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How to Pack Your Surfboard: Road and Air Travel

The biggest challenge when traveling with a surfboard is the sheer size of it. This may not be much of a problem for short trips, but when you have to travel across thousands of miles in a plane this can be troublesome. Most of the time all we can do is put your trust in the hands of cargo personnel and hope everything turns out fine. But there must be a better way of protecting our precious surfboards.

How to Pack a Surfboard

Step1 Inspect your Surfboard

The first thing you should do is to inspect your surfboard and make sure that it is in perfect condition. Check for nicks or cracks and get these repaired. You wouldn’t want to go through all the trouble of packing your surfboard only to find out it was already damaged in the first place.

Step2 Remove the Fins

The next thing is to remove the fins. This is something quite obvious since having something as large as a fin protruding from your surfboard is a perfect recipe for damaging your board. Keep your board as flat as possible for easy packing.

Step3 Remove the Wax

If it’s going to be a long trip and you feel that your surfboard might be subjected to high temperatures, then removing the wax is a good idea. You wouldn’t want to open your surfboard bag contaminated with wax. Check out our article on the Ultimate Guide to Waxing your Surfboard for tips on how to remove and apply surf wax.

Step4 Protect the nose, tail, and rails

Protect those edges. The nose and tail sections are prone to dings. Adding cushion to these areas helps absorb some of the impact. Wrapping these with shirts or towels and holding them in place with duct tapes can do the job.

Speaking of edges, forget to give those rails some protection too. Since boards can stretch to over 10 feet, protecting them with pieces of cloth would not be the best idea. It would only make your surfboard bag or sock look bulky. A simple, well not so easy as this involves some DIY is to use foam pipe insulation.

Step5 Protecting the Surfboard’s Deck and Bottom

One simple way is to wrap the surfboard with plastic bubble wrap and hold this in place with duct tape. You could also throw in some tees for an added layer of protection. This is also a great way of freeing some space on your luggage.

Step6 Find the Perfect Surfboard Bag and Secure it

When it comes to searching for the perfect surfboard bag size matters. Find a bag that is not too loose and not too tight. Too loose and you run the danger of damaging your surfboard by letting it move around inside the bag. Too tight risks exposing your nose, tail, and rails to damage.

If you’re carrying several boards, placing some towels or clothing between the boards can prevent them from directly crashing into each other. You could also strap them down to prevent them from moving around. For more information on how to look for the perfect surfboard bag you could check our Surfboard Bag Guide.

Packing a Surfboard for Flying – Possible Damages

Surfboards represent a big investment for any surfer with each costing hundreds of dollars. A surfboard bag is the best way to pack a surfboard for long travels. It’s the best way of protecting your boards from damage. Here are the common results when we fail to secure our surfboards properly.

a. Broken board – we don’t have any control on where our surfboard bags are placed in the plane’s cargo hold. The danger is that your surfboard bag because of its size ends up at the bottom of a stack of packages. With the weight of these packages pushing down on your board, without proper protection you increase the risk of having a broken board.

b. Dings and nicks - the process of checking in your surfboard bag until you finally pick it up is a long one. We literally don’t know what happens and how many times it gets banged with other items. This is why we recommend putting extra protection on the nose, tail, and rails.

c. Scratches – before closing that bag, be sure to remove any hard or sharp objects that can damage the board while in transit.

Pack a Surfboard for Travel

Much is to be desired when it comes to how airlines handle surfboards during transit. Too many times have we heard about surfers who find their surfboards with dings or worse, a broken board. While much of this is beyond our control, preparing our surfboards for a long journey is something we can do. It might not be the perfect solution but at least we minimize the dangers of having a dinged or cracked surfboard.