The truth about surfmats?

Discussion in 'Surfing' started by icecreamheadache, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. icecreamheadache

    icecreamheadache Active Member

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    Jan 14, 2006
    I have something of a burning question for those of y'all who ride mats... or rather a grip of questions. All input will be much appreciated. 1) Are they really that fun? As in, I would choose a mat over a surfboard on certain days? All days?

    2) Do y'all ever travel with them? Do they fit in carry ons?

    3) What is their wave range? The youtube videos I've seen typically show them at mellow pointbreaks. Would you take 'em into steep dumpy beachbreak? Hollow, zippy reef nuggets over coral? Shitty windswell?

    I've got some travels lined up for work to conflict/post-conflict zones with shitty travel infrastructure and am trying to sniff out whether a mat is a viable substitute for a 5'10" for someone who's a bit OCD about surfing anywhere possible.

    If any of y'all mat practitioners end up coming through Ventura, I'd be stoked to take one of your mats for a spin before I invest in one ride-unridden. I will of course repay your kindness with a session somewhere weird, tacos and good cheer.
     
    airboy808 and Dawnpatrol like this.
  2. PauLaner

    PauLaner New Member

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    Sep 24, 2015
    I've had a 4th gear flyer for a little over a year now. Only had it out a handful of times. My time in the water has been harder to come by lately due to work and family so I'd rather be on a board when I do make it out. I always leave it in the van and end up taking it out on beach days with the family if I don't bring a board. I always have a good time on it but it is more difficult than expected and haven't had it out in decent conditions. That being said I may not be one to give any real insight, but I am close by in Camarillo and you can give it a go anytime you like. It could easily fit in a carry on as well and plan on taking it when traveling.
     
  3. SeniorGrom

    SeniorGrom Well-Known Member

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    Mar 20, 2012
    USA New Jersey
    aslbuck could help you for sure.
     
  4. airboy808

    airboy808 Member

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    Mar 28, 2012
    1) they are fun for multiple reasons but some of the ones are - always learning when you go out on a mat, the surprise factor reaction from the line up when they see you do a mean bottom turn and the turbo kicks in, duck diving a deflated mat in beach break is easier than a board.

    2) travel is easy as also keep one in the truck. You need fins. Tried matting without fins and it was super hard. Only tried once with no fins.

    3) I have had it out in overhead south shore days but I make sure I have a nice channel as duck diving it when it is overhead. Otherwise it is a work out unless your mat or you can handle having a mat with very little air. I run very little air in my G custom surf mat.

    Mat quiver consists of:
    -krypt mt5 v3
    -4th gear mini mat
    -4th gear std with no deck cloth
    -neumatic mat
    -G custom personal mat

    Fins mainly duck feet and some times UDTs. Other fins make me work to hard.
     
  5. nedsurf

    nedsurf Well-Known Member

    2,452
    399
    Jan 22, 2005
    Let me give you my 2 cents

    I have something of a burning question for those of y'all who ride mats... or rather a grip of questions. All input will be much appreciated. 1) Are they really that fun? As in, I would choose a mat over a surfboard on certain days? All days?

    Yes they are fun, but like most things better or worse than a board, boogey, or bodysurf is personal. I rode casually but started really getting into it when I got burned out on crowds. You can ride one almost anywhere, and being in the water rather than on the water became pretty addictive. Not rocket science but definitely has a bit of a learning curve. Mat or surfboard, not a definite answer but on days where surf gets blown out you can still catch waves on a mat.

    2) Do y'all ever travel with them? Do they fit in carry ons?

    You'll want to take the mat and fins, both of which fit in normal luggage, so you always have a vehicle available if you are traveling and want to go in the water. The fins will take up more space than a mat, but it all fits in carry-on easily.

    3) What is their wave range? The youtube videos I've seen typically show them at mellow pointbreaks. Would you take 'em into steep dumpy beachbreak? Hollow, zippy reef nuggets over coral? Shitty windswell?

    My home break is Oceanside beach break, which is often walled and can get pretty dumpy. I'm pretty selective and pass on many waves but can still find faces even on a walled up day with a little patience. Point break is awesome partly because of the longer faces, but also because they have a channel or area where you can swim out. Biggest disadvantage for me is getting out through the surf as you are trying to duck dive a big bubble of air. Being younger and more fit you wouldn't have as much trouble, but there is again a learning curve. Hard to beat those longboards that glide between strokes, on a mat you work for every foot of progress. I'll mat in up to head high surf but getting out is usually the factor that affects me the most. Never been on a shallow coral reef with a mat, wouldn't really want to be there unless there is plenty of water under me. Hollow and zippy is a definite yes.

