If you are new to Surfing and wondered ‘What do I take with me on a Surf Trip?’ then this article will cover what we think are the Top 10 Surf Trip Essentials you need with you to make the most of your big day out.
Whether your surf trip is down to your local beach for your daily surf. It might be your summer family holiday and you are heading to a surfing spot. We have got you covered, making sure nothing can spoil your chance for a good surf!
Top 10 Surf Trip Essentials
Surfboard Car Rack
If you are not fortunate enough to live a short walk to the beach, you’re almost certainly going to need to transport your surfboard from your house to the ocean. If you’re single, don’t have a family and you only surf a shortboard you might be able to get away with just throwing the board inside the car and away you go. The obvious downside to this is the impact and potential damage constantly getting your surfboard in and out of the car may have. If you want to avoid this or maybe because you’ve got a family and now you need the space inside your car for the wife and kids, then strapping your surfboard to the roof is your number one priority.
There are different options to think about. The most expensive one is going to be a set of roof bars that attach to your car. If you are going down this route make sure that you look at the specification of your car and the bars that fit it, certain cars have lifted rails therefore you will need the right adaptors to make sure that the roof bars and connectors all match up. Depending on whether you go budget or not you’re looking at a minimum of about £200-£300. If you are looking for a higher spec and a better looking roof bar, get prepared to spend north of £500 kitting out your car.
However, if you’re looking for a budget option that is going to do the job and allow you to easily transport your surfboard to the beach then look no further than the Northcore Single Soft Roof Rack. I started out with these and it was the perfect alternative to investing into buying roof bars. A big advantage to this, is the speed in which you can get this on and off your car. Having now invested in a set of roof bars, everytime I’m heading to the beach I have the task of attaching them back on and off the car. With this you’re able to put it on your roof when you need it, and then pack it away neatly, as it is a small compact system that slides back into its bag and can be stored in your garage with ease. It works by a soft strap that sits on top of the roof of your car. The straps go round underneath your car roof and join in the middle. I consider myself to be absolutely useless when it comes to anything DIY, I can honestly say that this is idiot proof as I was able to do it quickly and easily.
When I was driving down the motorway to go on holiday I noticed another car user with the exact same Northcore roof rack that I purchased. The difference to mine and his was that I had tightened the straps inside, so that the surfboard sat tightly against the roof. The other car had obviously just clicked them together and driven off – so behind him, flying like a kite was his surfboard!! He would not have realised this until he hit the break along the motorway, and heard a loud thump, as his surfboard hit the roof….so a note to all users, tighten the straps before driving.
This really is a worthwhile investment for anybody transporting a surfboard, it’s so easy to use and so small, that I can’t see any reason not to get one. Northcore also do a Double Soft Roof Rack, if you are looking to transport more than one board. The beauty of this tool of this is that it holds its value. When I upgraded to buying roof bars, I was able to get my money back by selling it online for a similar price.
If we’ve already established that you need to transport your surfboard, I think that it is important to get the necessary equipment to protect your board when it is in transit. If you’re about to strap your prized possession to the roof of your car, I’m sure you will have made sure it is safely secured by really pulling the straps tightly on your roof rack. The Danger of this is that you’re going to damage or Dent the beautifully hand shaped board that you love more than anything.
Take all of this worry away by investing in a decent surfboard bag, not only will you be able to transport it effectively, you will also be able to store it in your home and not risk it getting damaged by people brushing against it or even worse dropping it when moving around in your garage or loft depending on where you store your board when it’s not being used. Another important reason is that you were going to reduce the impact of the elements, leaving your bag outside means that the sun is going to weather and age the board which is not what you want when you have just spent a large amount of money on something that brings you a lot of joy.
There are more than one option to consider when protecting your prized possession and that is either the sock or the bag. Personally, I would go for the bag every time, as I am looking for protection over everything. The size of your board is probably going to dictate which surfboard bag you opt for, therefore I’m going to recommend the Northcore Roll Top All Size Surfboard Bag, as it is going to cater for a large variety surfboard sizes. The benefits of this surfboard bag are that it can accommodate surfboards from 5’ 2” to 7’2” and clips together at the base of the bag. The roll top at the end makes it adaptable and for those that wish to transport boards of different sizes, this is going to be the perfect fit. You can check the forecast, choose one of your boards, throw it in the bag and strap it on to your roof rack and go.
