Best Surf Tail Pads for 2022

Daniel Lofaso

I remember former tour surfer Taj Burrow saying that he can’t even surf without a tail pad. His foot would just slide right off the back. For many surfers, and specifically of the shortboarding variety, that is especially true.


Whatever you call them, tail pads, traction pads, or stomp pads, they have a special place in your list of must-have surf accessories that come with any surfboard purchase.


Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best tail pads of 2022 to take some of the guesswork out of finding a right one for you. Kick around these options next time you’re in the market.

Our pick for

Best all-around tail pad

Bruce Irons Pro Traction Pad by Dakine

The Bruce Irons Pro Traction Pad by Dakine has arguably been the best-selling stomp pad for years. Despite the popularity of Bruce, this classic design contains a center arch that many people love for contouring to your foot and allowing for rail-to-rail surfing. It’s a 5-piece tail pad so it can also be slightly altered upon installation to your personal preference and it’s offered by one of the most trusted brands in surfing, Dakine.

Our pick for

Best fish tail pad

Icon Fish Traction Pad by Creatures of Leisure

Made for boards with a fish tail or swallow tail, this flat traction pad is one of the few I’ve found on the market that actually offers the proper shape for fish boards. I know, I know, putting a tail pad on a fish is sort of sacrilegious, but as a traditional shortboarder, I just found that I could not surf without a tail pad on my fish. With the popularity of high performance fish boards on the rise, it’s likely that more of these tail pads will be available from different brands. For now, I really like the Creatures brand, the subtle retro design, and the overtly thin nature of the tail pad. The wedge is also quite minimal, which makes sense because most fishes aren’t designed to be ridden with your foot hammering the back of the stomp pad anyway.

Our pick for

Most comfortable tail pad

John Doe Corduroy Grip by Octopus

Whenever it is available, I always go for a John Doe Corduroy Grip by Octopus. I don’t know what material they use for this two piece pad but it feels like butter under my feet. Other tail pads have a checkered design with raised ridges which I find to rip up my knees and feet after day-long surfing binges. These corduroy pads, however, feel like little baby pillows underneath my feet which makes ideal duckdiving material. They also have no arch which I actually prefer.

Our pick for

Best  budget tail pad

Rocket Surfboard Traction Pad by Alton

Most tail pads these days will run you $40 to $60 bucks so it’s nice to see some slightly more approachable options. Alton, known for its budget-friendly surf gear, makes a simple no frills tail pad for around $30 (at the time of this writing).

Our pick for

Best front deck tail pad

Front Deck Corduroy II Grip by Octopus

The reason I choose this Octopus front deck stomp pad is, again, because of the comfort factor mentioned above. While most people surf front deck pads while wearing wetsuits and thus avoiding any stomach rash, front decks have become fairly popular for use in warm water by aspiring aerialists. Why have a surfboard that you can only use in the winter or during cold water usage when you can have the best of both worlds?

Our pick for

Best women’s tail pad

Stephanie Gilmore Ecopure Tail Pad by Creatures of Leisure

Traction pads are inherently unisex but the color schemes somewhat favor men. Enter this more feminine stomp pad with a “dirty eco pink” color scheme and a fun design by women’s championship tour GOAT Steph Gilmore. This tail pad features the square traction pattern, 3-piece design, and is made out of biodegradable foam.

Surf Tail Pad FAQ

How do I know what traction pad to get?

The main factors for a traction pad are size, arch, and grip pattern. First and foremost, you’ll want to get a tail pad that will fit the width of your board without rolling over the edges.If you have a unique tail such as a fish tail, you’ll want a stomp pad that can work with that tail design. Another factor is the arch design. Some tail pads have them, others don’t. It’s a personal preference thing. The grip pattern is also of concern; you’ll want to find something that looks comfortable but also allows for the appropriate movement and traction of your back foot. 


Do pro surfers use traction pads?

Yes, pretty much all pro surfers use traction pads. There are some rare exceptions, but for the most part, everyone who surfs at a high level on a shortboard uses a tail pad.


Are traction pads better than wax?

Traction pads have the benefit of not requiring upkeep and maintenance the way wax does. Most people reapply a layer of wax each time they surf, and with a tail pad, you don’t need to worry about this for this area of your surfboard. Tail pads also have a kick pad, which you can use to push into and to get an understanding of where your foot placement is. 


Do you need wax if you have traction pads?

You still need to wax your board if you have traction pads as most people only use traction at the back of their boards. You could use a front deck traction pad as well as a tail pad and negate the need for wax altogether. Some people, myself included, actually use wax on the tail pad before paddling out for some extra tackiness and to help with that little bit of grime that may be accumulating before getting in the water.

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