Have you ever seen a wakeboard or kitesurfing board and wondered if surfboards have the same foot straps?
Generally speaking, surfboards do not have foot straps, although they are used in some cases, such as tow-in surfing.
The following article will discuss why some surfboards have foot straps and others don’t, why they can be important at times, and how to use them.
What Is a Foot Strap?
Foot straps are exactly what the name implies, straps that secure your feet.
Foot straps are typically made from a mixture of weaved stitching and neoprene (the same material as wetsuits).
Surfing sports such as tow-in surfing, kite surfing, and wakeboarding use boards made with built-in foot straps or plugs to easily attach the foot straps and replace them when needed.
Foot straps have only a single purpose, to keep your feet on your board.
This is why they are typically used for surfing sports where the rider is being pulled along (unlike surfing, where a surfer rides down a wave).
Can You Put Foot Straps on a Surfboard?
Traditional surfing does not require foot straps as the surfer is not being pulled. All the gravitational pull from a surfer is down onto their board.
It is this inertia that keeps a surfer’s feet on their board.
However, you may be in a situation where you enjoy both tow-in surfing and traditional surfing. Or perhaps you want to use your board to be towed behind a boat like a wakeboard.
In these cases, it is possible to add foot straps to your board.
Glue-on foot straps are available. However, it is not possible to constantly add and remove them. Glue on straps are semi-permanent and, once removed, will not stick properly again.
Glue on foot straps is similar to trackpads used for grip at the tail end of a surfboard. The only difference is that these trackpads have bolts that allow you to screw in your foot straps.
Types of Foot Straps
There are two basic designs of foot straps that you can use for your board. Of course, with each of these, there are different designs for the preference of the individual. Still, as a general classification, that can be separated into foot straps and foot bindings.
Foot bindings are essentially boots that are attached to your board. These boots secure your feet in place and are difficult to remove.
Foot bindings are often used for kitesurfing and wakeboarding as they do not come off your feet easily, which allows better control of your board.
Although they are more secure, foot bindings are not ideal for tow-in surfing as it can become dangerous to have your feet stuck on a board in a large swell.
Foot straps, unlike foot bindings, are less secure. The advantage of these straps is that it is easy to insert and remove your feet.
Most foot straps are also dynamic so that you can use them from both ends (goofy and regular footed).
Tow-in surfers use foot straps as it is possible to easily put their feet in the straps while lying in the water or while sitting on a jet ski.
These straps are also safer as if you fall from your board, your feet can easily be removed.
This is important as you will likely need to dive under a large oncoming swell.
Importance of Using a Surfboard Foot Strap
Foot straps are not important if surfing traditionally (paddling onto a wave on your stomach and popping up into a standing position).
Not only are they unnecessary, but they cannot be used comfortably. Foot straps on a regular board will get in the way as you paddle, and you will not have enough time to position your feet inside them after popping up.
That being said, when you are being towed onto a wave by a jet ski, foot straps are recommended.
Especially when being towed onto larger waves, you will be moving forward at high speed. This forward momentum will also be far faster than the wave is traveling.
As the two speeds are different, the wave will be pulling you back while the tow line pulls you forward.
Without foot straps, you will likely lose your board as you begin to build momentum.
That being said, some waves are so large and fast that there is no other option than strapping yourself in and being towed onto them.
How to Install a Foot Strap On a Surfboard
If you are looking to add foot straps to your board, it is a quick and simple task. All you will need is glue on the foot strap pad, the foot straps themselves, your board, and a pencil.
Following the steps below is a quick and easy way to add straps to any surfboard.
- Find a set of glue on foot straps that suit your preference. You should make sure you fit them onto your feet before buying them to make sure they are comfortable.
- Clean your board thoroughly so that there is no wax or dirt and then allow it to dry completely.
- Use a pencil to outline the edges of the foot strap in the position that you want them.
Some foot pads come in three pieces, with the centerpiece being either a regular pad or one with bolts used for the foot straps.
The straps should be placed vertically in the center of your board, with the straps angled in a way that suits your stance.
- Remove the adhesive covering from the tape and place your foot pads in line with your pencil markings.
- Push firmly on the pads so that all corners and sides are stuck firmly to your board (if the pad comes in three pieces then begin with the center piece).
- Grab a screwdriver and screw in your foot straps to the corresponding bolts.
- Take your board to the beach and shred it up!
Transitionally, surfboards do not come with foot straps or foot bindings, nor are they used.
This, however, is different when it comes to towing in surfing or while using a surfboard to be towed behind a boat.
In some cases like these, foot straps are a preference. It is possible to add foot straps to a surfboard, but the best choice is always to buy a board with built-in strap plugs.
These boards are specifically designed for tow-in surfing and therefore perform the best.