Maintenance, Installation and Care
Material and Wear
When manufacturers choose their type of traction, whether it’s for surfboards, SUPs or kiteboards, they first make a known trade-off between durability and performance. The companies choose between a molded foam traction (which we’re going to call “hard traction”) or traction that is cut from sheets of foam (which we’ll call “soft traction”).
Hard traction, especially traction manufactured through heat molding, is very durable and looks nice and clean in the showroom. This is typical of the traction found on a lot of production kiteboards and SUPs. In addition to its durability, it comes in uniform pieces, is easy to apply to boards, and the manufacturer offers cool options for colours and graphics. The downside of being high-density and “hard” is that it’s typically quite slippery.
Soft traction is the standard most surf brands use for back foot traction pads. During manufacturing, a sheet of foam is fed through a machine that cuts a groove pattern through it in one direction. The foam is then reoriented in the opposite direction and fed back through the machine. The resulting pattern emerges with a series of shaped squares or diamonds, in either a symmetrical pattern or one that offers one grippy side and one less grippy side. Foam thickness, depth of the groove, cut pattern and spacing of the diamonds or squares all affect the pad’s grip and durability. Soft traction is inherently “softer” than hard traction, and while typically much more grippy, it is less durable.
WMFG worked with a supplier of EVA traction that builds pads for surf, kiteboard and SUP brands, and lovingly hand-cuts the foam in mainland China. We spent two years testing various foam thickness, groove patterns, orientations and groove depths—scrutinized down to the last fraction of a millimeter—to come up with the best performing pads possible. We demanded the absolute best 3M® adhesive backing available was applied to the pads. The pattern we chose, in the end, was the one that offered the best grip and feel while still remaining durable.
In choosing to go with cut foam pads, there is an inevitable trade-off. As with many things in life, great performance can come at the expense of durability; anyone who has broken a super-light board knows this. How much of an issue is it? That, of course, depends on how often you use the pads, and factors like how much you move your feet around, if you switch your feet in your turns, etcetera. Our final WMFG foam pattern is aimed to first and foremost deliver the highest possible performance in terms of grip and comfort, and is combined with, in our opinion, better than industry standard durability.
With significant use, at some point riders may start to wear off some of the diamonds. Fortunately, even after considerable wear, the pads will remain grippy, as the wear pattern is quite rough and takes on somewhat of a custom wear pattern to fit the rider’s feet.
We at WMFG feel we are making the best, grippiest (and good-looking) deck pads on the market. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns about deck pad wear and durability.
WMFG traction uses the highest grade 3M® adhesive available, so you’ll be happy to know that once it’s on, it won’t come off!
Installation is simple. If the board is new, you can skip steps 1 through 3 (wipe it down to remove any dust).
1) Remove any old wax. Scrape off as much wax off as possible with a wax scraper, old hotel room key, etc. Leave the board out in the sun for a bit and the wax will come off a little easier.
2) If you have the pickle (see here), use it. It’s awesome. If not, use a solvent to make sure the board’s surface is clean. WMFG is not going to recommend one, for liability concerns, but we hear that nail polish remover, lighter fluid and that Goo Gone stuff all work.
3) Take off any old traction. As with wax, you can try putting the board in the sun, as some adhesives will come off more easily when warm. Higher density, harder pads may come off quite easily in big sheets, whereas thinner, softer foam often tears. If the pad has a peel-and-stick adhesive backing, it will usually come off easily—a hair dryer can release the adhesive even faster. We suggest extreme care if using anything that heats up the board. A sharp knife, razor blade, basically anything with a hard edge may help the old pads come off. If the pads were glued on with contact cement, it’s going to be a chore. Do the best you can here; you need to get all the foam off. If there’s residual adhesive that doesn’t want to come off, just leave it on and stick your new pads on top of it.
4) If the board does not have a stringer, mark a center line on it. A chalk line works well, or a ruler and a pencil are a good option, too. If the board has footstrap inserts, you can use these as a reference point.
5) Put on the back pad first. A rule to follow for installing the back foot traction pad on a board with a thruster fin setup: have the upward slope of the heel kick start at the midpoint of the middle fin box. If the board is a quad, picture where the back box would be if it was a thruster and shoot for the middle of that spot. Or save yourself the effort and just position the pad approximately half an inch ahead of your leash insert—where it looks good—and that will probably be fine.
6) We find it easier to do one side of the board first from tail to nose, then add in the other side.
Take your time, make sure all the grooves and seams fit together nice and tight. Doesn’t it look sick? Take a picture and e-mail it to email@example.com or fire it up on Instagram with a #wmfg.
Pumps and beaches are a tough combination, which is why WMFG pumps are equipped with a sand filter. Be sure to periodically remove the filter and clean it. Also, regularly inspect the piston by unscrewing the top canister lid. To prevent wear, remove any sand found inside the canister.
WMFG pumps are equipped with one of the most durable hoses on the market. Despite being made of some awesome plastic, these hoses have their limits. Take care to avoid kinks and don’t close the trunk of the car on it. Unscrew the hose for travel.
WMFG pumps have a very stiff, durable, high-capacity hose. Because it’s so stiff during inflation, the hose may have a tendency to try to straighten and untwist along the braiding, which may result in the nozzle popping off of the kite or SUP. There is a very simple solution to this: before connecting the nozzle to the kite/SUP, give the hose a half-turn in the opposite direction to which it wants to untwist. This has the beneficial outcome of putting active pressure on the nozzle and locking it in place. See video here.