Surfers first embraced traction pads in the ’90s, and the often bright-colored pads are a trend that’s stuck around. They adhere directly to the board, typically a few inches from the tail. For many surfers, positioning the pad just right is part of the ritual of buying a new board. “If I don’t have one on my board, I don’t know where my foot is,” Nicol, who has his own signature pad via Channel Islands, says. The pads are made from EVA foam and come in just about every color. The foam surface curves slightly to fit the contours of the foot, and they have a raised ledge at the back. The idea is to provide a stable platform for the back foot, which does the hard work of carving turns and launching airs.
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