What Is The Best Boardbag for You?

Best Boardbags RatedSurfboards—how we love them.

And we know you do too. Besides our loved ones, and beer, surfboards are the most important things in our lives.

The first surfboard sighting dates back to 1778 when European explorer Captain James Cook sailed to Hawaii. The Hawaiians had been surfing for hundreds of years. The original Hawaiian surfboard could measure up to 16 feet and weighed one hundred pounds.

Today’s surfboards are much more fragile then those original Hawaiian logs and they do get damaged without the proper protection.

It’s a dangerous world out there for surfboards and the following are some common ways that surfboards get damaged outside of the water:

  • Dings from knocking your board around the house;
  • Nicks from when you find that the dog was playing tug-of-war with your leash (board attached);
  • Broken boards from angry ex-girlfriends (or boyfriends: Wave Tribe is for you too ladies);
  • Delam from the sun as you left it baking like a chocolate chip cookie in the backyard;
  • Color fading from too much sun exposure;
  • Tail cracks from it dropping out of your car while you take off your wetsuit.
  • Scratches from the cat that decided your board was a humping post.

Lucky for you there is a quick and easy solution—protect your surfboard with a well padded surfboard bag.

A good boardbag will protect your surfboard from the elements (mainly the sun and heat) and also insulate it against those occasional dings or other life scenarios mentioned above. To ensure the safety of your surfboard always be extra nice to your gal and never tell her where your favorite surfboard is located (just in case).

First of all, it’s just plain logical to buy a boardbag.

Why do you need a board bag you might ask?

You just spent $500-$1000 bones on a new stick and you need to protect that board while shlepping it to the beach and back.

You don’t leave the house naked and your board shouldn’t either—being naked it cool, but you don’t want your board bumping into any strage objects.

A good boardbag will also protect your surfboard from the sun while chilling in the back of your ride, not to mention keep sand and wax off your car’s interior.

The sun’s ultraviolet ray’s, both UVA and UVB, can cause your board to ‘delam’. UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. These are the same rays that cause damage to your skin.

Dude, delamination is a bubbly, blistering bumpiness on your beloved board that could lead to your beauties demise.

The most common cause of delamination is leaving your board in a car in the hot sun and not putting a cover on it to cool it down and keep the sun’s rays off your deck and rails. A boardbag acts as a cacoon that insulates your board and creates a small micro-climate that helps reduce the temperature inside the bag. This keeps your board cooler and also protects it from the damaging UV rays.

Boardbag Buyers Guide To Best BoardbagBoardbag Buying Basics

There are four primary types of surfboard bags—if you consider a sock a boardbag—which it is, kinda. But a sock is the most inferior type of board bag because it has little to no padding.

The sock is also made of a thinner material so it doesn’t help create the micro-climate described above.

Ok, more on that later—let’s review the various boardbag types, uses and pain points. The following is a quick and dirty comparison guide for boardbag types:

1. Boardsock Basics

  • cool designs
  • easy to store
  • light weight
  • large variety

Boardsocks Things To Consider

  • limited protection
  • wax issues
  • thin material

2. Day Boardbag Basics

  • mm padded protection
  • fits one board
  • must get right shape

Boardbag Things To Consider

  • YKK zippers
  • shoulder strap
  • interior pocket
  • exterior pocket
  • not enough for airplane travel
  • zippers fall apart if cheap

3. Travel Surfboard Boardbag Basics

  • fits up to 2 boards
  • lots of protection
  • can use store boards

Travel Surfboard Boardbag Things To Consider

  • more expensive
  • bulky and heavy
  • airline will charge for use

4. Wheeled Travel Boardbag Basics

  • use one top of rental
  • carry 3-4 boards
  • offers the best travel convenience
  • easy to cart around in airport

Wheeled Travel Boardbag Things To Consider

  • most expensive option
  • heavy and bulky
  • how to store it off season

Each kind of boardbag has its own benefits and use and in many cases must fit the surfboards (or variety of boards) that you want to carry and protect.

Lets take a look at which boardbag is right for you and let’s look at what you need to look out for when you buy a boardbag for your surfboard.

Surfboard BoardsockBoardsock – The Surfboard Sock

The surfboard sock is the most light weight of the board protection options and also the wimpiest.

The sock mainly serves to protect your board from scratches, sun damage, and minor dings.

If your stick never rides on top of the car and doesn’t get much sun exposure then this is a good option—easy on, easy off (most of the time).

Try and find a boardsock with a padded nose, usually the nose is the most vulnerable part of the board during travel—as you maneuver through the house or garage on your way to the beach the sock offers a little cushion for your surfboard.

