It’s a common occurrence – you just purchased an inflatable kayak or paddle board and excitedly open the box to discover – bent fins!
While this might appear devastating at first, straightening an integrated bent fin on an inflatable is a fairly easy task – basically, the application of heat allows it to return to normal. (Please note, this is just for the integrated flexi-fins found on many inflatables, not the removable rigid fins.)
Here are three options:
1) If it is a minor bend, flip your inflatable upside down and let it sit in the sun for a while. This often will return it to a straight position. (Please note: do NOT put your inflatable in the sun at full pressure – release some of the air so that it feels soft.)
2) For tougher bends, use a hair dryer. Hold the fin and after about 5 or 10 minutes the fin should soften enough to slowly straighten.
3) Very tough bends may require a little more effort. We thank Red Paddle Co for the photos and information on the “hot water” fix per below:
Pour hot water from the kettle on to the fin to make the fin flexible.
Straighten the fin with your hands and then using sticky tape secure the fin in its upright position.
Allow to cool either naturally or by pouring cold water over the fin. You should find your fin is now straight.
How to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
Make sure to store the inflatable in such a way that the fins are not bent. Some of this can be accomplished by folding. For instance the Airis paddle boards are folded one third up, then one-third again, then the fin is folded over (sticking up into the air). The board is then folded in half the long way, which nestles the fin between the layers.
Some inflatables come with fin protectors – bladder rings that slip over the fins.
If you don’t have fin protectors, you can easily fashion some by cutting a slit in a large block of styrofoam – any pressure will rest on the block, and not the fin itself.
Also make sure to not sit in the kayak when on dry ground for any length of time. If you must, then provide some type of support underneath.
Taking any of these simple steps will ensure that you are paddling on a straight course, and not “around in circles.”