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What’s in your surf trip quiver?

by Boardcave on July 23, 2015

Thinking about a surf trip? First thing you are going to have to think about is what boards you will need to bring.

Clearly the most important item, and once you have that figured out you can throw in some cloths, sunscreen, passports…

One of the main differences between a board and your gear 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 3 plastic fin Mal when the waves are overhead and barreling.

There is nothing like having your own 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.

dave rastovich with his holiday quiver
Dave Rastavich with his Gary McNeil Concepts board quiver on a surf trip in Indonesia and the Maldives.

How many?

When traveling near or far, our experience has been that 3 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.

getting air chemistry surfboards style
Checking the coastline from a different aspect, the only way a Chemistry Surfboard knows how.

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.

asher pacey on sweet spot 2.0
Asher Pacey handling a nice wave on his Sweet Spot 2.0.

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 nice 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 and under the lip when it does turn on.

A few great all-rounders that you can find on Boardcave are the Polyphonic from Album Surfboards, the Hypto Krypto by Haydenshapes Surfboards, the Pig Dog by SUPERbrand and the Sweet Spot by DHD. Most brands will have their perfect all-round board suited to handle a large variety of waves.

clay marzo on location for superbrand
Clay Marzo on location for Superbrand ripping on his new signature Mad Cat model.

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.

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.

So looking at the East Coast of Australia, you may want to bring something like your standard shorty like the Flash Point by Chemistry Surfboards, a step-up like the SUPER Pig Dog and a small wave board like the Quantum Quad Fish by Stamps.

In West Oz, you definitely want to bring a step up like the Black Angel by Emery, standard shorty like the Cool Story by Nation, and a board for the smaller days, but beefed up a bit and on the performance side of hybrid like the Synthetic Sally by Panda Surfboards.

essence surf batch ready for glassing
A nice little stack of Essence Surfboards ready for paint, fins and glass.

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 Mavericks and heavier waters of Central and Northern Cal, down to the mellow peelers of Malibu and San Onofre.

The majority of us are not about to go tackle Mavericks, so an appropriate quiver for most of California and Mexico like be something like the Grinder X by Stamps for your shorty when the waves turn on, the Lil Buddy by Carrozza for most average swells, and either a Fish mid-length or Log (or both) depending on your style like the Los Dos by Nation Surfboards, the Disc by Album or the Purchase by Canvas Surfboards.

nation surfboards all colored up
A little bit of color from laminating wizard Dave Naylor on these Nation Surfboards.

Destination Waves

A trip to Indo or other tropical reef pass, far off place might require a different set up.

Since you are generally going to be surf 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 be 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 so size since the waves are such good quality, they will keep you in the water when it is a little smaller.

hypto krypto and black diamond
The Hypto Krypto alongside the DHD Black Diamond.


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 you mind up when choosing boards for a surf at home too.

But for most of us where money is limited, a 3 board quiver with removable fins is just about ideal. With the right 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.

Make sure you check out the Board Engine and play around with your preferred wave type and board type to find some more surfboard recommendations for your next trip. Or email service@boardcave.com with your details for customized board recommendations.

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