FCS vs Futures Fin Boxes
So you managed to get yourself one of the classiest board designs on the market?
So what's next?
Now you need to get yourself some fins.
A critical tool when it comes to your surfboard performance. Offering you stability, drive, and manoeuvrability – rudimentarily the general feel you are bound to experience. Choosing the right fins comes down to a lot more than just material, or price.
There are two main brands when it comes to your fin box. You have FCS, and you have Futures. The question is though, which is better FCS or Futures fins?
Arguably, FCS is better, but, Futures offer a lot to the table which FCS doesn't, we dive into why we think you should know the differences before buying.
How do you choose fin systems?
Typically you'll buy a board with one or the other, depending on your board's manufacturer who normally has their preference. But for argument's sake, let's say you're having your board custom made, or making one yourself.
Let's keep in mind your weight, your height, and the type of waves you plan on surfing. Noting, not all fins, work in all conditions.
Determining those factors will give you the ability to move onto the most appropriate system. Both brands offer their own branded fins, but other brands make fins compatible also. Such as:
- Shapers FCS Compatible Fins
- Shapers Futures Compatible Fins
- SCARFINI FCS Compatible Fins
- SCARFINI Futures Compatible Fins
- 3DFins FCS Compatible Fins
- 3DFins Futures Compatible Fins
There are tonnes more brands, but let's keep it there for now. All offering different designs, styles, textures and benefits you should consider. But focusing more on the box than the fin. Considering availability, innovation and convenience determines a few differences.
The Difference between FCS and Futures?
Both fin boxes come as a pre-fibreglass fix. Meaning they're added before your board is hot-coated. FCS have two core versions, FCS which was introduced in 1995, and their FCS II range was improved in 2013 with major improvements.
Futures was founded in 1996 with a single tab design and have remained a single tab design ever since, using this as one of their main points of difference.
FCS Box Pros
- As the most commonly used fin box, fins are easy to find and reliable
- Cost Effective
- Forward compatible with the FCS II system
FCS Box Cons
- Third party rip-offs are common in both fin, and box format.
- Will does not support futures, or FCS II fins.
FCS II Box Pros
- No screw is required for easy snap-in fins
- Ease of use and widely used
- Stronger box
FCS II Box Cons
- Typically more expensive than the others
- Less common than traditional FCS
Futures Box Pros
- The fins base is stronger than the FCS base.
- Cheaper price point
- Easy installation
Futures Box Cons
- Futures fins are typically heavier due to the base
- Less common than FCS fins.
FCS Fins System
FCS fins are designed with two tabs that are secured to the board with a special set of screws.
In dissimilarity to other fin-plus models in the market, the FCS' plugs were tailored to have more part of the board construction as opposed to being rooted in the foam core alone.
The minute the fins are screwed all the way into place, they are less likely to move laterally or break when they are being used by surfers.
The main problem you are likely to encounter is that when they do break, it may bring about a minor damage to the board itself. With any excessive force put on the fins, the box may cause board damage.
If you are always losing your fin key, then you have FCS to thank for coming out into the surf market with the solution launched with the FCS II.
With this new, sophisticated, lifesaving tech, you can simply clip in the fins or clip them out from the board without the use of any kind of tool. An added bonus is this new model also reduces drag, as well as improves the streamline of your badass board.
The most exciting part of the new FCS is that it is compatible with the old system.
That means you can use your old dual tab FCS fins with the new FCS II setup. Well, you may need a compatibility kit to be able to pull this off, which costs you around USD 10.00.
But being able to make use of your old fins with the new system you just purchased is a justification of the money you're spending on the gear.
If this isn't enough to convince you about the versatility and performance offered by the FCS, perhaps the list of pros that have these fins in their arsenal will do the trick.
You have World Champ Mick Fanning, Jeremy Flores, Kolohe Andino, Laura Enever, Julian Wilson and Sally Fitzgibbons swearing by this new gear!
Futures Fins System
Yet another brand that has all the makings of the next revolutionary gear, one which is well liked by many surfers, is Futures.
Unlike the FCS, Futures use a single-tab system for its fins. Each of the fins is secured with an angled screw. Due to the fact that the fins have a single case, they have a firmer connection to the board, resulting in a less flex that makes it stronger and more unlikely to break.
The solid bond between the board and the fin as well gives surfers more responsiveness just about every time you are in the water doing your thing.
In similitude to the FCS, Futures will only work with Future fin boxes. Nevertheless, you can buy replacement fins which are very compatible with the other fin systems you can find in the market.
Futures fins are designed with performance and durability in mind.
If you want to use what the big names such as John Florence, Jordy Smith, Jack Freestone, Dave Rasta Rastovich, Rob Machado and Shane Dorian are using, then the Futures fins are sure the best bet!
Comparison between FCS and Futures: So Which Is Better?
Which is better Futures or FCS? When you are on the lookout for a fin system that is widely used across the globe, FCS may be your best bet. The model is used by a substantial number of shapers and board companies. They are also readily available worldwide and just about perfect for anyone who is travelling.
Nonetheless, there are some complaints from a number of surfers that their FCS II fins fall out.
Fins are costly and you wouldn't want to lose them, especially when you are about to head out for a paddle. More so, snapping them on the board won't be as user-friendly as they are advertised.
You will need to put a lot of force to put them in. And, should you not do so on a soft surface, you may end up causing damage to your board.
Futures, on the other hand, are more user-friendly. They are easier to install and are found to be of stronger quality by a lot of surf enthusiasts.
When you bash your Futures, only the fins will break, but when you bash your FCS, you also end up with a broken board. When compared to getting some repair for your board, replacing a fin or two will cost you a lot less money.
The demerit is that the Futures fin system is not as popular with shapers as the FCS is which means your board options are a bit limited. You can't also use your FCS fins on boards with Futures fin boxes, vice versa.
Both fins system have a downside and upper side. Overall performance, expenditure on installation, and workflow will help you to decide who the winner is.
The key point is your fitness level is the top beating tip to enjoy the surfing experience, surfer decides the board size according to the power and weight of the person. If you analyze your all aspects critically you can continue surfing in large and powerful waves.
Selection of fins is like choosing boards, offers limitless testing opportunities. Just analyze all the options for a while like multiple shapes, designs, foils and size, and you can visualize what will be next after future fins.