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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Which Board Bag? The SYB Guide to the Best Surfboard Bag for Your Needs

In the interest of full disclosure I’ll start with the disclaimer that this topic is a bit out of my wheelhouse. I’m a boarder you see, just not a surf-boarder. Thankfully I didn’t have far to look to find my expert.
My co-worker and compadre Andrew is a man of the surf, as well as a solid all-around dude, for what that’s worth. He’s charitable with his knowledge, to the point where he once loaned me a board and some tips. I had fun in the waves, did no damage, but unfortunately performed as expected.  
More to the point Andrew knows his board bags. He’s a seasoned wave traveler, you might say, both domestically to the eastern seaboard and abroad.  A natural, I would say, for insight on this topic. And coincidentally this fine fellow recently rounded out an effort to up’s game in the surfboard bag department.  Thanks to this our offerings have ramped up considerably in 2017.  
Here’s what he had to say regarding board bags, what to look for, who’s got the best lineup, and when to use what:

Best surfboard bag if you only buy one: 

“If you’re only going to buy one bag, look for a travel bag that is designed to carry 2 or 3 boards,” Andrew says.

Further explanation I’ll paraphrase.  A triple or double board bag allows you to carry just about everything you’ll need for yourself while leaving a bit of room for an additional board that your buddy might want to throw in. It’s a perfect weight for local trips; a fully loaded bag will be lightweight enough for a walk down the sidewalk or along sandy trails.  

The fact that it’s a travel surfboard bag means there’s plenty of padding for international travel (can handle the beatings airports dish out), but not overkill for your trips around home. Better bags will have nice features, like internal pockets for sunblock, padded handles to reduce pressure on your shoulders or arms and vents to help eliminate moisture buildup.  

Since you’re only purchasing one bag, cost is not the place to skimp. Better (more expensive) bags will last longer and will typically come with additional features to better pad your boards.  For example, most of the best bags come with internal board-length pads that nestle between your boards to prevent scratches.  

Additionally, 2-3 board bags typically don’t come with wheels, so you’ll save some cost there. They’re certainly not needed locally, and even for longer trips they’re somewhat unnecessary given the weight.

What to look for:
  • Internal straps to keep boards from shifting
  • Internal, board length cushioning
  • Extra padding, especially at the nose where boards are most easily damaged
  • Cushioned carrying straps and handles, for the times you have long treks
  • Corrosion resistant zipper for long term durability

Recommended surfboard travel bags:     Double Surfboard Lightweight Travel Bag   

Best surfboard bag for long distance travel:

“The name of the game is protecting your boards as best as possible. Nothing is worse than reaching a destination with a damaged board.”

Wise words. Andrew recommends foregoing concerns about weight and going with the beefiest cushioning you can find. For that reason he also recommends a larger bag with wheels—typically designated as a surfboard coffin. And since you’re looking for wheels, you might as well go with a bag that holds a minimum of 4 boards. The wheels come in huge at the airport (think this applies to any piece of heavy luggage) and the extra capacity gives you a diverse range of options. Maybe you’re buying the bag for a specific solo trip, but who’s to say future trips won’t be lined up with several of your best friends?

Almost all travel coffins will come with substantial padding, but here’s a tip if you’re not sure which bag to buy. Look at the weights. Greater weight typically translates to more substantial padding.

What to look for:
  • 10mm or thicker padding
  • Internal/external straps
  • Wheels
  • Internal dividers
  • Tear resistant external fabric holds up better against rough handling

Recommended surfboard bag/coffin:     4 Surfboard Travel Coffin    

Best surfboard bag for local use:

“If you don’t go with a solid all-around bag for a couple boards, save some money with an affordable, single day bag.”

They’re called “day bags” and that pretty much sums it up. Great for house to beach and back. Extra features like padded handles aren’t really necessary so you can get away with a basic bag. 
Just be aware of what the bag won’t do. For example, a bag with cheaper, non-breathable materials and no vents can grow funky if you leave your board cooped up.  A decent bag can be had for around $50-60, but moving up a few bucks will get you a bit of padding and more durable construction.

What to look for:
  • Single, possibly double, board capacity
  • Corrosion resistance, cause that still applies

Recommended surfboard day bag:       Fish and Funshape Travel Bag        Longboard Surf Bag

Best “I just want something cheap” for scratch and sun protection:

“You’re looking for a surf sock.”

A surf sock is pretty much the equivalent of, well, socks for your feet. They offer a little protection, but if you’re going any distance or climbing over rocks, you definitely want some shoes, err…bags.
Surf socks fit easily and quickly over your board and are great for your short, day travels.  They’ll offer some protection from salt, sand, sun and stray branches. Most come with integrated nose protectors and some type of draw closure. But they’re still about $50, so you really may be better off with a bag.  That said, since you’re looking to stretch your dollar, you can get away with one sock for multiple boards. For example, a longboard sock will fit your longboard nicely, but can cover a shortboard in a pinch.  Simply place it over the board and tie off/loop back the rest of the sock.

What to look for:
  • Style! 
  • Integrated nose protector
  • Drawstring closure
  • Pocket for wax

Recommended:     Longboard Surf Sock      Shortboard Surf Sock

Thanks Andrew, you’ve done us all a service.