The Benefits Of Surfboard Traction Pads
In the beginning, surfers used candle wax to prevent them from slipping on their smooth longboards. This evolved to improved wax formulations. Some even smelled like coconut. Over time, surf wax evolved into traction, a once-off method of making your board non-slippery.
These days most people use traction pads. However, some people prefer wax, and many people use both. A traction pad is simply a piece of textured foam designed to fit on your board, with one side of the foam covered in a super sticky glue. This enables the foam to adhere firmly to your board.
Anyone can use a traction pad, regardless of whether you want to punt massive airs or you just want to feel the glide on your longboard. They are designed to prevent you from slipping, no matter what your equipment. A surfboard grip pad simply takes the place of wax, and all boards need wax.
The advantages of using a surfboard deck grip are firstly so that you won’t slip. Secondly, the extra grip can help you to do airs. Thirdly, the surfboard tail pad can help you gain stability in the barrel by having something to push up against and stabilize yourself.
What To Look For In A Good Surfboard Traction Pad
The best surfboard traction pads are soft but still retain some sort of shape after use. The more spongey they are, the better grip for your feet. If a surfboard tail pad or a front foot traction pad is too hard, it will become slippery and can even be a bit painful underfoot.
Surfboard traction pads come in many types of colors and designs. There are many surfboard traction pad styles to choose from and it’s a great way to put a personal touch on your surfboard, to make it reflect your style. Just like you can do with a good paint job.
Some companies even allow you to choose your own style, and they will construct bespoke traction to your liking.
One-piece or multiple pieces
The one-piece surfboard grip used to be the only way to go. Still, with the introduction of so many wider board variants, the multiple-piece traction pads became more popular. This is because they can cover more area on the board.
Front deck grip or no deck grip
The front deck grip is not that popular, and actually very few companies actually manufacture them in any real numbers. Most people go for the combination of tail pad and wax upfront, but some opt for front foot grip pads. Usually, aerial surfers need extra traction.
High kick versus low kick
The kicks are also a personal choice, but the competitive, ultra-radical surfer usually chooses the higher kick to have more to push against during radical aerial moves. On the other hand, the older, smoother surfers will find the high kicks a little bit obtrusive.
Raised arch or no raised arch
A raised arch can be uncomfortable at times, as it might be greater than the arch of your foot and cause some stress. Some people love them, though, and swear that it helps them surf rail-to-rail with ease.
Surfboard: tail pad vs. front pad
Some people still love front pads, but it is a fad that has come and gone for most. These days there is so much foot movement, particularly with the front foot, that there is very little need for a front pad. Still, there is a slight current of surfers who are total air surfers who are investing in front pads.
The front pads feel a bit weird for everyday surfers who don’t go for airs, and it’s hard to move your foot around once you are up and riding. It also rashes nipples badly, so there is that.
The Best Surfboard Tail Pads to choose from
There are so many companies out there who make excellent tail pads. Although, to be honest, most of them come from the same company in china, so there are minor differences.
The best surfboard tail pads in our opinion are listed below.
FCS is one of our favorite brands, and the T-3 series is their best-selling line of traction pads.
The 3-piece traction pad from FCS comes in a sleek design and a variety of nice colorways such as the dusty blue, white, and grey fleck. It has a sanded surface and double diamond groove for enhanced grip. It also has a coffin arch bar and a high tail kick – everything you would want from the best traction pad.
The Mixed Groove Pad is the best-selling model from the brand Channel Islands. The groove technology combines the well know diamond groove with vertical grooves that run from front to back.
With this model, you get high quality at a very reasonable price. It has a beveled kicktail that lines up perfectly with your leash plug. The arch is 5mm, and the traction pad has a medium kick of 32mm.
Surfboard manufacture Pyzel has created its own traction pads. A 3-piece set with diamond tread traction and an arch bar. It comes in two colorways, a clean design, and high-quality materials.
In our opinion, it’s one of the best traction pads on the market, as it provides the best value for money.
The products from Slater Design are a result of Kelly Slater’s knowledge and insights about high-performance surf equipment. As an 11-time World Champion, he knows what works!
With this 5-piece traction pad, you get good support with Kelly’s favorite arch and unique details that make it one of the best tractions pads on the market.
Clean and simple and tied up with one of the most underrated surfers on the planet. It is a high-performance traction pad constructed from lightweight, high-impact, water-resistant EVA – hence the higher price.
The best surfer in the world has to have a good grip under his feet. It’s a 5-piece design, and it looks pretty cool in the Port colorway. You are guaranteed maximized grip and precision from the triple-cut positraction grip, and the holes in the kick tail help reduce drag.
All Dakine’s traction pads are made of biodegradable Friendly Foam, sold in plastic-free packaging, and uses marine-grade 3M® adhesive – and the signature model from John John Florence is no exception.
This FCS signature model from Filipe Toledo, is designed for high-performance surfing at its best with a three-piece pad with a high tail kick. It is ultra-thin for added sensitivity and also has channels for better resistance.
This is an entirely recycled cork traction made up of cork agglomerate and is totally nature-friendly traction. Comes in Clasica and Retro design models, and they’re both attractive and neat.
We love the approach to Stephanie Gilmore’s signature model. A partnership between Creatures Of Leisure and Bio-Tec Environmental (who has developed EcoPure®), has resulted in an organic additive that enhances biodegradation in a microbe-rich environment.
The list of the best surfboard tail pads would not be complete without the signature models from Italo Ferreira. The traction pad is a crucial part of his outstanding air game, and let’s be honest – we all want to be surfing like Italo!
The Best Front Traction Pads for your surfboard
While every surfer uses a tail pad, front pads are less common as most prefer to wax this part of their surfboard. However, if you’re trying to up your air game, some extra grip might be beneficial.
We have gathered a list that showcases the best front traction pads for your surfboard.
As FCS is one of the leading traction pad brands, its collection naturally includes front pads for your surfboard. The T-3 model has the same qualities known from the tails pad but is designed to cover the mid-deck on your performance board.
3-piece flat pad from Channel Islands, designed to be situated mid-deck on your surfboard. It is ultra-thin (4.5mm), with the classic mixed groove technology.
A super-thin 3mm front pad from Ocean & Earth. The Monkey Magic 6-piece center deck pad is designed to improve all-around performance without compromising on any aspects.
This is a 3-piece front deck pad with cut-out sections for extra grip. It comes with the industry-standard 3M glue and is exceptionally lightweight and sensitive.
Slater Design traction, made from their Bloom product – foam that is actually manufactured from freshwater algae. The product is soft and pliable and feels sticky underfoot. It’s a popular little number this one and ticks a lot of renewable/recycled blocks.
Another sleek front pad model from Channel Islands. It stands out by providing a cordouroy groove pattern and a very thin material (2.5mm). You will get ess slip and more protection for your surfboard.