19 things you need to pack for your surf trip
Even if you’re heading out on one of your many surf trips in your renovated van, or if you’re going on your first solo adventure, there are things to keep in mind while packing and getting ready. Here’s our full surf trip packing list that covers everything from your boards to insurance papers!
How long have you been daydreaming about heading out on a surf trip? Weeks? Months? Years? Well, since you’re reading this post then we can only assume it’s about time. Congrats! While being caught up in the excitement and anticipation of the trip, there are things you need to pack and stuff to get ready before you’re out the door. Sure, you can get by and buy your things at the destination, but it might be easier and cheaper to have everything sorted out before you go. We're here to help! Here’s our list of what to pack!
Which surf destination are you travelling to?
The destination of your surf trip is a key part of deciding which boards, wax and wetsuits to bring with you. Your bag will look very different when going to Sri Lanka than it would if you’re going to Iceland. Some good questions to look into before starting to pack are:
What’s the air temperature?
What’s the water temperature?
When’s the best season to go?
Are there any surf shops or repair shops around?
What kind of waves and breaks are there?
Packing list: what to pack for the ultimate surf trip
Alright, now that we have figured out where to go and what the conditions are, let’s get packing! If you’re going to a remote location it is nice to know you’re all stocked up with your surf gear. Sometimes shit happens, so it’s good to be prepared from the start, especially when you don’t know if there are any friendly neighbourhood surf shops around. Good luck packing and make sure to have an amazing time out there!
2. Surfboard bag
If you decide to bring some surfboards with you on your trip, make sure that you’ll have a good quality bag that keeps the boards safe. Some airlines are doing a really good job of dinging surfboards up, which is a very frustrating thing to realize once getting off a long flight. So try to avoid this happening as much as possible by padding your board/boards with wetsuits, beach towels and rash guards for extra protection in the bag.
3. Fins and leashes
Surfboard fins: It’s a no-brainer to bring fins with you, but we’ll list them anyway since it’s very annoying to forget them at home. It is also a good idea to bring one or two spare sets of fins just in case anything happens. Having some extra fin keys and screws wouldn't hurt either, they are just as easy to pack as they are to lose.
Leashes: You don’t want to enter the water without a leash, so have a few extras with you in case it breaks. One or two extra leashes in different thicknesses and you’ll be all set to not lose your board in any waves. Some extra leash ties are also a good idea to bring with you.
4. Surfboard wax
Bring some blocks of wax with you when you go, you never know how easily you’ll find a good wax around your destination. As we mentioned in the beginning, remember to check the temperature in the water, you want the wax to be the right temperature!
8. Turkish beach towel
Bringing a big and bulky beach towel might not feel like the highest priority when trying to pack light. It's clumsy, takes up loads of space and takes forever to dry. Therefore we suggest you bring a light-weight towel instead, like a Turkish beach towel, they take up less space and dry faster.
9. Ocean friendly sunscreen
At most surf destinations, catching heaps of sun is inevitable. So remember to bring plenty of waterproof sunscreen with you! In places like Bali, the UV index is very high so make sure that your sunscreen has a high SPF. And don't forget a balm for your lips as well! We recommend you buy a sunscreen that is Oxybenzone-free since these are more ocean-friendly. Aftersun and Aloe Vera are also good to bring in case you get burned. And don’t forget to pack environment-friendly zinc!
10. A reusable water bottle
Speaking of the environment, make sure to invest in a reusable water bottle. There’s enough plastic at the beaches and in the ocean, as it is, you don’t want to add on to that! Try to avoid buying any single-use plastic water bottles and get an environmentally friendly aluminium bottle instead. You’d be surprised by how many restaurants, hotels and airports provide water fill-ups!
11. Soft racks
Packing a soft rack with you can make the difference between a smooth trip to the breaks and a frustrating journey. Attaching your board to the top of the car or tuk-tuk with soft racks will be easier than trying to attach it with something else on the spot, and less expensive than ordering a big car to transport your board.
12. Surf repair kit
Getting dings on your boards is never fun, but when it happens it’s good to have the tools with you to fix them.
13. Human repair kit
Also known as a First aid kit! It’s not only your boards that can get cuts from the reefs, remember to pack a kit with some first aid tools to keep yourself safe. Some basic things to bring are waterproof band-aids, pain killers, a small scissor, bandages, alcohol pads and a hand sanitiser. A salve for muscle relief and an insect repellent is also smart to include.
14. Your meds
If you’re taking any prescription medicines, make sure to be out in time to refill your prescription and to have enough with you to last the whole trip. Some destinations also require you to have taken a vaccination before your departure, so make sure that you keep yourself updated on that!
We already covered the surfboard bag, but there are a few other bags that are good to bring with you on your trip:
Carry-on backpack or hand luggage: Be smart about what you choose to bring with you on the plane! Remember that there’s always a risk that your checked-in bags get lost or delayed, so make sure that you keep the important things in your carry-on. Like your computer and camera. Your charger, toothbrush and adaptors are good to keep close to. Also, pack a pair of swimwear with you, if your bags get delayed then you can at least enjoy the wait by the pool or ocean!
Dry bag: Use a dry bag to either keep your things dry or use it to keep your wet beachwear safely separated from your other stuff.
Beach bag: For a chill day at the beach you just need some sunscreen and a good book, then it’s nice to bring a simple tote bag with you.
Easy to bring but a nightmare to forget! Have a look at your destination and see if you need to bring any plug adaptors. It’s never fun when your phone battery gives up, way less so when you’re travelling to a new place! Getting your adaptors at the airport will just cost you unnecessary time and money, so make sure you have it with you.
19. Downtime essentials
It's a nice idea to bring things to do when you’re waiting for the waves. A good book, game, sketchbook or a deck of cards can make the time pass by before the good swells come.
Some extra things to bring on your surf trip are:
Ear plugs: At colder surf spots, earplugs can be the saviours to prevent you from getting so-called Surfer’s Ear (=hearing loss due to cold wind and water exposure).
GoPro or a nice camera: It is always fun to film yourself and your friends when you're riding the waves, later you can use the footage to analyze your progress or to post on your socials!
Surf watch: This is a fun tech for the real surf nerds!
Skateboard: When the water is flat you can practise your surfing on land with your surf skate.
Now you are all set to go! But if you want more inspiration, check out this post with our top tips for planning the perfect surf trip.