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We’ve all seen the hilarious videos of individuals on YouTube slipping on ice or people trying to slide along on the Wham-O Slip ‘N Slide. A skimboard without a means for gaining traction is likely to result in the same type of outcome and potential laughter from shore.
Traction pads are designed to be stuck to top side of your skimboard to help keep your feet from sliding. There is an alternative to gain traction which is using a skimboard wax.
The surface of a skimboard is a hard shell that is slippery, especially when it is wet. This is a good thing for the bottom of your board when it is in contact with the surface of the water. Not so much for the top where you need a grip to maneuver and stay on the board.
The basic makeup of skimboard traction pads is a non-slip, water resistant surface for your board. There are various styles, designs, and colors to meet your individual taste. There are also differences in the quality of pads, which should be factored in as you search for the best skimboard traction pads for your individual needs.
There are considerations that should be factored into your selection of a traction pad for your skimboard. We have reviewed the selection of pads on the market and shared our five top picks for your review. Additionally, a buyer’s guide is provided to assist you in navigating all the information available to ensure you get the traction pad that will be best for you and your board.
Best Skimboard Traction Pads Reviewed
1. Surf Squared
The Surf Squared is a three-piece design that measures 11.75 inches x 11.75, which will fit most boards. The traction pad has a marine grade 3M adhesive that provides a superior bonding to your skimboard.
The Surf Squared traction pad also features a 45 degree beveled tail pad, a center arch and a diamond grooved traction deck. These features all combine to provide a durable, comfortable and ultimate grip.
2. Punt Surf Traction Pad & Arch Bar
The Punt Surf traction pad comes with a 20” long x 3.25” wide raised arch bar. The pad is a five-piece design that can be customized to fit any skimboard. The Punt Surf is a high quality design using a premium 3M adhesive and a marine-grade, lightweight, diamond grooved Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) closed cell foam.
EVA foam is a soft, durable material commonly used in manufacturing flip-flops, making it soft while avoiding being absorbent like a sponge.
3. SYMPL Traction Pad
The Sympl traction pad is a three-piece pad that can be spread apart if you prefer a wider grip on your board. The pad provides the ultimate grip with foam grooves that are soft on your feet.
The Sympl is a high quality design that utilizes an ultra-light Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) closed cell foam and a premium 3M adhesive to secure the pad to your board.
4. Punt Surf Ripper Traction Pad
The Punt Surf Ripper traction pad is a three-piece pad with approximate dimensions of 10” x 12” with a center arch and a raised tail kick. The multiple piece design allows you to place the sections as close or as wide as you choose.
The pad is constructed using a premium 3M adhesive and marine-grade, lightweight diamond grooved EVA foam.
5. Oceanbroad Traction Pad
The Oceanbroadd traction pad is an 12” x 12”, three-piece pad that provides you with the flexibility to position it on your board to meet your personal preferences. The pad provides a super grip and soft comfort for your feet, as it is constructed using an EVA small diamond groove design.
The Oceanbroad has a beveled tail pad for a secure grip and allows you to make smooth turns and cut-backs. Additionally, the design features a fading center arch with holes that quickly drains water from the surface.
Buyer’s Guide: Skimboard Traction Pads
Traction pads are designed to provide a grip as your surfing, providing both stability and balance. The pads are designed with a variety of patterns and shapes. Finding the right one will take some time and effort. The following information in the buyer’s guide should provide you with some additional information to consider.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Traction pads eliminate the need for using wax. Although some individuals prefer wax to gain traction on a board it comes with a great deal of effort to prepare, apply, remove and reapplying. If you purchase a quality pad there will be no maintenance required. The traction pads are durable and should last for the life of your board. Traction pads with a kick pad on the rear provide additional balance and stability riding your board and making turns.
Traction pads are a critical component for your skimboard riding. They provide you the grip that will allow you to perform basic to advanced technical moves. Some skimboarders, in addition to the traction pad, will add wax for additional grip, especially to place the pads don’t cover.
The downside of using traction pads is that you get one chance to get your placement correct. It is challenging but not impossible, especially with the quality adhesives, to remove the pad once it is set. Depending on the style you get the kick pad or center raised arch is a permanent part of some designs. Once installed, if you find you don’t like these parts there is nothing you can do to modify the traction pad.
Traction Pad Features
Adhesive: The most common and highest quality adhesive for skimboard traction pads come from 3M. Make sure that what you are getting is a premium adhesive to ensure the pad remains secure to your board. The cheaper versions or knockoff adhesives should be avoided, as the traction pads will likely begin to peel off in a relatively short period of time.
