If you’re a boat owner in the modern era, chances are good that you are very familiar with SeaDek. The company has really taken the boating world by storm over the past decade with their marine traction pad products. It is hands down the biggest name in the industry and I’ve been on tons of boats that feature it.
But what happens when boaters aren’t satisfied with SeaDek products or pricing? I’ve come to realize that many people don’t really know where else to start looking.
That’s why I recently spent some time taking a look at a handful of other non-skid deck pad companies in order to see how they stack up. My own boat is a good candidate for new traction pads and that led me to take a deeper look at whether or not SeaDek is still the undisputed gold standard of the industry.
My search for the best SeaDek alternatives actually left me pleasantly surprised. Even though I still think SeaDek makes a decent product, there are some really impressive competition out there that can offer some solid bang-for-your-buck.
So, let’s jump into the pad companies that I like best after spending time with the products, doing research, and getting input from owners.
All Around Favorite
Out of all of the pad companies, GatorStep is easily the one that impressed me the most. They create a really functional, good looking product. Also, every GatorStep user that I’ve heard from has expressed that they are pretty thrilled with the company’s customer service. This is nice to know, as customer service is the one area where SeaDek seems to occasionally struggle.
Like SeaDek, GatorStep pads are peel-and-stick sheets. However, there’s one major difference in GatorStep application and it’s awesome for anyone who plans to do their own installation.
GatorStep pads feature a different style of adhesive that allows you to peel off and re-stick the pads down during the installation process. Anyone who has ever installed or watched someone install SeaDek pads knows how tedious it is to make sure they all go on straight. Once you stick a SeaDek pad down, it’s not coming back up.
Once you’ve got the GatorStep pad in the right position, you do a quick lock-in with a rolling pin (or another smooth object). The end result is a pad that is just as secure as a SeaDek pad, but without the stress of potentially ruining your whole project with a permanent misalignment.
GatorStep quality is very good and is right on-par with SeaDek. It definitely feels to be a SeaDek like material. The high-quality of GatorStep makes perfect sense once you learn that they actually do a ton of OEM work for some big name boat manufacturers. You’ll find a lot of their work on some very high-end wake boats.
Customization options are pretty much endless and this is another area in which GatorStep can easily compete with SeaDek. They can do all sorts of patterns, colors, and custom work. The design and ordering process is easy too. They’ll send you a big template in the mail that you use on your boat to get the right measurements.
Of all of the traction pad companies I’ve researched, GatorStep had the most glowing customer service reviews from owners. I heard nothing but good things about how easy it is to work with them.
Great Durability for Heavy Use
I had actually never heard of AquaTraction until I started doing some research and found quite a few guys who had recently purchased it for their boats. After spending some time digging into their product line, I found a lot to like.
Out of everything else in the industry, AquaTraction may have the best pads for just straight-up dealing with the elements. The material doesn’t seem to expand or contract as much as many others on the market. It also feels denser than SeaDek.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that AquaTraction pads are the most rugged-feeling pads I’ve come across. That’s not to say that they aren’t comfortable though, because they seem to be just as comfortable as anything else on the market. They also seem to clean up better than most of the competition. Their closed-cell pads are EPE foam as opposed to most of the market’s EVA foam.
Generally, EPE foam will outperform EVA in almost all areas. Compared to EVA, EPE is higher load-bearing, has better tear resistance, better sound dampening, and it retains its shape better over time.
Lots of happy owners out there seem to agree that this may be the best overall traction pad for heavy-duty fishing.
Customer service is also a big AquaTraction selling point and everyone seems to love dealing with their team. Everything is very personal and customization is very open-ended. If you can think it, they’ll probably create it for you. I’ve seen a lot of unique shapes come from the AquaTraction shop.
All-in-all AquaTraction is a solid company that’s committed to creating a highly functional product. Their core team keeps things personal, but they’re equally capable of delivering pads that can hang with the big boys. After getting familiar with their products, I’m certain that they’ll continue to gain popularity, especially in fishing circles.
#3 BlackTip Jetsports Sheets
Cheap and Effective
If you’re looking for a really good bang for your buck, I have to say that it’s hard to beat BlackTip Jetsports’ product. No, it can’t compete with SeaDek, GatorStep, or AquaTraction in terms of performance, but it’s available at a fraction of the price.
You can order BlackTip Jetsports pad sheets directly from Amazon (Click here to check the current price on Amazon). They’re sold in 39″x78″ peel-and-stick sheets that are very easy to cut into shape.
Before BlackTip, I’d have recommended HydroTurf to most people looking for an inexpensive SeaDek-style pad. Not anymore though. HydroTurf is already fairly inexpensive, but BlackTip sheets are just as good for even less money.
There are quite a few colors and patterns, from solids to camos to diamond-plate. Pretty much everyone will be able to find a color and style that will work on their boat.
Again, as long as you’re not expecting the fit, finish, and customization options of one of the more expensive brands, BlackTip sheets shouldn’t disappoint you. They are a great value and a really good way to spruce up a boat while saving yourself a ton of money.
After a good deal of time and research, I feel pretty confident in recommending these alternatives to anyone who isn’t sold on SeaDek. All of them offer something a little bit different and I feel like all are appropriately priced.
The look and feel of a GatorSteps’ pad is hard to beat for anyone looking for something to rival SeaDek style. Fishermen and anyone who needs maximum durability will find a lot to like with AquaTraction. Last but not least, BlackTip Jetsports’ sheets make your money go a long way.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this helps some folks narrow down their options and make some decisions. Let us know, especially if you end up going with one of these brands. We’d love to hear how you made your decision and whether or not the product lived up to expectations.
One last thing: If you’re looking to really rejuvenate a boat on a budget, take a look at our post on the cost of vinyl wrapping a boat. Sea Dek-style deck padding and vinyl wraps make a great combo to make an old boat look new.