We're going to go back in time, so please step into your Delorean, set the flux capacitor to sometime in the '80s and hit 88mph...
The 'Me-First' era brought us cool things such as Mullets, neon colour fashion, the first Nintendo and the 2.8 Laser Injection Ford Capri.
Naturally over time, much like Jean-Claude Van Damme's acting career and other nostalgic things from the '80s, most of these went out of fashion or fell to the waste side, never to be heard from again. Among these things was the use of a front foot traction pad for your surfboard.
Little bit of History - The classic traction pad known as Astro Deck was brought to us in 1976 by the legend Herbie Fletcher. In the '80s, before Kelly Slater was in vogue, Christian Fletcher was sporting his dad's traction pads and could be seen busting gnarly tricks and big airs, all seemingly thanks to his skills and the aid of the front foot pad. This almost brought the use of the traction pad into the limelight, but there were a lot of haters out there not liking the style, so the use of such a product soon got forgotten.
Present - Come back to the year 2019 and the retro movement is in full effect, bringing back OTT fashion trends like stone wash jeans, puffy sleeves, hair scrunchies and shoulder pads. It's also helped breath new life into old skool board designs such as twin-fin, single fin setups and now the front foot traction pad.
To be fair, they’ve been back for a while and if pro's like Dion Agius and Noa Deane are rocking them, there must be something in it right?.
Concept - No more dirty wax jobs, better traction, absorption.
Options - There are a few options out there and they all offer something different for your surfing needs and style. To keep it simple, there's high-rise versus low-rise. The first option is the old classic style, which is similar to your everyday tail pad, with grid-like high rise bumps. The second choice is a smoother and sleeker looking design.
What's the difference you ask? - Some will say the high-rise offers more traction for landing big tricks, but it's maybe a little harder to make small foot adjustments. The low-rise offers good traction, but some find it easier to adjust and move your front foot into different positions.
There are still a lot of haters out there, but there are a select few out there who are coming round to the idea and holding the flag up high for the front foot traction pad. We got contacted by such a company who advertise the worlds most planet-friendly front foot grip on the market.
Introducing - RSPro
These guys are based in Barcelona and offer a range of wax-less surfing products. Some of which we've tested in the past. They've come a long way since then and they sent us the sleek and cool looking cork traction pad.
Cost - Comes in at a whopping €43.
Forgot you wax? No worries, you don't need it
Not having to de-wax your board, which no one truly enjoys
No melted wax on your car seats or on your clothes
Convenient and easy to apply
Feels great underfoot
Some don't like the style, but we love the look of this traction pad
- Expensive initial expense, although if you calculate how many bars of wax you will use over the year, we think it might even out
Test location & Conditions - Portugal, 2ft - 4ft on beach breaks
Reviewers - Jim & Nic
Jim's thoughts: - On receiving the new cork front deck grip in the office, we noticed with an attractive packaging, a same piece of the material was stuck to the outside so you can run your finger up and down it. Which everyone here did. A lot. Weird how that happens. Similar to in a restaurant when a waiter/tress says “ Mind that plate, it’s hot”. We all have to touch it and exclaim, “Oh yeah it is!”. We were all drawn to that tiny test strip…
The Packaging was all recycled cardboard with minimal plastics. Tick.
The traction pad itself comes in four vertical strips and can be spaced out as you see fit, simply tear off the tape to reveal the sticky backing and apply. The process was quick, simple and easy. It is worth mentioning that for best results you should make sure your board is totally free of wax and dirt.
Testing – Keeping this short and sweet, it works. It works very well. I have had no loss of traction at all on my front foot, no slippage when paddling or surfing. The one time I did fall was an ‘airdrop’ take off with the lip but not sure wax would have saved me either.
One thing I would like to highlight was the feeeeeeeel of it on my feet. Loved it, double loved it. If you have ever owned (showing my age) a pair of leather slippers, soft and used and familiar. That's kind of how this felt which was at first alarming and then kind of blissful.
Thumbs up from me, over to you Nic.
Nic - Like Jim, I'm a fan of the RSPro cork traction pad. The first thing I thought was that the cork looked beautiful and it suited the board. I really like the natural and sleek look of it and was instantly drawn to it, reaching out to give it a good stroking. I'll be honest, at first, I thought it looked a little slippery and was intrigued how it would perform when wet.
When wet, I eventually managed to convince Jim to lend me his prized Cod Fish from Wavegliders (on which the RSPro was mounted) and was excited to try out the board with the traction grip. The first thing I noticed was how well it gripped when I started paddling off to catch a wave.
The first ride was weird, as I stood up I could see the pad in my peripheral vision and was suddenly over thinking where my foot should go. Once I planted the foot and let rip, I was delighted how nice it felt and to my second moment of surprise, I didn't slip off. I felt totally confident and the traction of the cork was doing its job exceptionally well.
We have a 20kg difference between Jim and me, his board is a bit big for me so I have to use a bit more crank to get it round. I was conscious at first and was worried that my front foot might come unstuck, but the more I rode it and pushed it, the more my confidence grew and was totally sold on the performance of this product.
Conclusion - Here at Surf Bunker we're fans of the RSPro Cork pad and it makes total sense to us to use one. We think it looks great and it works like it's meant to, it gets the thumbs up from us.