    It's another way to get in the water and gather stoke. I'm finding myself craving getting back on a board and getting a better balance between vehicles. Like body surfing, every wave is overhead. It's all recess for adults and a mat is another piece of playground equipment. If you get near Oceanside I have an extra, let's paddle out. Fins are a whole topic themselves, I use Ducks mostly but have had to modify them to keep from killing my feet. Never had surfer's knots on my feet till I started using them, but they definitely have thrust. I'll also go out with DaFins, much more comfortable but less drive, I have a fin quiver of maybe 6-7 types.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
    Dawnpatrol likes this.
  6. Rinconryder

    Rinconryder Member

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    Nov 30, 2015
    Send Aslbuck a PM. He is darn good on a mat and a hell of a longboarder too.
     
  7. TonyPR

    TonyPR Active Member

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    Aug 4, 2014
    Puerto Rico
    As you can see in my avatar (surf bucket) I am a mat freak and have been surfing them for around 7 years in Puerto Rico. The surf bucket is a big old laundry detergent bucket where I keep everything I need to surf: trunks, sunscreen, rash guard, fins, surf mat(s), towel, ss water bottle and some kind of fruit. Bucket also doubles as fresh caught fish ice box and beer bucket...

    1) Are they really that fun? As in, I would choose a mat over a surfboard on certain days? All days?

    Learning to surf a mat can take some time, I began because of a rotator cuff injury so I surfed my first mat exclusively for around a year simply because I couldn't paddle with my right arm. The curve may seem steep but there is a trick to it, first you need to realize there will be a lot of unlearning to do especially when you are good at bodyboarding like it was my case. Surfing a mat is more similar to bodysurfing than it is to bodyboarding, cranking your turns aggressively with muscle won't work on many occasions, instead more subtle movements are necessary. You learn how to become more intimate with the wave plus you have more variables you can control: rocker, rail stiffness and displacement area can all be manipulated. It's a displacement craft as much as it is a planning craft. If you really want to learn I can email you a users manual Paul Gross sent me when I got my first real mat(I started on Kmart mats but they don't last very long). So are they really that fun? YEEES!!! and the more you learn the more fun they are. Do I prefer them over a board or bodyboard? Suprisingly most if the time but it's something that will sneak up on you... remember to get good you need to practice and good clean perfect waves are were you will learn the fastest.

    2) Do I travel with them?

    Yes, they fit anywhere and you can carry a whole quiver of them along with fins and some basic clothing in your carry on. In fact my family and I are leaving on a Caribbean cruise next Sunday and I am taking a bodyboard and a whole quiver of mats... and this would be the second time I do this, last time I scored Hull Bay-St Thomas, Cane Garden Bay-Tortola and Sandy Lane-Barbados all in one week and next weekend's Caribbean swell is looking really good!

    3) Wave range?

    Mats work best on lined up, preferably long waves and looove a pockety tube. I have surfed them from knee high wind slop all the way up to 8' faces peeling reef barrels. They are not very good in dumpy beach break, think Crash Boat=good for mats, Gas Chambers=better for a bodyboard, although the mini could probably work but I have never surfed one and it looks like a more advanced matter's mat. I have also surfed a mat on deep water 8' fast moving faces and a smaller mat like the Lotus or Standard work best for those as they are smaller and allow you to scoot back easier and drag your legs to control the speed of the wave. I am sure that if the waves are clean and the rider has the skills and guts they can be surfed in much larger waves. I have a 4GF Fatty which is my all arounder, a Vespa for mushy smaller waves, a UDT for very small waves and a Lotus which is for good waves.

    They are addictive and the best thing is that they are more about feel and speed than about looking cool and ripping. Not for everyone and very advanced surf craft.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
    aslbuck likes this.
  8. matsurfer

    matsurfer Active Member

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    Nov 13, 2010
    I prefer a mat on a bigger, lined up wave. If I ride my mat at a beach break, it's because I want to get in a workout in spite of terrible conditions or the beach break is channeling a point break. I surf both boards and mats. Even though I surf a board more often than not, I prefer the mat. Once you get the hang of a mat, riding one is mind-blowing.

    I plan to take a surf trip next year. I'm not even thinking about taking a board. I can easily throw two mats and some fins in my luggage. I can find a board at my destination. If there's no board to be had, I'll still enjoy myself on a mat. The best part? No board bag fees!
     
  9. TonyPR

    TonyPR Active Member

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    Aug 4, 2014
    Puerto Rico
    Oh one more thing, if one gets caught inside on a bigger day, you can always hug the mat with arms and legs and turn turtle... the wave will rag doll you for a while(it's fun) and you just need to relax cause when it decides to let you go, the buoyancy of the mat will rocket you back to the surface which is a lot of fun too. In the 7 yrs I have been doing this I have never lost my mat, they are very easy to hold on to.
     
  10. sintered

    sintered New Member

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    1
    Jan 27, 2009
    USA California
    I've had a lot of fun on mats, mostly in and around Ventura. Both big days and small days. I have a couple of Paul's mats. I'll PM you and you can borrow one.
    Dan
     
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