How To Pick a Boardbag

How To Pick a Boardbag

Which Boardbag is right for you?

* See our eco bags at bottom of page.

Surfboards—how we love them, let me count the ways . . 1-2-3 . . . oh sorry, I could go on forever.

Unfortunately, surfboards are fragile and they do get damaged.

It's a dangerous world out there for surfboards:

  • 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)
  • scratches from angry ex-girlfriends (or boyfriends: Wave Tribe is for you too ladies).

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 board from the elements (mainly the sun and heat) and also insulate it against those occasional dings or other life scenarios mentioned above.

First of all, it's just plain logical to buy a surfboard bag. We all like a little logic in our lives. 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.

Good board bags will also protect your board from the sun while chilling in the back of your ride. The sun's ray's can cause your board to 'delam'. Dude, delamination is a bubbly, blistering bumpiness on your beloved board that could lead to your baby's demise. The most common cause of delamination is leaving your board in a car in the hot sun.

So, let's get back to the boardbag buying basics.

There are four primary types of surfboard bags (if you consider a sock a bag—which it is, kinda). The boardbag types are the following:

  • boardsock (limited protection)
  • day boardbag (padded protection, but not enough from putting on a plane)
  • travel surfboard bag (more protection and could carry 2 boards)
  • wheeled surf case (some call it a coffin)

Each kind of board bag 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 board bag is right for you and let's look at what you need to look out for when you buy a board bag for your surfboard.



The Surfboard Sock (not for your foot)

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 super thick padded nose (made from hemp). They are eco too—that is the way we roll.

You want to pick the right nose and size options, most socks will stretch a few inches in all directions—so if you buy a 6'0 boardsock you'll be able to stuff up to a 6'4 in that baby.

Don't forget to check the NOSE style!

You can't put a 7'6 round nose into a straight nose boardsock.

Retro surfboards usually require a retro boardsock. The retro boardsocks usually have 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.

So, if your going to leave your board in the sun it's better to use a boardbag.

Day Board Bag

The day board bag provides all of the benefits of the sock but offers much more protection. Most day board bags have 5mm of padding, a shoulder strap, pocket for wax and a loop on teh 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 (you do surf Trestles, right?) There are some more basic boardbags that don't have a shoulder strap. We got one of those too and it's called the Zen, which is for our bros that don't hike in and want something more well, zen-like.

We call these bags Zen Board Bag because they have the smallest footprint and are super light and have no shoulder strap of reflective material. In fact as long as you don't put them in the sun they actually stay cooler that the hemp + reflective option because they are made with breathable hemp fabric that allows your board to stay cool.

The Zen bags are made with beautiful hemp construction so they look rad kicking it in your living-room along side all your surf DVDs and other awesomeness.

They have an extra wide tail to accommodate either a short-board or fish style surfboard.
Most day boardbags have a pocket to hide goodies like fins, wax or your chiwawa.

Day Boardbag

Grab a Day Boardbag That Fits Your Board Style

Look for a surfboard bag with a good handle too. It's always good to have something to grab.

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 board bags 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'll not be happy when your zipper breaks.

Custom Boardbag

Alright, you got one more option on a day bag and that is one made custom. A custom bag is made to your specifications and let's you customize it with your own style.

Wave Tribe wanted to offer it's customers a custom option and so we started designing bags made from upcycled billboard, hemp and other rad fabrics.

An upcycled boardbag is made from reclaimed billboard that we buy on the rad materials market. We then look for awesome colors and designs that we can cut out of the UV material and we make you a unique boardbag. This is cool for three reasons:

  • you are helping to keep material out of the landfill by re-purposing the UV coated billboard
  • your boardbag is unique, nobody will have that exact design
  • the billboard material is super strong and makes a great boardbag

I think it's fun to design your own boardbag and also to know that you helped prevent some billboard from going into a landfill. The other thing that is cool is that every bag is unique and therefore you'll never see a bag like yours, surfboards are such a rad expression of who we are as surfers and our board bags should also represent who and what we are.

The Surfboard Travel Board Bag

If you get on a plane without a surfboard travel bag it'd 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 wiat, that still wasn't enough for us!

We added an additional 13 mm in the nose and tail where the board bags are most vulnerable.

Let me say that again, an extra 13 mm (dude, we are crazy).

So that's 26 mm of padding where you need it.

But don't take our word for it, check out the videos below that shows you the hard evidence or this happy customer here.

Travel Boardbag

Happy Wave Triber hugs Boardbag in Mexico?

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 and this is the way we build all our bags at Wave Tribe.

We love retro boards so we make a few boardbags especially build for Mini Simmons and Fish surfboard. These boardbags are constructed with wider mid sections and tails to fit your retro shape perfectly (see the video below).

Some travel bags have wheels, these are usually called coffins and can carry up to 4 boards.

Wave Tribe makes some rad wheeled boardbags but with the airline fees these days most surfers are opting for the smaller double boardbags because the airline will charge you per board.

That means you could pay up to $500 to transport your boards.

If you are planning a surf trip by car, train, boat or plane, a travel bag is a good investment.

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.

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.

7 Tips To Buying A Surfboard Boardbag

#1) Does your surfboard fit into the boardbag?

Make sure the bag 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.

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. 4-6 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.


Kelly Slater at 13

Kelly Slater

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 board bag?

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 & Videos

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 do it travel style.

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!

~ Wave Tribe