What To Bring Surfing: Surf Trip Packing List

surfing trip

Written by Alexandra Baackes on

Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her fifth year of living as a full-time nomad—follow along on her website.

surfing trip

Surf Trip Packing List: What to Bring Surfing

Find out what surfers (and travelers who love surfing!) pack when heading out to chase the perfect wave.

Thanks to now-ubiquitous airline fees and standard charges for checked bags, every traveler is trying to pack lighter. But how can you do that when your trip revolves around a five- to10-foot-long piece of foam?

Needless to say, packing for a surf vacation can be tricky—at least as tough as figuring out how to make the drop on the wave you’ve been waiting for all year. Basically, you’ve got to get your stuff lined up before you can enter the line-up.

So we’re here to help you figure out what to take on a surf trip, and we’re also sharing the best bags to stuff all your gear in. Don’t leave home without these ten surf vacation must-haves, lest you suffer a packing wipe out.

The Best Surf Travel Backpacks and Accessories

As important as the actual things you’re bringing are, it’s equally important to consider what you’re putting those things into. Check out these must-have bags and accessories to take on a surf trip.

Migrate Duffel 40L

What to Bring Surfing

#1. Your Board… or Not

Bringing your own board on a surf trip used to be a no-brainer. These days, with extra baggage charges for sports gear reaching Code Red Ridiculous, many surfers are choosing to rent or even buy a board once they arrive in their destination. Craigslist and other resale sites allow travelers heading to surf hotspots to buy a board at the beginning of their trip and resell it at the end for less than the cost of an excess baggage fee.

#2. Multiple Swimsuits or Boardshorts

There’s nothing worse than putting on wet Lycra when you’re heading out for a sunset surf session. Pack multiple quick dry swimsuits or boardshorts in your gear bag to ensure you always have a dry pair lying around. And ladies, avoid string bikinis at all cost (unless, of course, you’re down to do some impromptu skinny-dipping!). Pro tip:, throw a clean-dirty packing cube like the Pack-It®® Isolate Clean/Dirty Cube into your backpack, which enables you to separate your damp clothes from your dry ones.


#3. Sun Protection

You’re going to be putting in major hours in front of all the elements. Make sure you’ve packed a waterproof, sweat-proof sunblock to protect your skin, and reapply often. Throw in some aloe just in case you overdo it, despite your best intentions.

#4. Beach Towel or Travel Towel

Beach towels are bulky and slow to dry out. Pack a lightweight travel towel like the Travellite Towel XL and save the space and weight in your travel bag.

#5. A Rash Guard or Wetsuit

For warmer tropical destinations, pack a rash guard to protect yourself from sunburns and surf rash. For slightly more chilled waters, pack a wetsuit.

#6. A water-resistant Duffel

A small water-resistant duffel like the Migrate Duffel 40L, which converts into a backpack, is the perfect daypack for the beach or for boat trips to remote surf spots. It will help keep your clothes and valuables dry and give you one less thing to worry about while you hunt for the perfect wave.

#7. Surf Accessories

While board rentals are ubiquitous, your specific brand of surf wax may not be. Pack a wax comb and surf wax for your destination’s specific water temperature, a ding repair kit (solar easy fix kit), and soft surf racks if you plan to get around with a rental car.

#8. First Aid Kit

Don’t count yourself out for the day because you forgot a bandage. You can shell out for a pre-made professional version, or DIY at home before you leave. Don’t forget antiseptic wipes or wash, a sterile saline solution, an assortment of bandages, waterproof tape, tweezers, and a painkiller.

#9. Alarm

If you’re leaving the smartphone behind to avoid theft and distraction, be sure to pack a small alarm clock. And don’t hit snooze—you’ll miss the best waves of the day!

Once you’ve packed all these goods, you’re ready to shred! Get out there and hit the waves!