Surfboard bags protect your boards against bumps and dings whilst you travel and make carrying your equipment that much easier. What’s more, your cars seats and house will be protected from any surfboard wax, water and dirt. In this guide we review the best surfboard bags, how to pack and use them, plus how to plan a surf trip and avoid airline fees. Check out the links in the table of contents below to get started.
The Best Types of Surfing Board Bags
Below we do reviews of the best surfboard…
Surfboard Sock Covers
The surfboard sock cover is the simplest type of surfboard bag available. It’s usually made from a stretchable fabric material that covers the entire board and it has an opening at one end that can be tightened or loosened using string. Because it is just made from fabric it provides minimal damage protection but this also makes socks very cheap and they can be folded away easily when not in use. Socks tend to be strap less so they are harder to carry. They’re also useful for protecting your car seats from surfboard water, wax and grime. What’s more, they protect your surfboard against UV sunlight damage. A surfboard sock is best used when transporting your board in the car or storing your board away in your house.
- Sizes: 6′, 6’6″, 7′, 8′, 8’6″, 9’6″
- Colors: Black and white, blue and gray, red and gray
Simply the best surfboard sock that is available. If you have a thin surfboard then order the size that is listed. However, if your surfboard is thick then order one size bigger.
Surfboard Day Bags
Surfboard day bags are an upgrade from the sock cover due to a number of improvements, but this does make them slightly more expensive. They tend to be made from more durable materials than just fabric, plus they’re padded out so they provide better protection against travel bumps. They also usually come with a zip so it’s easier to access the board, plus there will be a strap or handle making it easier to carry. It’ll also usually have reflective material on the outside of the bag to stop the board from overheating and the wax from melting off. What’s more, day bags sometimes come with a one or two small side pockets. Surfboard day bags are best used if you go on a trip where you’ll be carrying the board for a distance as the strap makes things much easier.
Review of the Best Surfboard Day Bags from Dakine
Advantages & Disadvantages
Surfboard Travel Bags
These surf luggage bags are used when you travel and need extra protection as your bag is likely to be tossed around by airport staff. A large surfboard bag will be able to carry several surfboards. It’ll have thick padding to prevent damage and will have a number of storage compartments for any extra items you want to carry. All of these improvements do come at an extra price, but it’s worth it if you have the money and care about your surfboard. Sometimes these surf luggage bags get called a coffin surfboard bag or double surfboard bag and they even get kitted out with wheels. If you care about your surfboards and don’t want them damaged when you go on holiday then a travel bag is worth the investment.
- Sizes: 6′, 6’3″, 6’6″, 6’10” (all 24″ wide)
- Shape: Pointed for shortboards
- No. Surfboards: 3 (2 on display with 1 in a hidden compartment)
- Color: Gray
This brilliantly designed surfboard bag will fool airline ticket agents into thinking there’s only two surfboards whilst you hide your additional third one in the false bottom. Over time this will save you money on airline baggage fees.
Aside from the unique design, the bag is well padded and comes with a number of storage compartments. The only drawback to the bag is that it isn’t the right size for longboards.
Review of the Best Coffin Surfboard Travel Bags from Pro-Lite
Advantages & Disadvantages
Whilst some of the bags below didn’t make the above list, each one stands out in it’s own particular way or is the best in it’s unique product category:
Eco-friendly Surfboard Bag
Made with hemp and using an environmentally friendly manufacturing process, this surfboard bag from Wave Tribe is perfect for the environmentally conscious travel surfer.
Stand Up Paddle Board Bag
This BIC Sport Sup Bag is a bestseller that comes in a range of sizes, from 9 to 14 foot. Made from high quality, durable materials it’s had a number of raving reviews online.
Very affordable, the Wham-O bodyboard bag can carry up to 2 boogie boards and comes with backpack straps for easy carrying. It even has spare room for a pocket storage which is ideal for other gear.
The Wave Zone Skimboard Bag can easily hold 2 skimboards and comes with a shoulder trap which makes carrying a breeze. Available in Black, Blue and Red – plus from sizes 42″ up to 59″.
What to look for when buying a surfboard bag?
Size and shape
First, consider the size of your bag and choose one that will match the size of your surfboard e.g. an 8ft board will need a longboard surf bag. You might also need to think about the height of the bag if your surfboard fins are glassed on and non-removable – there’s even bags that come with fin zips for this. Plus don’t forget the width especially if you have longboard. I’d recommend getting a bag that is a few inches bigger than your biggest surfboard. Also, double check the nose shape of your bag. If your surfboard has a wide nose then it won’t fit a bag with a pointed tip.
