Dorsal Swim Fins

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nomastomas
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Dorsal Swim Fins

#1

Unread post by nomastomas »

Like most of you, I've been on an almost neverending search for thr "right" swim fin. Back in the late-60s I used a pair fo Voit Scuba Dive fins, the kind with the full foot pocket, to body surf at the Huntington Beach Pier. In those days, the "black ball" came out at 11a in the summertime, leaving the empty line-up to a handfull of body surfers. Great fun, espeically on SW swells. I discovered Churchills next, but by the late 70s, most of the beach lifeguards were using Voit Duckfeet, so I switched over to them. Duckfeet became my "go to" fins for years. Then, about 12-13 years ago, when I started to get back into prone-board riding and developing the T-Belly, I started to experiment with swim fins. Voit UDTs, DaFin, Vipers, etc, but always came back to the Duckfeet. Now the biggest issue I had with the Duckfeet was the pain they inflicted on my wide, "Barney Rumble" feet. Fins socks helped, but they wore out pretty quickly due to the rocky conditions where I surf. But then I discovered MS Viper Yellow Dot (Stiff) fins, which has a wide foot pocket. These fins were a much more comfortable fit than the Duckfeet, but with equal or better thrust. I bought the MS Vipers in the summer, but when winter came around I returned to the Viper 7s that I had purchased the previous winter in an XL size (11-13) to provide a little more thrust in bigger surf and to accommodate my Patagonia 2mil booties. About 5 yrs ago I discovered that Patagonia produced a 2mil surf bootie, with a maybe 3mil sole that held up pretty good (I can get a winter season or two from each pair) The problem with the V7 is their size. Negotiating a rocky entrance is difficult to say the least. And, I found them almost impossible to remove.
So, I sold the V7s and on a whim, purchased a pair of Dorsal swim fins (https://www.dorsalfins.com/collections/ ... s-flippers) for about $50. These fins have a soft, wide footpocket, but unlike many soft pocket fins, are designed in such a way that the blade remains stiff. Like many fins, there is a "rail" for lack of a better term, that runs perpendicular to the blade on each side, and tapers from the foot pocket to just short of the blade tip. But, there is also a stiff spine that runs down the ceter of the blade. The blade matierial between the rail and the spine is soft, like the foot pocket creating a webbing design. The fins looked good on paper, but only a sea trial would tell the tale. I ordered a XL size (11-13) and they had a "Goldielocks" fit with the Patagucci booties, not too tight, not too loose. Paddling out on a 4-5ft day I immediately noticed an improvement in thrust over any other fin I've tried, including the unmodified UDTs and the V7, and even my beloved Duckfeet. So far, so good...easily caught the first wave I commited to, which is always a good sign. Paddling in, I stopped in waist-deep water to remove my fins, and after overcoming the suction, they slipped right off. Bingo!! Now, the last test will be durability...how soon before the gum rubber decomposes and cracks? But at this point, happy enough with the Dorsals to consider buying a smaller size for summertime use.
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#2

Unread post by bgreen »

I read some reviews, complaints about weight and small sizing.

How does the overall length compare to a Churchill and Duckfeet?
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#3

Unread post by nomastomas »

Here are the fins currently in my possession, Left-to-Right: MS Viper Lg 9-10 (asymmetric BTW), Dorsal X-Lg 11-13, Original Voit Duckfeet Lg 9-10 (20-30 yr old), newer Voit Duckfeet Lg 9-10. Completely surprised to see the length difference between the Size Lg DF and the Size XLg Dorsal. Blade width at the tip for all fins is within a ½”of one another, with the original DF being the most narrow. The DF and the Dorsal have edge rails and center spline, while the MS Viper has a massive foot pocket. I prefer the MS Vipers when wear fin sox or no sox, and the Dorsals when wearing 2-mil booties. For me the MS Vipers and the Dorsals are as comfortable as DaFins, but offer more thrust.
MSV_DF_DOR_Top.jpg
MSV_DF_DOR_Top.jpg (59.27 KiB) Viewed 113782 times
MSV_DF_DOR_Bot.jpg
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#4

Unread post by rodndtube »

I wish every fin brand/model had a chart, diagram like Dorsal's.
Dorsal_PhantomSizingChart.png
Lines up nicely with my table of swim fin dimensions and weights. I will actually be able to compare to my Vipers and DaFins, except for 1) blade length and 2) weight.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/ ... html&pli=1
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#5

Unread post by rodndtube »

Nomas, could you fill in the blanks for a couple of things? What is the length from heel strap to blade tip and how much does a pair weigh? Is the foot strap stetchy, some stretch or no stretch?
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#6

Unread post by nomastomas »

Dorsal Phantom
Overal Length = 16.75"/426mm
Weight = 1.8lb/817g
The Dorsal heel strap has an even thickness taper from foot pocket (thick) to heel (thin) making it maybe twice as flexible and stretchy as the Duckfeet. DF heel straps have a consistent thickness from foot pocket to heel and are quite stiff.
By comparison, MS Viper heel straps have a thick-thin-thick thickness flow from foot pocket to heel, and while much more flexible and stretchy than DF, they are noticeably less so than Dorsals. It is the stretchy/flexiness of Dorsals that make them so comfortable. I don't understand how a fin with such a comfortable foot pocket/heel strap combo can also produce great thrust. Its been my experience that you need to sacrifice thrust for comfort. Just not the case for Phantoms. In my mind, the remaining question is longevity...how long before the Phantom heel straps deteriorate, crack and split. The 3 yr old DF pictured above have already started to crack. Interesting that the 20+yr old DF have not...
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#7

Unread post by rodndtube »

Nomas, thanks! Is that the weight of one fin or a pair?

