No Wax Surfboard, What’s Available?

No Wax Surfboard

Soft-top surfboard.

A no wax surfboard is certainly available as well as waxless surfboard traction.  But why would you choose a no wax surfboard over a surfboard that you wax?  Isn’t waxless surfboard traction the same as a no wax surfboard?  What are you talking about?  I didn’t even know you had to wax a surfboard.

For someone who is new to surfing or knows nothing about surfing, yes, you do need to wax most surfboards.  The majority of surfboards have a slippery surface on the top (deck), bottom and sides (rails), and wax aka surfboard wax is used to provide a tacky surface to the top/deck of the board.  Without this tacky surface, your hands could slip as you’re attempting to pop-up and your feet could slip as you stand-up (click here to read my post on surfboard wax).

Surfboard wax is messy, it can adhere to practically any surface and melts in the sun, those could be the reasons you would choose a no wax surfboard over a surfboard you need to wax.  But no wax surfboards are most often surfboards used by the beginner, and are not made for a more advanced style of surfing.

Waxless surfboard traction and a no wax surfboard, are similar but not necessarily the same.  You can make a surfboard that needs to be waxed, a no wax surfboard by adding waxless surfboard traction to it.  Surfboards that don’t need to be wax, can be said to be using waxless surfboard traction.  Let’s discuss this further.

I Don’t Need No Stinking Wax

No Wax Surfboard

VersaTraction covered surfboard.

One type of no wax surfboards are those boards you see most surf schools use to teach beginning surfers.  They have rubber or rubber like surface that covers the entire board and are often referred to as soft-top surfboard.  The rubber, provides a very tacky surface and you will not slip from these board, though falling off and wiping outs won’t be prevented.

The problem with the rubber surface is that it is very hard on your skin.  The skin to board friction can cause rash and also rub your skin raw.

These boards are usually thick, wide and long, with plastic or rubber fins, they also are not handcrafted.  They are not made for more progressive surfing, at least for the average surfer, but I’ve seen surfers surf these board better than most surfers surf handcrafted surfboards.

Foam surfboards, like the Wavestorm surfboards, are another type of no wax surfboards.  Like the soft-top surfboards, these surfboards are made for the beginner surfer.  They also are thick with plastic or rubber fins and are not handcrafted.  Boards like this are generally inexpensive and are great for the beginner surfer, they float well and catch wave easily plus it won’t hurt as much if you are struck by the board.

Another surfboard that can be classified as a no wax surfboard, is the stand-up paddle board.  I would hazard a guess, that a least 95% of all stand-up paddle boards do not require wax.  The reason these surfboards do not require wax, it is because the majority of the deck of the board is covered with a rubber pad, much like the soft-top surfboard, which provides a no slip surface.

Even though, the soft-top, foam and stand-up paddle boards, do not require wax, it does not mean you can’t use wax on these boards if you feel you need more traction.

A Wax Alternative

For those of you who don’t like using wax and don’t want or own a no wax surfboard there are alternatives.  They all have their pros and cons, some more cons than pros, and I will cover these alternatives in this portion of my post.

Rubber mats/pads, are a waxless surfboard traction that you find on stand-up paddle boards but can be placed on surfboards.  You won’t be able to purchase these pads cut to the shape of your surfboard and will have to do this yourself.  The rubber mats/pads will offer excellent traction but will be tough on your skin.  They will also add thickness and weight to your surfboard.

Spray on waxless surfboard traction is a product that was available (I don’t know if it is still sold), it came in an aerosol can.  Once the product was sprayed onto your surfboard it added a texture that was similar to sandpaper.  I didn’t find this product to be very good, it was very tough on the skin and the traction was poor at best.

The best waxless surfboard traction I’ve found thus far, are the clear peel and stick pads offered by VersaTraction and Surfco.  These pads are cut to the shape of many sizes and types of surfboards.  They are easy to use and offer excellent no wax traction.  However, they do not adhere well to rounded surfaces and the corners and edges will tend to lift when applied to these surfaces.

VersaTraction works well on skin but is slippery on clothing and tends to be a little harsher on the skin than the Surfco product.  In my testing of the Surfco product, it offers excellent traction on the skin as well as clothing.  The Surfco surfboard patterns do not cover as much surface on the surfboard as the VersaTraction patterns plus within a day of use, the Surfco product was lifting on one of the edges.

Both the VersaTraction and Surfco products are made of a clear, I say opaque, material that is a roughly triple the thickness of a piece of paper, the weight and thickness it adds to your board is negligible.  You can, if you wish, place wax on the surface of both VersaTraction and Surfco products but that kind of defeats the purpose.

In Conclusion

You have several alternatives if you wish to purchase a no wax surfboard, you can purchase a soft-top surfboard, a foam surfboard or a stand-up paddle board.  You also have several alternatives if you wish to add waxless surfboard traction to a board that requires wax, but in my opinion, your best choice are the products that VersaTraction and Surfco offer or something that is similar to their products.

Thanks for dropping in and should you have any questions or comments, please post it in the comments section of this page.

4 thoughts on “No Wax Surfboard, What’s Available?

  1. Great post and plenty of options, as a beginner this is something I hadn’t given a great deal of thought to. You said surf schools often use soft top boards, would that then be your recommendation for beginners? Or would I be best hiring the different varieties (if that is possible) to see which I like best?
    Great site keep up the good work.

    • Hi Dan, Great questions! If you are on a budget I would purchase a Wavestorm foam board and not a soft-top, because a soft-top surfboard can cost nearly as much as a handcrafted surfboard. You could also go the used board route and I wrote a post that may help in that department. I wouldn’t suggest, as a beginner, to try a bunch of different surfboards, wait until you have more experience.

      Thanks for comments and dropping in!

  2. Great post Stuart! I just recently tried surfing for the first time and I loved it. In fact I loved it so much that I spent 3 hours in the water on my first day and another 3 hours the following day. The surfboard I was using was waxed but very unevenly so I could feel the skin on my knees starting to rash and the next day it rubbed raw. Now that I know there are different options for surf tops out there, I definitely feel even better about surfing.

    • Hi Eva, You have better conditioning than me, the first time I went surfing I only lasted for 1 hour :). Soft-tops are really bad on skin, as you found out.

      Thanks for comments and dropping in!

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