If when you arrive at the beach you need to carry your board a long way, there is a handle that can go over your shoulder which is padded that makes it easy to carry. It has the standard anti-uv material so that your board is not going to get weathered. Finally, it is going to allow you to carry at least one surfboard with fins, without it getting crushed. It also has a little bit of room to throw in any little extras that you might need, such as wax or sun cream
Surfing is not always the cheapest recreational pursuit. Another problem is that you get what you pay for. If you want a good surfboard or wetsuit, you end up having to pay a premium to get the best quality goods. At least the one thing you don’t need to spend a lot of money on is surf wax, However this purchase can determine how successful that expensive surfboard is going to be as without it you’re going to be slipping off and spending more time in the water than needed.
If you take my advice, you will bulk buy this so that you’ve always got something in your board bag for that last minute indecisiveness as to whether or not you need a little bit more wax on your board. I always say: “if there is a doubt, then there is no doubt”, break open the wax and get rubbing, as you’ll regret it when out in the surf if you’ve not got enough on.
In terms of recommending surf wax, you can never go wrong with some Mrs Palmers 1 x Base Coat and 2 x Cold Water Top Coat Surfboard Wax. If you’re surfing in the UK that is, as this is a cold water wax. If you are surfing warmer climates, I would recommend going onto Google and finding out the water temperature to ensure that the wax that you are buying is suitable.
Alternatives to Ms Palmer’s is Mr Zogs Sex Wax Basecoat and Cool Water Topcoat Surfboard Wax. Both of these are nice and “tacky” so that your feet feel well gripped to the board. They stay on nicely so that it doesn’t come off all over your wetsuit.
Contrary to our name, we don’t advise surfing unleashed. Your leash is vital for keeping you safe and saving you trips to the shore to collect your board if you fall off. If you are planning your trip to the beach, be sure that you have got your leash packed. A few years ago I forgot that my leash had broken, as I got my board out of the bag it dawned on me that I hadn’t bought a new one, which meant quickly scouring the nearest surf shop and buying a product that was less than satisfactory.
When choosing a leash, try to make sure that your leash is the same length or slightly longer than your board. With this in mind, always round up like any good mathematician. For example my, 6’6” fish is best suited to 7’ leash. When choosing your leash I would always recommend going for the double swivel bearings, as it allows for greater manoeuvrability and twist when you’re in the water. As mentioned, I was forced into buying a leash that did not have the double swivel and the number of times I found my foot tangled up in my leash was too annoying for me to keep using it, making it a dead purchase.
For all those Surfers who are looking to try and get more year round time in the water, you are going to need a set of wetsuit gloves. Try not to learn the hard way, like I did, by assuming that you will be ok by “toughing it out”. After about 20-minutes of a January surf in Rest Bay, my hands felt like they were pulling me through broken glass. Not only did it ruin my time in the water, it also cut my experience short, as I was too cold to carry on. Anyone looking to surf beyond September, will benefit from buying a good set of gloves, as you will be able to spend more time in the water without getting cold.
Like most purchases, you are going to get what you pay for, so try not to go too cheap as the quality will be lacking and you may end up having to buy something again. Rip Curl do a good pair of Flashbomb Gloves that feature stitchless technology which is perfect for surfing. They have a range of sizes and are unisex, they’ve got good grip and a natural feel so that your hands do not feel too clumpy while you are paddling through the water. They are also an attractive looking glove when compared to some of the other gloves on the market. While I realise that surfing is not a fashion parade, these gloves are going to give you the benefit of looking good whilst also having great function and performance, so why not invest in a decent pair?
Just like a set of wetsuit gloves, you are probably choosing to surf during the colder months of the year, therefore you are going to need something to keep your feet warm during those cold surfing months, that can be very hard on your extremities. It’s surprising how little time your hands and feet give you when they get cold. While you may have a quality wetsuit, if you haven’t got the right hardware on your feet and hands you are not going to enjoy your time in the waves.
