When you finally decide to evolve from the local lines to the nomadic life of surfing, it is very important that you start looking into the best surfboard travel bags.
Surfboard travel bags are a must-have in the world of travel and surf and it is necessary to find a solid bag for all your needs so you can spend more time having fun and less time stressing out.
The difficult thing is that there are so many different surfboard travel bags out there with an array of designs, features, and styles.
Rather than having you sift through a million different websites and looking at specs and features, we figured we’d bring the best of the best straight to you with all the information you’ll ever need.
No matter what kind of board you ride or how tight your budget is, keep reading our surfboard travel bag article to find one that is right for you!
2 Best Shortboard Surfboard Travel Bags
FCS Double/Triple Surfboard Travel Bag
This FCS bag comes in two different sizes: double and triple. Both have pretty much the same features, but we’ll begin with talking about the triple because of its extra features. All in all, this FCS bag is far more than a regular surfboard travel bag, as it has some incredibly distinct and impressive features. The Triple has tie down straps that are integrated onto the bag so that you can easily strap the bag down to the top of pretty much any car or truck and take it with you on the road.
This is incredibly helpful if you are taking long trips and you don’t have room to store your board with you inside of your vehicle. There are small loops on the outside of the bag that the straps can be threaded through to tie down. If you don’t need the bulk of the travel bag, it also comes with an inserted day bag for short trips down to the water. This is convenient because it is much lighter than the entirety of the bag. Atop the net-looking pattern on the bag, you have a “fragile” stamp.
This is awesome for air travel, as you can rest easy knowing that the baggage attendants know to take care of your board. Lastly, as an extra addition to the package, you get some repair patches in the event of a tear or rip. The double is slightly different in that it does not come with tie-down straps, repair patches, or the extra day bag. Fortunately, they both are the same in terms of toughness with the durable polyester, heavy-duty zippers, and padded material that is placed throughout the bag.
Pro-Lite Rhino Single/Double
Like the almighty rhinoceros, the Rhino from Pro-Lite is incredibly tough. Perfect for use day after day, surfers use their Rhino bags for everything from a few weeklong camping trips to a single day out at the local break. The beautiful thing is how thin and lightweight the bag is, even with the strength and durability. This makes it perfect for easy transportation or taking your board down to surf spots that require a bit of expert maneuverability to hike down to.
Some features on the Pro-Lite Rhino include the 10mm of protective padding around the inside, as well as a padded divider for the double, a durable, reinforced nose, and a deluxe padded strap that makes it nice and comfortable on the shoulders. While the single only holds one shortboard, the double can easily hold two while leaving enough room to put your wetsuit or any other accessories inside.
Unlike the FCS board, this comes with a large exterior pocket that is perfect for these kinds of things. With the molded non-corrosive zippers, rail guard, and extra strap pocket, this bag is perfect for any kind of summer surf trip.
2 Best Shortboard Surfboard Day Bags
FCS Dayrunner Surfboard Bag
The FCS Dayrunner Surfboard Bag is one of the best day bags on the market for shortboards and funboards with its durable and lightweight design. That being said, this is a bag that you would only want to take with you to and from the beach, not on the plane. The biggest thing FCS focused on with this bag was making it lightweight and easy to transport. It comes out at almost half the weight of the previous FCS day bag, which is awesome.
Inside you have 5mm high-density foam padding. While not as thick as the 10mm foam padding that you find in most travel bags, it is still more than enough to make sure your board is protected on the road. FCS added on their unique armadillo strip that runs along the top of the bag. This gives the board some ventilation so that it can dry while your carrying it around while stretching a bit so that it fits snugly around boards of different shapes and sizes.
This is perfect if you have a board with an odd shape or wider body. Another unique feature is the expandable fin wing that allows you to carry your board with or without the fin attached. Add on the 3D rail protection on the inside, the double-layered ergonomic shoulder pad, and the durable, non-corrosive zippers, and you have yourself one sturdy day bag.