Check the thickness of the padding as thicker padded bags are especially needed when transporting your board on a plane. Sock covers won’t provide protection when doing any type of distance travel. Typically, surfboard day bags have 1/8″ to 1/4″ padding whereas surfboard travel bags have 10mm to 15mm padding.
Pockets and storage compartments
Keeping all of your equipment together in one spot can be handy. Bigger sized surfboard travel bags are known to include a number of storage pockets for any accessories you might have and some even have large enough room for wetsuits and all your luggage. On the other hand, a surfboard day bag may not have any pockets at all – so consider how much extra storage room you need.
Material quality & accessories
Surfboard bags with better quality building materials are generally higher priced bags, so if you want a more durable bag then you’re going to have to pay more. However, there’s a couple of other things you can check for that will signify quality and make your bag last longer.
Check that the nose of the bag is reinforced with extra fabric as this is one area that commonly rips. Day bags should also have reflective material on the outside to prevent overheating and the wax from melting.
See what type of zip the bag uses because this is an area that frequently breaks. Double zips are even better and they can still work if one of the zips break.
Some surfboard travel bags even come with a false bottom! An airline might have a 2 surfboard limit but you can use the hidden compartment in the bag to show the airline your 2 surfboards and then keep the third one hidden whilst you check your luggage in.
Surf bag prices can vary greatly:
- At the lower end, surfboard sock covers range from $20 to $60.
- Surfboard day bags can go from as little as $40, with higher priced ones costing up to $150.
- Of course the most expensive type is the surfboard travel bag which normally starts at around $100. Premium versions with wheels and multiple surfboards in them can sometimes go up to $400 to $500 or more.
How to Pack your Surfboard Bag for a Vacation in 7 Steps
1) Check your airline policy and fees.
Some airlines allow surfboards for free whereas others charge several hundred dollars. Check out our surfboard baggage fee guide here before booking your flights so you know how much it’s going to cost and what the weight limit is.
2) Pick the right surfboard/s from your quiver
Know the type of waves you’ll be surfing ahead of time, so then you can pack the appropriate surfboard. Doing this is as simple as going to any popular surf reporting website (such as MagicSeaweed) and entering the location you’ll be heading to. You can then see the beach conditions, wave heights and gain any local knowledge that’ll be useful for your trip.
3) Choose the best surfboard bag to suit your needs
Flying or on a road trip? Bringing just one board or a group of 4? Shortboarding or longboarding? Click here to read our entire guide on choosing the right surfboard bags.
4) Make a surf trip packing list
You only want the surf trip essentials to be included on this list because otherwise they will be more for you to carry and potentially higher baggage fees. Some popular necessary items include:
- Surfboard (4 boards max and ideally 1 or 2 – unless you’re actually a professional surfer).
- Fins and fin keys.
- Vaseline for any rashes.
- Surf wax + comb.
- Wetsuit + rash guard.
- Sun cream.
- A ding repair kit.
- Duct tape – always useful for fixing things up.
- Bubble wrap and cardboard for extra padding.
5) Pack your surfboard bag
Pack your bag correctly to prevent your surfboard from being damaged during the flight:
- Take the fins off your surfboard if they’re removable so you they don’t get damaged.
- Consider removing your surfboard wax using a surfing comb so it doesn’t melt during transportation – making the rest of your bag sticky. This obviously holds more true in hotter conditions.
- Pad out the gaps in your bag. Whilst some might use towels or other items for padding, it’s even better to use bubble wrap because it is much lighter. Use extra padding at the nose and tail of your board. Other people also cut out some cardboard using scissors and place this on the sides/rails of their boards for extra protection.
- If using a surfboard travel bag/coffin, then also consider packing the surfboard inside a sock cover or day bag for extra padding. These can then also be used as you head out to the beach, leaving behind your bulkier surfboard travel bag back at your room.
6) Weigh your bag
Don’t forget to take out the scales and give your bag a weigh before heading to the airport. If you leave it to the airport check-in desk then you might get surprised with some excess fees.
What do do if you surfboard bag weighs over the limit?
To get out of any extra charges, there’s two things you can do. First, try moving any of your accessory items such as wetsuits, towels and fins into your hold luggage or carry on luggage. Second, if you’re still at home, then you could swap out one of your surfboards for a lighter one – or even just reduce the number of boards you’ll be taking with you.
7) Enjoy the trip! And one last thing…
The most important thing is to enjoy your trip, relax and have a good time. You’re on holiday after all.
The problem is that on the flight you’ll be taking with you several hundred dollars worth of equipment, or potentially even several thousand dollars worth of items. Some people would worry about this but you really don’t have to.
Instead, you can give yourself some peace of mind by getting comprehensive surfing insurance which will cover both your boards and your health in case you get injured.
