Paddle Board Fins All You Need To Know - Best SUP Fins Review

Table of contents

1.Are paddle board fins universal
2.The Purpose Of SUP Fins
3.What is a fin box
4.How many types of fin boxes are there
5.Fin placement and replacement
6.1 Fin VS 3 Fin 
7.Fin Materials
8.How to select a fin for your paddle board
9.The best SUP Fins 2022

Are paddle board fins unversal?

No, there are a lot of different types of inflatable paddle boards using different types of fin boxes, so the paddle board fins are not universal. 

sup fins

The Purpose Of SUP Fins

The paddle board fins are there to help stabilize you on the SUP from a left and right wobble and give you better tracking. Better tracking means easier to go in a straight line. One large center fin is enough for flat water paddling as having two side fins will create drag and slow you down.

What is a fin box?

A fin box is the part which secures the fins on your paddle board. With a fin box you can change the fins to suit the SUP activities you are doing.  

How many types of fin boxes are there?

sup fin box

Below are some of the most common types of fin box you’ll find on the market.

  • US fin box
  • Slide-in fin box
  • Dual tab box
  • Snap-in lever box

Other than the fin boxes list above, some SUP brands might have their own types of fin boxes. Below we will introduce to you two of the most common types of SUP fins on the market.

US Fin Box The US fin box is the most common kind of fin box out there, which makes it the best choice for experimenting with different fins. You can find all sorts of fins compatible with a US fin box.

So it’s easy to find a fin that suits your needs. A fin that’s compatible with a US fin box is secured with a bolt and nut, which ensure the fin will stay in place at all times. But be careful not to lose the bolt and nut. Some fins might also require a screwdriver to tighten. Slide-in Fin box Slide-in Fin boxes are usually found on inflatable paddle boards. 

Unlike the US fin box, the SUP fin for a slide-in fin box is very easy to install. Just slide the fin into the box and secure it with the peg that it came with. The downside of a slide-in fin box is that the selection of fins is limited to some basic shapes and sizes. Slide-in fins are usually made of plastic but they perform just fine and usually cheaper than a fin for the US fin box. 

The US fin box is the most common type of fin box and it allows you to adjust the performance of the board by changing the fins. If you want to tweak the performance of your board, consider buying a paddle board with a US fin box.

Paddle board fin placement and replacement

Installing a Screw and Plate Fin

(1) With the plate loosely secured on the end of the screw, set it into the space in the middle of the box. While the screw is sticking up, you should be able to

(2) move the plate where you need it. Another option is to set the plate without the screw into the space and move it around using the tip of a Phillips screwdriver.
Move the plate to the front of the fin box (toward the nose of the board)

(3) Line the metal dowel up with the space in the middle of the fin box and set it into the track. Note that the fin should curve with the point toward the back of the board. 

(4) Set the end of the fin with the screw hole into the fin box and line the plate up with the screw hole. Insert the screw and tighten it up until it is snug, but do not over-tighten.

    Installing a Quick-Release Fin

    (5) Line the metal dowel up with the hole in the center of the fin box and place it into the track. Note that the point of the fin should be aimed to the back of the board.

    (6) Push the end with the roller until it snaps into the fin box channel. Below, you see that if the fin is at the front of box on a Paddle North Board, you can easily slip the roller into the slot in the middle of the fin box.

    (7) Quick-Release Fin Install The immediate worry that many have about a fin that snaps into place via pressure is that it could come back out; the beauty of the universal fin is that it requires pressure from the direction of the bottom of the board and toward the nose, which is not the directionality that cruising through the water will apply.

    (8) If the fin box allows for movement, pull the fin to where you would like it to sit in the fin box.

    1 Fin Vs 3 Fin 

    (1) Characteristics of one-fin setup

    Fins on a paddleboard are there to provide you with better tracking and more stability. Larger fins will give you better tracking and more stability but at the same time make the board less maneuverable. Some boards will come with a fin system that allows you to remove and change all 3 fins on them.

    3 Fin SUP

    Most inflatable boards that feature a 3-fin setup will have two fixed side fins. That’s okay for all around inflatable sup boards but if you want better tracking and less drag, go for boards with only one large center fin or those with 3 removable fins.

    Fins can also help decrease drag on the SUP board. A board in the water will create drag on every single side, but adding a fin will limit the drag to the sides and not the front. This will help make the board go faster and cut through water more smoothly. 

    There are several different SUP fin configurations and the single fin setup is a common one. As is mentioned before, a paddle board with a single fin setup will have faster speed and better maneuverability. A single fin usually fits in a US fin box which allows you to move the fin forward and back in the box canal to change the performance of the board.

    A single fin setup is an ideal configuration for racing, flat water paddling or touring. Sliding the fin towards the nose of the board will give the board better maneuverability, thus making the board easier to surf or paddle on whitewater. But it will simultaneously slow the board down and make it harder for the rider to track.

