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Sun, sand, salt, baggage handlers–plenty of things can ruin a good surfboard. A decent bag is, therefore, an essential piece of kit if you are planning on traveling with your board. Surfboard travel bags are evolving all the time–materials are getting stronger, lighter and more durable, design features are becoming more innovative. Read on for our guide to buying your own surfboard travel bag including what features to look for, and our top pick of the travel bags on the market.
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Surfboard Travel Bag vs Surfboard Day Bag?
When you start shopping for a board bag, you’ll come across the terms’ day bag’ and ‘travel bag’. While a day bag will protect your board during a trip to your local break, it won’t be padded enough to protect your board inside an aircraft hold. So, if you plan to surf abroad in the future, you’re going to need a travel bag. While it might seem like a costly outlay, a good travel bag should last a lifetime–while a less sturdy day bag might break or fall apart.
Capacity: 2 boards Materials: 600D diamond ripstop polyester, foam, polyethylene Weight: 8.4lbs (3.8 kg) Best for: Road trips
Made of durable polyester with 10mm padding, this travel bag will protect your boards during road or air travel without ripping or coming apart. The underside is heat-reflecting to protect from delamination in the sun and to stop wax from melting. Other features include cooling vents, mesh pockets for valuables, heavy-duty zippers and a removable strap. Comes in grey with yellow trim. Sizes from 6’3 to 7’6.
Capacity: 3 boards Materials: 600D polyester, AIR-LITE foam Weight: 9 lbs (4 kg) Best for: avoiding single board charges
Perfect for airport travel, this travel bag has a false bottom, so you can carry three boards onto the aircraft while only seeming to have two. As well as 10mm padding this bag has superb storage including a large outside pocket where you can stow your wetsuit and a key pocket. This bag is also very light, which may help to reduce airline charges. Comes in maroon. Sizes from 6′ to 6’6.
Capacity: 1–4 boards Materials: polyester, armour weave polyester, foam, tarpee Weight: 13.6 lbs (6.2 kg) Best for: Schlepping through large airports
This wheeled travel bag is ideal for carrying your boards easily through the airport. Compression straps restrict the movement of the boards inside the bag, and 20mm padding protects them when they get thrown around. Heavy-duty wheels and zippers ensure this bag won’t fall apart on you. And, a lightweight surfboard sleeve is included for free. Comes in black/red or black/blue. Sizes 6′ up to 7’6.
Capacity: 2 boards Materials: Hemp, alloy-steel mesh weave, recycled nylon Weight: 11 lbs (5 kg) Best for: Planet Earth
Made from biodegradable hemp, the Wave Tribe travel bag is eco-friendly as well as being one of the best-designed bags on the market. With 26mm of padding in the nose and tail, it offers superb protection. The Japanese YKK zippers are the most reliable in the world, and the heat resistant underside ensures your boards won’t be damaged by the sun or melting wax. Comes in blue and brown. Sizes from 6’2 up to 9’6.
Capacity: 1 board Materials:600D polyester Weight: 5.7 lbs (2.65 kg) Best for: tight budgets
This board is a good choice for a short trip or a tight budget. The 5mm padding offers minimal protection (wrap your boards up in clothes or bubble wrap) and makes this bag extremely light, which could save you money at the airport. Printed with ‘Fragile, top load only’ to reduce the chance of damage during transit. Sizes from 5’6 up to 9’6.
Capacity: 1 board Materials: 600D polyester, neoprene Weight: 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg) Best for: carrying to surf breaks
For short haul or day trips, this lightweight bag is ideal. The heat-reflective material means you can stow it on a roof rack without worrying about the heat or the sun. With 5mm foam padding, this bag is lighter and therefore easy to carry. The lining material is wax and water resistant. Comes in black and silver. Sizes from 5’10 up to 7’6.
Able to store up to 5 boards, this bag is ideal if you are taking a selection of boards with you on a trip. With 20mm padding and 25mm padding for the nose and tail, you can be sure your boards won’t get damaged during the flight. The armour weave fabric is water repellent, and the heavy-duty zips won’t break at that crucial moment. Comes in black with red trim. Sizes from 6’6 to 7’6.
Capacity: 4 boards or 3 if one is a longboard Materials: 600D diamond ripstop polyester, foam, polyethylene Weight: 19 lbs (8.6 kg) Best for: Long haul travel with multiple boards
Ideal for long haul trips, this wheeled travel bag can store up to four boards. There is plenty of 10mm padding to protect against rough-and-ready treatment, and 20mm padding on the sidewalls. Compression straps ensure the boards don’t move around. The padded handles and shoulder strap make carrying more comfortable. Comes in grey with yellow and black trim. Sizes from 6’6 to 9’6.
Capacity: 1 board Materials: ripstop polyester, ripstop tarpaulin Weight: 8.4lbs (3.8 kg) Best for: value for money
This bag is made from durable material with 10mm padding and is reinforced at the nose. With a host of other features including reflective underside, detachable padded shoulder strap and outer storage pocket, this bag is excellent value for money. Comes in black, silver and yellow. Sizes from 5’6 up to 10’.
Capacity: 2 longboards Materials: 600D diamond ripstop polyester, foam, polyethylene Weight: 7.4lbs (3.3 kg) Best for: Longboards This travel bag can transport two longboards with the bottom board hidden from view. With excellent features including a heat-reflective underside, heavy-duty zippers, removable shoulder strap and inside pockets, this bag wants for nothing. Comes in grey with yellow trim. Sizes from 8’ to 9’6.
A key feature of any surfboard travel bag is its layer of high-density foam padding. This protects the board from rough treatment in the airport and while you’re getting to the surf break. The padding should be at least 10 mm thick–but can be 20 mm or even 25 mm. Look for extra padding at the nose, tail and sides, as these areas are most likely to be damaged when your surfboard bag collides with something.
The best surfboard travel bags can withstand being dragged around and should protect boards from heat, UV rays, salt and water. Look for bags made with innovative ripstop and woven fabrics, as these will be the lightest and toughest. You can also find travel bags made from eco-friendly materials such as hemp. Opt for good-quality nylon zips that are resistant to corrosion from salt and sand.
Your surfboard bag should be wider at the bottom to house boards with fixed fins. The best bags also have extra features such as pockets where you can store wax, extra fins and valuables like your phone or keys. Some surfboard bags have large pockets–useful for storing bulky items like your wetsuit and helpful for reducing those baggage fees.
If you’re taking several connecting flights, a surfboard bag with wheels will make the experience a whole lot less exhausting.
You’ll be much more comfortable walking through a large airport or trying to reach a remote surf spot if your bag has a padded shoulder strap and sturdy handles.
Airlines often impose weight limits for surfboard bags, and once you’ve stuffed your bag with boards, wetsuits and everything else you’re taking with you, it might be too heavy. Look for bags with lightweight padding and fabrics.
The benefits of owning your own surfboard travel bag
The greatest benefit of owning a surfboard travel bag is financial. You’ll need to repair dings and scratches less often, and you’ll save money. There are some other cool benefits too:
Flexibility: Once you’ve invested in a surfboard travel bag, you’re free to take your board all over the world on planes, trains and road trips for the rest of your surfing life, without worrying about damage.
Protects your board wherever you are: A travel bag protects your board at home too. Even if your board is inside a house, it can be damaged by a family pet or simply by someone knocking into it. Once you have your own travel bag, you won’t need to worry–wherever you’ve left your board.
Acts as an extra suitcase: You can cut down on the amount of baggage you have by using your travel bag to store wetsuits, towels and other related gear.
Disclosure: The Salt Sirens is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are also an affiliate of Shop.Surf and Surfboards.com.