Surfboards are expensive, and to make things worse, they aren’t very durable.
Our surfboards bring us endless hours of fun, so when ours become damaged, a small piece of our heartbreaks.
Whether you are planning on traveling abroad, moving from your home to the beach, or simply trying to store your surfboard to avoid dings, it is important to pack your surfboards carefully and correctly.
The way you pack your surfboard bag will slightly differ depending on how far you are traveling.
That being said, you should always use a high-quality surfboard bag, ensure that the nose and tail of your board are protected, and if in hot climates, remove the wax to ensure it doesn’t melt all over your bag.
The following article is here to help assist you in correctly picking your surfboard bag to ensure the safety of your surfboards while traveling or through long-term storage.
9 Tips to Safely Pack Your Surfboard Bag
As mentioned above, you will need to pack your surfboard bag differently, depending on how far you are planning to travel.
If you are simply heading out for the day with one or two of your favorite boards, then all you will need is a day bag that fits your surfboard, and perhaps a surfboard sock for some added protection.
If you are going to be traveling greater distances, whether it is by bus, plane, boat, or train, you might want to consider the following tips before packing your surfboard bag.
1. Get a High-Quality Surfboard Bag
The type of bag you choose to use will make a big difference when traveling with your surfboards.
If you use a low-quality bag with no padding, then you should expect to throw your surfboard away when you open the bag on the other end.
If you are planning to travel with multiple boards, a surfboard coffin might be a good choice as you will be able to store multiple, different-sized surfboards, as well as some of your other surf gear such as fins, your wetsuit, and repair kits.
If you are unsure of what surfboard bag will best fit your needs then you can look at our guide to buying a surfboard travel bag.
2. Remove the Fins
When possible, you should remove all the fins from your surfboards before storing them in your surf bag.
A flat board not only uses less space, and therefore allows you to pack more in the bag, but without the fins, there are fewer obstacles to be hit and become damaged.
Because your board’s fins stick out, if you don’t remove them, there is a high chance of them breaking.
3. Remove the Wax
If you are traveling long distances, or in a warmer climate, you will want to remove all the wax from your surfboard before packing it in a travel bag.
If you don’t remove the wax, it will become hot in the bag and begin to melt.
The best-case scenario here is that you end up with wax smudged along the inside of your bag.
If you have a wetsuit, towel, or clothes in the bag, you will struggle to remove the wax from these items.
It is best to carefully remove all wax from your board before packing it and placing new wax when you reach the other side.
After all, if you are surfing a new spot, you might as well have some fresh grip to go with it.
That being said, if your fins are glassed-in, you will not be able to remove them.
Of course, your best option is to leave your glassed inboard at home and take one with removable fins, but if this is not an option you can refer to below on how to pack a surfboard with glassed-in fins.
4. Don’t Reply on Your Surf Bag Alone
Although surf bags are made to protect your board, they are no match when it comes to airline luggage handlers.
You should expect your surfboard bag to be handled with less than gracious hands, and you should therefore take extra precautions.
Before storing your board in your travel bag, make sure to add extra protection, especially to the nose and tail.
Bubble wrap, towels, cardboard, extra clothes, and pillows all work well to add some extra cushioning around your surfboards.
5. Don’t Forget Your Day Bag
You will likely not want to be carrying around your entire surfboard coffin once you reach your destination.
It’s good practice to put your surfboard in a day bag, or surfboard sock before packing it into your travel bag.
This not only gives you a smaller board bag for your daily missions but will provide added protection for your travels.
You should, however, keep in mind that doing this will take up more space and may result in space for fewer boards, or the need for a bigger travel bag.
6. Add a Fragile Sticker
It will cost you slightly more to add a handle with a take care/ fragile/ surfboard inside sticker to your board bag, but it will be worth it when your boards make it to the other end without new dings.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that your merchandise will be handled with care, but it is an extra precaution that is always worth it.
7. Pack Biggest to Smallest
If you are taking multiple surfboards with you, you should always pack the biggest board at the bottom with the wax side facing up, leading to your smallest surfboard on top.
You should add a buffer layer of towels, wetsuits, or cardboard between each board and finally strap them together.
It may be time-consuming, but getting your surfboards to the other end safely is your main concern, and time should not affect the quality of your efforts.
