What’s a traction pad

A traction pad is a grip that is traditionally molded in EVA foam that sticks to a surfboard to replace the need for wax and provide better traction for the surfer’s feet on the board.

There are two main forms of traction pads:

  • Tail pads, they are the most common traction pad and are designed for the back foot
  • Front pads, they appeared quite recently and are designed for surfers’s front foot

The benefits of traction pads and why surfers use them

Surfers use traction pads because they can offer some advantages over wax:

  • Unlike wax, traction pads provide a consistent grip and do not require reapplication. Or do not need to be removed in response to temperature changes
  • Traction pads can prevent intermediate and advanced surfers from losing their footing during critical maneuvers
  • They also give surfers feedback on their foot placement, a foot placement that can greatly affect the board’s responsiveness and speed
  • In addition, they assist with duck diving by allowing the foot to push on the pad, making it easier to submerge the board
  • Traction pads also protect the board from foot marks and wear and tear on a vulnerable part of the board

Choosing yours by understanding their different features

When choosing a surfboard traction pad, it’s important to consider five key characteristics:

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The number of pieces, tail pads come in various pieces, usually ranging from one to three. Fewer pieces are easier to place, but more pieces give you more choices on how you can place them and how they fit the shape of your surfboard.

The groove, which is the surface pattern, varies from pad to pad. Some are grippier, while others are more comfortable. It depends on personal preference, but if the surface and groove are too grippy, know that it could rip through your skin.

The thickness of the pad, thicker pads are more comfortable and absorb shocks better, they also tend to be more durable, while thinner pads provide better connection to the board.

The tail kick, which keeps your foot from sliding off the tail of the board while giving more vertical grip capabilities. The bigger the kick, the more locked your foot will be on the pad. In contrast, pads with a lighter kick provide more freedom of movement for the back foot.

The arch bar, is a bar that can be present on the lower middle half part of the tail pad, which helps you move your back feet from heel to toe as it raises the pad to fit the arch of your foot. While arch bars are beneficial for surfers who keep their back foot centered on the pad, they may not be as effective for those who have flatter feet or whose back foot tends to move around.

When putting a traction pad is a good interrogation

Deciding whether or not to install a traction pad depends on the type of surfboard you have.

On boards like nose rider longboards or any surfboard where a lot of up and down movements are expected the benefits of a traction pad may not be there and it could even hinder your performance. The traction pad could impede the movement of the back foot, causing you to be unbalanced when walking on it.

For very short and grovely boards with wide tails like fish surfboards and mini-simmons, the decision to use a traction pad is more of a grey area. Since these boards require the back foot to be positioned far towards the tail for turns and pushing the board, a traction pad could potentially block your toes from overhanging the edge of the board. Additionally, since these boards are more front-footed and do not require as much pressure on the tail, the risk of foot slipping is reduced. However, some performance fish boards may require a traction pad as the back foot plays a more significant role in these cases. The decision to use a traction pad on these types of boards depends on whether the benefits of the pad outweigh the potential difficulty of placing your foot on the edge of the board.

For any other surfboard placing and using a traction pad would not have any significant drawbacks.

Ultimately, whether to install a traction pad on your surfboard, as well as which model to choose, is a matter of personal preference that requires trial and error. It’s important to experiment with different options and test them out to determine what works best for your individual surfing style and needs.

Is there anything we missed? Do you have questions or suggestions?

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

If you need any surfing equipment, have a look at our performant and accessible Fins , Traction Pads, and Leashes, we deliver worldwide!

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