Stab Magazine | Stab's Definitive Guide To The Best Surf Wax

Stab’s Definitive Guide To The Best Surf Wax

We tested as many bars of wax as we could get our grubby hands on. Here’s what we found…

Words by stab

Generally speaking, wax is a second-thought surf commodity.

Unlike boards, fins, and wetsuits, the performance value of wax is not something surfers regularly consider. Most are happy to grab a dirty, melted nugget from the back of the car, smear it across their stick without any reason or rhyme, and toss it back in the boot with reckless abandon, only to find it dirtier and more melted, if at all, the next time around.

As the type of guy who not only has a designated in-car region for his extensive wax supply, but also keeps different temps and brands available for any possible surfing scenario, this makes me cringe.

Personally speaking, wax matters.

It’s my hope that by the end of this exhaustive review — wherein I hand-test and examine the quality of 20+ different bars of wax — it will matter to you too.

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One benefit of waxing and de-waxing boards on a daily basis: male teen-like forearm strength. Photo by Ben Judkins.

What we look for in a bar of wax:

The perceived quality of any wax is, to a large extent, subjective. One man’s bar of soap can be another man’s sticky icky, as they say.

Personally, I prefer a wax that is of medium firmness and mid-to-high stickiness.

The wax should feel soft under my feet without caving in or sliding when pressure is applied.

I should be able to lift my foot off the wax, but not slide it directly across the top layer.

The wax should feel like the board is naturally following my movements, rather than me having to actively embrace the board with my toes.

At the same time, it shouldn’t feel glued to my feet.

I realize a lot of those characteristics may sound contradictory, probably because they are. This is why I place so much value in the artistry of wax-making – it’s really fucking difficult to produce a great bar (as you’ll learn from our winner), and those who do so should be sufficiently lauded.

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The Stab Wax Test cheat-sheet! Photo by Ana Vic.

How we graded the wax:

Each bar in the Stab Wax Test was applied to a completely bare surfboard. The amount of time and effort that went into waxing and de-waxing 20+ boards is something I wouldn’t wish on my childhood bully, but as the main “control” of this test it was important that we put in the leg armwork.

If a basecoat was provided by the wax company, we used it. If it wasn’t, we didn’t.

Each bar was given a committed waxing (using the X’s and O’s method* unless otherwise specified by the wax company) and at least one hour in the water, in which time I considered the following criteria:

  • What was the application like?
  • Did it create solid bumps?
  • Was it tacky?
  • Did it remain tacky throughout my surf?
  • Was it soft or firm?
  • Did it maintain its structural integrity?
  • Generally, how did it feel under my feet?
IMG 9377

We put in the hard hours.

Through these gradings, I was able to make an overall assessment of each bar of wax.

Rather than assigning a specific numerical value to each characteristic and using an algorithm to discern a “scientific” score, the rating attributed to each bar is cumulatively qualitative and obviously subjective.

Surfing is art, not science. 

Below you’ll find all of the Stab Wax Test results, which are ranked from best to worst. We hope this will help to serve the reader’s general surfing experience by better connecting them with their surfboard, and maybe helping them land that first air.

It’s the little things in life.

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The first round of contenders. Photo by Sam Moody.

That Sticky Icky
(9+ on the Stab Wax Test scale)

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Meet your winner of the Stab Wax Test: Fu Wax Brazil. Photo by Art: Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Fu Wax
Origin: Brazil
Cost per bar: $5 USD
Wax Test rating: 10/10
Analysis: I simply can’t imagine a better wax in 2018. Fu creates that “soft feet” feeling, where the board seems to follow your movements no matter which way you turn. Due to its non-horizontal slip, Fu makes stomping airs a breeze, and if anything, its tackiness only increases throughout the session. Amazingly, the secret Fu formula was developed over 20 years of trial and error and, like many great inventions before it, was only discovered due to a production mistake. We’ll have more on that coming soon (the full story of Fu!), but for now, say hello to your Stab Wax Test winner, and the favorite of pro surfers everywhere: Fu Wax Brazil.

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Number 2 on our list is Da Hui’s “Super Sticky” blend. It’s basically the Hawaiian Fu. Photo by Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Da Hui Super Sticky 
Origin: Hawaii
Cost per bar: $4 USD
Wax Test rating: 9/10
Analysis: This stuff is extremely sticky and soft, meaning it must be applied in a specific fashion (hard basecoat on bottom, wax the bar flat and give a light dusting on the top) to work. If used correctly, Da Hui Super Sticky is a premium blend for progressive, powerful surfing. It’s essentially the Hawaiian Fu, and if you need further proof of Da Hui’s efficacy, 2x reigning World Champion and current best surfer in the world John John Florence uses it!

Remarkable Bars
(7 – 8.5 on the Stab Wax Test scale)

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Sex Wax, our reader’s favorite, comes in at a close third. Photo by Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Sex Wax Quick Humps  
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $2 USD
Wax Test rating: 8.5/10
Analysis: Sex Wax’s incessant reign over the international wax market is the result of decades of finely produced bars. Functionally speaking, Sex Wax is plenty sticky and feels soft underfoot, almost as if it’s embracing your weight. It retains its shape throughout a session and is easily applicable and cheap. In other words, there’s a reason that Sex Wax was the most preferred wax in our reader poll (32% of participants preferred it over any other bar!).

