Full disclosure: I would describe myself to be an intermediate surfer, who promised Hendrik to write a short review of his GNT pads, after some months of intensive testing. The following paragraphs however, represent my unbiased opinion and turned out to be way longer than I anticipated. I hope they will help you to make an informed decision.
Hendrik and his GNT pads
Because our beloved oceans are already polluted enough as is, I have been trying find a cheaper, more eco-friendly alternative and to go wax-less for a couple of years now. Whilst staying in Portugal, I came across Hendrik’s GNT - Grip And Traction, for those who wonder - by chance, via Instagram. Intrigued by the concept and pricing, I immediately wanted to test it out and tried to get in touch with Hendrik via Instagram direct message. He responded very quickly to my questions, was super friendly and helpful. Because my brother and I were staying relatively close to Ericeira, we arranged a meeting in person, which turned out to be awesome. Hendrik was convinced of the product’s performance and assured us, that I’d be more than happy with his creation. He even wanted to give us a hand applying the GNT. Unfortunately, due to a busy schedule, we did not have the time to stick around (no pun intended), which is why he sent us a video with instructions on what to consider before and when applying the GNT onto our surfboards.
After watching the instructional video on how to apply the GNT we gave it a go ourselves. Honestly, it was a breeze. The video instructions were super easy to follow.
First, we cleaned our surfboards from the remaining wax. We used turpentine, which worked just fine. For those wanting to use a more eco-friendly but nevertheless efficient method: try to disperse a tablespoon of white flour on the wax and use some old newspaper to scrape it off - it goes a long way too.
Then, we started applying all the GNT triangles to our boards. My primary choice is my LibTech x Lost Puddle Fish, size 5.6, however, I did the same to my 5.10. The process is as easy as peeling of the plastic covering the adhesive on one side, positioning the triangle however you want and fixing it by removing the remaining cover. A gentle push on top does the rest. Just to be sure, after applying some light pressure on all the glued-on GNT pads, I laid my surfboard into the evening sun. I figured, this way the glue would connect easier to my boards.
Looks and Feels
According to Hendrik, once glued-on, the GNT pads should stay on for a couple of months’ worth of surfing, depending on the (ab)use of your boards and the way you surf.
Believe me, the result definitely looked aesthetically pleasing - no joke, it made my board look so pretty. Who doesn’t like a good looking board? If you want some proof, just check out his Instagram feed or the pictures on his website. Generally, the pads are semi-transparent and matt. There’s only a couple of green pads, in case you want to represent the brand. Pro tip: If you place the pad right, it looks like a green heart or an arrow, whichever you prefer.
When dry, the pads themselves feel similar to softened sandpaper, or a softened skateboard grip-tape. That’s the closest comparison I can draw. However, contrary to what you might think, the GNT does not destroy your rash guard, your favourite board shorts or wetsuit.
Since applying the GNT pads on my surfboards, as well as the one of my brother, I have been surfing in Portugal and Morocco. So far, the pads have withstood about five months of nearly everyday testing, averaging about two 3-hour sessions a day. I can state that I have only lost one triangle so far, which is very likely due to me not having cleaned my LibTech x Lost Puddle Fish 5.10 duly.
Granted the pads feel very different from wax - not in a bad way though, otherwise I would have switched back to wax. Surprisingly enough, I found it tricky to keep the balance on my board whether sitting (watching out for waves) or lying (paddling to the lineup or for waves) at first. They seemed a bit slippery in the beginning. However, after some getting used to this characteristic turned out to be one of the perks of GNT pads. It helped me to easily adjust the position on my board by just tipping my knee on the tail pad and shifting my weight, whereas with a waxed board I often times felt ‘glued onto the board’. This gave me an especially critical advantage in final adjustments during paddling-for-a-wave of just before a steep drop in. I feel like my balance has improved massively over the last couple of months.
The pads definitely hold Hendrik’s promise. They are durable, aesthetically pleasing and once you stand up on your board, the grip is amazing. Admittedly, your average surf wax may provide you with more grip-feeling. But in maneuvers like critical bottom turns, carves, cutbacks, roundhouses, snaps, floaters and little tubes, the GNT pads exceeded my requirements. And yes, I have surfed my Puddle Fish 5.6 in small, as well as double overhead waves - not once have I lost my grip.
Countless people have started to talk to me on the way to the beach or sitting in the lineup, asking about Hendrik’s product. Every single time I have answered honestly, and tried to point out the pros and cons of the GNT pads. The cons being, that it takes some time to adjust to the GNT’s feels and forsaking the ritual of waxing your board, enjoying the smell of a freshly waxed board pre-surf.
However, the pros far outweigh the cons:
* GNT is wax-less; no more waxed car seats, board bags or clothing
* GNT is made for any water temperature; no need to carry around different blocks of wax
* GNT is less probably less expensive and lasts longer; your average surf wax is about 4 euros, right? Do the math..
* GNT is easily applicable; watch the how-to-video
* GNT is grippy; try it for yourself
* GNT is more time-efficient; no more getting ready, just grab n go - who doesn’t enjoy more time in the water?
Since starting to ride them about five months ago, I have recommended the GNT pads to a couple of people, from beginner to expert.
All have been supportive and very happy with their new wax alternative so far. So on the risk of coming across as a fanboy:
Give it a try. It’s worth it.