When you spend the money on a plane ticket to go halfway around the world and chase waves, having your boards arrive in one piece is the most important aspects to your trip. This means having a solid, globe trotting ready surfboard travel bag.
The rental car and all our bags from our recent team trip this spring.
There are a ton of solid good options out there, but during our recent team trip this past spring (read about it here), we had the chance to personally put three different bags through the paces on a two week surf mission. The trip involved multiple flights, a ridiculous amount of kilometers driven, and plenty of opportunities for the boards and gear to be abused and mistreated. When you’re moving from place to place every few days, you get to intimately know your board bag, and realize it’s strengths and weaknesses. Our surfers / photographers ranged from seasoned travel veterans to first timers, so we had a wide perspective to draw from. Below are those perspectives and thoughts about each bag we had the chance to use during the trip.
The three boardbags we had a chance to test out.
To travel to waves like these, you're likely going to have to use a travel boardbag to make sure your quiver arrives safe.
Dakine Regulator Double / Quad Convertible 6’6” Surfboard Bag
The Regulator Double/Quad Convertible was the perfect bag for our trip. It is built to be two cells, with each one being its own separate travel double board bag. When connected by their super durable YKK #10 heavy duty zipper, you get an excellent 4 board travel bag. This is how I showed up at the airport with it, and luckily I was able to check all 4 boards (thank you Alaska Airlines) without any hassles. I was ready to separate the bag into 2 sections if I did have any issues, which is a huge benefit of this design. Once at our destination, I split them apart and had two great day use bags. Easy to carry, durable, and plenty of room for our daily excursions.
As a 4 board travel bag, I didn’t run into too many negatives. Sure, it would have been nice to have wheels on it when scrambling from one side of LAX Airport to the other, but the free airport luggage carts solved that issue. Plus, the extra pounds that would create will probably tip the scales on weight restrictions from the airlines. With the bag, 4 boards, a wetsuit, towel, fins, etc. I was pushing the 50lb limit already.
All my boards made it to the other side of the world and back damage free, so Dakine nailed it with their padding throughout the bag. The internal fin organizer and board dividers were clutch and the shoulder straps are comfortable and easy to attach and remove. The only negative I could come up with was upon reattaching the two separate bags, the zipper arrangement was a little confusing at first. After doing it once however, I am sure I will never have an issue again.
- Super versatile
- Solid construction and padding
- Internal fin organizer
- Internal board dividers
- 3 bags for the price of one
- Slightly heavier due to the multiple bag options
- No wheels
My initial impression of the Dakine bag was that it was the best of the bunch, and to be honest, I was pretty jealous that my personal boards were going to be in a different bag headed out for a 24+ hour travel mission across the globe. It seemed the most sturdily built, and looked like you could tackle the thing and not have anything damaged inside. I also liked the fact that you could split it in two and have two separate dual travel bags. You don’t always need to bring the whole quiver, and a solid dual travel bag is sometimes very nice because it keeps the weight down. I have a friend who worked in the airline baggage industry for a while and he told me weight was the biggest thing to worry about when it came to keeping your stuff safe. If your board bag ends up being too heavy (besides getting charged more), it’s gonna end up below a lot of luggage, and that’s when stuff gets broken.
That being said, it the Dakine was also one of the heavier bags, and loaded up with 4 boards, it was not light by any stretch. It’s support system worked well for the shoulder harness, but I couldn’t help but wish there was a set of wheels on there to help lug it around when you’re using the full bag. We also had a weird issue with the zipper placement that connects the two separate bags that makes it super difficult to get them apart, and seems like a bizarre design oversight. I did like the internal storage, as well as the compression straps and internal dividers that helped make this bag feel like your gear was super protected. I didn’t feel like you would even have to stuff
Overall, I thought this was a solid bag, and if you’re in the market for a serious travel board bag, yet want the flexibility that a coffin bag with wheels denies you, this bag is pretty sweet. Plus you can split in two for a car mission, or if you and a friend are flying somewhere you can let them borrow half your bag and you can probably guilt them into some free beers at your destination.
- Super sturdy construction
- Compression straps
- Internal dividers
- Internal organization
- Can split into two solid dual travel bags
- Relatively heavy when full
- No wheels
- Zipper placement for splitting the bags in two
Creatures Of Leisure Shortboard Triple 6’7” Travel Surfboard Bag
I have always been a fan of the Creatures of Leisure bags. The narrow outline throughout their line helps keep the wasted space limited and reduces weight. They’ve also done a great job of limiting unnecessary extras to keep costs down and comparable or less than other brands. When I saw the 6’7 Triple Shortboard Travel Bag show up for our trip, I was a little bummed I wasn’t going to be using it.
As I’ve come to expect from Creatures, this was the lightest, most efficient, and best priced bag we took on the trip. It fit 3 boards easily, plus had room for a wetsuit, fins, towel, and extra items like sleeping bags. With all this, it still fell under the weight restrictions of the airlines. All boards arrived without damage and the bag held up great after 2 weeks of travel.
Since it is a slim fit bag that is designed for shortboards, you are a little limited on the selection of alternative boards that it will fit. This might be the only negative with this bag. We didn’t have any issues with this, but something to consider if you also like to travel with a fish or wide groveler.
