An Unbiased Review Of Front Traction
Does it work for the common man?
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.
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