Sticky Pads

Do you get frustrated with things you set down for just a few minutes sliding on tables and counters? Cameras, cell phones, remotes . . . even pens rolling back and forth and threatening to fall to the floor.

I just recently discovered sticky pads — what a wonderful way to keep all sorts of items from sliding around on a boat!

We used to put Velcro on everything — GPS, cell phone, camera, pens, pencils, even the laptop, AA battery chargers and autopilot control.  And then we had a number of Velcro strips where we could put them.  Sticky pads are so much better . . . and, frankly, cheaper than the super-strength Velcro.

Unlike the Velcro, sticky pads can be moved around, aren’t permanently attached and won’t mar most surfaces.

They have the added advantage of being able to be washed with soap and water when they get dirty and lose their stickiness — with Velcro, we had to replace it.

So what is a sticky pad?  They’re marketed for holding a cell phone or GPS on the dashboard of a car . . . but they work wonderfully on boats, too.  It’s a silicone pad that just has a really grippy surface.  They come in a variety of sizes from the small one I have here to ones that are three or four times as large.

The pads have no metal, aren’t magnetic and won’t interfere with radios, compasses or anything else.

Now, these aren’t going to hold items in rough conditions — you’re still going to need to tuck things away in rough seas, beating hard on the wind and in storms.  A hard “bounce” or jolt will dislodge most items.  But for typical times at anchor — or in fairly smooth seas — they work well.

The amazing thing is that it held my phone and camera until they were almost vertical (I put the pad on a clipboard and then played with the angles).  Actually, the items never did slip — I just got nervous about going any further.

Items with a smooth back will obviously grip better than those with a bit of contour (the handheld GPS with a bit of a curve to it only held to about 60 degrees).  Tall items also have a problem as they still tend to tip — don’t try to use it with a coffee mug or wine glass.

Sticky pads work well for:

  • Cell phones
  • Cameras
  • Handheld GPS
  • MP3 player
  • Remote controls
  • Other small electronics
  • Pens and pencils
  • Scissors
  • Glasses — both sunglasses and a place to put regular glasses overnight
  • Tools (great to set wrenches, pliers, etc. on while working anywhere — but particularly on deck to avoid things slipping through scupper holes — no guarantees, though!)
  • Books and magazines (generally don’t work with with them open unless they’ll lie flat, but do if they’re closed)

I haven’t tried it, but I’m thinking that one of the larger pads could work well under a laptop if it didn’t interfere with the airflow for cooling it (that would depend on the design of the laptop).  Smaller pads would also be great to hold peripherals in place while you’re using them — for example, an external hard drive, card readers, or DVD burner.

If you need a weird size or shape to fit in a particular area, they’re easy to cut with kitchen shears or utility knife (place on a cutting board to use a utility knife).

Don’t ask me why, but I haven’t seen sticky pads in stores where I live — or maybe I’m looking in the wrong stores.  But they’re available on Amazon, with some of the smaller ones  costing less than $5 and most under $10 — great if you need a small but useful item to get over the threshold for free shipping!  Or buy several to use in various places.

They stick really well to smooth fiberglass and Formica/Corian/etc. surfaces as well as smooth plastics.  I’ve put mine on wood veneer and varished surfaces without a problem (removing them after a few hours), although the literature says not to — I’m guessing that leaving one in place for a long time could peel varnish and possibly even paint.  I doubt they’d be as destructive as the super-hold Velcro we used, though!

UPDATE:  If you need an even stickier pad, check out my article on Tree Frog Pads — slightly more expensive for LOTS more stick!

Got any other good uses for sticky pads?  Let others know in the comments!

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  • ben
    Posted at 25 January 2012 Reply

    I bought one for the dash of my car around 2002. I found it in an electronics store, probably Office Depot. The particular one I got took a lot of sun damage, and I really didn’t end up using it that much, not wanting to leave electronics sitting in the sun. I think it was a pretty unneccesary piece of equipment for my car, but seems like it would be brilliant on a boat, especially if you’re contiencious about sun damage.

  • Debra Trottier
    Posted at 22 April 2012 Reply

    Hi Carolyn! I have really enjoyed your website. My husband and I are getting ready to head to the Sea of Cortez on our sailboat, Star Light. The information you have provided here has been invaluable! Thank you! We use a product called Tree Frog Pad. They are more expensive than the regular sticky pads but have an extremely powerful grip. They also can be cut to size and have held wonderfully well even when we’ve been in stormy seas. A friend of mine used them on a passage to Hawaii from San Diego and said they were a life saver in the galley to hold plates, knives etc. from flying. You can find them at Cheers!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 22 April 2012 Reply

      Thanks for the tip! You’re going to LOVE the Sea of Cortez . . . well, at least we did!


  • Elizabeth Aristeguieta
    Posted at 09 December 2013 Reply

    Thanks Carolyn! BMW sent some new folks over to your site. 🙂

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

    I thought you were in mexico…..

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

      We cruised the Sea of Cortez for the better part of six years on our previous boat, Que Tal. Now we’re in south Florida, getting our new-to-us boat ready to go. It’s turned into the bottom job from hell but we’re getting close . . .

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

    Good luck with it….we bought this trawler in savannah with a lot of blisters….also $$$$.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

      Ouch! No blisters for us, just half the bottom paint was falling off. Of course, the other half seemed to have been put on with 5200 and has been time-consuming to remove. Almost done and then we can prep properly (we hope! – been doing a lot of talking with Pettit about their recommendations) and then paint. Sorry for the blister problem — that can be such a mess to deal with.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

    We’ve used them on our car and boat as well, but be careful in the heat. The one in my car melted and caused a disgusting mess.

  • Beth Tyler
    Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

    We use the frog pads

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

      I like those for things that I want super-secure but I’ve found that they can be “too sticky” for some things.

  • Sebago Seymour
    Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

    Whatever you do – don’t leave them on your dash or in direct sun… MELTAGE MESS!

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