Dakine Daylight Surf Bag
Another excellent day bag that is perfect for shortboards is the Dakin Daylight Surf Bag. It only fits one board and is great for short trips to and from the beach. One of the most unique things about this bag is that the outside tarpaulin material protects your board from heat and solar damage, as it is slightly reflective. The ¼ inch foam padding is ultra lightweight and makes for a slim surfboard bag while still offering solid protection.
A padded shoulder strap comes attached, as well as a small wax/fin pocket on the side. All in all, this bag is extremely simple and is perfect for the surfer who wants a minimalistic bag or is on a budget. Dakine didn’t make this bag to please the people who love bells and whistles, but instead to please the people who want only protection and practicality from a surfboard bag. The bag comes in an array of sizes from just under 6 feet to 7 feet so that you can fit just about any size shortboard you can think of.
2 Best Longboard Travel Bags
If you need a surfboard bag that not only provides excellent functionality, but also has a great look to it, the Curve Single Longboard Travel Bag is a definite contender for one of the best. For starters, it comes in a wide array of lengths from 7’6” to 10’2” to help accommodate longboards of different shapes and sizes. The shoulder strap is adjustable double padded to provide comfort, a necessary feature due to the fact that longboards tend to be much heavier.
The most unique feature that this bag reps are the boosted ¾ inch foam add-ons at the nose and tail. This makes it an excellent bag for travel, as it provides far more protection to the parts of the board that need it the most. The beautiful thing is, the extra foam doesn’t add much weight to it either, as it is extremely lightweight. The Tail Protection Strap System is built in to the bag and holds your surfboard snugly inside so that the rails don’t come in contact with the non-corrosive big tooth nylon zipper. Built to be tough and durable with quality travel protection, this longboard travel bag is one of our favorites out there.
FCS Longboard Double
If you’re looking for a longboard travel bag that is built for serious adventures, the FCS Longboard Double is the perfect one. It covers pretty much every need that the avid travelling surfer could have. The bag comes with FCS standard 10mm dual density padding to help protect against serious impact, making it great for air travel. The addition of the heavy-duty polyester material on the outside makes it even stronger.
To help protect the rails of your board, there is built-in internal protection along the zipper paths, as well as the contoured coffin wall that fits in line with the rocker of your board so to not bend it out of shape. Like the shortboard bag, the FCS Longboard Double comes with a set of tie-down straps that help to secure your board to the top of just about any vehicle. Some other features on the FCS Longboard double include the padded separation sheet in case you want to bring two boards, the internal pocket for wax, leashes, and fins, and long-life marine zippers that are built for strength and durability.
2 Best Longboard Day Bags
The Curve Supermodel gets its name from how sleek and slim it is. It fits a surprising amount of features into a minimal and lightweight build. If you’re looking for solid lightweight protection for day use, the Curve Supermodel is an excellent inexpensive choice for a bag. The addition of the custom pocket stash is a great feature and is perfect for storing your wetsuit or any other surf gear you may have with you.
The Curve Supermodel also comes with an adjustable shoulder strap that is padded for comfort, and even a side carry handle for versatility. The foam core is only 1/8” so we would not recommend it for serious travel, though it is still plenty durable enough to protect your board. The nose and tail are reinforced with thicker foam to keep them protected as well. The last unique feature for the Curve Supermodel is the semi reflective silver tarpaulin that is on both sides to help keep your board protected from solar and heat. All together, this longboard day bag is simple and practical and perfect for surfers who are on a budget.
Pro-Lite Resession Day Bag
If you want to step up from a longboard day bag like the Curve Supermodel, the Por-Lite Resession Day Bag is a great option to keep your board safe and secure on shorter day trips. It also comes with1/8” of foam to keep your board safe on trips that don’t require the bag to be tossed around a bunch. There are a few storage pockets on this bag that we love.
The inner storage pocket is large enough to store things like your wetsuit while the strap pocket can store your strap and other small accessories like fins and wax. The zippers will stay intact throughout the bag’s life with the molded, non-corrosive design. Like the Curve Supermodel, this bag comes with a reinforced nose and tail to keep the most important parts of your board the safest.