8. Don’t Take All Your Surfboards
Whether you are heading across the ocean on a long-distance surf holiday, or simply heading down to your local break, you should never take all of your boards with you.
Yes, it’s nice to be able to choose from a selection of surfboards for the board that best suits the day, but accidents can happen at any moment, and losing all of your surfboards in a single bash can be devastating.
Instead of bringing all your gear, consider bringing only two boards when possible, such as your performance/ shortboard, and a longboard/ mini-mal/ Malibu.
These two boards should be sufficient to surf in almost any conditions you will find along your journey.
9. Accept the Loss
Although you will do everything in your power to protect your surfboards, there is still a chance of some damage.
You should be aware of this before you begin carting your expensive surf gear around.
When packing your surfboards in a bag, ready for travel, you should make peace that your surfboard might not make the trip.
If you are not okay with this reality, then you may want to consider taking a board with you that is slightly less sentimental.
How to Choose a Surfboard Bag
There are countless surfboard travel bags, surfboard socks, and day bags available, all in different sizes, shapes, and widths.
It is important to choose a surfboard bag that is the correct size for your surfboard, as well as to consider how many boards you want in the bag, as well as what you will be using your surfboard bag for.
For example, if you are simply heading down to the beach for a few hours with your shortboard, then a simple, yet well-padded day bag will be enough.
Alternatively, if you are planning a surf holiday abroad and will be flying with multiple boards, then a surfboard travel bag or a surfboard coffin will allow you to pack multiple boards in the same bag while providing extra protection.
How to Pack Your Surfboard for Travel
Packing a surfboard bag for travel is not difficult, however, it can be time-consuming.
Luckily, if you have taken into consideration the 9 tips above, you will be well on your way to a correctly packed surfboard travel bag.
To ensure your surfboard is safe in the bag, you should do the following:
- Find a suitable surfboard travel bag (with the correct size, as well as board capacity).
- Remove all wax.
- Remove fins if possible and pack them in surfboard bag pockets.
- Wrap your boards in bubble wrap (add an additional wrap to the nose and tails).
- Pack your surfboards starting from the largest at the bottom (make sure to add padding in between each board).
- Put your surfboards in a day bag or surfboard sock.
- Use towels, wetsuits, clothes, pillows, and other soft materials for extra padding (if possible, cut pool noodles to place along the rails).
- Secure tightly in your surfboard travel bag.
- Add a fragile sticker.
- Weigh your surfboard travel bag to ensure it is within airline/ train/ ship standards
How Do You Pack Multiple Surfboards?
As mentioned above, packing multiple surfboards is done much the same as packing a single surfboard, however, you will need a larger travel bag (surfboard coffins work best), and to add some additional protection.
You should always pack your surfboards with the largest board at the bottom and the smallest surfboard on top.
The surfboards should be facing wax side up and each is separated by a shock-absorbent material such as bubble wrap, wetsuits, cardboard, or some clothing.
Additionally, putting each board in its own surfboard sock will prevent them from sliding and becoming scratched while they are transported.
How to Pack a Surfboard With Glassed-on Fins
If you have a surfboard with glassed-in fins and wish to take it traveling with you (or don’t have a surfboard with removable fins as an option) then you will need to pack your board slightly differently.
For the most part, all the steps will remain the same, however, you will need to pay special attention to how you wrap the fins.
You should make sure to fill in all the areas between the fins with clothing, pillows, and other soft material.
The reason for this is to prevent the fins from having space to move in the case that they are knocked.
Additionally, you will not be able to pack this board on top of another (unless you are looking to do some serious damage).
Surfboards with glassed-in fins should be packed along, or if needed, at the bottom of your travel bag, although this could put unwanted pressure on the fins and still result in them being damaged.
The thought of a surf holiday is one of the most exciting things a surfing-addicted adrenaline junkie could think of.
However, the thought of your board being damaged or breaking takes the mind down a very dark path.
This is why it’s important to not only use a high-quality, well-padded surfboard travel bag but to correctly pack your boards inside it with sufficient padding to avoid any dings or damage as your boards are carted around.
Because moving your surfboards can be a scary task, the above tips should help relieve some stress and get you back into the ocean on your favorite toy in no time.