We tested as many bars of wax as we could get our grubby hands on. Here's what we found...
Generally speaking, wax is a second-thought surf commodity.
Unlike boards, fins, and wetsuits, the performance value of wax is not something surfers regularly consider. Most are happy to grab a dirty, melted nugget from the back of the car, smear it across their stick without any reason or rhyme, and toss it back in the boot with reckless abandon, only to find it dirtier and more melted, if at all, the next time around.
As the type of guy who not only has a designated in-car region for his extensive wax supply, but also keeps different temps and brands available for any possible surfing scenario, this makes me cringe.
Personally speaking, wax matters.
It’s my hope that by the end of this exhaustive review — wherein I hand-test and examine the quality of 20+ different bars of wax — it will matter to you too.
One benefit of waxing and de-waxing boards on a daily basis: male teen-like forearm strength. As seen here on the author/tester. Photo: Ben Judkins
What we look for in a bar of wax:
The perceived quality of any wax is, to a large extent, subjective. One man’s bar of soap can be another man’s sticky icky, as they say.
Personally, I prefer a wax that is of medium firmness and mid-to-high stickiness.
The wax should feel soft under my feet without caving in or sliding when pressure is applied.
I should be able to lift my foot off the wax, but not slide it directly across the top layer.
The wax should feel like the board is naturally following my movements, rather than me having to actively embrace the board with my toes.
At the same time, it shouldn’t feel glued to my feet.
I realize a lot of those characteristics may sound contradictory, probably because they are. This is why I place so much value in the artistry of wax-making – it’s really f*%king difficult to produce a great bar (as you’ll learn from our winner), and those who do so should be sufficiently lauded.
The “science” behind the tests. Photo: Ana Vic
How we graded the wax:
Each bar in the Stab Wax Test was applied to a completely bare surfboard. The amount of time and effort that went into waxing and de-waxing 20+ boards is something I wouldn’t wish on my childhood bully, but as the main “control” of this test it was important that we put in the leg armwork.
If a basecoat was provided by the wax company, we used it. If it wasn’t, we didn’t.
Each bar was given a committed waxing (using the X’s and O’s method* unless otherwise specified by the wax company) and at least one hour in the water, in which time I considered the following criteria:
What was the application like?
Did it create solid bumps?
Was it tacky?
Did it remain tacky throughout my surf?
Was it soft or firm?
Did it maintain its structural integrity?
Generally, how did it feel under my feet?
Through these gradings, I was able to make an overall assessment of each bar of wax.
Rather than assigning a specific numerical value to each characteristic and using an algorithm to discern a “scientific” score, the rating attributed to each bar is cumulatively qualitative and obviously subjective.
Surfing is art, not science.
Here you’ll find all of the Stab Wax Test results, which are ranked from best to worst. We hope this will help to serve the reader’s general surfing experience by better connecting them with their surfboard, and maybe helping them land that first air.
Wax:Fu Wax Origin: Brazil Cost per bar: $5 USD Wax Test rating: 10/10 Analysis: I simply can't imagine a better wax in 2018. Fu creates that "soft feet" feeling, where the board seems to follow your movements no matter which way you turn. Due to its non-horizontal slip, Fu makes stomping airs a breeze, and if anything, its tackiness only increases throughout the session. Amazingly, the secret Fu formula was developed over 20 years of trial and error and, like many great inventions before it, was only discovered due to a production mistake. We’ll have more on that coming soon (the full story of Fu!), but for now, say hello to your Stab Wax Test winner, and the favorite of pro surfers everywhere: Fu Wax Brazil.
For anyone needing evidence that Stab actually tested all this wax, we provide Exhibit A: Photo: Sam Moody
*The X’s and O’s waxing method: draw diagonal lines with the wax all the way up and down the unwaxed surfboard, in both directions, using the basecoat’s hard edge. Once complete, fill in all the gaps by applying the basecoat’s hard edge in small, circular motions all over the deck. Repeat until bumps form across the whole deck and there are no bare spots. Finally, grab the top coat and apply the same small, circular strokes until the bumps grow and become sufficiently sticky.