Why are surfboard fins so expensive?

Little bits of plastic that can set you back upwards of £120 or $200! Surfboard fins are getting more expensive every year and we’re still no closer to finding a way of finding the many lost fins scattering the ocean floor.

So why are surfboard fins so expensive, is it a genuine cost of manufacturing, or are surf brands lining their pockets with our well-earned cash? The real answer is both, fins are a serious moneymaker for the industry but you can still get some surfboard fins for reasonable prices.

We take a closer look at the good, the bad and the damn right expensive.

So why do surfboard fins cost so much money?

There are a couple of reasons fins are squeezing your wallet:

They’re not easy to manufacture

The manufacturing tolerances of fins are tiny. If you’ve ever tried to fit an oversized fin into a fin box you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Just a mm too much and you’ll be sanding down the base of your fins just to get the plugs in. I’ve experienced this issue with cheap and expensive fins so I can’t say it’s reserved for just unbranded fins.

They’re paying to sponsor your favourite surfers

Selling surfboards, wetsuits and even fins is all about marketing. FCS and Futures both invest in athletes, large amounts of the profit they make on fins will go to sponsorship deals with their team riders.

Surfers like Kelly Slater, Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira all have sponsorship deals for fins and guess what, it works. We see one of our favourite surfers landing a giant rotator or getting spit out of a barrel and we immediately think if we ride what they’re riding we might be able to capture just a little bit of what they’re having.

How can I get fins without paying a fortune?

If you want to get surfboard fins on a budget there are a couple of options you can look at.

Most of the top surf brands will do a standard fin without the carbon and tech specs that are fairly reasonable. Head down to your local surf shop to see what they have in stock and you could be surprised by some bargains.

Another option if you don’t mind waiting a while is going directly to China. Sights like AliExpress have made it easy for Chinese manufacturers to sell directly to consumers cutting out the middle man.

Word of warning though these fins may not go through the same quality checks they do with larger brands and you might be sanding your fins down to fit them in the box. Sanding or not it is a great way to get a range of fins for a relatively cheap price.

So now you know why surfboard fins are so expensive and where you can get them a little bit cheaper if you need to, the choice is yours.

Will expensive fins make me surf better?

There are a couple of big players in the fin game with FCS, Futures and Captain Fin all springing to mind. The cost between their standard plastic bargain bin fins and the high tec carbon flex numbers is enough to make you look twice.

So does the extra money actually get you a better fin, are you going to go out and surf 10%, even 5% better?

Well, in all honesty, it depends. Beginners all the way up to intermediate surfers will likely gain little to no benefit from getting the latest John John Florence fin.

At an intermediate stage, you should definitely investigate surfboard fins with different sizes, rake, foil and flex but you can do this without breaking the bank by using some of the tips we shared above.

For pro and advanced surfers, the priority is still identifying the best fins for different conditions. However, unlike intermediate surfers, you will likely be able to feel some benefit from the flex and technology included in some more expensive sets of fins.

If you’re looking to change up the feel of your surfboard consider adding a traction pad or deck pad instead of wax. Sound intriguing, check out our guide on are traction pads better than wax?.