As mentioned in my article on Surf Snowdonia, a set of wetsuit boots are great for the wave garden due to the flooring and water temperature. On a few occasions that I did not wear boots I regretted it, as my feet were cold walking across a hard metal floor (although some sections are covered).
If you’re looking for a good set of wetsuit boots, bear in mind that salt water is very corrosive, I’ve been very impressed by O’Neill’s toughness to stand up to the elements, therefore would recommend spending a bit more money than you may have planned in order to get a set of boots that will last you a long time.
The surfing hood is the finishing piece to keeping you warm during the cold weather. As you get cold, the blood rushes towards your vital organs to protect them. Hopefully you’ve invested in some surfing gloves and boots, so now you need to make sure that you’re not losing any heat from your head. We all wear beanies during the winter months to keep us warm on dry land, well it makes even more sense to wear a surfing hood when we are in cold water during the cold months. If you are looking for the best surfing hood to wear, make sure that you have got something that is going to cover the majority of your head and face. The balaclava style is a good option as it provides good protection from the wind, whilst keeping you warm in the water.
You are going to want something that’s comfortable and flexible, whilst also maintaining good warmth. A 5-mm option is going to be the best surfing hood for you to aim for, as it would guarantee good warmth throughout the winter months.
Even in a so-called UK summer, you are going to require a wetsuit in order to enjoy your time in the water. There is a lot to choose from when you spend any amount of time researching the best type of wetsuit to buy. Things to consider are the thickness, the entry style and the length of the wetsuit you’d like. Ultimately, your requirements from the wetsuit will dictate which style or type of wetsuit you need to buy.
If you are just going to have a little dip and go bodyboarding with the family you can probably get away with a “shorty” wetsuit and that will come in quite cheaply and serve you well for a quick romp around the waves on your bodyboard. For anyone looking for something more robust, a 3/2mm wetsuit will allow you to enjoy your time in the UK waters throughout the summer months. If you’re looking to get out through spring time and possibly autumn you might want to invest in the 4/3mm wetsuit instead of the 3/2mm, as you will get that added warmth through those seasons, yet still be able to use it in the Summer. For Winter surfing a 5/4mm wetsuit is a wise investment.
As well as the thickness of the wetsuit you might want to consider the style of entry. Back zip wetsuits, where the zip vertically runs along your back, is one of the more commonly seen wetsuit types. Whereas, the front entry or front zip is slightly newer technology. For this wetsuit, you step into the wetsuit, pull a section over your head, and then zip up across the chest. Don’t be worried when choosing either of these options as both are going to work fine and will often come down to personal preference. I have had both of these Styles and can say that I find the front entry more comfortable when on and also easier to get in and out of.
Surf Poncho Towel
I first stumbled across a surf poncho or pulled up alongside a beach with my family. I saw a guy who had clearly just finished work and proceeded to get into his wetsuit in front of us all without any difficulty or risk of exposure due to his surfing poncho towel. It was a lightbulb moment, as I realised how easy this towel was going to make my life when getting in and out of my wetsuit. Now I have a family, my time is not all my own, therefore when I go to the beach I need to make sure that as well as getting my own surf in, I have time to spend with kids, which ultimately means I need to get in and out of my wetsuit more than once or twice. The surf poncho allows you to do this and not risk dropping the towel and exposing yourself to the whole beach. For me this is one of the most essential purchases for any surfer, as it is going to make your life easier.
Waterproof Key and Phone Case
Not the first thing that will spring to mind when planning for essential surf purchases, however this innovative piece of equipment will give you peace of mind when going surfing. Over the years I’ve had the painful experience of constantly scanning the beach to ensure that my bag was not about to be stolen. I’ve tried different methods such as wrapping keys in a t-shirt and burying them under the sand to help reduce my anxiety about things being stolen. If you are going to go surfing by yourself, this takes all that anxiety away, as you can take your key and phone if needed, in the water with you. Most keys now are electronic, therefore just throwing it inside your wetsuit like the old days, is not an option as you’re going to ruin your central locking system.
With a waterproof key case, the PVC material and double seal waterproofing system can keep your belongings safe with you while you surf. No need to worry about tides or things being pinched, as you have all your essentials on you. For those on the SUP’s, look for one with an armband which gives ease of access, so if you want your phone to take pictures while out on the water.