    (2) Characteristics of a 3 fin configuration

    A paddle board with 3 fins are usually called a thruster or a 2+1. Some surf boards will have 3 fins of roughly the same size. Inflatable boards with a 3-fin setup usually have two fixed side fins which are significantly smaller than the large center fin.

    3 Fin SUP

    The fins can give the board more stability and maneuverability for surfing, whitewater paddling or tracking. They also help the board track better on flatwater. You can use a board with one-fin setup for surfing or whitewater paddling, but a 3-fin setup is always recommended as it can provide added stability. 

    (3) Other SUP fin configurations

    Other than 1 and 3 fin paddle boards, there are also 2 and 4 fin paddle boards. A 2-fin setup is basically a 3 fin without the large center fin. This fin configuration is usually used on smaller paddleboards designed for surfing and very rare. This configuration helps to make the board turn quicker and gives the board an agile feel. But it also reduces the board’s tracking and makes the board less stable. 

    A 4 fin setup is usually used by professionals as this setup makes the board harder to control. It’s usually used to give the rider the ability to hold a higher line above the wave’s crest.

    SUP Fin material

    Three of the most common materials used to make fins are plastic, fiberglass and carbon fiber.

    (1)Plastic paddle board fins are the cheapest among the three materials and easy to make. They are also heavier and the least stiff. They will flex under pressure which will decrease the responsiveness of the fin.

    (2)Fiberglass paddle board fins are ligher and stiffer than plastic fins. It’s a great middle ground option.

    (3)Carbon fiber paddle board fins are the lightest, strongest and usually the most expensive. If you are going to be participating in SUP races, it’s worth investing in a carbon fiber fin to reduce the weight underneath your board.

    How to select a fin for your paddle board?

    There are all sorts of SUP fins for you to choose from. Fins in different sizes and shapes will give the board a different feel and change the board’s performance. And you can try choosing a fin according to your type of paddling and experience level.

    The Best SUP Fins 2022

    (1) Goosehill 9" SUP Fin



    • Classic Fin -- This universal fin is designed as a center fin for inflatable paddle boards. Its classic design provides good hold in both flat water paddling and turning around.
    • Easy to Assemble -- Don't need any professional tool, you could quickly assemble or remove the fin to your inflatable paddle board. Enjoy paddling just now.
    • Reinforced Nylon -- Molded with fiberglass-reinforced nylon composite materials to ensure this paddle board fin is strong and durable. It offers the perfect balance of pivot and hold, which improves safety while you are on your inflatable SUP.
    • Suitable for Different Models -- This detachable center fin fits almost all SUPs and longboards with a Slide-in fin box. Makes it convenient for you to replace the original SUP fin quickly.
    • Stability -- It is designed to increase stability and tracking, especially in choppy water.


    (2) VAMO Findestructable 3" Low Profile River Fin

    sup fins

    Fin features

    (3) saruSURF 9" US Box Center

     sup center fin


    (4) FCS Ii Sup Touring Fin 9 inch Black

    fcs sup fin


    (5) THURSO SURF Paddleboard Fin

    thurs sup fin


    • Compatibility: The THURSO SURF SUP Fin Replacement is Compatible with Many SUP Brands Such as: HyperLite (Costco) | Bluefin | Blackfin | FBSPORT | GILI | Hatha | iRocker | Jobe | Nautical | PEAK | DriftSun | Coasto and etc.
    • Convenience: Broken or Misplaced Fins can be Replaced in Minutes. The Paddle Board Fin Replacement Features Tool-less Quick Lock and Release Mechanism Same as the Original Fins. Bonus Paddle Board Fin Clip Included.
    • Performance: The Paddle Board Fins Replacement Helps the Board to Travel in a Straight Line So You Won't Have to Switch Paddling Sides as Often. The Sharp Profile Minimizes Drag, and Balances Speed and Stability. Suitable for All Wave Conditions.
    • Robust: The SUP Paddle Board Replacement Fin is Made of Reinforced Nylon and is Extremely Strong and Durable. Resistant to All Kinds of Abrasion. Fin Depth 8'' Base 6''. Perfect Replacement for Your Paddle Board.
    • Satisfaction: If You Have Any Question With the Paddleboardss SUP Fins Replacement, We Are Here For You and Your Satisfaction is 100% Guaranteed.

    When buying a new paddle board, it's important to take the fin configuration into consideration. If you can't find a suitable paddle board that has the fin configuration you want, consider getting a custom paddle board. Goosehill now provides paddle board customization service which allows you to design your own paddle board. If you ever thought of having a board designed entirely by yourself, Goosehill can make it come true. 


    Cover of this article: Photo by CSG SUP Gear Ltd


    • Renee Huber

      I have lost the fin for my goosehill sailor. How can I get a replacement?

    • Annabel

      I have a new goosehill sailor. The slide in fin is really hard to push in. Any tips on how to make it slide more easily would be much appreciated!

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