Can You Surf Without Wax?


I pulled up to one of my local surf spots, and the waves were firing. It had been awhile since I had surfed and I was excited to get back into the water. I pulled on my wetsuit, yanked my surfboard out of its bag, and instantly noticed a problem. There was no wax on my surfboard. I must have cleaned it all off, and stored it in the bag without putting a fresh coat on it. To make matters worse I didn’t have any wax with me. I was in a real dilemma. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation or you’ve wondered before…

Can you surf without wax? If you’re using a non-foam surfboard than you need wax to surf. A waxed surfboard gives enough friction to keep your body on it while paddling out, and gives traction for your feet when you’re up and riding on a wave. You will struggle without wax.

In my case, I knew it wasn’t worth even paddling out without wax on my board. I have a hard shortboard made of epoxy, and being able to surf on it without wax is nearly impossible. It would be too frustrating trying to balance on it. Fortunately, I asked around and another surfer in the parking lot had wax that I could use.

The Benefits of a Waxed Surfboard

Waxing a surfboard makes it sticky while you’re in the water. The waxed top of a surfboard makes it easy for you to paddle into the ocean without slipping off. A waxed surfboard will keep you from sliding off your board while you are sitting on it waiting for incoming waves. Most importantly, a waxed surfboard will make it easy for you to stand up and ride a wave.

The tackiness and stickiness from the wax is where your feet will be planted. The wax will help keep your feet stuck to the board as you’re moving down the wave.

Should I even try to ride a surfboard without wax?

You can try, but good luck making it happen! Other surfers will think you’re a kook beginner if you’re out in the water without a waxed surfboard. You’ll definitely look quite silly as you slip and slide off your board. Personally, I wouldn’t head out if my surfboard wasn’t waxed.

Not only will it be difficult to stand up on your surfboard, but it will be hard to push up to get onto your feet. If you’ve been surfing for a long time you’ve probably had one of those moments where you go to push up to stand on your board, and your hand slides out.

Instead of pushing up into an upright position you remain laying flat on your board. This is especially frustrating, because it always happens when you’re about to catch a wave. No wax on your board will increase the chances of this occurring.

What is the best wax for surfboards?

Wax mostly comes down to preference as there isn’t too much of a variation between brands. Packing is different between wax makers. Some smell differently such as grape, vanilla, or neutral. Most surfers choose a brand and are loyal to it for years.

Sticky Bumps has been making surf wax since 1971 when the company was founded by John Dahl. They’re one of the best brands out there making non-toxic, biodegradable, all-natural wax. Apply some Sticky Bumps to your board and you’ll be sticking to your board no problem.

I’m a fan of Sticky Bumps and use it often. Make sure to order the right wax for the temperature of water you’ll be in. The temperatures include basecoat, cold, cool, warm, tropical, and Hawaiian tropical. Most of their waxes smell like blueberry which is quite nice. Purchase at Amazon Here.

Mr. Zog’s Original Sex Wax was the first wax I ever used on a surfboard. If you’re wondering why it’s called Sex Wax it’s because the guy who created the branding came up with the name to catch a buyer’s eye. It was a jab at the fact that sex sells in the world. The maker (Mr. Zog) liked the absurdity of it, and decided to keep it on the label.

This wax is great for coating your surfboard and can give you the traction needed between your feet and the board. They offer three different types of surf wax: original, Quick Humps, and Really Tacky. They all come in different wonderful aromas and also have types made for the differences in water temperature. Purchase at Amazon Here.

Mrs. Palmer’s Wax is another favorite of surfers. It’s been around since 1988 and has been used by beginners and pros alike. Like the others this wax has fans that are very loyal to it. They swear it lasts longer than the other waxes, and has a better tackiness. to it. You may just have to try it out yourself to see if it lives up to the hype. It’s made in Australia, and so it’s got a big Aussie following. Purchase at Amazon Here.

Related Questions

Is surf wax toxic? Most of the wax you find on the market now is non-toxic. Depending on the material that’s used (often soy or paraffin wax) they are biodegradable and compostable. In addition, soy and paraffin wax are approved by the FDA as food additives. A little fun fact!

How often should I wax my surfboard? It’s mostly dependent on how often you are surfing. I’d recommend completely removing all the wax from your surfboard and completely reapplying every 4 months. During those four months in-between I will reapply a top coat of wax as needed.

Do you need a base coat of wax? You do need a base coat of wax. The top layer will come off over time. The more you surf and spend time outside the sooner the top layer of wax will come off your board. The base coat of wax allows you to quickly reapply a sticky top layer.

What does surf wax smell like? It depends on the manufacturer, but surf wax can smell like whatever fragrance the company wants. Surf Wax can smell like coconut, blueberry, strawberry, or even a bees wax smell. The smell totally depends on what brand of surf wax you are using.

Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith started surfing in Carmel, California with no wetsuit and a board he traded for. Since then he's gotten a wetsuit and more surfboards than his wife approves of. He's been surfing for over 15 years, and is friends with beginners, kooks, and old salty surfers too.

Recent Content