Stab Magazine | An Unbiased Review Of Front Traction



An Unbiased Review Of Front Traction

Does it work for the common man?

hardware // Jun 27, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is important.

It is an issue that has been gnawing at the fabric of our society. Something that cuts straight to the core and questions the very essence of life on this planet. Why are we here? What is our purpose? When you strip back those layers of jobs, clothing, haircuts, interests, Instagrams, hobbies…who are we?

Yes, of course, we’re here to talk about front-foot traction pads.

The front pad came into vogue sometime in the ‘80s. Then it fled into borderline obscurity for a decade or three, though it never left the heart nor the deck of Christian Fletcher. Lately, it has been Fu Wax or Fuck Off for our sport’s elite. Truly a sticky situation.

But now front pads are back! Actually, they’ve been back for a while. Stab interviewed Noa Deane on them two years ago. In that interview, Noa said that he’d already been on them for about a year. Fair to say it takes about three years for something like that to hit the mainstream.

Now they’re in surf shops and lineups everywhere, with a wide range of companies producing them. Every professional surfer with a business degree and a dream seems to have invented one. And why not? Low cost, high traction!

So…they must work pretty well, right?

Here’s what Noa had to say about them, two fateful years ago.

“You can fuckin’ land in the flats and stick things. Your feet are just planted so good. It actually works really good in big barrels, too. Like, coming over foam balls and shit, your feet are just stuck so you can make them a bit easier.

I think it helps a lot because, why wouldn’t you want your front foot and back foot to be on the same surface? Like, with skating, both feet are on grip tape. You wouldn’t put your back foot on grip tape and your front foot on wax or something, or vice versa, coz that’d be fuckin’ weird. It’s the same thing, really.”

Now here’s the catch: you are not Noa Deane. On a day to day basis, you do not fuckin’ land in the flats and stick things. You have never contemplated grip tape. Nor have I.

I did, however, throw a front pad on a board for the first time. It was an interesting experience — one I felt worthy of sharing with anyone who’s been thinking about slapping one on. So, here you have it. The common man’s review of front grip.

The first thing I noticed is that it’s grippier than wax. Way grippier. I felt a newfound freedom in not needing wax because, let’s face it, wax is annoying. You always have to have some around. It melts all over your car. It gets dirty and weighs down your board, then you have to scrape it off, which might make you feel like a 12-year-old preparing for an NSSA contest and not in a nostalgic kind of way. So, at first, I was loving the front pad. Wax began to seem archaic.

But my love did not last forever. It was taking me longer than usual to get comfortable with my new board. My feet often felt…off. I could never find the sweet spot. Instead, I found that my weight was almost never properly distributed. I think the elevation created by the pad under my feet, along with not feeling the deck like I’m used to, freaked my body out. It took me forever to get used to the board — a stubby small wave board — but I have to admit that my other boards, sans pad, feel sparkier now. In other words, I’m not sure if I’m down on it.

Much like wine, quad fins and World Wars, front pads are an acquired taste.

There’s no guarantee with them. Some people will love them. Some people will hate them. But, at the very least, this important issue is worth addressing and you should give it a shot.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Dignity Before Dollars, Stale Fish No Wasabi

Concluding Finals Day at Stab High Japan pres by Monster Energy.

Jun 23, 2024

Meet The Kids Who Sent Stab High Into The Future

Snowboarders, test-tube wavepool spawn, and curators of the culture.

Jun 23, 2024

Full Replay: Finals Day At Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

The freshwater feud for Pro, Ladybird, and Bottle Rocket champion starts now.

Jun 22, 2024

Albee Layer Reluctantly Escapes Sudden-Death Round On Final Wave Of The Day, Advances to Day 2 of Stab High Japan 

“I just want to do my fucking wave, and then go home”

Jun 22, 2024

“Relax, It’s A Surf Contest In A Swimming Pool”

Our attempt at an unbiased comp wrap from afar, on Day One of Stab High…

Jun 22, 2024

Rasta Robb Gutter Stomps Backside Full-Rote, Scores a 3/50

Why wasn’t the reigning champ rewarded in heat 1 of Stab High Japan?

Jun 22, 2024

Full Replay: Day 1 of Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

Click to watch (or rewatch) today's Qualifier and Sudden Death rounds.

Jun 21, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About The Most ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ Wave in the Mentawais

Tips from longtime HTs devotee, Liam Turner.

Jun 21, 2024

“You’re An Elite Freesurfer, I’m Just A Vlogger, Surely You Can Take Me Out”

King of Waco calls out Aussie freesurfers on Stab High live stream.

Jun 21, 2024

Please Don’t Do A Superman At Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy 

Breaking down the best and worst airs, according to the stats. 

Jun 20, 2024

355 Days Later, We Still Don’t Know What Elo Did In Brazil

But here's your 2024 Rio Pro preview.

Jun 20, 2024

JJF + Medina To Continue Rampages In Brazil?

12x CT event winner and previous SITD pilot Taj Burrow says 'yes'.

Jun 19, 2024

Allow Us To Introduce The YETI Ladybirds And Bottle Rockets Of Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

Here's our schoolyard pick for teams; who will win the most cred at the lunch…

Jun 17, 2024

Prediction: Moving The WSL Finals To Fiji Will Kill Off Two More Surfing Superstars

Is this JJF's time to collect his titles? We checked the stats.

Jun 17, 2024

Confirmed: Fiji To Host 2025 WSL Finals

Cloudbreak will remain on tour until 2026.

Jun 17, 2024

What’s The Secret To Powersurfing?

Taylor Knox, Kyuss King, and Jessi Miley-Dyer tackle a trio of questions in our third…

Jun 16, 2024

How To Win Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy

A statistical analysis of the 493 airs attempted in previous chlorinated editions.

Jun 16, 2024

Watch: An Intimate Portrait Of The Wave, Village, And People At The End Of The Road

Oxbow’s ‘Children of Teahupo’o’ is playing exclusively on Stab Premium for the next two weeks. 

Jun 15, 2024
JUNE 22 & 23
-3 Days
23 Hours
58 Minutes
22 Seconds
Join Stab Premium