Unless you're Occy, your next board will need some kind of traction. Why not try this one? Photo: Mike Egan
An Honest Review: The Mitch Crews Signature Pad By Pro Lite
A comforting lightweight grip which won the heart of our featherweight board tester.
What is there to say about a traction pad, really?
You slap it on your tail (as close to the leash plug as possible, of course), wait 24 hours (if you’re the pious type), and surf.
You might love or hate the board, find that some fins work better than others, and change the wax every three months (to Occy’s disdain), but the traction is meant to be a silently efficient cog, doing its job always and without question.
In fact, if everything goes to plan, you should never think your about traction after its initial application. Because the only time you really notice your grip is when it’s not working, which is an experience I’ve had more and more recently, thanks to Stab’s board-test series, The Joyride.
With a constant influx of foam befalling your author, I’m almost always without a pad when it comes time to test boards. And, not one to spend, I typically grab whatever traction is lying around the Stab office, which is to say, the leftovers that Ashton, Morgan, et al didn’t want for reasons both aesthetic and functional.
Needless to say, on a number of occasions, I’ve tested boards with sub-optimal tail pads. Their list of shortcomings includes:
Structurally unstable (with foam literally ripping off beneath my toes)
Too rough (knee rash galore)
Not enough grip (that corduroy looks cool, but hold your foot it does not)
Slippery (cheap plastic begets sock-on-hardwood effects)
Bad glue (great, it’s peeling!)
But of all the pads I’ve used on The Joyride, a Pro-Lite has never failed me.
This is the point in the article where people usually start commenting “ad!” “sellout!” “midget!” in the comments. To those points, allow me to stand on this step-stool and declare: Pro-Lite is the only brand I’ve ever solicited for pads throughout my entire Joyride tenure. Period.
So am I biased? Yes. But not by some commercial interest.
"Well if the grip is so good, why do you have to grab the rail?" said the father of twins who thought pulling out was sufficient.
On a recent boat trip filming for Craig Anderson and the Stab Innocents (coming soon!), Pro-Lite asked if I wanted to do an Honest Review on one of their pro pads. Considering the amount of product they’ve gifted us over the years, I said sure.
Quid pro quo has always been the industry standard.
So, my options included the Wilko, Josh Kerr, Keanu Asing, Cam Richards, Timmy Reyes, Balaram Stack, and Mitch Crews signature pads.
With an array of cancerous colors and designs to choose from, my decision—and this is totally out of character—came down to aesthetics.
On top of the fact that it's a three-piece and features a prominent arch and kick (all preferences of mine), the Crewsy pad offered an all-white option, which was the only color scheme that would do my milky white, pink-railed Eye Symmetry justice.
Also, Mitch Crews “accidentally” grabbed my balls a few years back at the US Open, so I knew he had a firm yet tender grip.
And like that, it was decided. The Mitch pad would get an Honest Review.
The Mitch grip, in all her glory.
My Eye Symmetry was made from a stringerless epoxy core, which for anyone who’s sampled such tech knows, lacks a reference point for pad placement.
After several botched applications—which led to the inevitable but nonetheless grating sound of 3M adhesive being removed from fiberglass—I had the Mitch pad set in a reasonably correct position and was ready to surf.
You know what I said before about traction pads being a silent cog, and how the sign of a quality grip is that you don’t notice it at all? Well, that rule doesn’t exactly apply to Pro-Lite pads.
The thing is, PL pads have an undeniably unique feel, but one that doesn’t compromise performance. If anything, their signature Micro-dot tech, which is spongy and ribbed with tiny foam bumps, only improves your traction experience.
If you’ll allow me to read quickly from the PL marketing literature, we can learn together how a grip can feel both soft on the skin but solid in construction.
Locked and loaded on the Mitch.
The story of Micro-dot goes like this:
Back in the 1990s, the Pro-Lite crew took an employee trip (if only those were still a thing) to Samoa, where they realized that their pads had a tendency to chafe the knees. Upon returning home, the team started testing different materials and grip patterns in an effort to reduce said chafing, and ultimately landed on Micro-dot.
They soon realized that Micro-dot’s benefits expanded far beyond knee protection. It was also able to be made thinner, lighter, and more water-resistant than other products on the market, plus it somehow got tackier when wet.
At that time, Pro-Lite decided to split their traction products 50/50 between Micro-dot and “standard’ style (what is officially known as EVA) traction, so that they could reach both traditional and modern surfers. However, the feedback from team riders was unanimous: Micro-dot was the superior form of grip, so in 2013, Pro-Lite transitioned to 100 percent Micro-dot.
Now, I’d have to agree here on several points.
For one, the Mitch pad (like all Pro-Lite pads) refused to take on water. Unlike other brands that become heavy and dilapidated with overexposure to liquid (AKA surfing), Pro-Lite always remains light and airy.
Two, and I guess this is kind of a preference thing, but the Micro-dot tech just feels nice underfoot (and on the knees). It’s both soft on the skin and firm in its foundation, leading to a favorable touch and consistent grip.
Three, despite its sturdy foundation, the pad is actually super thin, meaning there’s no feeling of disconnect between human and vessel.
See the Micro-dot, feel the Micro-dot, be the Micro-dot.
You wanted an honest review, right?
Well, I won't pretend that buying the Crewsy pad will improve your rail game by 23%, help you stick your first full-rotation (still working on that one myself), or stop the Amazon from burning. In fact, I'd argue that no surf traction has such powers.
But this pad will definitely protect your knees from rash, hold your back foot in position, and, if you're lucky, get your crotch grabbed at the US Open.
Mitch Crews has a firm yet tender grip and I’d recommend it to anyone.
PS Mitch, call me.