One of the things I was not looking forward to when it comes to surfing is applying, removing and generally dealing with surf wax. It’s a PITA and it’s messy so I figured I’d see what other options were out there. The obvious one was using an EVA deck pad. EVA foam is very grippy and I know it works because I use it on my SUPs. I was all set to get a SUP deck pad and trim it down to size for my 9’2″ longboard when I came across NSI’s Clear Grip.
Clear Grip is a very thin [1/16″ = 1.6mm] textured translucent deck traction product that can be used on any water sports board or paddle that needs more grip with minimal visual or physical impact on the surface. Unlike EVA foam, which is springy and changes how a board feels under foot, Clear Grip allows for the same board feel as with wax. It comes in 18″ x 10.75″ sheets. I grabbed an 8 sheet pack [~$72usd] for my 9″2″ x 22.25″ longboard.
I’m not a great surfer and I have no experience with surf wax so I won’t attempt to evaluate and compare this product, but you can read this review that states Clear Grip worked great and is equivalent to a medium coat of surf wax. However, unlike surf wax you don’t have to reapply Clear Grip and it won’t melt off and get onto your car seats or furniture. If you want to you can add some wax on top of the Clear Grip for more traction, but my goal is ride wax free if at all possible.
I mostly ignored the instructions. I did clean and dry the board throughly where I wanted to apply Clear Grip. Working from the tail I used a pattern of sheets that required minimum trimming. I used faint marks on the sheets and the centreline of the board to get the sheets laid down in the right spots [more or less!]. I started at the bottom edge of each sheet and pressed down along the whole width moving towards the tip ensuring there were no bubbles forming. I paid special attention to the edges and corners of each sheet pressing them down firmly into the board.
I only went as far up the board as I needed to to ensure I’d have a grippy surface for my hands when popping up. I’m not about to nose ride so I’ll worry about the last 3rd of the board later. I used 7 sheets of my 8 sheet pack leaving me with some spare material. I’d probably need about 3 or 4 more sheets to fully cover this board. Clear Grip is easy to work with. It cuts fine with s sharp knife and you can pull it up and start again [at least for a while] if your eye hand coordination isn’t stellar.
One obvious thing about Clear Grip is that it’s translucent not clear. The pics above and below show the worst case and best case situations. Depending on the light and if your board is wet or dry the Clear Grip stands out a lot or a little. You’ll stil be able to see the graphics under the Clear Grip, but it’s not like you are looking at a board’s surface directly.
Compared to a board covered in surf wax it looks great – see photo below taken from a few feet away.
I’ve had the board out a few times now…what do I think?
- how grippy Clear Grip is depends entirely on what you are touching it with. The bottoms of my booties and the backs of my gloves stick to the Clear Grip really well. The palms of my gloves are a different material that doesn’t grip as well. The body of my wetsuit doesn’t slide around when laying or sitting on the board, but when I want to I am move around on it easily.
- so far I am happy with the Clear Grip…I’m going to try sanding the area where my hands are during a pop up and if that’s not enough I’ll use a bit of wax on top of the Clear Grip on just that part of the board.
- I haven’t had any issues slipping during my pop ups, but I feel like I want more traction there. Time will tell if I need it or I’m just talking myself into having a problem where none exists.
- I’m not doing any radical turns at this point so I’m not testing the foot traction terribly. It seems good so far.