Thinking about a surf trip?

Once you’ve figured out your destination, the first thing you are going to have to think about is what surfboards you will need to bring. This is the most important item, and once you have that figured out ,you can throw in some clothes, sunscreen, passports, and you’re set.

One of the main differences between a board and your surf hardware is that most of things can be bought when you’re on your trip. Yes, you can buy or rent boards in some places, but you don’t really want to be feeling out a new board or taking the chance of being offered a pop-out, beat up, plastic fin mal when the waves are overhead and barreling. There is nothing like having your own, tried and true equipment when surfing new spots.

With that said, you are going to want the right quiver for the waves and the places you plan on surfing.

But which one? Photo: Aloha Surf JournalBut which one? Photo: Aloha Surf Journal

How many?

When traveling near or far, our experience has been that three boards seems to be the magic number. Minimum two, but three makes sure you have the something for most occasion, as well as giving you and extra option if you break a board.

Which ones?

The type of boards you take will essentially be based off your surfing style and the types of waves you plan on surfing. You can basically break these down to a groveler (or smaller wave board), your standard go to (what ever you surf most at home), and a step up (something that can handle when waves turn on).

Obviously this will vary depending on where you go, for example, if you’re planning on chasing some bigger waves, your groveler might be your standard board.

A good rule to follow is to make sure one of the three boards you bring is your go-to when you are at home. There is a good chance that it’ll be the board you surf most on your trip as well.

Also, be realistic about what kind of waves you can handle and your abilities. There is no sense in bringing something more suited to waves you can’t handle… it will just take up space in your board bag and probably won’t even get wet.

New boards

If you plan on ordering a couple of new boards for your trip, consider getting them glassed a little heavier.

Let’s be honest, unless you’re among the top surfers in the world, that very little extra glassing weight is not going to hurt your performance very much. Plus, it will give you a little more security knowing that your boards will hold up to anything from heaving barrels to unhappy baggage handlers.

Order these boards with more than enough time before your trip and don’t be afraid to take them for a spin before hand, either. You may not get the same type of waves, but it’ll give you a good idea of how the board paddles and performs before you head off.

If you are only able to bring one board for some reason, a good all-rounder is what you are going to need.

Something with a round tail, or conservative round pin will work in a large variety of surf. A nicely balanced tail rocker, keeping you loose in smaller surf but will hold in waves with a little more power is also a good idea.

It doesn’t hurt to go a touch longer or slightly wider or thicker either, just to ensure you get in earlier and under the lip when it does turn on.

Most brands will have their perfect all-round board suited to handle a large variety of waves.

Where are you heading?

You should also take into consideration where you are going on your trip when deciding what boards to bring. What you might use as your groveler, your standard and your step up will depend on where in the world you might be going.

Anywhere you go will have days when it pumps, days when it is flat and all days in-between. Besides tracking the current swell for your trip, take a look at what the average days are like in the season you are traveling.

Heading to Western Australia?Heading to Western Australia? Photo: John Barton

Australian Waves

Australia literally has an endless coastline where you can find every type of wave possible. Compared to somewhere like California, most swells come from deeper water father away which translates to waves with a little more punch to them. If you venture out to West Oz, this becomes even more prevalent as well as a gnarlier coastline with slabs and reefs aplenty.


One fine Spring day at "The Bu" - Malibu. Photo: James Pham.One fine Spring day at “The Bu” – Malibu. Photo: James Pham.

US Waves

Along the California coast and down into Mexico, the waves are going to be a little softer than in Australia for the most part. Again, a wide variety of waves from the bombs of Maverick’s and heavier waters of Central and Northern Cal, down to the mellow peelers of Malibu and San Onofre.

Uluwatu doesn't look like this every day, but when it does you better be ready to drop everything and get over there--you might catch Bukit local Johnny pulling in to a heavy one. Photo: Tommy SchultzUluwatu doesn’t look like this every day, but when it does you better
be ready to drop everything and get over there–you might catch Bukit local
Johnny pulling in to a heavy one. Photo: Tommy Schultz

Destination Waves

A trip to Indo or other far off place might require a different set up. Since you are generally going to be surfing good quality waves, many people think they need a quiver of step up boards. However, you will be surprised at what boards can handle these waves.

Since they are more structured an usually better quality, you definitely want to pack your go to shortboard that you ride at home–it’ll probably end up being the board you ride most here, too. And yes, you will need that step up (you are planning on scoring waves right?) but also don’t count out a fish or a hybrid shape like the Hypto Krypto by Haydenshapes or even the Bliss Fish by Canvas.

Not only will these boards handle some size since the waves are such good quality, they will keep you in the water when it is a little smaller.

To sum it up, you need to take the time to think about choosing the right surfboards you want to bring and what boards you will enjoy the most for the waves you plan on surfing. Having the right equipment to suit your style and needs will make or break a trip.

If money is no issue, pack as many boards as possible and think outside the box. You will be surprised at what boards work in different waves or conditions and it may open your mind up when choosing boards for a surf at home too.

But for most of us where money is limited, a three board quiver with removable fins is just about ideal. With the right surfboard bag, you can squeeze all three into one bag (hoping to pass for one board payment at the airline).

And if you can only bring one board, make sure it is a good all-rounder that can be surfed when it gets smaller and can handle when it gets bigger. And make sure it has a solid glass job… The last thing you want is a broken board with nothing to back it up.

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