A boardsock also does a good job at keeping wax, sand, and water away from your goodies after your surf and can help keep your car clear, which keeps the ladies stoked.

There are some awesome boardsocks out there these days, some that look like art or are being make by-hand in a surf dudes garage.

The Wave Tribe Boardsock comes in unique rad designs and has a thick padded nose made from hemp.

Another great company in California that is making baordsocks by hand is Green Fuz down in San Clemente. Each one of their surfboard socks is unique and looks like an art piece.

Pick the right nose and size options, both width and length matter along with the board style. Most socks will stretch a few inches in all directions. If you buy a 6 foot boardsock, you’ll be able to stuff up to a 6’4 in that baby. Some socks stretch more than others. The canvas style socks seem to be making a comeback and these socks tend to be more baggy and not stretch.

Don’t forget to check the nose style. You can’t put a 7’6 round nose into a straight nose boardsock. Well, you can, but it won’t be the kind of fit that you desire.

Retro surfboards usually require a retro boardsock. The retro boardsocks uhave a special nose and are a bit wider throughout that fit the special shape of your board. At Wave Tribe we have a few boardsocks for the Mini Simmons and Fish surfboard designs.

The one issue I have experienced with boardsocks is when they get too hot and the wax melts and then creates a bond between the sock and the board. This sucks and can be a real pain.

If your going to leave your board in the sun, not recommend in any situation, it’s better to use a boardbag. Try and store your board in a dry and shady place that doesn’t get too hot.

Day Board Bag

The day board bag provides all of the benefits of the sock but offers much more protection. It is a little heavier and more bulky.

Most day board bags have 5mm of padding, a shoulder strap, pocket for wax and a loop on the end so that you can hang it in the garage.

If you need to hike to your surf break then the shoulder strap is essential, carry your board over your shoulder for those long walks to Trestles or other far off locations.

Ever surf Trestles?

If you haven’t you should, and if you do then you know that making that walk with a shitty board bag sucks.

There is a more basic boardbag that doesn’t have a shoulder strap. These are usually the baordbags at the bottom of the price range and are just the bare bones bags. Wave Tribe has one called the Zen Boardbag , these board bags have the smallest footprint and are super lightweight. They are made with breathable hemp fabric that allows your board to stay cool.

If you want a more versatile board bag, look for a day boardbag with a pocket to hide goodies like fins, wax or your cheewawa inside. These pockets really come in handy for stashing an extra leash and wax, which are items that surfers always need to have ready for the unexpected.

Wave Tribe Hemp Day BoardbagGrab a Day Boardbag That Fits Your Board

Also, a solid handle is very important. You’ll see two types of handles, one is just a nylon strap and the other is a proper rubber handle that allows for better portability and grabbing. It’s always good to have something to grab (‘that’s what she said’).

Most day bags don’t have enough padding to travel with. If you are going to fly somewhere please get a surfboard travel boardbag (more on that below).

Day surfboard bags also do a good job of keeping your board from overheating while in your ride making out with your girl or lying on the beach soaking in the sun.

Most day boardbag are covered with reflective material and have insulation that keeps the board cool when the sun is shining through your window or if your board rides on top of your car.

Believe it or not heat can damage a board, so you want to be careful where you leave it. The reflective material ensures you won’t find a mess of wax inside when you open it up or cook your board while grabbing a beer with your bros after your session.

The zipper is the most important element of your bag (more on that below too). If you buy a cheap bag you’ll get a shitty zipper and it might fall apart in a few months while you are walking to the beach with your chick.

Dude, don’t let the chicks see your bag fall apart—so embarrassing!

There are lots of cheap boardbags on the market with shitty zippers, you won’t be happy when your zipper breaks.

A bag with a broken zipper is worthless, look for YKK zippers (made in Japan) and nickle platted zipper pulls (those are the things you, well, pull).

Custom Boardbag

Another option on a day boardbag is a custom custom made boardbag. A custom bag is made to your specifications and let’s you customize it with your own style.

Our favorite custom bags are made by Air Wave in San Francisco. These guys have been making bags since 1984 and they offer a wide range of colors.

There are a few companies making board bags from reclaimed billboard. We tried it for a while at Wave Tribe, but we couldn’t make them competitively in the market. We also noticed that the surfboard got extra hot in the board bags because the billboard didn’t allow for air flow like the hemp or other fabric.

I think it’s fun to design your own boardbag and if you are into the billboard this is an awesome option. Here is the Easy category for board bags, the perfect place to start looking for one.

The Surfboard Travel Board Bag – Wheels Or No Wheels?

Boardbag Wheeled Surfboard Travel CaseThinking about going on a surf trip? Needs some ideas or inspirations, check out some of our surf trip travle articles to places like Easter Island, Cabo and Peru.

