Surf packing list
Our surf packing list of all the essential items for a surf trip.
Woohoo, your next surf trip is all booked. Now just the (last minute) packing to get done! To help you with the essential items, we compiled this surf packing list with links to all of our favorite products to make life easy. Don’t forget to have a peek at the Still Stoked discount page as many of our partner brands give us heaps of discount codes to pass on to you – especially for surf bikinis!
Surf packing list essentials
First, let’s start off with the boring bit. We recommend World Nomads because you can book AFTER you have left for your trip. If you are like me, I ALWAYS leave travel insurance to the last minute. We found them to be super easy to deal with and they pay for costs direct so you won’t be out of pocket.
We have a partnership with them to offer you a 5% discount with code STOKED5. Sadly, this code isn’t available for US and CA residents due to financial laws. But still, check World Nomads out as they are one of the best for surf trips.
First Aid Kit
I’m putting a first aid kit at the top of the surf packing list as I have been in trouble so many times and this bag has saved me and my friends. Getting cut or scraped is going to happen. Do your best to stay surfing by carrying a well-stocked first aid kit. My surfing first aid kit is pretty comprehensive.
- Steri-strip skin closures (think reef cuts etc) – These are SO important. Get the 3M ones and get a variety of different sizes.
- Medical grade superglue – Glue cuts or the edges of steri-strips if you don’t require stitches
- Blister protectors – these have been a lifesaver. They stick so well & are water-proof – see image below as to how I used them on a fin chop to my arm!
- Plasters of various sizes, including waterproof patches
- Antiseptic wipes-Take a load of alcohol wipes
- Rubbing alcohol or Betadine
- Saline Solution – This is great to spray high-pressured, sterile water into coral cuts or gashes
- Spray plaster
- Medical tape (usually brown) & water-proof medical tape (plastic & clear) – Again, buy the brand 3M
- Antibiotics – note some antibiotics do not work on skin infections. I carry Doxycycline which is good for skin infections. You will need to see a doctor and their advice and a script. Make time to do this before you leave.
- Electrolytes – I add to water when I am dehydrated (think Bali Beli!)
- Various bandages of different sizes and waterproof medical tape
- Medical Gauze – DO NOT FORGET THIS. So many people’s first-aid kit doesn’t have gauze in it! How will you dress wounds with out it??
- Antibiotic cream
- Antibiotic powder
- Surfer’s ear – ear drops
- Tampons (hard to find in many countries) BUT PLEASEEEEEEE switch to a Lunette Cup or another type of menstrual cup.No waste, environmentally-friendly and probably the best thing I have discovered in years!
Surfboards (at least 2!)
Although surfboards are a REALLY personal decision, here are some recommended shortboard options. Apologies, I know nothing about longboards so can’t really recommend them!
On serious surf trips, many people opt for 3 boards: A fun board or fish, your standard shortboard and a step-up.
Misfit Shapes Beach Burn – this little baby is so fun. Ride as a thruster or as a performance twin. The round tail and rocker means she goes fast in small to 6ft surf. I love my Misfit!
Hayden Shapes Hypto Krypto is one of the most popular, award-winning, all-around surfboards for a reason. It is suited for all conditions from 2ft to 8ft and catches everything. Definitely the top choice amongst travelers. You always see one in the water. There are mega expensive though, above $1000!
Step up shortboard:
The Pyzel Ghost is not only one of John John Florence’s favourite surfboards – it’s the go-to step-up option for all my friends. A round tail that goes great on steep reefs and beaches. Check her out!
Large Surfboard bag
Get yourself a sturdy surfboard bag for 2-3 boards with standard 10mm padding. Go a little bit bigger than the length of your biggest surfboard, so you can stuff some clothes, wetsuit, towels etc at the ends for extra padding. I like Ocean and Earth bags like this double compact coffin bag. If you are after one with wheels, they do a great one for 3 boards.
