Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or pro, having a good stand up paddle board traction pad (also known as a deck pad) can make all the difference. We’re not just talking about one in a nice color or with some interesting traction material patterns. A good SUP traction pad shouldn’t only look cool, but provide you with all the benefits that come along with extra grip and comfort. This is especially true for those just starting out on their paddle board adventures. Having a good traction pad not only makes longer rides and sitting more comfortable. They also make it easier to learn and help with stability while practicing paddle board basics.

Woman holding Thurso Surf SUP so you can see the aquamarine stand up paddle board traction pad

Traction pads can make your board look ‘pretty’ and so much more!

Deciding Whether You Need a Paddle Board Traction Pad

The short answer to whether or not you must have a stand up paddleboard traction pad is no. But, there are numerous cases where they are extremely beneficial and there’s no reason not to use one. In fact, unlike a surfboard traction pad, most SUPs come with them already built-in. That means no traction pad installation for most SUPs.

SUPs with a good traction pad will use material specifically designed to enhance the rider’s comfort and grip on the board. Premium EVA is what you’re looking for because it provides superior anti-slip traction and comfort. The added grip from the traction pad helps prevent slipping and sliding on the surface of the SUP. And, the extra padding under your feet helps to make the overall experience that much better. Not only for long trips, but everything in between. Remember you probably won’t stand the whole time.

Man comfortably standing on stand up paddle board traction pad out in the water

A traction pad increases your grip and improves your overall stability.

Types of Stand Up Paddle Board Deck Pads

There are a few options to choose from when it comes to stand up paddleboard traction pad materials. In the end what you’re looking for quite simply is superior anti-slip traction. The textured surface of a good deck pad will give you exactly that.

Materials Used in Paddleboard Traction Pads

  • Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) – The most common material for SUP traction pads and commonly found in yoga mats. The reason it’s the most common is that it’s incredibly durable and comfortable. Any premium EVA pad is also able to absorb your weight and shocks extremely well. Think of a deck pad like a whole flat surface with tons of springs. Another added benefit that makes them popular is that EVA traction pads are easy to clean and don’t require much maintenance. SUPs are in the sun a lot and a good deck pad won’t fade after a day or two in the sun.
  • Cork – This type of traction pad is made from cork tree bark. It can be environmentally friendly as the tree does not have to be cut down to make the product. The bark is harvested from the tree in a sustainable way without damaging the tree itself. It is naturally water-resistant, non-toxic and completely organic. It’s less springy and comfy but can still help protect knees and joints when the water is rough or when doing a long-distance race or cruise.
  • Wax – While this is not a deck pad to be installed, it can still be used for traction if you have an epoxy SUP without a deck pad. It keeps the paddle board light for racing and can offer a great sticky grip for the paddler. You’re more likely to see wax used as a surfboard traction pad than a common stand up paddleboard. CAUTION: DO NOT use wax on your inflatable SUP as it can damage the PVC material.
Man and woman sitting and paddling on their stand up paddle board traction pad with adaptable kayak seat

Traction pads do more than just provide grip when standing.

Benefits of a SUP Deck Pad

Overall, deck pads are great because they help maintain grip and stability. Not only do they help the rider stay on the board, they can also help with objects or other riders that you brought along. For instance, if you have a child or pet that wants to come for a paddle, then it’s great for them as well because now they can comfortably sit on deck.

As for keeping objects you’re carrying in place, you’ll be surprised how much grip the traction pad provides. However, it is good practice to tie things down using the D-rings or deck bungees before you head off just in case. And yes they can make your board look pretty because of the wide variety of color and textured surface they come in. This is obviously a personal preference. Some like a pattern others prefer a separate contrast color. Whatever your taste you’ll surely find something you like. For instance, our Waterwalker series comes in a variety of colors and sizes.

Paddleboard Yoga Deck Pads

Another obvious area where stand up paddleboard traction pads make a huge difference is with SUP yoga practice. In addition to the added grip, you get a comfortable area to perform your routine, just like you do with your yoga pad. The EVA foam in your traction pad is actually one of the main components of most plush yoga mats, so your new platform will feel familiar. The best yoga SUPs, like the Tranquility Yoga SUP, have an extra large traction pad built-in so you can stretch out completely just like you would in the studio.

RELATED: 8 Reasons to Try Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga This Summer

Close up of woman performing yoga moves on stand up paddle board traction pad

Yoga and other activities are a lot more comfortable with a good SUP traction pad.

Stand Up Paddle Board Traction Pad Sizes

Like stand up paddleboards, SUP traction pads come in a few different sizes. The sizes vary and are designed with different users and stand up paddleboards in mind. So there’s no right answer when it comes to tractions pads, it’s simply finding out what you prefer for your activities.

  • Traction pads for standing areas – These traction pads are for the middle of the paddle board where the rider is usually standing. They are specific to the center of the board where most traction is required. They can be made of cork or EVA and styled to look like the board itself, so they blend in. There are various lengths of these traction pads available depending on the board length and width. They are also classified and designed for specific uses such as, all-around, yoga, or racing SUP.
  • Full-length traction pads – These pads are used to cover the paddle board from one end to the other. The intention is to have traction across the whole board rather than just the standing area. This is great for when the boards are used with kids or pets as well as with yoga SUP. The Max Multi-purpose SUP has a full-length traction pad to protect it from pets’ paws and claws and make sure the kids have somewhere comfy to sit. It allows versatility of use along with protection on the top of the whole length of the board.
  • Full wrap traction pads – These traction pads are different from full-length ones. The full-length ones run the length of the board while full wrap includes the sides of the paddle board also. This means the sides have lots of grip as well and may be found on rental boards as it add to their durability to protect board that will be handled roughly from bangs and bumps and ill treatment.
Parents push kids sitting on stand up paddle board traction pad through shallow water

Traction pads like the one on the Max Multi-purpose SUP can provide added comfort for any passengers and pets.

Keeping Your Feet Comfy

While many paddle boarders like to feel the board beneath their feet, traction pads allow for that with even the pickiest boarders. A stand up paddle traction pad offers that extra security of grip not only when someone is learning how to paddle board, but with the most experienced racers as well. They offer that little bit of extra help when it comes to staying on.

A stand up paddle traction pad does not have to be the center of attention on a board. They can be subtle and suit every style, use and need. Whether a paddle boarder wants a clear and unnoticeable pad or one that is matching or stylized, the traction pad will always help with grip and comfort. They are perfect to offer paddling support whether the board is used for SUP racing, yoga or long leisurely travels.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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