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Foot Pocket Expansion

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,604
394
188
Shanghai
Hi all,
I have had a pair of Cressi Garas for around four years now. It was basically what was available to me at the time I bought them but having wide feet they have (literally) been a pain to use and caused me a some bad cramps along the way. I still wanted a bit more life out of them, so decided to try to expand the foot pockets myself. Basically, I heated them with a heating gun and expanded them with a tool that I think shoemakers use to expand shoes. I found both the gun and the expansion tool cheap on Taobao - the Chinese equivalent to Amazon (I live in Shanghai).
And... it worked! I expanded them around 5-8 mm in width at different points at the front half of the pocket and though it doesn't sound like much, I no longer have cramps using them.
Since the modification, I have been in the water around five long days with a lot of surface swimming and they are not showing any signs of coming apart:).

What I did was to put the fins on and take a hammer to the side of them and hit to identify where they needed expansion and then marked those areas.
I then heated the rubber locally and when the rubber was soft I started expanding. I felt the rubber with a screwdriver and when it was about to melt, I started expanding. One warning though - the light grey rubber melts earlier than the black and actually cracked a little bit, but as said, not trouble yet for me in those areas. Also, though you want to heat locally, I think it is important to move the heating gun all the time to spread the heat over that area.
My choice was between dumping the fins or trying to make them work as I couldn't have passed them on as I don't know any freedivers in China, so it was an easy one.

I'll leave you with a few pics:
 

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Apneaddict

Well-Known Member
Sep 2, 2010
1,339
369
123
Toronto, Canada
Innovative!

I just wouldn't trust them to stay together / in one piece for a deep Freedive, without a line.

On line dives, we can always revert back to free immersion if we have a fin failure.

Dive safe.
 
OP
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Diving Gecko

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,604
394
188
Shanghai
Innovative!

I just wouldn't trust them to stay together / in one piece for a deep Freedive, without a line.

On line dives, we can always revert back to free immersion if we have a fin failure.

Dive safe.
It's def an important point, but I am using these fins mostly for spearing and UW photography, so not super deep. But I think this rubber is a kind of thermoplastic rubber, so I am pretty sure no harm is really done. It should retain its strength after cooling down. But this is speculation, I am not an engineer at all.
But I will make sure to get back with more info if things start looking bad.
 
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OP
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Diving Gecko

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,604
394
188
Shanghai
A short update. My trip is coming to an end and I have had no trouble with the fins what so ever. I have been in the water for seven long days spearing, so I'd say I have put at least 35-40 hours on them and there are no signs of them coming apart.

All best,
David
 

eNeRGy

Well-Known Member
Sep 6, 2010
137
12
58
Korea
That's quite interesting. Thanks for the info on how you did that. I recently got a new set of Sting Ray pockets one size down from my main pair which is slightly too big. But the new pockets are CRAZY tight, and very painful after only a very short time. A couple of friends suggested just sucking up and using them for a few pool sessions and they will expand a bit on their own; but if that doesn't work I may follow your lead.
 
OP
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Diving Gecko

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
1,604
394
188
Shanghai
True... but... ouch! :duh

I think I'd rather hope the foot pockets stretch (or do it as above) than permanently warp my feet~

Hehe, yeah - weird how I didn't even think of the foot binding option since I live in China;-)
BTW, do footpockets really give? I find that a bit hard to understand, but perhaps they do.

If you do venture into the expansion adventure, then let us know how it went.

You could also try to find a good ski shop which has the gear to modify ski boots. They would have a small jack with inserts and a heatgun since that's how they do it. Don't know how much they'd charge though, but worth a try.

Good luck,
David
 

eNeRGy

Well-Known Member
Sep 6, 2010
137
12
58
Korea
BTW, do footpockets really give? I find that a bit hard to understand, but perhaps they do.
I was surprised to hear that as well. But both my instructor and another friend suggested that I just fight through the pain for the first few sessions. I'll just do a few sessions with short fin sessions, and a lot more DNF or static practice and see how it works.

If not, thanks for the different ideas for stretching the rubber. I'm still healing from some road rash, but once I get in the pool I'll let ya know how it goes.
 

David Nelson

New Member
Sep 8, 2017
3
2
3
37
Abu Dhabi
I just put a glass bottle in my foot pockets and ran hot water over them for a while. They went from basically unwearable (on a stiff monofin) to beautifully form-fitting and comfortable in the water! I also sprayed some silicone lube in them...

Good luck!
 

schepop

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
1
0
1
46
Amsterdam
I just put a glass bottle in my foot pockets and ran hot water over them for a while. They went from basically unwearable (on a stiff monofin) to beautifully form-fitting and comfortable in the water!
PERFECTO!!! Just did that with my over snuggling LeaderFins' pocket.

The thing is, I've followed their sizing charter. That pointed me to one size smaller than what I'm used to. First time wearing them —on dry, with and without socks, they offer a perfect fit bare foot. But unbearable with socks.

After pushing a bottle per fin, with soapy water, into the pockets and let them seat in hot water for 15min, baaam! They feel smooth. Way easier to put on and take out while keeping the snug hug keeping my confidence high. No lose vertical movement within the pocket.

The only question I have is if the rubber gave a little away, or if the bottle'a round shape changed the top arc of the pocket, and THAT is what made them to fit comfortably.

I update you after my first pool session with them.
 
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