For surfers, part of the insatiable search for perfect waves includes mind-numbing commercial air travel; at times exceeding more than 24 hours as exploration of our earth’s far-flung and remote wave rich regions may require. Another harsh reality? Careless handling of your delicate boards by airlines that could care less whether or not your quiver arrived safe and sound. This, combined with elevated ticket prices and exceedingly expensive oversized luggage fees, results in the need to remove as much guessing out of the equation as possible when traveling. One solution? Get yourself a proper surfboard bag.
For anyone who’s new to the whole “BYOB” or “Bring Your Own Board” mentality in regards to international travel, a rude awakening is in store for them if they’ve come unprepared to the airport. This, of course, could mean many things: from mistakingly purchasing a day bag rather than a proper travel bag, not ensuring their boards and gear are properly wrapped and protected within the bag, or simply not comprehending that for some airlines, roundtrip expenses for oversized luggage (including board bags) can cost almost half a much as your ticket. Not to worry, though, a little research can go along way. And it all starts with the right travel bag.
Migra 6.7 Boardbag
Marketed as one of the newer and more innovative takes on the traditional surfboard bag, the Migra board bag is not only designed to absorb shock and abuse from mishandling but comes equipped with a handy external carrying system for easy day-to-day travel between spots and lodging options during the trip. Key features here include 15mm foam rail protectors and 10mm foam throughout, salt resistant hardware, a functional shoulder pad, adjustable balance straps, interior pockets to complement their exterior carrying system, and the entire piece rolls up tightly for easy storage when not in use.
Dakine Recon Bag
Outfitted for your more high-performance surfboard, the Recon Bag is designed to safely carry two boards. However, for those shady airlines that try to charge per board (yes that does occur unfortunately) the Recon features a stealth design that only reveals one board when unzipped while the second remains hidden behind a 5 mm divider. The Recon also hosts an easy nose-to-tail zipper, an expandable tail for boards with glass-on fins, and a layer of 3/8 inch closed cell foam throughout for necessary ding protection from jealous baggage handlers who are stuck checking your luggage while you jet off to Indonesia for a couple weeks.
FCS Triple Travel All-Purpose Cover
From the makers of the iconic and diverse lineup of fins comes a surfboard travel bag positioned to keep your quiver protected while offering comfortable carrying features when in transit. First off, the Triple Travel features enough room for three boards within it’s 10mm Dual Density padded construction while padded rail protection keeps the vulnerable regions of your boards out of harm’s way. Also, a contoured coffin wall adds additional strength, Marine zippers remain resistant to seizing over years of use, internal straps secure your boards to the bag, and the piece even comes with an added single day cover for day-to-day protection for the duration of your stay.
Pro-Lite Smuggler Travel Bag
Similar to the Recon Bag, the Pro-Lite Smuggler boasts a three-board capacity but thanks to a false bottom only reveals two boards when unzipped. It’s yet another ingenious way to stick it to shady airline policies without losing your cool. Also, their AIR-LITE foam provides extra protection throughout the bag while additional features include a rail guard around the zipper, several exterior pockets, a reinforced nose, air vent for warmer climates, and a 600 denier poly construction.
Pro-Lite Finless Coffin
Looking for a beefier bag to handle that step-up board alongside your go-to stick in a protective and secure case? Pro-Lite’s Finless Coffin could be the call then. It’s outfitted with a slew of features to ensure it handles just about any obstacle that stands in its way. These include a 10mm foam protection throughout, large exterior pockets with drainage, an internal divider to keep things protected and separated, a secret storage pocket for items you wish to remain hidden, and molded non-corrosive zippers to keep everything running smoothly. Additional tie-down loops within the bag and exterior compression straps also allow for secure operation throughout.
Creatures of Leisure Shortboard Triple Boardbag
Designed for serious surf travel, the Shortboard Triple from Creatures of Leisure boasts a three-board capacity and everything you need to help ensure this small quiver arrives safely to its final destination. Key features here include their lighter yet stronger Diamond-tech fabric for super abrasion resistance, a 10mm closed cell foam padding for added board protection, an E-FLOW Ventilation System to allow trapped air to be removed from the cover, two 5mm board separation sheets, and even a modular packing system for fins, fin keys, leashes or whatever other small items you may bring along for the trip.
Channel Islands Travel Light Coffin
If lugging your board bag around the airport on your shoulder isn’t the desired activity (and we don’t blame you) Channel Islands Travel Light Coffin is designed to both save weight and is easily attached to their CI Wheelie Bag in seconds. Here, they made sure to hook this travel bag up with a waterproof Hex Rip-Stop shell, 10mm padding on the deck and bottom, 20mm of sandwich padding on the rails, internal padded dividers, the capacity to carry up to four boards without fins, an expandable fin compartment, and a corrosion-proof zipper. Purposed as a board bag built for lengthy retreats, the Travel Light Coffin certainly won’t let you down.
Dakine Regulator 2.0
A bit larger than their Recon, the Regulator fits upwards of three surfboards all within the comfy confines of their 3/8th-inch closed-cell foam construction throughout in conjunction with a bomber 600D polyester top and heat-reflecting bottom. Additionally, two internal padded dividers add an extra layer of protection to your quiver while heavy zippers, internal fin/wax pockets, and an ergonomically padded shoulder strap keep things at the ready whenever it’s time to chase the next incoming swell.
You Got The Bag, Now For The Boards
Whether you’re a high-performance hotdogging pro, a laid-back soul surfer, or fall somewhere in between, we have a list of the 12 best surfboards for every rider right here to get you stoked on expanding that quiver.
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