Wax: Sticky Bumps Munkey Wax
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: 2$ USD
Wax Test rating: 8.5/10
Analysis: This wax is comparable to Fu and Da Hui Wax, in the sense that it’s ultra sticky (5x stickier than normal Stick Bumps!) and that it must be applied in moderation. If used incorrectly, Munkey Wax could be seriously detrimental to a surf session, however I found it to be delightfully tacky. Just a light dusting over a solid basecoat is enough to stick you for an entire session.

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Sticky Bumps, second-favorite wax of Stab readers, also tested well in our experiment. Photo by Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Sticky Bumps Original
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $1 USD
Wax Test rating: 8/10
Analysis: After a lifetime of irrationally dismissing Sticky Bumps as a whatever wax, this bar took hold of my preconceptions and shoved them right where the sun don’t shine. True to its name, Sticky produces great Bumps, is tacky enough to maintain control, and it seemed to have a lot of structural integrity. A very solid bar all around, which is probably why 20% of Stab readers selected it as their favorite bar (the second highest percentage of any brand).

Wax: Sticky Bumps Tour Series
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $2 USD
Wax Test rating: 8/10
Analysis: This version of Sticky Bumps is very similar to the Original but slightly tackier. I preferred the Tour Series over Original but only by a hair. And speaking of hair…

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That organic dred wax! Photo by Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Bubble Gum Machado Organik
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $2 USD
Wax Test rating: 8/10
Analysis: This wax offered much more grip than the original Bubble Gum solution while maintaining a high level of durability. Due to the wax’s namesake, I found my surfing to be 10% more stylish when using the Machado blend. Plus it’s organic, so better for the fishes! This is the best organic wax we’ve come across thus far.

Wax: Matunas
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: 2$ USD
Wax Test rating: 8/10  
Analysis: Matunas isn’t extremely sticky, but it’s soft in a way that allows your feet to dig in and grip the board with an abundance of “feel”. I found this wax delightful in the way it caressed my digits, and overall it gets the job done with style and class.

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An oldie reconfigured for greatness. Photo by Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Mrs. Palmer’s Comp
Origin: Australia
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 7.5
Analysis: This version of Mrs. Palmers is much stickier than the original version, and for how soft it is, I was surprised by how well it produced and maintained bumps. Overall the wax performed well and I would use it again.

Wax: Da Hui NSB
Origin: Hawaii
Cost per bar: $4 USD
Wax Test rating: 7.5/10
Analysis: This is basically a toned-down version of Da Hui’s Super Sticky blend, which still works great but is not quite as high-performance. This is the Da Hui Wax you’d use if tackling barrels rather than airs. And we’ve heard there are a few decent barrels in Hawaii. 

sticky johnson deluve wax cold
Why do so many waxes use innuendo in their branding? The world may never know.

Wax: Sticky Johnson Deluxe
Origin: New Zealand
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 7.5/10
Analysis: I thought this wax worked very well for a “standard” type a bar, meaning that it’s SJ’s second-tier, less sticky blend (I actually preferred this to the “better” one). Sticky Johnson Deluxe is tacky and firm, goes on easy, and never gave up its grip. They’re doing something right in New Zealand. 

DSCF8406
See that little temptress in the image’s bottom-right? That’s Betel Nut. Photo by Sam Moody.

Wax: Betel Nut
Origin: Taiwan
Cost per bar: $ USD
Wax Test rating: 7.5
Analysis: Betel Nut isn’t the stickiest Wax you’ll encounter, but it’s construction takes a firm grip of your feet and maintains bumps with ease. However the biggest selling points of this bar include its tittilating packaging, which features a busty Asian women right on the box-front, plus the fact that Betel Nut’s creator, Kevin Chen, makes the wax by hand in his bedroom as an homage to Tawain’s “betel nut culture”, which, In Kevin’s words, is when blue-collar workers chew on the Areca (AKA “Betel”) Nut to get high and increase their energy levels. Gotta love a good back story!

RatCheeseWax 6252
The Cheese! Photo by Rat Cheese.

Wax: Rat Cheese
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $6 USD
Wax Test rating: 7.5/10
Analysis: Quirky aesthetics aside, Rat Cheese is a perfectly good bar of wax. The swiss-cheese shape is incredibly ergonomic for application purposes, it’s plenty tacky on-craft, and its pungent scent (which is fruity, not cheesy!) means it can double as an air freshener for your car. This is the most boutique bar we’ve tested and we’re far from disappointed!

Wax: Bubble Gum Original Formula
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 7/10
Analysis: Despite its name, Bubble Gum Wax is not particularly sticky, but there’s also nothing wrong with it. It’s a very basic wax – solid basecoat, decent topcoat, average durability– with nothing special to note. I’d use this wax if it was offered but certainly wouldn’t seek it out.

