Over the winter I looked into and purchased a couple of sets of Reef Runner Gear's fin skins. I had contemplated having my own manufactured but when I came accross these, it just didn't seem worth the hassle. You can create your own custom design for a few bucks more and although you can run into some small snags when doing so (I'll elaborate later on), Jon from Reef Runner Gear is an awesome guy to work with and he will do everything he can to make things right.
I first came across an idea similar to this about a year ago and thought I might even be able to improve upon it by adding a touch or two of my own. I was considering doing this because I had recently had a set of blades replaced as well as purchased a new set of Riffe fiberglass composites and wanted to do something to keep them all from getting marred and scratched when doing the bottom spearfishing that we do so much. If you only or primarily freedive, there's no doubt these skins will still look cool, but I was looking for something to offer real protection as my regular use is akin to what many would (and have) call "ab-use".
So after coming up with my design and putting it together in an illustrator file, I contacted Jon to start the process. The communication from ReefRunner Gear is excellent and you know pretty much at what point in the process you stand almost all the time. Custom skins do take a little longer (mine took almost 2 weeks from my submission/payment) so you need to have a little patience, but once again you get communication throughout the process so your expectations (or at least mine) are managed very well. The skins come shipped in a small cardboard tube (if you've ever ordered similar vinyl products you're familiar with these) and come in professional high quality packaging (such as it is for decals).
Upon first opening the tube and extracting the skins, I noticed the quality of the material is excellent as they use 3M products for the vinyl. They also bring excellent step by step application instructions so most people should be able to apply these themselves without too much trouble (even though I departed from the instructions somewhat when applying mine). The only issue that I had with the skins (and I mention it here not to fault Reef Runner but to educate you) is that the colors were off from my initial design. In exchanging emails with Jon (who once again was very responsive) I was made aware that these processes result in truer color reproduction when you use Pantone palettes in your graphics program to design your graphic. If you don't know what Pantone color palettes are, you're probably better off paying the extra 30 bucks and having RRG design your skins for you. For those of you that do know what I'm talking about, make sure you use the Pantone Coated color palette when selecting your colors for your design and you should be fine.
Not that it's needed, but in defense of RRG, Jon bent over backwards to try and ensure that I was a satisfied customer and in spite of my mistake with the colors, the design was exactly what I drew from a content perspective and was incredibly sharp. I was very happy with the quality of the product that I received. Now, on to the field testing!!!
Let's be honest, although they provide protection, the main reason for getting the skins is that you can personalize your fins. I almost can't wait until I destroy these skins so I can take them off and put on a new set with my new correctly-colored design. I've been using my fins with the skins all Summer and I can already see where they've provided protection in the scratches that don't appear to have caused any damage to the actual fin. At this point, I'm really waiting until they have more than a few scratches in them so I can order the replacements, remove these and see how much protection they provided.
UPDATE: I have since moved on to carbon blades from my Nemo fiberglass blades that had the skins on them, but not before pretty much beating the skins into submission. I decided to give my Nemo's to a friend so I figured I would spare him having to put up with my personally designed skins, so I removed them before he took possession. I can honestly say that the skins provided a lot of protection. The skins themselves were pretty much shredded and I had to remove them in smaller pieces, and although some of the scratches did make it through to the blades, the vast majority of the damage suffered by the skins was effectively restricted to the skins..
Although some people have, I have not put skins on my carbon blades as I don't want to affect the flexibility of the carbon fiber (the main reason for getting them) by overlaying a thick vinyl film. Please note that this is my feeling on the matter and I don't have any empirical data to prove that the skins affect the flexibility of carbon blades. I hope my fears are laid to rest by someone who can prove that the skins don't affect flexibility so I can go back to my custom designed fins. There's never any confusion whose fins they are when they're one of a kind with my personally designed fin skins.