These are so useful when you are traveling from break to break by moto, tuk-tuk or car. Reduce the chance of dinging your board. A surf sock like can also double up as a beach towel :-)
Surfboard rail protectors
These are great for traveling as the rails are most often what gets damaged in transit. While I’ve seen them for sale in Bali, I can’t find any online (anyone knows of any??). Make your own with so tube-shaped foam, pool noodles and duct-tape.
You know the “What is that and how will it fit in my car” look you get from taxi drivers when you appear with a surfboard? These surfboard racks will come in useful. Load your boards up on the top of the car with minimal damage and get on with your surf trip. They are also super light and easy to travel with.
Fins (at least two sets)
Break a fin, end of the surf. Plus it is fun to mess around with different fin options. Don’t forget a spare pair or a pair of large fins in case the surf picks up and you need a bit more stability.
Leash (at least two-three)
It’s worth checking your leash function before you leave. If it is old, stretched and rusty – replace it as you don’t want to be swimming back through Uluwatu’s cave on a big day without your board. Each surfboard should have its own leash so you don’t have to change them over but bring a spare just in case one snaps. When it’s time to go home, leave it with a local kid. Leashes are expensive and you’ll make their day. Karma, it’s a wonderful thing.
Fin keys and wax scraper
Easy to forget. Very useful to have! I put my fins, wax and all those little bits and bobs in one drawstring bag to keep it all together.
Wax (take extra and leave with locals)
Check the water temp of where you are going and buy accordingly. Like a spare leash, leave any leftover wax with the local kids. My favourite brand is Sex Wax, however it’s a good idea to get organic, ocean-friendly wax-like Surf Organic.
Ding repair kit
So easy to forget, but so critical to have, especially if you are on a boat trip. Note what your board(s) are made of epoxy you will need an epoxy solar resin kit. If fiberglass you will need the fiberglass option including sandpaper etc. Useful to also travel with a pocket knife so you can do any surgery on your board if required. You can not buy resin in The Maldives, Sri Lanka or El Salvador in my experience.
A lot of people hate wearing them but surfing shallow sharp reefs makes them a necessity. Walking in on the reef is painful as is cutting sea-urchin spines out of the bottom of your feet. Get yourself a pair of reef booties just in case. I’ve seen that RipCurl is making some cool thin socks that are also worth looking into.
Over the years Still Stoked has become a pro in testing surf bikinis, so check out the brands that we recommend + loads of discount codes for you to use. Your normal bikini won’t cut it. The below bikini we designed, especially for surfing. Use code STILLSTOKED for 10% off anything on their website.
Long sleeve surf suit/rash vest
The sun in the tropics with scorch you and if you want to surf in the middle of the day when the crowds are at their lowest, you will need something to cover your back and legs. I recommend a long sleeve surf suit and surf-specific leggings. My absolute favouites are from Indie surf brand Salt Gypsy (use code Stillstoked10 for 10% off). I had a pair from Salt Gypsy that lasted me 5+ years and I surf all over + did a whole month’s yoga teacher training in them!
You may need one of these – check out the wind and water temps of where you are going. I recommend Rip Curl wetsuits especially the Flashbomb if you are going somewhere cold. Patagonia also makes great wetsuits that are fair trade and made from rubber-not neoprene. They will also repair your wetty if the seam split! I wear the Patagonia R2 which is a 3.5/2.5. I also have the R4 which is 5.5mm for surfing in the snow!
Reef -safe zinc sunscreen for face
So so important. We have done a full review of surf sunscreens that are reef and human safe. Get hold of Surf Mud if you are in Australia, Surf Yogis or any brands below (use code STILLSTOKED2019 for 10% off Surf Yogis). I use Surf Mud & Surf Yogis religiously.
Reef-safe zinc sunscreen for body
You’re not going to be able to put thick sun-paste all over your body and you don’t want lotions that will melt off in the surf. I recommend the new Surf Mud mineral lotions, Invisible Zinc or Sun Bum for your body. These are great.
