Van Der Waal Surf Grip Tested

No need for surf wax... again!

A while ago I set out to find an alternative to using toxic surf wax and on my mission I came across grip tape for surfboards. This meant we could completely do away with the need of using our beloved smelling surf wax, and be the first one in the water catching sets before our buddies even had time to get the wax out of the box! Winner!

If any of you got to read my last review on surf grip tape, you might start wondering that I’ve gone mad and I’ve started to repeat myself!!! What a prat!! Surely I’ve done this review already! As it happens, I have done a very similar review on another very similar looking product! To be honest, when I first saw the Van Der Waal design, I had to do a double take and my first thought was ‘you’re having me on, this is an exact rip off of the grip tape I tested just the other month!’.

The folks at Van der Waal like to keep things simple and I’ll do you the same courtesy, their design and their concept works, plus I think it’s better than the Hexa Grip from RSPro.


The look and design of the Van der Waal at first glance is identical, there’s no doubt about that. The subtle difference is in the science of the material. Now I’m no scientist, so I don’t understand why, but I’ll be happy to replace my boards with the VdW. If you read on I’ll go about telling you why. If you do want to know the science… scroll down to the bottom of this page.

The Product 

It's simple, it's grip tape for your board. It’s clean looking, transparent so you can still see your board graphics, super light and non abrasive.

I actually think it looks pretty cool once you’ve put it on. Whilst testing in Oz recently, there were a lot of folks stopping to admire the look and feel of the product… followed by ‘this is awesome, where can I buy some?'


The Brand 

Two friends and a dream. Van der Waal was born in 2016 and its parents are Martim Dornellas and Afonso Silva, two old time friends who came up with the idea of creating a product to use on surfboards that would be as effective as wax but that wouldn’t stain the boards or mess with their design.

I really like what these guys stand for, and when communicating with them about their product, there’s an obvious passion and love for what they are trying to achieve. These are real people making real products for real people.



I got to test the gear in Australia and in France, from hip to over head high wave conditions on beach, point to reef breaks.

I tested in a wetsuit, so didn’t get to try it with just board shorts.

When I use wax, I like to cover the whole area, including the area just in front of the tail pad and up to the front foot area.

For my 5’10 surfboard with tail pad, I just about had enough to cover my board with 25 traction pads, but not that area just in front of the tail paid. Next time I’d go for the 30 pads so that I can cover whole area, but hey, that’s just what I’m used to and some surfers don’t even apply grip in the area between the pad and the front foot.

It’s also real easy to apply!


Now did it work for me?

100% Yes and some more yes. I‘m a fan and I’d be happy to apply this to my quiver of boards.

Of course at the beginning it’s psychologically a bit weird to go surfing without applying some wax… ’will it work, will it work!’. At first touch it doesn’t seem like the pads will grip as well as our beloved trusted surf wax but seriously, have faith, it does work. As always when trying something new, keep an open mind and give yourself time to get familiar with the new feel.

As soon as there’s contact with the water the pads feel more tacky and grippy. The first test was just paddling out to the line up and then paddling for my first wave. I was really happy to notice it gripped well under the chest, unlike the first time I tested the RSPRo, which on occasion would shift under chest whilst generally paddling around and then burst paddling to catch a wave.


I instantly had trust in the VdW pads and was confident it would grip well under foot. When I did catch a wave, I never had a problem of a foot slipping out of position or even slipping off completely during critical parts of manoeuvres. It had the perfect combination of hold and release so I could change foot position according to what was needed to ride the wave properly.

I was stoked to share the passion of this product and I was confident to let my Ozzy mate try the board with the pads. I must add, this guy really rips and he’s a straight up talker, so no beating around the bush with this dude. He gave it the thumbs up!! He wanted to know where he could get his hands on some! For me, this was a positive result and confirmation on my own views on the pads' performance. 



It grips way better than other grip tapes I’ve tried.
It’s way cheaper than the RSPro and you have more package options to choose from.
It’s a great alternative to wax.
It looks pretty cool.
No more wax and no more melted wax!.
I’d confidently apply this to my quiver and I would trust it in bigger surf.
I look forward to testing it in warmer surf whilst wearing board shorts to test the chest/rash scenario.
The guys have serious passion for what they are creating and their customer service is excellent. 


Here at SB we like to fire a few questions to the founders of such products and the guys at VdW were happy to oblige.

SB: How long do you think this grip tape will keep its traction for if you surf on a regular basis?

Martim: Well, we say one year based on our experience. But I have it on my board since March 2016, and I surf 4 times a week (average), and it still works perfectly. So I truly believe that if you surf 2 to 3 times a week it will last enough for you to have to change your surfboard meanwhile…


SB: Have you noticed the effect it has on wetsuits after a lot of use?

Afonso: Van der Waal does not damage wetsuits at all.

Martim: We want to add that some surfers need a little more time to get use to the Van der Waal vs wetsuit combination. We don’t have a single complaint about the Van der Waal + feet traction, but the fact is that some wetsuits materials slip more then others. Is always a question of time to get used, and adjustment / positioning on board, but is a feedback that we have already received. Anyway, we are always looking for improvement and we are currently trying to understand in what kind of wetsuits that happens and how we can avoid it.

SB: Have you done much testing without wetsuits to see if works and if it causes chest rash?

Martim: Well, never tried it without a wetsuit or a lycra, so maybe the ends of the hexagons are able to cause chest rash ... but I think the wax is also not totally soft ;)

SB: Is it hard is it to remove the pads?

Afonso: Not at all. You simply grab the end of each hexagon and pull. Most of the glue stays on the hexagon, not on board, so it’s really easy.


SB: What is the best way to clean the pads when they get dirty over time?

Afonso: Just rinse it with fresh water. We also advise our costumers to clean the pads from time to time with fresh water to clear the salt that can accumulate in the gaps.

SB: Do you have any other cool products in the pipeline?

Afonso: Yes we do. We hope to release 2 new Van der Waal variations this year. But as they are still in development, we prefer to keep them a secret.

SB: Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?

Martim: It’s a wonderful feeling when I spot someone with our product in their board, catching some waves… as is amazing when we get any kind of feedback from surfers who have Van der Waal on their boards, so if anyone here tried Van der Waal I would love to hear their feedback.


Afonso: We also want to thank to everyone that encourage and helped us to go forward and to finish big I just hope that the ones who surf with Van der Waal are better surfers than Martim ;)

SB: Thank you Martim and Afonso for taking the time to answer the questions so openly and with such honesty! I will be keeping a close eye on your growing success and I look forward to watching your progress with new developments.

If anyone has an experience with VdW, please feel free to get in touch with them, they are open to the feedback.

For all our readers, if you have any other cool surf related things you want us to review… let us know.

Thanks for reading folks and we wish you clean swells with gentle offshore winds where ever you find yourself.

Van Der Waal

Van Der Waal

Introducing Van Der Waal wax substitute.

Introducing Van Der Waal wax substitute.

Just Add Water.

Just Add Water.

No need to worry about Van Der Waal in the sun.

No need to worry about Van Der Waal in the sun.

Perfect Test Conditions.

Perfect Test Conditions.

Photo Credit : Julia Ochs

Nic, giving  Van Der Waal a thorough testing.

Nic, giving Van Der Waal a thorough testing.

The Founders.

The Founders.

Martim on the right and Alfonso on the left.

The product comes in this cool box.

The product comes in this cool box.

The Inspiration.

The Inspiration.

In physical chemistry, the van der Waals forces, named after Dutch scientist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, are distance dependent interactions between atoms.

Inside that sylish box.

Inside that sylish box.

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