Kick Pads: Kick pads are designed to be positioned towards the back of your skimboard. They secure your foot from slipping off and allow you to create the torque necessary for turns and maneuvers.
Arch Bar: An arch bar is a raised strip that runs down the center of the skimboard traction pad. It’s intended to provide an anchor for your front foot, with a subtle raised area that increases maneuverability, control, and balance. The arch also helps with foot placement.
Types of Traction Pads: Traction pads come in a variety of designs. Some are a single, basic strips with no bells or whistles. Others come in multiple sections with various features.
One-piece Traction Pads: One-piece traction pads don't allow you to spread the width.
Two-piece Traction Pads: Two-piece traction pads are split down the middle, so you can spread the two pieces. They can be placed as close or as wide as you prefer.
Three-piece Traction Pads: Three-piece traction pads are customizable. The pads can remain in close or tight proximity or you can spread them apart to give your feet the best feel.
Four-piece and Five-piece Pads: Some manufactures provide multiple piece pads. In some instances the individual pieces are slightly larger providing extra coverage, eliminating extra heel or toe depressions on the board.
Materials: Traction pads are constructed with various materials. Some are softer and have more cushion. They will be more comfortable on your feet. Others are thinner and more rigid. Some individuals prefer thinner pads for feel and control. Personal preference should direct your decision.
Measurements: The size and measurements will vary slightly between manufacturers and design styles. The amount of coverage area you are looking for should provide direction to your choice.
Traction Pad Installation
Care and attention needs to be given when installing a traction pad on your skimboard. You get one chance so you need to get it right the first time. The following are some steps to consider when applying traction pads:
You need to completely clean the surface of your board where the traction pad is going to be placed. Special attention needs to be given to removing any preexisting wax, dirt, sand or buildup;
Make sure the surface of the board is completely dry before applying the pad;
Do a dry run and lay out the traction pad, adjusting to the design and location you are seeking. Ensure that the placement will fit and secure to the board, especially with multiple piece pads to get the pattern you desire;
Peel off the backing and line up the center of your traction pad with the stringer;
Place lightly on your board at first, don't push it down, in case you need to make adjustments;
Placement of the pad should be as near the back end of the board as possible;
Put the grip just a little bit above the leash plug;
Ultimately you need to get the placement of the traction pad on your board where you intend to place your back foot;
Once you have it positioned where you want push down firmly to secure to pad to the board;
The majority of manufacturers recommend allowing the adhesive on your pad to dry for 24 hours before using the board. Follow the manufacturer's suggestions;
If you are going to just use a traction pad or you decide to add some board wax, it is a personal choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to use a traction pad on a skimboard?
You don’t have to use a traction pad. You can choose to use wax. We have outlined previously the advantages and disadvantages. Because skimboards are relatively short they are highly maneuverable and the additional grip provided by a pad and the tail pads and center arches will greatly enhance your balance and stability. In our opinion, traction pads provide unmatched grip over wax and definitely over using nothing at all.
What type of traction pad should I choose?
Traction pads for the most part are very similar, with the design, set up and quality being the biggest differences. Some pads are smaller or larger than other pads, some you have multiple pieces, so you can customize your placement. Ultimately, purchase a quality traction pad, with a premium adhesive that meets your personal needs and tastes.
Should I wax my skimboard if I’m using a traction pad?
This is a personal preference. Most experienced skimboarders will tell you traction and having a grip on your board are essential to your success. Traction pads will not likely cover all the areas of your board where you need traction. Using wax in addition to your traction pad is a common practice and especially helpful for individuals new to the sport.
There are literally hundreds of traction pads to choose from, offering a variety of styles, designs, materials, colors and features. It will take some effort and research on you part. Consult experts or other skimboarders for suggestions and ideas. We’ve recommended five high quality traction pads for your consideration.
Although there is a cost associated with purchasing a traction pad, you can remove them if you are not happy with the one you purchased. Simply using a hairdryer to heat the pad will soften the adhesive enough so you are able to remove the pad. You won’t likely be able to reuse the pad, short of using super glue, which will make it a permanent adhesion. Trial and error is not uncommon among individual skimboarders to find the best traction pad for their individual preferences.
You definitely need to consider putting a traction pad on you skimboard to improve your skills and boarding experiences. Which pad to choose is your challenge. Let us know in the comments sections if you choose one of the recommended traction pads or if you find another quality pad you like better.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.