The top and bottom come with a semi-reflective PE material to help protect your board further from solar and heat. The Pro-Lite Resession is incredibly lightweight and durable and an excellent choice for a day trip with the longboard.
2 Best Shortboard & Longboard Surf Socks
Ho Stevie! Sock Cover
A surfboard sock cover is a simple and easy way to protect your board from any dings or even UV rays that may harm your board after a while. The guys over at Ho Stevie made a great high-quality sock that not only provides protection, but also has a fun array of striped patterns to choose from.
The woven fabric protects your board form the outside world while also protecting the outside world from things like running wax when it’s hot. No more worrying about wax dripping out onto your car’s interior. The best thing about socks like this is that they stretch nicely to fit around different boards. With an array of sizes from 6’0” all the way up to 9’6”, you can surely find one to fit most average boards.
In the inside of the sock near the bottom, they have added a small Velcro storage pocket that is perfect for stashing small accessories like wax, snacks, fins, etc. At the other side of the sock, you’ll notice that the nose is reinforced to help protect the most important part of your board. To close it up, simply pull the drawstring closure to cover up your tail. It will even fit with the fin on! If you’re looking for solid and simple protection on a budget, the Ho Stevie Sock Cover is one of our best recommendations.
PAMGEA Surfboard Sock
The team over at PAMGEA created a sock similar to the Ho Stevie Sock. In terms of weight and protection, it is pretty much identical. The cool thing is that the PAMGEA Surfboard Socks come in not only an array of sizes, but also with an array of nose shapes to help fit around just about any board out there.
The nose is built with extra padding to give the nose of your board ultimate protection while the soft and stretchy fabric helps to protect your board from bumps, dings, and harmful UV rays. The lightly colored material that PAMGEA uses is excellent for keeping your board cool too The best thing about this sock is that it will also help to keep wax from getting on places like your rack or the interior of your car. With a small storage pouch included, as well as a drawstring closure, this is a great alternative to the Ho Stevie sock.
Choosing: Which Bag For Which Occasion
There are pretty much three basic kinds of surfboard bags out there: Surfboard socks, day bags, and travel bags. While socks aren’t technically bags, as they don’t really have any padding, they certainly give you protection, so they must be included.
Surfboard bags are excellent if you’re carrying your board down to the water, taking short, easy trips, or are storing your board in places where the sun is constantly shining down. There are a pretty wide variety of socks out there with different features, though for the most part, they all provide the same protection. They are great for storing your board in small or tight spaces and are also the most lightweight, making them as easy to carry as your naked board. On the negative side, they don’t provide very much padded protection for your board as they are pretty much just made from cloth-like material. Wax and dirt can be an issue if you don’t constantly clean them too. We would highly recommend getting a sock only if you need cheap and easy protection or just want a stylish way to carry your board around.
Day bags are also great for easier day-to-day use. You can definitely travel with them in the car, though they are not built for air travel. The cool thing about day bags is that, unlike socks, they are built with padded protection to keep your board safer from dings and dents. You’ll typically find that these fit just one board, so you must choose wisely when taking these on trips. They are also built to fit specific styles of boards in terms of length and shape. Again, these are for day-to-day use, meaning most of them come with larger interior or exterior pockets for gear. At most, you’ll find a small accessory pocket for the strap, wax, or a fin. For some, that might be plenty enough.
The surfboard travel bag is the most durable of them all and makes protection priority with the additional padding. Typically, you’ll find that you can fit up to two or three boards inside a travel bag. They are essentially little suitcases for your surfboards, as they also typically come with large and small accessory pockets to help store things like your wetsuit. If you’re taking your board anywhere that requires you to fly, a travel bag is a must have. Even if you’re taking your board up along the coast in your vehicle, having a travel bag can be great because it gets rid of the need for soft racks on the top of your car or truck. Obviously with all of these extra features, travel bags are much more expensive and much heavier. You’ll always have to pay more to take them onto planes as well, so make sure to keep that in mind. Other than that, they are at the top when it comes to surfboard bags.
