MATS & MAKERS
Modern surfmats have evolved into lightweight, durable, wave riding vehicles that are fast, fun and fascinating to ride. There is a common misconception that mats are effectively inflatable bodyboards, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, bodyboards bare more resemblance to surfboards than to surfmats.
Surfmats are highly pliable craft which can mold themselves to the shape of the wave and the rider, always making the most of the energy available.
You can read more about how they work on our Surfmat Anatomy page.
If you are serious about mat surfing then you need to get yourself a proper modern nylon mat. We've given some info on what's available below.
Fourth Gear Flyer surfmats are made by Paul Gross. Paul has over 25 years of experience in mat design and manufacture, and has developed a wide range of mats to suit riders of all sizes and abilities. Many top mat surfers ride 4GF, including the legendary George Greenough. These mats are sturdy, coming with a thicker canvas style nylon deck which provides a naturally grippy surface. The bottom fabric is a thinner nylon twill which provides a highly pliable material which can respond sensitively to the wave and the surfer.
Prices are around $135 USD for the 4GF Classic, to $199 USD for more advanced models. Paul also offer deals on multiple orders, so buying a quiver or buying as part of a co-operative can save money!
Each 4GF mat is hand made by Paul Gross, who is more than happy to discuss which model will suit a given surfer and conditions.
G-Mat Custom Surfmats are hand-built in the UK by Graeme Webster for mat surfers all over the globe. Graeme has been building mats since early 2011, having been schooled in the art by Dale Solomonson and, latterly, Paul Gross.
There are a number of models available, but each G-Mat is individually designed and tailored to the specific dimensions to suit the rider’s body size, the waves they surf and their style of surfing using extremely lightweight materials. Custom G-Mats are suited to experienced mat surfers who are looking for the extra sensitivity and responsiveness of lightweight mats.
Custom mats take a long time to design and build so are more expensive than standard models, with prices starting at £240 GBP plus shipping. That's still half the price of a surfboard!
Graeme also builds a stock model called the 5 Star General exclusively for UK Mat Surfers which are available in our store for £179.99. These are built to the same spec as Custom models and perform extremely well for riders of all abilities in virtually all conditions.
Warpmats Surfmats are handmade in Cornwall in the United Kingdom by Matt Fedden. Warpmats is a collaboration between Matt and Ian Jermyn, which is committed to building surfmats that are personally customized to each surfer and the waves they ride. The custom-order mats are often characterised by creative acid dye work.
In addition to designing personally customised mats, Warpmats also have stock designs, an All-Rounder and a Lightweight model, aimed at new or experienced surfers wanting to add versatility to their quiver.
Matt builds all Warpmats in close collaboration with the rider. The conversation back and forth with each surfer allows Matt to explore nuanced or experimental design ideas and aesthetics.
Matt says he wants to, “create customised surfmats that are beautiful, strong, super-lightweight and really fun so you can catch and surf the best waves of your life.” Warpmats stock models are currently £150 and personally customised designs start at £170.
If you are lucky, you may come across a Neumatic. These mats were built by Dale Solomonson, the man who first pioneered the use of lightweight TPU coated nylon. Due to well documented health problems, Dale is not currenty building mats but a second hand ‘Neu’ is well worth grabbing if you get the chance.
There are also adult and junior high performance models on the market which are mass produced by Krypt Surf Technology and are relatively inexpensive and commonly available in surf shops. Krypt mats can be pretty slippery so owners often add some form of grip to the deck.
Heavy canvas mats such as Redbacks, and the old style rubber Surfoplanes can be a great introduction to mat surfing, but really don’t even come close to the performance of a nylon mat.
Do your research before you buy. There are a wide range of models around which each have unique properties, far too many to list here.
At the end of the day it's a case of horses for courses so we’d strongly recommend hooking up with other matters and trying out as many models as possible. Mat surfers are generally more than happy to share.