Gear Guide '22: Traction & Travel
Here are the tried and true accessories I'm currently endorsing. I know there's more stuff out there, but I'm not into wetsuit changing robes and bathmats. These are items to get you in the water and keep you stoked. I will say that you can't go wrong with traction these days, other than overpaying for it. I hunt around and always find good deals on pads. Most pads work in the Northeast, mainly because my biggest complaint was how bad one brand scraped up my knees vs another. But I'm in wetsuits most of the time now, and when I'm not, I rarely get the abrasion burns that I used to get. I also included a few other things that are must-haves on my beach.
PADS & WAX
Creatures of Leisure "Mick Eugene Fanning Lite" Small Wave Traction - PRICE $46 This is a premium small wave tail pad. I put this pad on a lot of my fish and wider-tailed boards, and I spread it apart just a little bit. The pad uses a "square loc" traction pattern that's soft with good grip. The stylings are also cool with lightning bolts and checkerboards, as well as a bunch of colors to choose from. It's a 3-piece with a thick middle arch panel, so it works best when the board's leash plug is on the side and/or far enough back to be out of the way. If my board can fit this pad, I buy it without hesitation. The Jack Freestone signature line is a solid 3-piece pad too, same materials, similar outline, with a slightly wider footprint. There's always a 3-piece signature traction pad in the Creatures lineup that will work for your board type. I just like these pads a lot right now.
Dakine Evade Traction Pad - PRICE $43 This is another go-to pad for me. More than half of my newer boards sport this pad. It's also a 3-piece, in the medium size range. The two side pieces wrap around to form the tail kick, so they can be slightly spread apart in order to make room for a center leash plug that's too high up on the deck, or a tail that's extra wide. It comes in a few different colors and style schemes to compliment your board. I see them for sale on the internet marked down to as low as the $30 range, so search the usual sites for bargains... and consider not matching the colors opting for something more bold. Why not? Surfing is suppose to be fun. Dakine has a lot of great traction pads actually, and they have some solid options for travel bags and rashguards as well.
Surf-N-Show "Noel Salas Comfort Series" Traction Pad - PRICE $50. This is a 2x thicker tail pad made to combat surf toe, or surf bumps, on the ball and insole of your back foot. My back foot is constantly contorting to smash itself flat against the tail of my board. Often I'm pressing really hard on the upper outside ball of my foot, directly below my big toe. It's grown to be large and painful at times in my life. This was a major problem for me when I lived in Florida, but not as much these days since I'm in booties for most of the year. This tail pad is made by Noel Salas from the Surf-n-Show based out of Southern CA. On the Surf-N-Show youtube Channel he documented his surgery to remove bone from his surf toe and develop a pad to prevent it from happening again. Noel is personally invested in this pad. I threw one of them on a new board I bought for trips to Costa Rica, and so far my surf toe hasn't gotten too bad with multiple surfs packed into 2-3 week surf trips, while traveling in the tropics, surfing in bare feet. Recently, I hyper-extended my big toe while simultaneously going through a serious bout of tendonitis in my ankle and achilles. I bought this pad with the hopes that I won't aggravate my big toe as I continue to nurse the area back to full strength. But again, so far so good... with a bunch of surfs on the Dominator 2.0 under my belt, I can report that I have no significant big toe pain. Special thanks to Noel for developing this product, and for his contributions to the surf industry in general. I find his Surf Better Series training videos and his up-to-date surfboard reviews to be more than worth the time in viewing. I gladly pay to be a member of his Patreon platform and support another surfer trying to grow the sport in a positive way. While I don't know him personally, I will say that Noel is very friendly and giving of himself whenever I've emailed him with questions about board reviews or fin sizes for new or unconventional board sizes. He's a class guy, by all accounts.
Wax Trak Removable Surf Wax Templates - PRICE $13. These are actually decals that you put on a clean board, then apply wax on top of it. For me, bringing surfboards back and forth between New England and Central America requires different wax formulas. It's a serious pain-in-the-ass to strip off a good wax job for a surf trip, and then turn around and strip it right back down again for my return. It actually really sucks having to do this, not to mention it's annoying scraping off a good wax job, that took time to build up. WaxTrak makes it easy to switch wax jobs. Simply put the clear textured decal on the deck, apply just a few scrapes of wax, and you're ready to go. When it's time to remove the wax job, just peel the sticker off and throw it away. Easy peasy. The textured looks are pretty stylistic too. I mainly stick with the "blue steel" and "crossfire" patterns. I see cool guys online commenting and shaming others for using this product. I'm not sure why. WaxTrak decals work just like they're advertised. So to those dudes being assholes I say, get over yourselves! You're just acting jealous because you know deep down we have superior wax jobs.
