- Category: Kit Reviews
- Created: 28 January 2014
- Written by Super User
Ever since the introduction of the first footstraps in the early years of windsurfing have we complained about their shape, longevity, ease of adjustment and the amount of water they carry. We are happy to spend a mint on the rest of our gear but when it comes to footstraps do we really think about them much? For me they are a very important piece of kit and one we should at least put some effort in choosing.
The factory fitted option.
Currently, all the big board brands supply footstraps with their boards. Some are better than others and a few are better consigned to the bin before even fitting. The problem is one of expense. You've just spent £1000+ on your new board and should you really have to then spend another £40-£80 on a decent set of footstraps?
As we were saying, the quality varies massively between brands especially if you look back a few years. Some were like sponges nearly doubling in weight when wet. When you have just spent your hard earned on a 6kg board do you really want to add another 1.5kg to your board in wet footstraps and does that weight really matter? Well one brand certainly think it does and that is DaKine with the release of their new "Slim Strap".
The Slim Strap
Billed as a super light and simple footstrap the slim strap appears to be just that. Like the DaKine Contours it is only adjustable via screws, no bad thing in my mind as I very rarely need to adjust the size of my straps. Not so good for a hire board though. Shape wise they are excellent and they spring back to the correct form after being squashed in a board bag, no need to apply tennis balls here while in storage. Entry and exit of a booted foot is excellent and barefoot it is top notch. The lack of padding might mean those with soft feet may not find them comfortable for prolonged use but after giving them a go I really do not see that as a problem. It will be interesting to see how they fair once the feet get a little sunburn. They feature holes for one or two screw fixing. Sadly they do not come supplied with any washers or anti twist plates so you will either have to buy these separately or hopefully you will have these available from your existing straps. I'll update on their robustness when I've had a year to test them but they do feel very well made, they should be at the premium price you are paying for them. Packaged at one strap per pack it could cost quite a bit if you want a full set on a race board.
UPDATE: 2 Years in and there are very few signs of wear on these. They have been used very heavily and I am still as impressed as the day I first used them. Bare foot even with sunburnt feet they are not too harsh, in fact as the surfae on the inside does not seem to allow sand to stick even when wet they seem to be less harsh on the feet than some other more padded straps. DaKine have changed the design slightly recently but it is only a cosmetic change.
Like the Slim Strap these are only adjustable via screws so not suitable for shared or hire boards. Unlike the Slim Strap these have a unique shaping with a different shape for the front (asymmetrical) and rear (symmetrical) positions. This makes them wider on the entry side than on the toes side making them very easy to get into. Getting out of them can be a little problematic if you are wearing certain brands of booties as they seem to grip a little too much and occasionally mid gybe your front foot can get stuck. This really is not a problem as long as you are aware of it and you will be first time you go over the handlebars on a fast gybe. Barefoot or with other brands of booties they are fantastic. Core Contours are a very well made footstrap and my sets have lasted years of hard abuse. While the initial outlay may seem high they are well worth it. Unlike the Slim Strap they do come supplied with the Dakine anti-twist plates and some nice moulded plastic fittings for the screws in single or two hole types. Shape wise they are by far the best of the bunch and can take being squashed up in a bag for months before springing straight back to their pre-set shape.
Drake Slick Straps
These are supplied with every new Starboard and over they last few years have improved lots. They are relatively light, adjustable and are included in the cost of the board. The first versions of these straps were an absolute pig to adjust. While the simple velcro adjustment may seem simple on the surface it was in practice far from so. If you have feet the size of a Chinese 6yr old then they were great but for anyone else you needed to put a bar through them and use a lot of leverage to force them open against the resistance of their design. It really was that bad. Once you did get them adjusted you soon found that the next time you go out they had shrunk back to their factory setting allowing you to just about get your big toe in on the first run. I am glad to say that 2011 saw a big improvement but they are still not the easiest. It is a good ideat to leave tennis balls in these straps when you are storing your board. Weight and absorbency wise the chart below says it all. They do wear well.
RRD (Made By Dakine)
Based on one of the lower end Dakine footstraps these are supplied with all new RRD boards. These are of a superb standard for a factory fit model and really are good. Adjustment is easy but they seem to have been designed to not need any for the average size 9 foot. They are quite well padded for the barefoot rider and release well whether booted or barefoot with no saggy neoprene getting in the way even when adjusted to maximum size. Shape is very good too and this shape is retained well after storage. Again these straps last well and like all the straps above do not twist out of shape if fitted properly.
Not wanting to pick on Starboard here I chose these as they were the spongiest and heaviest design I could lay my hands on. Thankfully Starboard no longer supply these with their boards but some other brands do supply designs very similar indeed. They were truly the poorest straps I have ever used and why some brands still supply straps this bad is beyond me. Not only did they twist out of shape but the saggy loose neoprene underneath meant you struggled to get your feet in at the best of times. The only plus point of these straps was that when you did get your feet in they were very comfortable. Other than that a best consigned straight to the bin design..
The whole reason this review was started in the first place were due to the claims of a comfortable but super-light footstrap from DaKine. So into anal mode out came the scales. First the straps were weighed dry. Then all were submerged in water for 10 minutes held under with a brick. They were bought straight from the water, shaken once then placed directly on the scales for the weigh in like one of the American weight loss shows. It was not hard to guess which one was the deep fried turkey eating Texan but the results from the rest were actually quite surprising.
|Model||Dry Weight||Wet Weight||Set of 4 Dry||Set of 4 Wet|
|Dakine Slim Strap||78g||85g||312g
|Dakine Core Contours||120g||180g||480g
|Drake Slick Straps||120g||140g||480g
|RRD (By Dakine)||120g||140g||480g
As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of the Core Contours but was very keen to try their new offering. I am very impressed by every aspect of the new Slim Strap. If you are in the camp that light is better then these really are the dogs danglies. DaKine have for a long time had some of the best after market straps available and I am certain these will not disappoint. The downside may be cost, comfort or the lack of washers/plates but I feel that is only a minor drawback. If you are not concerned about a few grammes then look at all the things that you feel makes a good footstrap. The Slim Straps will still be well up there among the top players very close to the Core Contours.