Waxing your surfboard for traction has long been a necessity. Tail pads have become pretty standard, but alternatives for traction under that front foot regularly come and go. And the reason for their rapid vanishing act? The truth is that nothing really works as well as a good old block of wax from your friendly local surf shop. It can be liberally applied exactly where you need the grip most. Wax is flexible, easy to use and convenient. But it’s not without its flaws. It melts, needs constant reapplication, and – if we want to get to the nitty gritty – its packaging isn’t always environmentally friendly. Considering how often we use a fresh bar of wax, it all adds up. It’s also slowly getting more expensive and the ongoing cost of a lifetime of wax can add up like a daily Starbucks habit. For all these reasons, now seems like a good time to explore alternatives.
Now, there are a lot of companies creating surf wax alternatives. And one of the more popular alternatives lately has become the clear, tacky film you can cover your deck with. Unlike a rubber traction pad you’d put on the tail of your board, these sheets are more sleek. Specifically, I recently used Van der Waal Surf Grip as a permanent replacement for wax on my board. Alternatives only catch on if they are genuine like-for-like replacements to the status quo. I wouldn’t say this fits that standard. In fact, I felt like the grip with my new traction was actually better than that experienced with standard wax. Admittedly, thanks to our far from tropical UK water, I’ve yet to test these pads without wearing boots, but hopefully my summer experience will still be positive. And it’s not only the benefits of extra grip; your board will stop collecting sand, it won’t stain, and your surfboard will look fresher for longer. Bonus points now that you can also confidently leave your board in the car without coming back to a runny pool of wax in the footwell of your passenger seat.
It’ll be interesting to see how the grip lasts over time, but if it continues to perform well, then this kind of traction may prove to be a solid alternative to waxing up before every session.