- Great use of space and features
- Solid price point
- Fits limited board selection
- Versatility compared to other bags
This was the bag that I had all my boards in, and my first impression was that it was extremely narrow. I am used to traveling with either a Dakine World Traveler or a Dakine Recon II, both with have wider profiles than this bag, which I found a little interesting, and had me worried for my boards safety. I also immediately noticed how lightweight this bag was compared to the others, and it’s exterior material had me concerned about how well it would last to the constant abuse that trips tend to put onto these bags. I actually thought the outside material was some sort of mesh, however upon closer inspection, it is a very unique looking material that creatures calls Diamond-Tech Fabric. I did like that there was a “Drag Plate” on one vertical side of the bag, which meant even though there were no wheels, I could drag my stuff through the airport without worrying about tearing through the fabric.
After packing my boards into the bag, my concerns about it being narrow were alleviated, as this bag had a lot more space than I initially expected with its slim frame. It was nicely designed with two built -in interior dividers, as well as internal compression straps. Creatures also puts what they call “Internal Modular Packing Loops” strategically placed around the bag in the nose and tail area. There are 5 all together, and I used these to strap towels and my wife and my sleeping bags into the bag, which also gave the boards extra padding where they need it the most, and assured the padding wasn’t going to get moved around. There was also a nice large internal storage pocket for fins, leashes, wax and anything else you wanted in there and not on your carry-on. The only things while packing that seemed a little off were the placements of the internal compression straps (I felt like they were too far towards the nose and tail), and the external compression straps had to be de-threaded to open the bag. I realize that 7 or 8 buckles would add a little bit to the weight of the bag, however it was pretty inconvenient to have to re-thread each little compression strap every time you wanted to close up and go.
Overall I was actually super happy with the bag, and I actually think the material is pretty dang durable, and it still looks brand new after our trip. My boards made it unscathed the whole trip, and my bag was definitely the lightest of the three. I will absolutely use it again, and have no worries about its durability anymore.
- Super lightweight for a 3 board bag
- Less mass onced packed (actually felt pretty slim)
- Built-in internal dividers
- Internal and external compression straps
- Internal modular packing loops
- No wheels (still pretty tough to carry around when fully packed)
- External compression straps have to be de-threaded to open
- Internal compression strap placement
- Slim profile might not be able to accommodate certain types of boards (I didn’t have any issue with this)
Pro-Lite 1-2-3 Convertible 6’6” Surfboard Travel Bag
At first glance, this bag appears to be the perfect blend of the other two. It has the efficiency of the Creatures and the versatility of the Dakine. It’s basically two single board bags zipped together creating a pocket between the two for a third board. It is lightweight and easy to carry even being filled with 3 boards and other gear. We did find a few challenges with it when packing however. For one, each section opens from the rear rather than filleting open like the other travel bags. This made fitting anything else in the bag difficult or adding extra padding around the rails impossible. There was also no interior pockets or compression straps like the others had. The exterior of the bag appears super durable, but we all had questions about the interior and how long it would hold up.
Where this bag shines is the quality of each single board bag and the ease of connecting them together. If you are looking for a multi purpose bag and maximizing your dollars, this is a great option. Where it falls a little short compared to the other two is as a pure travel bag. That being said, it does work and is a fantastic option if you don’t want to purchase multiple bags.
- Multi purpose
- High capacity
- Limited access area
- No extra storage
- Questionable interior material
This is the bag I ended up using, and while I only had one board in it, it served my purposes pretty well. Pro-Lite bills this bag as a “Convertible travel bag designed to fit up to 3 boards for airline travel”. This bag is essentially two single bags zipped together, which creates a pocket between them for a third board. Convenience wise, I thought this was kind of a cool concept. My first impression when seeing the bag was that it was extremely wide for a travel bag, and looked like it would fit a Firewire Sweet Potato better than a normal shortboard. Upon further inspection, I realized that each single board bag only opens from the back, (which is part of the reason I ended up with this bag, as the other guys claimed this was a big problem when it comes to a travel bag.) It is extremely important to be able to pack your bag well, and not being to open the bag fully (except for the middle board which you can access the entire pocket where the board sits) makes properly packing near to impossible. For my application which was one board, and a host of camera equipment and clothing, that wasn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Another thing that immediately stood out to me as compared to the other bags we were bringing along were the lack of compression straps, interior and exterior. Combined with the super wide width of this bag, any boards in the bag were sure to not be secure in the bag, and would be prone to sliding all over the place, reducing the effectiveness of the bag. Also, while the exteriors of the board bags were super solid rugged material, the bottoms of each bag (which created the interior board pocket), where essentially waxed paper. I definitely would be concerned about the longevity of this material. There were also no interior storage pockets anywhere.
I ended up putting a lot more than just his boards in there, which kind of made it perfect that I had this bag. The wide profile allowed me to fully stuff the bag with tripods, camera equipment, clothes and who knows what else. It was truly impressive how much stuff I got in that thing.
Overall I think this would be a great bag if you are looking for a few day bags for different boards, and wanted something that you could potentially zip together and travel with, however I felt like it fit the overnight car trip / day trip kind of mission better than full airline travel.
- Two bags in one!
- Easily zipped apart or together
- Perfect if you have a super wide board(s)
- Great for long car missions
- Vented for airflow
- Large capacity
- No compression straps (internal or external)
- Flimsy material on one side of each board bag
- Doesn’t zip fully open, only accessible through rear of bag