Are traction pads better than wax?

re traction pads better than wax

Traction pads (often referred to as front grips or front pads) are better than wax in a few ways. You save on buying surfboard wax, your traction pad can’t melt in the sun and they provide more grip than wax which can help with aerials, snaps and floaters.

The argument for and against either form of traction has been a hot topic in surfing. Traction pads became popular in the 1980s and early 1990s but their popularity diminished slowly over time. Now traction pads are seeing a resurgence with surfers like Noa Deane regularly dropping clips sporting a front grip.

So the question stands are traction pads better than wax?

Wax or traction pad?

To honestly know if traction pads are better than wax we need to weigh up the pros and cons of each.

Traction Pads

Storming onto our beaches 40 years ago but quickly disappearing, now traction pads are starting to make a serious comeback with surfers like Chippa Wilson and Mikey Wright swearing by them.


  • Save money on wax over time
  • Won’t melt if you leave it in the sun
  • Provides more grip
  • Arguably better for snaps, airs and floaters
  • Protects the deck of your surfboards and prevents dings and compression marks
  • Keep your board squeaky clean and avoid brown wax on your board and in your surf wagon


  • Some people find them too ‘grippy’
  • If you position it in the wrong place getting it realigned can be a nightmare
  • If your traction pad starts to peel off you’ll be left with a sticky residue
  • Traction pads are like marmite and you might find it harder to sell a secondhand surfboard
  • Traction pads are notoriously bad at sticking to foam surfboards (foamies)


The traditional option for most surfers across the world with various aromas of delicious fruits just waiting to spread across your surfboard’s waiting deck.


  • You have a lot more control over the grip on your surfboard
  • People love the ritual of waxing, dewaxing and rewaxing their board
  • Easy to sell secondhand
  • Cheaper initially
  • Smells great, there is nothing better than paddling out with the smell of coconuts


  • Can be messy and leave marks in your car and on your wetsuit
  • More expensive in the long run
  • Melts in the sun or in a hot car
  • Takes time to prepare before surfing, we’ve all been frantically waxing looking at perfect waves peel in front of us

Try both, and decide which you prefer

When it comes to traction pad vs wax it really is a matter of personal preference. So to really answer are traction pads better than wax you’ll need to try both for yourself.

Personally, I love using a traction pad on some of my boards but I know plenty of surfers that won’t even entertain the idea.

Keep an open mind with your surf traction and most importantly, have fun.

Wnat to know more about the brands that shape our sport? Don’t miss our list of the 21 most influential surf brands.