Zinc removing wipes
Wearing sunscreen everyday gives you nasty spots and a bad complexion. Zinc is also really tough to get off your face. I am a HUGE fan of Tapa Reef zinc removing wipes and also their whole range of surf haircare products. Check them out (this link if in Australia).
Backpack & Luggage
Durable, lightweight luggage is essential. Good padding, lots of pocket options. Waterproof. I’m a huge fan of Patagonia duffle bags. On a surf trip though, I can usually get away with just my surfboard bag and a small backpack for my laptop and camera.
It would be pretty crap to forget your sunnies. Make sure you also remember a sunglass cloth to clean the lenses and a little storage pouch for them. I recommend SunGod sunglasses, they have a lifetime warranty, are almost impossible to break, and you can customise the colour of the frames, lenses and logo. They are awesome.
Please don’t contribute to the planet’s plastic issues. Get a water bottle you can re-fill from filtered water sources or large gallon water bottles. Please, this is so important. Mizu (means water in Japan), make a great metal one that has traveled around the whole world with me. I go everywhere with it.
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How annoying is traveling to a new country and finding out the plugs have changed. Yup. Damn annoying. This multi-international charger with USB ports is what you want to make sure that doesn’t happen! An easy one to forget off a surf packing list!
Portable charging pack
Also very useful for long journies. Go lightweight. This Ankor Power Core+ Mini has over 26,000 reviews! on Amazon and is tiny, and cheap.
GoPro or Camera
Super personal choice, for me iPhone photography doesn’t quite cut it. You can pick up a GoPro pretty cheap. The latest versions have the stabalisation which is amazing. Remember to get the floaty case for the GoPro if you want to take it in the surf. If you want a digital SLR digital camera, the mirror-less options are great for traveling as they are lightweight. Check out the Panasonic GH4 (what I use) or the Sony A Series.
If something goes wrong in a remote surf spot, you will need to get airlifted out. Make sure you are covered by travel insurance.We recommend World Nomads and have sorted all Still Stoked readers a 5% discount with code STOKED5 when using this link (sadly not available to US or Canadian residents, or with any other offer). World Nomads offer comprehensive travel insurance, in plain English, and cover all the activities you could need including surfing, scuba diving and ocean sports. You can also purchase after you have left the country. Check it out and get a fast quote here.
Other good stuff to take along
A good book
Hours of downtime can be healed with a good book. If you don’t like reading, download some good podcasts. Or get Audible books. A kindle is a good partner for someone that loves to read but hates carrying heavy books.
Here are some great travel stories for surf trips:
Yoga travel mat
You can get some really light-weight yoga mats that are great for traveling. The Manduka eKO SuperLite has been voted the best travel yoga mat and only weighs 2Llbs.
Cover up in conservative countries or use as a wrap, a sheet or a towel. The sarong is the most versatile travel item!
Flip-flops or thongs (Aus) or Jandals (NZ) all the way. Whatever you call them, don’t forget them!
If you are traveling to Central America or anywhere with Zika, Denge or Malaria, a portable mosquito net is a good companion. This universal backpackers mosquito net is the go!
Natural mosquito repellent
Useful for power cuts, being lost down dark alleys or when you can’t find your stuff in a dorm room. Black Diamond makes the best small, inexpensive headlamps. An easy one to forget off the surf packing list!
More surfer girl tips:
Best Surf Sunscreen – Full review & breakdown of top brands
Surf Hair Care – Pro surfer tips on how to look after beach hair
Surf Hair, Do Care: How to get beach blonde surfer hair
Best Surf Bikinis – Review of top active swimwear brands + discount codes
For Her Eyes Only – Surf tips for girls. Because all these things will happen to you!
How to lighten hair naturally without bleach and get surfer highlights
Surfer Girl Style – Top 10 surf fashion staples
The Do’s and Don’ts of Surf Bikinis
Anything else we have missed off this surf packing list, or you think we should include? Let us know in the comments below! Have an epic surf trip.