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Need for An Improved Fit for Viper Fins... Too Bad

Dateline September 2005: I wrote to Vipers, Inc., via email about one year ago about a problem experienced with the larger sized fins (XL). Back in March 2005, I mentioned this problem to Oahu waverider, **** ******, during a visit to the Island, who said he would pass along this concern to Vipers, Inc. The problem persists: the foot pocket of the XL fin is too small (too narrow and not enough height), causing the foot to cramp.

Some background: About two to three years ago I was so relieved to find a fin that finally met my needs: flex, comfort, power. For years I had been badgering surf shops and others for their old Churchill fins with flexible blades, buying rental units off the racks, making a deposit on old Churchills but never bringing them back, etc. This grew old and each year was increasingly fruitless. I tried Blunt Cuts, Redleys, Hydro Tech fins, and several others. I have a pair of the newly formulated Deets UDTs that were sent to me early in his production run, but for warm water the Vipers 5" Flex Orange Dot were the tool. I have recommended Vipers Orange Dots to my friends and on my web sites.

Buddies showed up at recent gathering in Cape Hatteras, one with XL Yellow Dots and the other with XL Orange Dots. The Yellow Dots were simply too stiff, so I suggested my friend to try out my XL Orange Dots... he loved them but commented that after about 45 minutes the foot pocket started to cramp him. My other buddy brought XL Orange Dots with him from Oregon, used them for the first time, and expressed his love of them, "Finally a great fin!" But he did say his arches were a bit cramped... and this in the warm Atlantic waters of Cape Hatteras in September. Yes, I agreed - that's a problem for me in cold water when I have to scale up to the XL-sized fins. For some reason my warm water Viper L Orange Dots are fine, but the XL Orange Dots cramp when I add just 3mm of socks (5mm really kills!), so I keep using my really old, dry rotting Churchills.

Both guys asked about XXL's for use in cold water when 3mm to 7mm of rubber is needed. What to do? We need some XL and XXL Orange Dots with bigger foot pockets!!!

Any suggestions? Can you make some custom Orange Dots with larger foot pockets? Do we need to explore other fin companies (Tech 2, Force Fins, Churchill Slashers)?

Please respond!

Rod Rodgers

Dateline Sept 2005, Viper Inc, responds:
Dear Rod,

Thank you for your mail. I understand the situation and the problem that you and your friends are encountering.  Unfortunately, the process to manufacture a larger fin is not possible for us. Another brand that has offers a model with an extremely large foot pocket is Manta.

Dateline October 2005. Faced with a cold water fin problem I try on several fin types during a visit to Virginia Beach and its many surf shops. The Tech2's fit nicely and have some flex in the blade. A few days later I place an order with for a pair of Tech2 XL fins. They arrive within a week just as a nice overhead swell fills into our DelMarVa shores. We suit up and walk down to the beach, me with Tech2s in-hand, eager to try them out. After slipping them on I hit the surf and... proceed to go no where. I am not making any noticable forward movement and the inside whitewater is simply ragging me. No thrust at all! I turn and ride some whitewater in, run back to the car, shaking my head in frustration and disgust to fellow waveriders, some who are very puzzled by my being rejected by the sea. I grab my XL Vipers 5" Flex Orange Dot, and remove 3mm of wetsuit socks leaving me with 2mm of socks (the water isn't that cold but I was trying out the new fins). Back at the beach it is on with the flippers and I paddle right out to the line-up and enjoy the surf for about 1-1/2 hours before my foot cramps cause my calf to cramp and terminate my surf session.
Dateline November 2005. I need winter quality fins! Another order is placed with, prompted by their special on Churchill Slashers. Desperation is setting in. Splurging, an order is also placed for the Techs model which have garnered many favorable comments. Cross my fingers and waiting. I am desperate!
Dateline November 2005. Since hearing from you I have talked to a number of fellow kneeboarders and bodyboarders. There is a wide consensus that the Vipers' narrow foot pocket is a seriously limiting factor in riders using your fins and for you to broaden your market base.

As you may already know the bodyboarding and kneeboarding (and bodysurfing) communities communicate widely by word of mouth rather than through a print or television mediums. Apparently, scores upon scores of people in these communities are summarily disregarding Vipers because of their reputation to be ill-fitting. When asked most people will say they are too tight and lead to cramping, but otherwise like the fin's performance in the water. Vipers are currently tailored to people with narrow feet. The narrowness of the template probably does not scale to large feet very well, nor to cold water users who need a larger fin for the extra 3mm to 7mm surrounding their feet. The foot pockets scale in length but apparently not in width (not sure about pocket height).

Is there something that can be done to introduce a larger girth by a couple of units. What are the Vipers scaled on, a B or a C?

AAAA (The narrowest)
EEEE (The widest)


Dateline November 2005.
Dear Rod,

There is nothing that can be done.  I do not know what they are scaled on.

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Last updated on: 10/30/09