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Selecting the Right Tail Pad

The amount of tail pads out on the market is crazy! And with more brands coming out daily, the options are endless. What's funny however, is when we treat ourselves to a new board, we revert to the “yeah that will do..” attitude. There's actually much more to it. Each pad has its own purpose, and the intricate design of them aims to benefit your surfing.

Unlike Surfboard Fins, we don’t have the liberty to change our tail pads regularly. We’ve compiled some insights on what to look for when buying a new grip.

mick fanning attaching a tail pad to his surfboard
Mick carefully applying a tail pad to his DHD surfboard.

The Four Essential Components to Tail Pads


The degrees in the kick range from a mellow 20 degrees right up to vertical. The steeper the kick the more secure your foot is to blow out the back of waves. If its performance surfing you like, a kick between 45 degrees to vertical is the perfect all rounder. If it's a pad you need for a fish or retro board, a mellow flat tail pad is your answer for down the line surfing.


Arch design alone is incredibly broad; it all comes down to the size of your foot and how much movement you like to have. If you’ve got smaller feet, the need for a pad with a small to minimal arch would be best. If you've got a big foot, then look for something with a longer, higher arch that nearly runs the length of the tail pad.

Number of Pieces

From one piece to five piece, they're designed to effectively be usable on most boards.

One piece pads aren't as common nowadays as they were 10+ years ago, however they have made a comeback recently for their durability.

For a while the two piece pads were seen as the weird uncle to the three pieces. Typically featuring no arch and a mellow kick, these pads are great if you’re throwing something down on the rear of your fish.

3 pieces are the most common grips, allowing for an even spread of grip and versatility for all board models.

Five pieces are effectively the three piece grip but with two tabs that sit above the main area of the tail pad adding extra grip in bigger swell.


The grooves themselves are more often than not shaped like diamonds, while some feature multi layered grooves and others a single layer groove.

Circular designed traction is also starting to make an appearance amongst some manufactures. However, the basic rule of thumb is the rougher the grooves, the greater the traction. This provides maximum resistance against slipping and extra grip, but will still allow you to move your foot when needed.

A single layer groove is generally a straightforward design that allows both grip and movement. A multi layered groove looks like a diamond with another diamond on top. These are the grippiest of the grippy. Once your foot is down, it isn't moving. And if it does, it’s against its own free will.

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So What’s The Best Tail Pad For Me?

julian wilson cloudbreak fiji

More often than not, it’s personal preference of what works best for you. However, consider the board you’re applying it to as the basis for your decision.

From there, you can ask yourself:
  • - How many pieces do I need?
  • - Does the kick have a high enough support or do I need something with less kick?
  • - Consider the arch and how your foot would relate to it
  • - What kind of waves are you looking to use your new board in?
  • - Do I need something with ultimate traction? or something that lets me shift around freely
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Once you've answered these questions, apply the pad and you're good to go. Just remember, you don’t want to be playing around with them too much or the pads will lose their sticky adhesive. The unfortunate thing is once its down, leave it.

Now, to ensure you're riding the right board, check out our article, Are You Surfing The Wrong Board? Otherwise, browse our range of traction pads, below.

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20/06/2017 5:15 pm