Grip pads, also known as traction pads, don’t just look cool; they are an essential part of your board if you want to make your surf as majestic as possible.
Depending if they are front pads or back pads, they can be made from different materials, and in a cool million patterns, but the goal on all of them is the same:
To make your feet stick to the board so that you will have more freedom to move, change your balance, and push your surf to the maximum.
Thankfully, as materials became cheaper and the quality became better, grip pads are now a much better option than just waxing your board, and there are awesome ones to pick from. If you know just a couple of basic thing about what to look for, you will be able to spend the rest of your time picking out the design that will compliment your board in the best way possible.
Best Picks for Traction Pads in 2019
With the best grip pads on the market, there is no need to compromise between comfort, durability, and traction. New materials make the pads hydrophobic, forcing the water off the board making your footing much more secure.
Additionally, all of the best pads have multiple pieces that can be adjusted to the size of your board. This means that you will never stumble upon a slippery spot while changing your stance. The place to dig in your foot on backside traction pads now became an industry standard, and it gives even new surfers the control that needed years of practice in the past.
Aside from the obvious joke every Octopus products owner will get when others see the company logo, this is by all accounts a premium product. The tail pad comes in three pieces that can be adjusted for size and are made with ‘’Octo’’ grooves that grip onto feet like nothing else.
The back grip is about an inch thick, giving more than enough control.
Finally, this product looks amazing and would be an excellent addition to most if not all boards.
- High-quality materials
- Excellent grip
- Very durable
- Easy to attach
If you were ever planning to do awesome tricks on the largest of waves, this is the product for you. The material is a composite rubber, which would be good on its own, but the design is what makes this pad ultra grippy. The grooves give a large traction surface for your feet making it impossible for you to slip.
Additionally, it is made as a three-piece pad that can ‘’fan out” if you have a larger board. You can easily give more than an inch between the pieces and still not lose any of the traction.
Finally, the pad is easy to place on the board and has a couple of very nice green details that have that chill vibe most people are after.
- Composite rubber
- Excellent design
- Best grip on the market
- Easy to install
Punt Surf has a lot of experience when it comes to making traction pads, and it is not strange that the best entry-level product will come from them. For experienced surfers, this would be what they imagine when they think of a traction pad.
The simply named ‘’Surf” model may not be a looker, but it gives the best value on the market. It has a diamond-shaped surface that provides a good grip and is a common pattern in most places where there is water. It is a two-piece model, which is good for most shortboards but might not be enough for larger boards.
Finally, Punt Surf gives a guarantee that their pads will stick to your board forever if needed, which are some very reassuring words.
- Good materials
- Diamond pattern
- Good grip
- Lifetime guarantee
This is the upgraded model from the ‘’Surf” and the reigning champion of grip pads, at least as far as sales go. It has a sort of shoelace pattern that provides an excellent grip, as well as good comfort for your feet.
The material is a composite rubber that will not soak and hold any water on it. The rubber is also very easy to clean from any salt and dirt that can fall onto the pad. The three-piece design can ‘’fan out” and cover even the largest boards, and with the 3M marine-grade adhesive it will not break off the board until you want it off your board.
As with the other Punt Surf product, they give a lifetime warranty for the product sticking onto the surfboard.
- Excellent grip
- Shoelace pattern
- Easy to install
- Incredibly strong adhesive
Not that many people are using front traction pads, and they should be. Having them makes it easier when pedaling to the open, as well as rising up, not to mention that you can use your whole body to nosedive when you need speed. A front pad is really good to have, and the Santa Barbara Surging is the best one around.
It uses the 3M marine glue that will never break and has a genius stripe pattern that does exactly what you need from your front grip pad, preventing you from slipping to the sides.
Finally, SBS gives a one year ‘’no-questions’’ warranty for the entire pad, which is a nice touch.
- Excellent materials
- Easy to install and will never slip
- Four pieces that can cover any board
- Excellent grip
Surfing Grip Pad Buyers Guide
On first glance, grip pads might seem quite simple, as they are just a piece of rubber or similar material that you stick on to the tail side of your board. In fact, there was a lot of time and technology spent before it was better to use a traction pad than just to wax your board.
First of all, the pads need to provide better traction, which is not that easy. Most materials will keep water on them, making them slippery, and rubber alone is not different. There needs to be an added composite that will make the pad waterproof and hydrophobic, giving your feet a dry surface to grip on. Additionally, the best boards will have specially made grooves to provide a larger surface area for this grip.
Finally, the pad is useless if it will slip from the board, especially as that means that it will usually fall into the ocean. For this, there needs to be exceptionally strong glue attaching your grip pad to your surfboard.
What to Look for in the Best Surfing Grip Pad?
Apart from doing that which it’s supposed to, the best grip pads on the market have some additional features to provide you with an even better surfing experience. Primarily, they will be separated into multiple pieces that can cover the whole board, without sacrificing the grip.
Best pads also focus on making their surface area as big as possible. This can either be made with intricate patterns or by making the surface uneven. Traction pads like the Astrodeck even have large rubber stubs poking out of them that can fold on themselves, literally gripping your foot in place.
Finally, you will want for your grip pad to be comfortable for your feet and not to make calluses after prolonged use. If you are using a bad pad, it will irritate your skin, which might even stop you from a day of surfing.
Positioning and Materials
Grip pads can be made from different materials, but unless you are a professional surfer that is ready to spend top dollars for just this one attachment, the best option is composite rubber. This means that the rubber was vulcanized with other components in the mix, giving it additional properties, like being hydrophobic. This also makes the rubber softer than what you would expect, which gives to comfort.
As far as positioning goes, it will depend on your riding style. In general, you shouldn’t place the pieces more than an inch apart, with the middle part always going first. Measure everything before you apply the adhesive and make sure that there is no way that your whole foot might be off the pad at any moment. Otherwise, you will either need a bigger pad or a smaller board.
Having a grip pad on your surfboard is not like having a third wheel on your bike, the pad is there to allow you to have better control and to make your surf more enjoyable. Better control means more freedom, and more freedom will give you the confidence to tackle ever bigger waves.
As there are only a few things to look for when trying to find the best grip pad on the market, there is no reason why you wouldn’t have one. It will make your feet more comfortable on the board, and will usually make even the board look better on the eyes.