NSI Clear Grip Redux

7 10 2011

Sharon's pink longboard...

Update: NSI got us the missing 4 sheets of Clear Grip ASAP and I was able to install it today so Sharon can use the board in Tofino this weekend. If they hadn’t rushed the traction sheets I would have had to wax a part of her board and then strip the wax next week to install the Clear Grip. That would have been a big hassle. Thanks NSI for sorting out the problem so fast – you guys rock…=-)

I used North Shore Incorporated’s [NSI] Clear Grip stick on traction sheets on my longboard last year as a wax alternative. I liked it a lot as it provided excellent traction [while wearing booties] with almost zero maintenance. I had couple corners peel up after a lot of abuse, but I was able to glue them down and expect many years of use from these traction sheets.

I rounded the corners this time...

Sharon wanted the same type of traction sheets for the surface of her new custom longboard so we ordered up a another package of sheets from NSI. They sent us a 4 sheet package instead of the 8 sheet package we ordered, but they sent out another 4 sheets as soon as we told them – thanks! Having some experience with installing the Clear Grip on my surfboard I did a better job this time. I rounded off the corners of each sheet to prevent them from catching on my wetsuit or booties and peeling. I also just did a better job of applying each sheet in the right position without spending a ton of time messing around.

Looking good!

I didn’t use the application pattern NSI suggests on either of our boards. My method uses less sheets and puts traction everywhere you need it. I had a spare sheet left over from my longboard which I donated to Sharon’s surfboard. By efficient application of sheets we almost covered the entire area we needed to. We probably need 1 more sheet to finish things off. Although neither Sharon nor I are hanging ten at the nose so neither of us need traction at the nose of the board. When we get to that stage we’ll finish off the job with a few more Clear Grip sheets.

Note: that we do use a small amount of wax on top of the Clear Grip where we place our hands when we pop up. The palms of our gloves are not sticky rubber so it doesn’t give as much traction on the Clear Grip as our rubber booties. I had to wax this small area on my board twice last season for a total of 30 seconds each time – YMMV…=-)

NSI Clear Grip Update

17 12 2010

Wave hunters @ Tofino...

I’ve used my Walden Magic Model surfboard a bunch more since my review of the NSI Clear Grip traction sheets.  My impression of this product vs. surf wax is growing better and better.  I’ve also lent it out to several people who liked it a lot as well.  What makes it so nice to use [besides not having to wax or deal with a waxy mess] is that it gives you enough traction to control the board, but still allows you to move around on it easily when needed.  So if you are not positioned correctly on the board you can move your feet or body [when laying prone] easily, but once you press down and want traction it’s there for you.  With wax you get a lot of traction even when you don’t want it which makes adjustments harder to make.

Board's eye view of North Chesterman Beach...

Keep in mind I am still learning how to surf so I am not doing any radical moves.  It may turn out that Clear Grip isn’t enough when I’m working the board hard.  To confirm this next time I’m with an experienced surfer I’ll let them try the board and give me some feedback.

I have used a small amount of wax on top of the Clear Grip where I place my hands when popping up.  This gives me extra grip in the one area I want it without having to use much wax.

So far the Clear Grip looks brand new after a dozen days of surfing.  It looks like it will last a long time.  So far so good!…=-)

— All photos by Deanna Enman.

Installing NSI Clear Grip

23 11 2010

8 sheet package of Clear Grip...

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.

Like wax just easier...

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.

First sheet of Clear Grip installed...

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.

My board all Clear Gripped...

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.

Clear Grip is translucent - not clear...

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.

Not bad looking IMO...

Compared to a board covered in surf wax it looks great – see photo below taken from a few feet away.

Can you spot the Clear Grip?

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.