If you get on a plane without a surfboard travel bag it would be like flying without your underwear, actually it’d be more like flying naked.

Travel surfboard cases can also double as a second suitcase while traveling and save you on baggage fees.

Speaking of board fees, have you read our Airline Surfboard Fee Guide? It is a must read for anything planning a surf trip.

Most surfboard travel bags have many of the same features as the day board bag but they are made with thicker padding and more resilient straps and handles. Unusually when you travel you take more than one board (different conditions bro) so you’ll want one that fits two or more boards and also has a padded divider.

You don’t want those boards sitting directly on top of each other, too much pressure can smash the rockers together and snap you board—I’ve done it and it sucks.

Most travel boardbags contain about 10mm of padding to protect your board from damage during transport. We felt that 10mm wasn’t enough, so Wave Tribe Travel Bags are made with 13-15mm of padding.

But wait, that still wasn’t enough for us. We noticed that on our R&D surf trips that sometimes the nose and tail sections of our boards where getting damaged from when the airline employees would jam the boardbag onto the planes.

We saw this as a huge problem and thus we redesigned the surfboard travel bag and added an additional 13 mm in the nose and tail where the board bags are most vulnerable. These inserts are made of closed cell foam which is like a protection helmet for your tail and nose, this is the same foam in football helmets.

That’s 26 mm of padding where you need it, and trust me, after 30 years of international surf travel I know you will need it. We’ve never had a board damaged with this new innovative bag design.

Even though we have all this extra padding we still recommend that you wrap the rails. See the video of step-by-step instructions on how to pack your board bag so it doesn’t get damaged at bottom of page in teh section titled #7) How do I pack a boardbag?

You might want to consider traveling with a board that has removable fins, but a good travel bag should allow you to transport glass-ons fins.

These days retro boards like the Mini Simmons have really taken off and so the old traditional travel board bag might not allow you to travel with an alternative quiver. If you want to travel with a retro style surfboard you’ll need a boardbag constructed with wider mid sections and tail.

Also, remember that if you are traveling with a regular board and a retro surfboard you’ll have to make sure that the rockers of each board fit well together in the boardbag.

One of the hardest things to do is lug your board bag through the airport and customs. If you are not going far or have a butler to carry your board then a non wheeled travel board bag might be right for you but if you have multiple flights or expect to have to carry your board bag long distances.

I always recommend a board bag with wheels, sometimes called a tomb or coffin surfboard travel bag.

Why are they called tombs?

Check it out, that what they look like and in fact you could likely be buried in one when you die (which I hope is no time soon).

If you are planning a surf trip by car, train, boat or plane, a travel bag is a good investment. The tombs are the creme-de-la-creme of boardbags and have most of the elements of the double travel bags but with wheels.

You want to look for good quality wheels, excellent YKK zippers, interior pockets and padded board dividers.

Some guys tell me they are sick of paying boardbag fees so they decide that they will rent a board once they get to their surf destination.

I am too attached to my own particular board for this, riding someone else’s surfboard is like wearing your bros underwear.

You can’t always find the board you want either and in some locations you won’t find any board to rent at all. There is nothing like standing on the beach as the waves are going off and you find that the surf shop (the only one in 200 miles) just burned down because they started selling SUPs to the locals.

Of course we think that the Wave Tribe Travel Bag is a great choice but whichever boardbag you buy please remember the main principles of this article. I would recommend always spending a little more to get the board bag with the better quality zippers and handles.

If you do decide on the Wave Tribe board bag, know that you can carry two boards and travel in style with our unique hemp construction and be confident that we have used the best stitching, zippers and construction available.

Other boardbags I would recommend are Prolite and the custom bags at Air Wave. I prefer to support the smaller companies that have deeply rooted ethos, but they are harder to find these days.

7 Tips To Buying A Surfboard Boardbag

#1) Does your surfboard fit into the boardbag?

Make sure the boardbag fits your board. Length should be obvious, and size does matter by the way.

The boardbag will be marked (length) but remember to check the width also. Most bags have an additional 2 inches beyond their marking.

It’s cool to get a board bag a few inches bigger than your board, but not too much bigger, you don’t want it moving around too much inside the bag. 6-12 inches bigger is ok, that way you can use it if you ever get a slightly bigger board or if you want to stuff it with wetsuit, fins and other travel goodies inside.

The best time to buy a bag is when you buy your board.

Try and fit your board into the bag and pick the one that feels right. If you can’t ‘be there’ then get the measurements and match them to the bag.

If you buy a Fish, Mini Simmons, or Retro Surfboard you should look for a board bag with the same qualities and dimensions.

