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April 27, 2016

Wax or traction? Pick your poison - or grip.

It’s a big question in the wakesurf community and there are strong opinions on both sides. One is messy, but the other doesn’t allow for maximum flexibility when attempting tricks. Which is best? And is there a situation where you can use both?

( Related: Learn the differences in Surf Style, Hybrid, and Skim Style boards)

It’s kind of like deciding whether you like Mexican or Italian food better. You really have to try them both, see how the experience is, then judge the after effects. Below, we’ve given you some pros and cons of both, and you can decide which works best for you.

Wakesurf Board Wax

Wax has been around far longer than traction and has a proven track record among the pros. Wax is purchased as a “block” and it’s the wakesurfer's discretion how the wax is applied. A few of our favorite brands are Sticky Bumps, Doomswell, Viskus, and Wax Tracks.

However, it’s not for everyone. 


  1. You feel the vibrations of the board better with wax. This means you can respond with movement to counter or work with what the board is telling you.
  2. It’s cheaper. Blocks of wax are generally cheaper than traction pads over time.
  3. Get a cleaner look. With wax, the gorgeous design of your wakesurf board shines through.
  4. A great benefit is that you can cover the entire board with wax. A wakesurfer has the ability to really move around on the board without worrying about where the traction pads are.


  1. It’s a bit messy. Wax inevitably gets on your feet and it can track into the boat. The board can get messy, too and needs to be stored so the wax stays where it belongs. A board bag is helpful. NOTE: The board bag will not protect against heat and can act as an oven when in hot temps! Be sure to store boards in a shady spot even when inside of a bag.
  2. If you are a traveling wakesurfer, you will need to change waxes based on the climate. In hot climates/warm water, use warm weather wax. When in cold climates/cool water, cool or cold wax is necessary. If you use cool wax in a warm climate, the wax will be very smushy and messy. Contrarily, warm wax in a cool climate will be hard as a rock!
  3. Get boat owners permission and have a plan in place to prevent getting wax on the boat.


Wakesurf Board Traction

Traction may be the better choice if you are a beginner wakesurfer or a little on the OCD side! It’s great for gripping the board in certain places, and provides some extra cushion. You can purchase traction is several sizes in order to cover more or less of the wakesurf board. If you’re in the market for traction, we recommend our Doomswell pads.


  1. Traction works in every climate! No need to switch to a “cool climate traction” when wakesurfing in cold weather like you would with wax.
  2. It’s neat, not messy. No worrying about ruining boat decks or upholstery with traction.
  3. Apply traction less often. Applying traction can be a task the first time you do it. However, a set can last quite a while as long as it’s put on correctly.


  1. Less flexibility on the board when doing tricks. The traction pads may not cover the entire board. When you land from a trick and your foot doesn’t land on a pad, you may be slipping.
  2. Less “feel” from the board bc of the thickness of the traction pads.
  3. More expensive than wax.
  4. Although there are super cool traction pads, they will cover the design your board.  


Wax AND Traction

Some wakesurfers are learning that a combination of wax and traction work best. Wax at the front of the board and traction at the back is a popular combination. Again, it’s all up to the wakesurfer! Find what works best for you on the water.

What do you think? Traction or wax? It will more than likely come down to your unique experience on a wakesurf board. Also, there are plenty of forums out there where wakesurfers give opinions on brands and techniques.

Don't be shy to give us your opinion!

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