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SUP Cheap: Deck Pads

When I had worked in the paddle shop enough to get my rockin’ new Hobie Torque, the last thing I wanted to do was drop a load of cash on a full deck pad. Although they are very nice, I would rather spend my money on other things since I already had the board. I was also extremely impatient. There were no cool deck pads in stock, and I wanted to surf RIGHT THEN, not wait for another shipment of the same 4 choices.

Surf wax was out. My favorite shop said that it doesn’t seem to work superbly on the SUP surf boards. It moves too much with your feet and does not provide traction the way pads do. Not to mention SUP boards are a large surface to wax!

Monster paint, a godsend, was also out. An amazing product, but using it on the entire board will give you an exfoliation experience you’ll never forget.

I wanted to get out on the water quickly, but without sacrificing quality. What I needed was a functional solution to my deck padding woes. Over the weeks, I had been listening to numerous SUPers gripe about deck padding and this is what I learned:


  • Gets heavy when wet

  • Water doesn't drain well, i.e. pools, while surfing

  • Rough pad surfaces causes rash

  • Smooth surfaces slip or cause foot fatigue

  • Bubbles up

  • Expensive

  • Not many color or design choices


  • Good traction

  • Excellent coverage for walking the board

  • Simple (off-the-shelf) / Requires less effort

My mission was to develop a creation taking into consideration all of the above points.

This was my solution:

I collected deck pad pieces that were discarded from my friends’ full-board deck-pads and then bought a surf stomp pad and a skim board runner (to use as the arch). You may opt to purchase a stomp pad with an arch incorporated into it. In any case, I would highly recommend stomp pads that come in sections so you can spread it out in the back, as shown on my Hobie flatwater race RAW.  (Bottom Picture)

If you do not have access to discarded deck pad pieces, you can purchase small deck padding pieces to chop up. After collecting the pieces, cut out shapes from the larger pad sections and lay them out on the board. Personally, I surfed my board a time or two to get the hang of how far back I wanted my stomp pad to go. However, if you are unsure of this location you can ask your local shop, someone who has the same board, or just reposition it if you get it wrong the first time!


  • More edges prone to peeling**

  • Longer install time / DIY


  • Little water retention in the pad*

  • Channels angled for water drainage while surfing

  • Select your pad material

  • Alternating pad material and deck / Good traction

  • Less surface area for bubbling up

  • Cheap

  • Completely customizable!!

**The only con I can think of is that you have more corners, which increases the edges that could peel up. However, even this con is easily rebutted. If a piece peels up, and you don’t want to super glue it, you can just peel it off and replace it. Simple.

* This point is especially pertinent if you get a carbon fiber board, and want to maintain the light responsive feel.

A glaring benefit of the scrap piece deck pad is that it eliminates many of the cons of the market pad while retaining the pros: good traction and I can walk around on my board. I’ve also found that my strips provide excellent arch support and when I move my feet around they feel good. Less padding material was also nice when I was learning because there was less friction to cause rashes during the one million times I had to crawl back onto my board.  And, even though I chose a softer pad material that has been slippery in full deck applications, the use of it in strips retained maximum traction.

Oh, and did I mention it was completely customizable?? SEAHORSES. FOREVER.

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