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For the fishies. Photo by Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Surf Organic
Origin: Australia
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 7/10
Analysis: Surf Organic applied perfect bumps with ease, but they became somewhat pancaked throughout my surf session. Unfortunately the wax wasn’t tacky enough to compensate for this error, which led to a less than ideal, but not at all bad, experience. Surf Organic could be considered the poor man’s/environmentally conscious version of Sex Wax.

Wax: Far King Ultimate Blend
Origin: Australia
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 7/10
Analysis: For Far King’s “premium” blend, this wax wasn’t quite as sticky as I’d like, but it retained great bumps throughout my surf and in that way was fairly effective. This is a functional wax that one should never run from, but one should never throw pebbles at its bedside window, either.

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The tower of tack. Photo by Sam Moody.

The Between-the-Seats Special
(0 – 6.5 on the Stab Wax Test scale)

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Kassia Surf presents a revolutionary wax design: triangles! Photo by Kassia Surf.

Wax: Kassia Surf
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $6 USD
Wax Test rating: 6.5/10
Analysis: Kassia Meador’s designer wax was quite sticky and effective at first, but due to its lack of basecoat, started smearing after 30 mins of use. I think this wax could shoot up the rankings if they just offered a basecoat in their arsenal. On the bright side, this wax’s utilitarian design (small triangles break off the main bar to provide session-sized bar-lets for each individual surf) was a pleasure both aesthetically and functionally and should be used by many other brands. Also, Kassia’s Palo Santo scent is one of those love-it-or-hate-it kinda things, so beware of that before lathering the stuff all over your stick. 

Wax: Famous Surf
Origin: USA
Cost per bar: $2 USD
Wax Test rating: 6/10
Analysis: This wax has been around forever, yet I can’t remember ever having used it before the Stab Wax Test. From my experience, Famous starts off sticky but tends to fade throughout a session, which is a slippery slope when it comes to wax usage. Famous not a bad wax by any means, but there’s probably a reason that you don’t know anybody who uses it.  

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All my Aussies know that classic silver label. Photo by Pentagram Pizza.

Wax: Far King Original
Origin: Australia
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 6/10
Analysis: Far King Original is the most average wax I’ve ever used. Average tackiness, average bumpiness, average overall performance. If you’d consider your surfing exactly “average”, this might be the perfect wax for you.

Wax: Green Fix
Origin: France
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 6/10
Analysis: As soon as I grabbed a Green Fix bar I could tell it was organic. There’s a nice grainy feel to it—kind of like an artisanal hand soap—that just makes you feel connected with Gaia. When first applied Green Fix is very sticky, but this sensation quickly dissipates throughout the surf session, which is a trait that I’ve seen consistently throughout the organic bars. Pity for the fishies.

IMG 1257
See all this extra wax? It’s being boxed up and sent to a few of Stab’s loyal readers. Now would be a good time to check your emails. Photo by Sam Moody.

Wax: Sticky Johnson Mega
Origin: New Zealand
Cost per bar: $5 USD
Wax Test rating: 6/10
Analysis: This wax was super gooey in the parking lot, but as I hit the water it hardened and became slick under my feet. For this being their “premium” bar, I feel Sticky Johnson has missed the mark and should look back to their Deluxe blend (rated 7.5 in the Wax Test) for future improvements.  

Wax: Mrs. Palmer’s Original
Origin: Australia
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 5/10
Analysis: Mrs. Palmers Original is a very soft wax, and its lack of a basecoat prohibits any discernible structure or bumps. The result is slightly raised clumps of wax that aren’t particularly sticky, which is definitely not the feeling I’m going for. On the bright side, it’s pretty cool that in 30 years of wax industry success (7% of our readers picked Mrs. P as their favorite, and it can be found everywhere), Mrs. Palmers still refuses to create a website. Core score up.

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A bar we didn’t love. Photo by Location Co.

Wax: Location Co.
Origin: Australia
Cost per bar: $3 USD
Wax Test rating: 4/10
Analysis: To put it simply, this wax did not suit me. It melted in my hand throughout the application process and failed to create bumps or stickiness. This is a clear type of wax – similar to Mrs. Palmers Original – that would remind of an actual candle, except it doesn’t smell all that great. Location Co. only started to work when I used my fingernails to scratch it up, which is never a good sign.

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That’s it (for now)! And for anyone needing evidence that Stab actually tested all this wax, we provide Exhibit A. Photo by Sam Moody.

Are you a wax company that missed the application deadline but still wants to be included in the Stab Wax Test? Email the author at [email protected]. He’ll test your product and slip it in here for posterity.

*The X’s and O’s waxing method: draw diagonal lines with the wax all the way up and down the unwaxed surfboard, in both directions, using the basecoat’s hard edge. Once complete, fill in all the gaps by applying the basecoat’s hard edge in small, circular motions all over the deck. Repeat until bumps form across the whole deck and there are no bare spots. Finally, grab the top coat and apply the same small, circular strokes until the bumps grow and become sufficiently sticky.

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