Everything You Need to Know About Futures Fins

The importance of fins is often underestimated by surfers, particularly those who are still honing their craft. They’re small, you can’t really see them when someone is surfing, and it’s not all that fun to brag about your fantastic new fins, so they tend to get shoved to the side a little when it comes to equipment talk. But you can buy the best new board out there, and if you don’t have a good set of fins to go with it you might as well be sitting in a Ferrari with no wheels. 

Different boards have different fin boxes which are typically designed either for the more common FCS or FCS II fins, or Futures. The designs from each of these brands have their own pros and cons, but in this article and a couple more to come, we’re going to focus on the one which tends to slip a little under the radar.

Futures have been around since way back in 1996, when the Longo brothers, having previously worked with aerospace parts and hydrogen fuel cells, decided to put their engineering skills to good use and design a new type of fins. Since then they’ve been continually honing their craft, with a genuine passion for both innovation and surfing culminating in a quality product which gets better by the year.

The company is full of genuine science aficionados, and they seem to seriously love surfboard fins. Over the course of 25 years they have developed into a big, globally recognised company, and yet they still direct every inch of their focus towards developing fins – nothing else. That’s some serious commitment to a small piece of equipment attached to the bottom of your board, so it’s little wonder that they are consistently able to pump out innovative new products.

The system

Though they have a wide range of different fin constructions, all Futures fins are recognisable by the unique Futures fins system which sets them apart from their competitors. They have just a single tab system, which makes it particularly easy to slide your fin into its box, and this fin is then secured in place by a solitary angled screw.  

The way that this fin is designed means that when you invariably have a run in with a rock, reef, the ocean floor or another surfer, it’s much less likely that you’ll cause damage to your board. Unless, of course, it’s your board itself that has the run in, but in the common scenario that your fins take the brunt of the impact, the single tab system means that it’s far more likely that the only damage will be to the fins themselves – they won’t end up ripping the bottom of your board apart, or resulting in the need for an entirely new fin box.

The advantages of Futures

There are numerous advantages associated with Futures fins, among the most significant of which is the durability. The way that the fins are attached to your board means that there is less flex and less probability of the fin breaking, though of course this durability is contingent on how the fins are treated – if you cannon into a hard rock on the way out of the water, it’s still likely to do some damage. As mentioned, this durability also extends beyond the fin itself, with your board also likely to benefit from any collisions between your fins and other hard objects.

Futures fins are also renowned for their responsiveness. Many surfers feel that the more secure connection between fin and board which you get with the Futures system means that they are the best fin for high performance surfing, and given that they regularly come in at a cheaper price point than their FCS counterparts as well, they are often viewed as the value option when it comes to fins.

The disadvantages of Futures

The major disadvantage associated with the Futures fins system isn’t directly related to the fins at all. Instead, the concern most commonly mentioned when it comes to Futures is the compatibility – or lack thereof – with so many boards.  

The differing systems used by FCS and Futures, each of which has its own distinct advantages, means that the two types of fins aren’t interchangeable. A board either has a Futures setup or an FCS setup, and there’s no scope to mix and match. Though Futures fins, 25 years after they first popped up in a Californian garage, are widely recognised and used, they are the less common option among shapers, and as a result a pretty large proportion of boards aren’t compatible with them. 

As far as disadvantages go, this isn’t necessarily hugely significant. If you are hellbent on using Futures, you can still find plenty of boards with which this system is compatible, or have one shaped to use them. The fact that the most common concern with the Futures system relates to their availability rather than their performance speaks to the quality of the product. 

Of course, not everybody swears by Futures, and the discussion around which of the two major systems is better divides opinions like Woolworths vs Coles. Given that they are, however, typically the less recognised fin setup, you would be excused for thinking that they are the inferior option. But any surf-related product that John John Florence swears by must have something going for it, and if they’re good enough for him, that’s a sign that they’re well and truly worth checking out.