Tips For Travel and Packing Your Bag
Whether you are just driving up the coast or booking a surf trip to the Canary Islands, traveling with a surfboard can be extremely stressful. You’re pretty much sitting on a plane for hours knowing that your board was probably tossed carelessly into the cargo hold and is no flopping around with a bunch of other luggage. Stop worrying now. We’re going to give you some tips on how you can make sure that your surfboard is packed away safely and securely so that you can enjoy your surfing vacation without breaking a sweat.
Get a Travel Bag
Duh! Make sure that you get a bag that is padded and protected all the way around so you can rest assured that your board is safe, even when luggage guys are hurling it around. If you want to travel with multiple boards, make sure you get a bag that has a padded layer between the two boards to keep them safe from each other. We would highly recommend looking for a heavy-duty bag with wheels if you’re very serious about travel. It also makes hauling it around a heck of a lot easier.
Take the Fins Off Your Board
We’ve heard horror stories of people forgetting to take off their fins and having their board come out totally warped after their flight. It’s simple physics that a flatter object is going to travel a lot nice than one that juts out. If your bag doesn’t have a pocket for fins, wrap them up in something like a soft towel and store them atop your board. Make sure that you don’t forget your fin key too! If you can’t remove the fins from your board, purchase or build a fin box to keep them as safe as possible.
Remove the Wax
You’re most likely travelling to a spot with a different climate, meaning the wax you use at home will likely not hold up in the tropical weather of wherever. Don’t get your board to the hotel just to find that the wax has all melted along the way. Take it off beforehand and re-wax when you arrive.
Use Foam Pipe Insulation To Protect the Rails
Though most travel bags come with rail protection, a little extra precaution never hurt anyone. You can buy pipe insulation at pretty much any hardware store out there. Slice it down the middle and slide it around your rails so that it fits from the nose to the tail. When you have them stuck on, wrap your board in plastic wrap or something of the like to keep them from falling off.
Protect the Nose and Tail!
Use things like bubble wrap or thick towels and secure them to the nose and tail of your board or boards. This can also be done with the pipe insulation that we mentioned above, but again, extra protection is only better. Regardless of what you use, pay close attention to how you think your bag might react to a ride in the luggage universe and treat the nose and tail accordingly.
Bubble Wrap the Entire Board
Finally, after you have done everything else, bubble-wrap the entire length of your board with a few layers if you can. This will ensure full protection for your board.
Make Sure The Airlines Know Your Board Is Fragile
Some boards come with fragile stamps like the FCS bag, though most don’t. It is important that you make it glaringly obvious that your board bag requires special and careful attention by luggage attendants. Whether you use a sticker, marker, acrylic paint, or glitter to get the message across is up to you!
If you’re throwing in other things like wetsuits or accessories, try and distribute the weight throughout the bag as evenly as possible to make sure that it is easy to carry. Make sure you also know which airline that you are flying, as some airlines have banned travelling with surfboards altogether.
Best Surfboard Bag Brands
Pro-Lite has been making surfboard bags for almost four decades now. They were the very first company to begin manufacturing surfboard bags that were suited for serious travel. From their small start in Costa Mesa, they have now become one of the biggest manufacturers of surfboard bags in the world. They now offer traction pads, leashes, and an array of other accessories as well. From day bags to travel bags and beyond, Pro-Lite offers some of the best quality bags on the market.
Even though Channel Islands is primarily focused on creating high-performance surfboards, they have an awesome line of high-quality board bags for almost any kind of board. From day bags to travel bags that can hold up to 10 boards, they make some of the best, what we would call “luxury”, bags on the market. If you’re an avid traveller and love Channel Islands products, definitely check out their line of bags.
Dakine is one of the toughest action sports brands out there in our opinion. They have a great line of surfboard bags to back that up as well. For a company that was built to focus primarily on bags and backpacks, you know they aren’t messing around. Whether you’re travelling to the coldest parts of the world for an arctic surf or hitting a tropical destination to carve with the dolphins, Dakine has a bag for it.
FCS has a long history in fins and is now probably the most popular fin system in the world. Focused on high-performance surf, FCS has also developed a durable and practical line of travel bags, day bags, and socks, to get help get you out of the local spot you surf everyday. If their fins say anything about the standard of quality they provide, we need say nothing more.