Airline surfboard fees and policies
Carrying your surfboard on some airlines can cost you several hundred dollars or more. Even worse, there’s often an additional fee for each surfboard that you carry and sometimes even a limit of only 2 surfboards.
That’s why it’s vital to know the surfboard fees and policies for different airlines before you book. Fortunately, there’s already an excellent website that does that for you called Airline-Baggage-Fees.com and specifically their page on surfboard baggage fees available here.
So when you are booking your holiday destination, don’t just think about how much the flight is going to cost, but also factor in the surfboard luggage policy and fees. Different airlines policies could dramatically change the cost of some flights, making other more expensive flights actually cheaper when you combine together all of the costs.
Also, keep in mind that when flying in Europe, it’s EU law that no bag can be heavier than 32kg. Anything larger than this needs to be freighted so make sure you keep beneath this limit with your bag when flying through there.
Some extra tips for avoiding airline fees:
- Use a smuggler surfboard bag – Useful for airlines that only allow 2 surfboards per customer. One of these bags allows you to give the appearance of carrying only 2 surfboards whilst you hide the 3rd one in a hidden compartment.
- Pack extra light – Only take what’s necessary. Excess items can be carried in your normal luggage or as carry on items.
- Choose the long line -When checking in your luggage at an airport, normally you’d go for the shortest line to save yourself time. But when checking in a surfboard bag you might want to go for the longest line. This is because the checking agent is then more likely to be busy and not paying attention to every detail. They may not even charge you the extra sports equipment fees and instead might just check your luggage in as normal.
- Be nice to your ticket agent – Smile at them and give them a compliment and you’ll be surprised at how far this gets you.
Best Travel Insurance For Surf Trips
When bringing your own surfboards on a holiday, you could potentially be carrying several thousand dollars worth of equipment with you in a single bag. If this bag gets lost or damaged then be prepared to cry!
What’s more, regular surfers sometimes forget that surfing is an extreme sport where you can be seriously injured. This is especially true when you’re surfing in a new, unfamiliar location that has bigger waves than you’re used to. Without health insurance, an injury such as a broken arm or leg could cost you severely if you don’t have it covered.
Luckily, nowadays there’s some comprehensive travel insurance that will cover people who take part in surfing and extreme spots. We recommend checking out World Nomads as they have the best coverage out of the policies that we’ve seen available.
Accessories that work well with a surfboard bag
In addition to the items on the packing list above, other things you might want to consider include:
Surfboard Car Rack
Necessary for any surfing road trip – you can use this surfboard car rack to transport your boards on the roof of your vehicle. The reason why it’s one of the best selling car racks is simply because it is strong, secure, lockable and adjustable.
Wetsuit Bag / Wet Bag
Very affordable and ideal for taking off your wetsuit and then storing it away. This wetsuit bag will prevent water from dripping in your car or house as you change out of your wetsuit. Once placed inside of the bag, it becomes waterproof as you close it up.
Waterproof Pouch / Surf Dry Bag
Perfect for storing your wallet, keys and phone in as you head down to the beach. This waterproof pouch will stop both water and sand from damaging your possessions.
Surfboard Sling / Surfboard Carrier
A unique design and alternative to the day bag, this surfboard sling helps you to carry those bulky longboards to and from the beach.
How to Make a Surfboard Bag from Canvas
If you’re handy with the thread and needle, then consider making your very own surfboard bag or sock cover using the step-by-step guide listed below.
- Gather The equipment and materials you need:
- Sewing machine
- Shoe string for use as a drawstring
- Wooden dowel
- Canvas material
- Place the surfboard on a canvas, take a pencil and then trace the outline of the surfboard. At the bottom end of the surfboard, make the outline flat.
- Cut the outline using a pair of scissors.
- Place the cut out piece of canvas on top of more canvas material and trace the outline again. Cut this piece out as well so you have 2 big canvas pieces in the shape of a surfboard (we’ll call these the bag panels).
- Cut out 2 elliptical shaped nose pieces to match the nose shape of the canvas bag panels. Lay out the canvas on the floor and place these on top of one another.
- Pin the 2 canvas noses on top of the 2 bag panels. Sew these pieces together using a sewing machine.
- With top and bottom canvas bag panels now having their noses sewed, place these on top of one another. Pin these 2 bag panels together, inside out.
- Sew the bag panels together using the sewing machine. Do 2 lines of thread to provide extra strength. Leave on opening at the tail end whereas fully sew the nose and elsewhere.
- Turn the bag right side out so the thread is now on the inside.
- Cut a square opening at the tail end for a drawstring (shoestring) and pin this.
- Sew together the opening.
- Use a shoelace as a drawstring and tape it to a wooden dowel. Insert the string through the opening and loop it through. Tie it tight.
- Optional: add stamps and decorations to your surfboard bag.