6 Pack - Sticky Bumps Wax Cold/Cool/Warm Original Formulas - PRICE $15. So I'm just not cool. I use the Sticky Bumps Original formula. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I also put the DayGlo colored formula on a few boards recently, just to have some fun. I surfed through the entire 80's, I loved that fluorescent shit. So I don't give a fuck if you judge me. Surfing is suppose to be fun, and artistic... so I say go ahead and be creative with that fancy wax job. I like Sex Wax too... I know, total kook.
FCS "Travel 1" All-Purpose Bag - MSRP $166. This bag is of superior quality for just one surfboard (they also make bags for 2-3 boards, with sizes big enough for longboards). The FCS Travel 1is VERY light and easy to carry. I don't even add extra padding. I just strap in my board, and zip it up. I'm done with oversized bags on wheels. I use the shoulder strap and it's lighter than a backpack with a 6'2 stuffed inside. The FCS Travel 1recently sold out on the manufacturer website, but I saw it on Amazon (as well as other surf/skate/snow discount sites like backcountry.com) for the same price. Get one before they're all gone! I highly recommend this bag for single board travel.
Sympl° "The Rolls" Travel Bag - MSRP $270. This bag holds two boards, maybe three on the slimmer side, with zippers up to make it a single. Sympl° markets the unique, compact travel bag as made from a special material they call "Cordura Eco 840D". It's a recycled ballistic nylon "for waterproof, and extreme tear and puncture resistant performance". They claim that the bag is made to endure the harshest airline treatment. I'm not sure about that, but it is super light and can be rolled up for storage, or to bring as a carry-on (after you sell a board abroad to save the luggage fees on the way home). But I don't add extra padding in this bag if I'm traveling with an Epoxy-based shape like a Firewire. I just strap that baby in, zip it up, and go. For a PU/Poly board, or any board that I think is more fragile, I just unzip and expand the Sympl° bag to a double, add pool noodles for rail savers, and layer it in a protective sock. But again, I'm more of a proponent of keeping surfboard travel bags as light as possible these days. Damage that's happened to my boards in the past may have been due to an oversized, heavier board bag. So I go light, and I bring ding repair kits in my checked luggage, just in case. The Sympl° Roll bags may sell out real soon with summer surf trip season approaching. So get one now or miss out. Supply chain problems aren't getting better in 2022.
Bandit Titanium Keychain Knife by Quiet Carry MSRP $40. This little knife might be the most-used tool out of any tool I own. I'm constantly grabbing for it. I keep the Bandit on my keychain, it goes everywhere that I go pretty much. It's airline safe, concerts, stadiums, nobody's going to notice it so small on a ring of keys. Use it to cut a leash rope, clean out a ding for repair, open a shipping box, whatever. You don't need lame-ass scissors when you can look cooler using the Bandit.
Moved By Bikes Surf Rack MSRP $135. Get the longboard model, it still fits a shortboard and it will also accommodate your longer boards. This is the top bike surf rack. I've tried most of them. So stop wasting your gas if you close to the surf. Get some exercise and look cool pedaling your ass to the beach!
Solarez Ding Repair Tubes - $8 - $20. These can be a life saver when traveling to places like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Bahamas, etc... where surf shops aren't prevalent. But even these places have a few small shops, and they might carry some DIY ding repair. It's safer to grab a small tube from Amazon and throw it in your board bag. That way if the airlines dings your board, you can quickly get it water tight before taking it out for a surf at your remote destination. This stuff cures in the sunlight pretty quickly, so work in the shade before exposing the repair to the direct light. Be careful to bring the correct formula for the board you're traveling with... Epoxy or Polyester.
Dawn Patrol Surf App - $2 Per Month. This App is so worth it. If you have an Apple Watch and you surf, it's a no-brainer. Chart your stats and use them to progress, or just share with your friends. Your Apple Watch can also be paired with Surfline Sessions... if there's a Surfline Camera pointed at your spot, you can then go on their website to pull up videos of your waves.
OK, well that's all of the reviews I have for right now. Send me an email if you have any questions, I'm happy to help you determine what products will work best for your situation. Coming up, I've been riding some new Dan Mann shapes from Firewire surfboards lately, and I've got a new custom order on the way from Lost surfboards in "Black Dart" technology. So I'm hoping to post a few blogs about this topic soon adding my two cents to the EPS vs PU/Poly construction conversation. I hope you're surfing where you are... it's been knee-high and gutless on my beach lately.