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Surfboards traction pads are designed to be stuck on the tail of your surfboard (back-end) to stop your back foot from sliding off. An alternative to a surfboard grip pad is surfboard wax. Basically you will need to use one or the other to keep yourself on the board.
A surfboard without any kind of traction or grip is a bit like trying to walk on ice, you just ain't going to stay on your feet. You will be sliding off the surfboard instead of sliding around on the wave.
Surf traction pads come in a huge variety of colors, but they are basically all made from the same non-slip, water resistant components. The bumps, curves, grooves, and contours found on the traction pads all come down to personal taste and comfort.
Advantages of a surfboard traction pad: Never, ever have to wax your surfboard again. No melting wax in the hot sun going all over the car or whatever. No maintenance required. The grip is hard wearing and the bumps last for the life of the board. The raised section at the back of the pad, known as a Kicktail, can be really useful in preventing your back foot from sliding too far back on the surfboard. Many surfers swear by the extra raised kicktail for extra maneuverability in big surf and for critical turns.
Disadvantages of surfboard grip: Your placement of the surfboard traction needs to be spot on as removing the grip can be a nightmare once it has set. The raised back part of some traction pads, known as the Kicktail, can cause stubbed toes depending on your style getting to your feet.
Applying surf traction pads:
* First, your surfboard needs to be clean and wax free.
* Lay the grip out first, getting it as far down the back of the board as you can. Some traction pads come in one piece and others are available in smaller components that you lay out in whatever pattern you prefer. Try and get the grip as far down as the leg line or leash plug.
* The ultimate goal is of course to have the traction pad stuck to your surfboard where you are going to put your back foot.
* Most manufacturers recommend letting the grip dry for 24 hours before taking your board for a surf.
* Keep the traction pad down towards the tail of your surfboard. Placing surfboard pads along the entire length of your board is not practical. Why? Because when you surf without a wetsuit or rashguard, you will get a horrible rash all over your chest. Experienced surfers are aware of this and if you show up at the beach with your surfboard covered with grip you may be the butt of some jokes.
Surf traction pads or surfboard wax, it comes down to personal choice, but you will need one or the other. Many surfers swear by the extra push-back and grip that a traction pad can provide.