Finally, check the nose shape of the board bag.

Surfboard bags come in three main nose shapes:

  • Pointed, mainly for short board bags
  • semi-round or hybrid
  • full round, for Malibu and long board bags.

#2) Do your fins fit into the boardbag?

You will want to make sure your bag works with your fins in and out.

Quads have wide fin setups and will require more room in the back and sides.

Glass-on fins are making a comeback and if you are going to be traveling with your fins glassed-in make sure those fins are well protected (see the video below for some tips on protecting your fins).

Some bags come with a fin slot, make sure you check this feature if you like to keep your fins in place, that way your board can fit in the bag with the fins in.

#3) Does the boardbag zipper suck?

Make sure your bag has a good zipper that will last.

The zipper should be waterproof and rugged.

Metal zippers will rust—so stay away from metal: the salt water will eat them for lunch.

Most board bags that are trashed are because of a dead zipper.

Your bag is of no use if it won’t open or close.

The zipper is SUPER important and you should look for the trademark YKK.

Your boardbag zipper should be a #8 or #10 (#10s are the best and YKK are the Mercedes of zippers).

Before you buy a bag check the zipper function and give it a few back-and-forths.

Boardbag Padding#4) Is the boardbag padded like a push-up bra?

A cheap bag will skimp on padding and you are better off wrapping the board in a towel and a dipper.

Check out what we’ve done to our global bags here with 13mm + 13mm in the nose and tail to give you 26mm of protection.

Dude, that’s more padding than a Amsterdam hooker.

Don’t be a cheap bastard, when that zipper breaks and your board gets dinged from the thin padding you’ll be cursing at yourself and wish you would have listened to uncle D.

There is nothing like opening your boardbag in Costa Rica when it’s firing outside and you got three dings to fix before you can paddle out.

Check out your new board bag and give it a good squeeze—like grabbing your partners arse—before you buy any board bag—If you can feel your fingertips through the bag don’t buy it.

#5) Can your new boardbag pull a wheelie?

If you’re traveling with 3+ boards you’ll want to get a coffin with wheels.

Wheels are rad, especially when you are lugging those boards through customs and they tell you to go get in that 5 mile line to X-ray your bag.

Boardbag coffins are the luxury boardbag invented by the pros to carry their quivers with them to the contests. I was watching the Quicksilver Pro in France this year and they said Kelly travels with like 20 boards to each contest.

Dude, I wonder how many bags he travels with. Oh yea, here is a link to the finals with Kelly and Dan, the waves are sick and the barrels unbelievable.

Coffin boardbags are a great option if you want to travel with your mini quiver.

However, before you get on that plane shake that bag loose before you leave for your trip and make sure you didn’t drop any, ahem, roaches in there! <<< that’s the most important advice of this entire article.

#6) Can you hide your condoms inside the boardbag?

Most bags come with a number of cool features like pockets, board padding, extra stitching, and other bag goodness.

It is great to have a few pockets built into the interior of the board bag to keep an extra set of fins, some wax and a tube of ding repair.

Check out the inside of a few board bags and make sure you’re getting one that works for your needs.

#7) How do I pack a boardbag?

So you got your plane ticket and just bought a killer Wave Tribe Global Surfboard Travel Bag but you need some advice on packing your boards because you really want to arrive at your surf spot without any new dings.

You might want to spend an extra $30 and get a few items to help protect your surfboard.

We recommend that you grab the following before your trip:

  • buddle wrap
  • packing tape
  • fin block

Once you get those watch the video below for a step-by-step packing instructions.

Boardbag Conclusion

Surfboard bags help protect your boards from dings, nicks, scratches, sun damage, and your Mother-in-Law (it hides it from her when she comes over to feed the cat).

Starting at $25 socks are a good investment to protect your surfboard for light duty travel.

Clumsier surfers like me should definitely grab a day bag, and if you are getting on a plane, please invest in a boardbag that will get your surfboards from point A to point B in style with the needed protection and comfort available. Grab the wheeled boardbag for the best experience.

If you are looking for a good solid surf bag we highly recommend that you check out Wave Tribe’s selection of high quality surf gear but whatever you do buy a well constructed boardbag for your stick.

Now, go travel . . . live your passion!

Derek Dodds

Derek Dodds is founder of the world's first ecological surf company Wave Tribe, surfboard shaper, world traveler, author and Mini Simmons enthusiast.

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Meet Surfer Derek Dodds

Derek Dodds | Surfer, Shaper, Traveler
I'm Derek Dodds, the guy behind Srfer.com.com. I love surfing, shaping, adventure travel, IPAs, useful gear, and all things related to the sea.