Surf traction pads: get a grip

Surfboard traction pads were introduced in the surfing world in the 1980s by the famous surf brand Astrodeck.

Traction pads were marketed as a successful business by the iconic Herbie Fletcher, after Slipcheck, a solution presented earlier by Tom Morey, which failed to address a global clientele.

Until the late 1970s, surf wax was the only way of avoiding slippery surfing performances while cutting back a perfect wave. Traction pads were invented to set a new relationship between surfers and their boards.

Fletcher developed his traction pad gear in his own lab, by testing several options, and sold the first decks in his surf shop. In the second half of the 1970s, the traction pad formula had been upgraded. The polyurethane leaves had glue and tape, multiple colors, patterns and iconic surf sayings.

"I looked at it like the last part of my shaping job by adding kicks, arches and different surface patterns for ultimate grip and control, until the designs evolved into the patented multigrid lock high performance foot pad of today", explains Herbie Fletcher in

The Astrodeck was a symbol of the surf culture and the 1980s surfers loved it. In some cases, surfers opted for using traction pads under their feet and left wax in the shelves. The surfboard traction pad fever cooled in the end of the 1990s but never disappeared completely.

The modern traction pads have been upgraded and are ready for critical maneuvers. Surf decks are made of Thermoformed EVA and offer different kicks, arches, colors and contours.

Upper traction is not trendy anymore, but is doesn't mean you shouldn't test it. If it's good for your surf, that's great. If you're going to buy a good surfboard traction pad, check the quality and flexibility of the deck and pick your own design.

The quality of the tape/glue is very important, but make sure your surfboard is completely cleaned up. Wait 24 hours and hit the waves.

The best traction pads for surfing are produced by Astrodeck, Creatures of Leisure, Dakine, Famous Stars and Straps, FCS, Gorilla, Stay Covered, Sticky Bumps, and Zap.

Discover the latest surfboard traction pads by clicking on each brand.