?). This is a great survey! Tom T.

Mr. Brown said...

I have wide size 9 feet and used duck feet for years, solid good fins. Now I use long vipers with the tethers with neoprene that wraps the back of the fin. Best solution I've found. I rarely get any damage to my feet, either bodysurfing or matting. Almost as much power as UDT's but much less weight. Aloha from Maui!

Jamie said...

Paging R. Swallow and crew...
What do you guys find with the different cuts on the end of the blades? Can you feel a difference between the pair cut straight across (pic 2) v. the black pair with the V notch in the middle (pic 3)? I've tried the straight cut, and also a V-like cut and can't figure out if there's any difference at all.

R4TH said...

Jamie-Mine are the straight cut pair-which are also foiled quite thin in the tips for added flex-we all have different sized feet, so I haven't tried the others...I trimmed the top pair for a friend to try something different based on 60's fins i'd seen-he's defected to standing up of late and not road tested them.

Ram's are the crazy V-cut fins, his background is Automotive design-hence the extra flair-they all seem to do the trick for the individulas using them.

Bagofwind said...

I'm always impressed with how many people out there use UDTS. As people say, whatever works best for the individual, but having tried them once and having been pretty much crippled for 3 days i'm staying well clear of them.

Viper V7s are my fin of choice for the mat. I'm a size 10 1/2 UK / 11 1/2 US / 45 EU / 29 Japan. Damn confusing, but all mean that i can wear an XL year round. Summer with 2mm fin socks and winter with 6mm fin socks. They fit well year round, and unfortunately i have to wear the socks even with neoprene inserts due to the fact that most fins eat my feet.

I use Da Fins (L) for body surfing in summer without socks and am planning on getting a pair of Pod2 fins to try out as i had pod1 fins in the past and they were great except for the ankle strap which they've improved apparently.

R4TH said...

At the risk of nerding out too much over fins-ankle problems etc, I use this thing as a balance/exercise prop for ankle and calf strengthening-it has actually helped esp when i was first matting.


GRAYMAN said...

Bagofwind, what 6mm socks do you use? We can only get 4mm over here and our water is pretty nippy!


Bagofwind said...

It appears that i was talking out of my arse. It should have read 4mm. Alder socks bought in Plymouth. That'll teach me to type while powered by the miraculous beverage that is cider.

PG said...

"I use long vipers with the tethers with neoprene that wraps the back of the fin."


Which brand tethers do you use?


GRAYMAN said...

FAO: Bagofwind

Yeah that's what I wear. Alder "Burn" although my blue toes at the weekend suggested that "Burn" was an optomistic name. A kneelo I know is in discussion with Alder at the mo about getting 5mm prototypes done. The biggest thing they could do is to seal the seams TBH.

Also, you in the UK??? You likely to make the Valentines meet? Give us a shout. Be good to get a few others along this time.


PS Sorry to take this off topic PG.

Mr. Brown said...

hmmm, DaKine tethers. Here's a link for a pic: http://www.sportsunlimitedinc.com/dakine-deluxe-fin-leash.html

Bagofwind said...

Grayman- Nope, in OZ these days, but next time i pass through i'll give you guys a shout.

Matt- I used the same tethers on my vipers for a while, but had problems with the padding on the webbing that goes over the top of your ankle. The padding didn't cover the side facing my ankle and sawed into my feet about 5mm. It was in cold water so i didn't know until i got out. Not good.

Do yours have padding that's equal on the front and back edges?

Growling Gecko said...

I am POD guy too but so far for bodyboarding only as I am in that dreadful state I am sure you all know, waiting for the mat to arrive.! Not too cold here so wear them without socks and they are just dandy

Brennan said...

Hi All~

I'm very glad to read all the reports on various fins. Over the past couple of weeks, I've spent about 20+ hours sifting through fin info, which is mostly about men's feet. I'm a woman- I have a size USA 7.5, 39 EUR foot that runs a bit narrow and I've had trouble just finding a size- in fact UDT's don't come in anything smaller than men's 7, which is a 9 in women's. Being a physiotherapist, I do worry about the physical implications of a symmetrical vs asymmetrical fin as well as the density and the length of the blade. I'm a surfer, but have decided to give sponging a try due to a back injury. I borrowed a friend's board and used my snorkeling fins and LOVED it!! Only problem was I kept losing my fins, which are $100! So, I am going to try "Da Fins" (with tethers!) but I'm worried about the size. I am at the high end of the small and I'm worried it's gonna be too tight. I'm in Florida, though, so if I wear anything underneath, it's going to be a thin sock, not neoprene because it's too darn hot for that most of the time. I almost went with Churchill's Slashers, but heard they were too buoyant and had low thrust. I won't go with an asymmetrical because of what it tends to do to the ankle joint (puts too much pressure on the lateral ankle and I believe this could cause unnatural bone/joint/ligamentous wear). Sorry I don't have anything concrete, yet, but I'll send in a comment about my "Da Fins" when I get them. Based on the reports that they are gentle on the feet and run narrow, they should be good for my feet. Can't wait to get my fins wet!

Cheers to those Aussie's out there! I love your country!

Brennan L.
Orlando (Cocoa Beach) FL, USA

Anonymous said...

Hi guys!

I am looking for a new fins for bodysurfin. I am using now Kapaloa and Im very surprised about the fact you guys dont mention them in any comment.

Im very happy with them, but after many hours in the water, my insteps are hurting a bit, and more and more with time... I just can't stop... :)

So this is the only thing I can complain about them but they are really great. Some of you may know if Da Fins are better in this way or I just changing to something similar?

I find UDt's are too long and Vipers too hard. But I really have no idea. Confort is what I want most and then power.

GRAYMAN said...

DaFin provide comfort and excellent thrust. Also, fantastic directional stability and hold given the strikes on the rails of the fin.




Anonymous said...

I'm a mom looking for a swim fin leash. Any suggestions?

Mahalo, "Tired of buying fins"