Curve bags are the best out there for surfers who are on a budget. From socks to day bags to travel bags, they have everything you could need. They make seriously high-quality products that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. If you’re a casual surfer looking to get a little protection for your board, we recommend Curve highly.
What To Look For When Buying
Looking for the right surfboard bag really depends on what type you’ll be getting. We’ll break it down into the three types that we were talking about earlier.
If you’re looking at getting a surfboard sock, the first thing that you’ll want to check is if it comes with a padded nose. We already know that socks aren’t very strong, so having some extra protection where it counts can be extremely helpful. Also look to make sure that the shape of the nose fits the shape of the nose on your board. Don’t get one that is pointed if you have a rounded longboard.
This goes hand in hand with looking for the proper size. You’ll always want to get a sock that is just a few inches bigger than your board to give you a little bit of slack if you want to keep your fin on. For example, if you have a 6-foot surfboard, we would recommend getting a 6’2” sock, even though it will stretch a bit. If your board is a retro-shaped board, make sure that you are purchasing a retro fitting sock. These have special nose shapes and are wider than regular socks to account for the board size.
In terms of the fabric, try and look for fabric that is a little lighter, though not white if you can. Fabric that is too dark, like black, will attract more heat to your board and also melt your wax much faster. Melted wax on a board sock is incredibly annoying and will require you to do some intense washing to get it out. On the other hand, having something that is too bright, like white, will just attract dirt and will probably end up yellowing after a bit.
Some extra features that you can look for include interior pockets for storing accessories and drawstring bottoms to make sure that your board is securely set inside the sock.
If you’re looking at day bags, you’re most likely looking to have a bit more day-to-day protection. It is important if you get a day bag to make sure that they have at LEAST 3mm of padding or more. Anything less and you might as well get a sock. Look at the shoulder strap. Is it padded or adjustable? Can it be removed when you are transporting it? It’s incredibly important to have a shoulder strap, especially if you’re taking long walks to get down to the beach or riding your bike while carrying your board.
Look at storage. A great day bag will have at least small accessory pockets where you can store things like fins, wax, or some munchies for after the sesh. These are also very handy for storing things like leashes, fin keys, or even your wallet and keys. If the bag has larger accessory pockets, that’s even better! You’ll then have the opportunity to store things like wetsuits or an extra pair of dry clothes.
In terms of the build, make sure that the bag fits around your board. Check out the material on the bag as well. Lots of day bags come with some type of reflective or semi-reflective material that can keep your board safe from harmful UV rays. It also helps it to stay insulated while it’s travelling atop your car or sitting on the sand for long periods of time. Lastly, the material ensures that wax won’t melt off your board and clump up in a big pile near the bottom of the bag.
Check the zippers! A great zipper should be non-corrosive and will not break. Sand and salt can destroy zippers. Don’t get a cheap bag that will fall apart after a few uses.
The first thing you’ll want to consider when looking for a travel bag is how many boards you want to carry. If you’re only trying to carry one or two boards, having wheels isn’t really necessary. Any more than that and slinging it over your shoulders will be incredibly uncomfortable. Anything over three and you should definitely get a travel bag with a set of suitcase-style wheels.
Check the padding next. Having great padding on your travel bag is absolutely necessary, as trusting luggage attendants with your most prized possession is terrifying. Ideally, a travel bag will have around 10mm of high-density foam to keep your board safe and secure while in the air. You’ll also want to check to see if the bags have any extra protection in the nose and tails, as they are most fragile parts of the board that are susceptible to the most damage.
Look for extra storage pockets. Travel bags should definitely have storage pockets onboard. If they don’t, don’t even bother getting the bag. Look for one that at least has pocket to store small things like fins, leashes, etc. It’s far better if there are larger pockets built-in to store things like clothes and wetsuits.
