As a surfer, there are few things more soul-destroying than opening your surfboard bag, removing your board, and discovering a huge dent or scratch.
It’s a sure-fire way to ruin your surf trip and put a dampener on your vacation.
You can’t make the baggage handlers more careful. You can’t prevent your board from being dropped, banged, and scratched while it’s being thrown in the hold or transported to and from the airport. But you can pack your board bag in a way that protects your precious cargo against all harm.
How Do You Pack a Surfboard?
To make sure your board bag is properly packed and your surfboard is 100% secure, follow the steps below.
1. Check the Airline’s Surfboard Policy
Before you buy a board bag and start packing, you should first check with the airline.
What is their policy on surfboards? Are there are extra fees or specific requirements?
They may have requirements concerning the size and the weight, and as the fees and limits can vary greatly from one airline to the next, you will need to factor this into the equation when booking flights.
2. Choose the Right Board
It’s not practical to take your whole quiver with you. Choose the best board for the occasion and if you’re worried about damage, don’t opt for the most expensive one.
3. Prepare Your Board
Remove the old wax from your board and detach the fins, placing them somewhere secure.
You should also buy a high-quality board bag, such as a heavy-duty bag complete with shoulder straps. Foam pipe insulation and/or bubble wrap will help, as well.
4. Protect Your Board
Wrap and protect your board using pipe insulation, duct tape, and plastic bubble wrap. Focus on ding-prone areas, such as the rails, and give it lots of extra padding.
5. Use a Board Sock
If you have a board sock, use it. You can slip the board sock over the padded board for extra protection. It won’t do much to prevent dings, but it will help to prevent scratches and if you already have it, you don’t have anything to lose.
6. Pack Your Board Bag
Your surfboard is now ready to go in the board bag.
If it’s a heavy-duty bag, it should have some thick protection and a snug fit. If not, the board will move around and is more likely to become damaged during transportation.
But don’t worry, as you can use that extra room to your advantage by stuffing some bubble wrap or beach towels in there. You can also take some extra clothes and jam them in the bag—a jacket, a sweater, whatever you want.
As long as you don’t exceed the weight and size allowances, you’ll be fine.
After all, most airlines will refuse to reimburse you if anything happens to your board.
Should I Write “Fragile” On My Surfboard Bag?
There is a myth that suggests writing “fragile” will encourage baggage handlers to mistreat your luggage. You hear the same thing said about delivery companies.
It might be true for a few unscrupulous handlers, but not for the majority. They probably won’t treat your package with kid gloves just because it’s labeled as “fragile”, but it’s certainly not going to do any harm.
Summary: How to Properly Pack a Surfboard Bag
A damaged board can ruin your trip, so when you pack your surfboard, take care to wrap it thickly and protect it properly.
Look for the best board bags, load up on bubble wrap, towels, pipe insulation, and clothes, and pay attention to the airline’s rules.