Actual thrust and perceived thrust can often times be a play of deception or reality. Just because a swim fin kicks easier than a stiff heavy one doesn't necessarily make it more thrusty. No universal rule there. The magic thrust could be contained in the blades' web pockets you observed which provides an invisible reflexive push while reversing stroke.

Intriguing fins indeed.
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#8

Unread post by nomastomas »

Weight is for a single fin.
I only use perceived surface speed and accelleration to judge thrust. Perceived fin weight or stiffness or lack thereof have no bearing on thrust in my mind. I can "feel" myself going through the water and accellerating faster with the Dorsals. I spend a lot of time kick-paddling around now that I have stopped standing on a board and only ride prone or on my knees, so I have a wealth of paddling experience from which to judge. One thing I've noticed is that I can arm paddle on either my prone board or my kneeboard faster than I can kick paddle, at least for for short durations or sprints.
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#9

Unread post by rodndtube »

And with webbed paddling gloves you can go even faster! But if one relies on them too much a shoulder problem could flare up.

That confirms Bob Green's comment about Dorsals being on the heavier side for a pair, more in line with a pair of Vipers 7". Nonetheless, the performance and comfort for many people should make it a go-to swim fin plus being more affordable than most.

Seeing how I travel a lot for surf and weight being an important factor and given my DaFins are a good fit and performer for me, I will stick with them. If I were doing more Atlantic coast surfing these days springing for a pair of Dorsals would make sense.

I am curious about the eBodyboarding fins, Tribes (3 styles/versions), and also the red hot, popular but pricey Yucca swimfins (several styles).
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#10

Unread post by nomastomas »

Keep in mind that My Phantoms are XLg (12-13) at 825g and my MSVipers are only Lg (9-10) at 610g. I would image that the size Lg Phantoms are closer to 650g. My V7 XLg were HUGE! and seemed much heavier the my XLg Phantoms.
Yucca has good marketing and probably a pretty good fin, but their OC prices are just a little too "boug-ie" for me. I think most surf swim fins are pretty equal performance-wise. It really comes down to fit and comfort in my book. And, here everyone is different. No 2 feet are alike...
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#11

Unread post by Nels »

Totally agree on the fit...bit. That said, does anybody know where one could actually try on some Dorsal fins in SoCal/Ventura County? They do have a good sizing chart but I always fall right on the cusp between two sizes. Adding fin socks further complicates the matter. I've enjoyed the fin socks lately with my old Duck Feet as I wait to either "find the magic pair" or pull the trigger on Yuccas.
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#12

Unread post by rodndtube »

The Dorsals are certainly less expensive of an investment -- maybe compare your size and foot shape with Nomas? And look at the fin metrics chart link above. Wish it were more populated because then people would have some basis of comparison sight unseen.
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#13

Unread post by nomastomas »

Hey, Nels...my street shoe size is 10 wide. I have the Dorsal Phantom in the Ex Large (12-13) size and I wear Patagonia 2mil booties with them. (https://www.patagonia.com/product/r2-yu ... ccessories) They are closer to socks with a med-heavy-duty sole. I wear them primarily for foot protection rather than for warmth. With the 2 mill booties on, there is plenty of excess room in the toe area, while the fit at the heel and instep is snug but comfortable. I've yet to try them with standard 3mil surf booties that have a much thicker sole. My guess is that they would fit but would be a little tighter, and would make getting fins on and off a little more difficult. I bought mine online and I don't know if any of the surf shops or sporting goods store in Ventura carry them, or if they carried them, that would have your size in stock. I find it easier to order stuff online thru Amazon Prime, try it on and return it (for free) if it doesn't fit. WARNING: Some companies allow returns but want the buyer to pay shipping cost which can be as much as the original purchase price!
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Re: Dorsal Swim Fins

#14

Unread post by rodndtube »

NRS carries a good, strong sole, 2mm. The sole is made of a composite weave so it is good for walking over parking lots, gravel, shells, etc. It isn't a solid stiff sole. I started using them a couple of years ago for the "walks" and they fit nicely into swim fins and don't wear out like normal fin socks made out of wetsuit material and sometimes sporting a shiny sole for "grip" but that stuff is ineffective and wears out quickly. The only downside is they are not full-size socks going a couple of inches above the ankle. However, they cover the ankle and provide fin strap abrasion protection. NRS Sandal Socks. Read the reviews on sizing.
https://www.nrs.com/nrs-sandal-socks/plnt
30010_02_leftside_12292016_1000x1000[1].jpg
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