Surfboard Traction Pads / Deck Grips / Tailpads
Surfboard traction pads, deck grips, tailpads. There are several names for this piece of grippy foam that most shortboards and a few longboards have on the end of the deck.
Put simply, traction pads give your rear foot a bit more grip on the board, allowing you to pull harder maneuvers without having to worry about whether or not your wax is sticky or bumpy enough. Some surfboard traction pads have ridges at the back that allow your foot even more control over the board for harder snaps and aerial maneuvers.
There are several brands of surfboard traction pads on the market, and it’s tough to go wrong since traction pads are a relatively simple piece of equipment.
I personally recommend DaKine tail pads, however Gorilla Grip and OAM produce good tail pads as well.
Color: This is up to you. One word of advice, however, don’t get a white traction pad. The guy at the shop said it wouldn’t get dirty, but it did. He was probably trying to get rid of it! Now it looks a little trashed, but it still works fine.
HOW TO APPLY A SURFBOARD TRACTION PAD
Applying a tail pad to your pristine surfboard can be a little nerve-wracking, but there is a very simple way to do it.
FIRST: Make sure there is NO wax on your board. If it’s brand new, take a cloth and wipe away any fiberglass dust that might be on the board from production. If you’ve had wax on it, leave it in the sun for a few minutes to soften the wax, or pour hot water on it. Then scrape away the wax from the area with a wax comb or other soft plastic edge (your old credit cards work well) and finish with a wax remover. If it’s winter, you can take a hairblower on a LOW setting and blow the wax until it is soft enough to remove. Make sure that you wipe away all the wax remover and bits of wax.
- Cut the plastic around the edge of the tailpad and remove the cardboard backing—but leave the pad itself in the plastic so it stays together.
- Put the tail pad on the board (still in the plastic) and figure out where you want it to go. Some surfers like to have the rear kick-up ridge positioned either directly over the front of the centermost fin, others like to have it right in front of the leash plug. If this is your first traction pad, a safe bet is to put the rear ridge over the center of the middle rear fin.
- Mark off the position of the pad with a pencil. Use the stringer to make sure you’ve got your pad centered.
- Peel off the adhesive paper on the pad, being careful not to let the glue stick to anything.
- Take the entire pad and carefully place it onto the area marked with your pencil.
- Press down firmly for about 20-30 seconds to bond the adhesive.
- Carefully peel away the plastic packaging.
- It’s advised to wait a day to use the board, but I’ve heard of people going in the water right away. It’s up to you, but I’d recommend waiting at least 12 hours.
That wasn’t so hard now, was it? Some people like to spread the pieces of their traction pad around wider or tighter than the factory “preset.” If you want to do this, just take a pencil and trace the different pieces individually. You can use a little piece of double stick tape so they don’t move around as you arrange them.
REMOVING A SURFBOARD TRACTION PAD
This is difficult, and is easier on epoxy boards than fiberglass boards. If you want to remove a tail pad from a fiberglass board you run the risk of delaminating the board, pulling the fiberglass away from the foam. This could ruin your board, so it’s not recommended.
If you MUST remove the pad, do it very, very slowly and carefully, a little at a time. If you’re going to put a new pad on, don’t worry about a little sticky adhesive left over. If you just want to get rid of the thing completely, a small amount of paint thinner on a rag or paper towel should take care of the adhesive.