Lastly, look at the different accessories that they come with. Some travel bags will come with a removable day bag, which is awesome if you are trying to kill two birds with one stone. Some bags come with tie down straps like the FCS bags. These work great if you don’t have any way to tie your board down to the top of the car. They also rid the need for soft racks on your vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Surfboard Sock vs Bag
Surfboard socks are definitely the most inferior in terms of surfboard storage and travel, though they can work well in many situations. One of the great things is that they are incredibly lightweight and much easier to carry around. They also come in array of different styles and patterns while most bags can look pretty boring. If you need a simple and easy way to store your surfboard, a sock might be just enough for you.
If you are looking to do any kind of serious travel, it is important that you get a bag rather than a sock. The material is much stronger on bags, they are made with padding to give your board extra protection, they provide more extra storage that is built in, and they are just generally more versatile than socks. Unfortunately they cost a lot more and don’t look as pretty, but it truly comes down to preference and needs when choosing between the two.
Should I have wax on my boards in the bag?
We would highly recommend removing the wax if you are planning to leave your board in the bag for longer periods of time. A quick trip down to the beach should be fine, especially if the heat isn’t ridiculous. The biggest problem with leaving wax on your boards in the heat is that it can melt and pool on the inside of your bag. This is especially annoying if you have something like a sock that is made of a cloth-like material.
What are surfboard bags made out of?
Most surfboard bags are made out polyester, tarpaulin, or some other material that is similar. Besides purchasing socks, we would recommend only purchasing bags that are made with these materials. For starters, these types of materials are more resistant to tears and rips. They are also far more resistant to things like salt, sand, and water, which would typically hurt most other materials. Lastly, materials like tarpaulin especially, are great for helping to deflect heat and UV rays. It’s as if you wrapped your surfboard in foil and put it out in the sun. You won’t have to worry about attracting an excess amount of heat that can eventually warp and ruin your board.
How to take care of my board bag to minimize damage
If you have a surfboard sock, you should be able to wash it like you would any regular piece of cloth-like material. We would not recommend drying it though, as you could shrink it, rendering it useless for the specific size of your board. If you have a regular day bag or travel bag, we would recommend wiping it down with cloths every once in a while to remove excess sand, salt, and gunk. Also make sure to look for any wax on the inside and remove that so that it doesn’t continue to melt and build up elsewhere.
What are surfboard coffins?
Though we didn’t mention them in this article because they are typically for the far advanced surfers, they are very important. They get their name from the fact that you could pretty much stick a body inside of them to travel with. They have massive sidewalls, tons of padding, and can fit anywhere up to 10 boards. They come with wheels so that you can easily transport them from place to place. The beauty of having a coffin is that you don’t have to decide which boards in your quiver you want to take because you can take them all.
Couldn’t I just rent my surfboard internationally?
Some people don’t even want to deal with trying to safely travel with their surfboards, which we totally understand. From the fees to the stress, sometimes it is easier to rent instead. If you’re not too attached to the boards you have, or worried about getting some low-quality tourist board to surf with, renting may be in your favor. Other than that, most places don’t take surf rentals seriously, and most of the time you’ll end up with a foamie or some other cheap board. If you have the ability to get a travel bag to take your own board, it really isn’t that difficult to do and you absolutely should for the best experience possible.
Why get a surfboard bag?
The world is not a friendly place. If you just laid down around a grand for a new board, do you really want to risk ruining it? Unless you are Kelly Slater and can afford a new board every day of your life, probably not. A surfboard bag can protect your board from dings or nicks when your hiking through tight spots, taking it on the place, or just carrying it around the house. It can help stop delamination by providing reflective and UV resistant protection to your board. There is nothing worse than finding your fresh board baking in the backyard. Hand in hand with that, it can help protect your board from discoloration due to too much sun exposure. It can also provide a way to keep everything together for when you travel. From bowlers to golfers to tennis players and beyond, every sport seems to have a special bag. Why not have the same mentality when it comes to surfing?
Final Thoughts – Which Should You Get
Again, the bag you decide on totally depends on your needs. The bags and brands we’ve recommended are some of the best out there so we would obviously recommend picking from those when looking for a solid bag. Whether you are a clumsy surfer or just need a way to travel soundly with your board, a good investment in a bag now can save you tons of money and worry in the long run. Now get out there and surf the world for us!