You don’t need a lot of “things” to enjoy the ocean. If you’re a real purist, you could simply bodysurf naked and get your surfing fill.
But, if you’ve been surfing for any amount of time, you’ll find your surfing toolkit along with your curiosity and ability to experiment with different equipment has grown.
If you’re interested in maximizing your time in the water and riding waves year-round, a proper collection of surfing equipment is a plus.
The right surfing equipment will vary from surfer to surfer depending on personal preferences, skill levels, and local conditions, but in general, you’ll know if you have the right gear for surfing if:
- You have boards (or swim fins, or handplanes, or body boards, etc.) that will allow you to enjoy the waves regardless of size and power.
- You have wetsuits, boardshorts, bikinis, etc. that will keep you warm and comfortable in relation to the water temperature, wind, and weather.
- You have the tools, equipment, and accessories that will allow you to get the most out of your equipment and yourself in the water (e.g. wax, ding repair, sunscreen, etc.)
If you’ve already got your set of beginner surfing equipment, continue reading to get an overview of a quality mix of equipment for surfing.
Boards, Fins, Etc.
Once you get comfortable with the basics of surfing on your first board, you’ll probably experience an unquenchable thirst for trying and buying more boards.
While it’s certainly easy to get out of control with surfboard experimentation and accumulation, a variety of surfboard and surfing-equipment is necessary if you want to surf in all types of conditions.
- Surfboards: A few different surfboards will allow you to maximize your time in the water and your enjoyment of the waves – regardless of conditions. At a minimum, you’ll want something that will work on small days, something that’ll work in quality waves, and something that’ll be fun in a wide variety of conditions.
- Fins: Different fin sets and a variety of singles will allow you to turn a small quiver of boards into an entire fleet. Swapping your fins can have a drastic and noticeable effect on how a particular board surfs.
- Handplane: When it’s really small or dumpy shorebreak, a handplane can turn otherwise un-surfable waves into opportunities for some epic barrels.
- Swim Fins: Fins will make bodysurfing or simply swimming around your flat break much easier.
Everyday Surfing Equipment & Accessories
There are a few pieces of equipment you’ll be using pretty much every time you go surfing – it can be smart to have some extra. This includes:
Wetsuits, Boardshorts, Wearables
Surfing year-round requires you to adapt to the seasons, water temperatures, wind chill, and weather. To get the most out of the current conditions, you’re going to want to be surfing in something that’s going to keep you warm and comfortable as well as provide maximum range of motion and protection from the elements.
- Wetsuits: A few wetsuits for the different seasons is a good way to stay comfortable in the water-year round. The exact thickness and style you need will depend on your locale, but in general, it probably doesn’t hurt to have at least a fullsuit, a springsuit or sleeveless wetsuit, and a jacket or vest.
- Boardshorts/Bikinis: If you’re fortunate to live or visit somewhere with warm water, a few good swimsuits for surfing are a good idea.
- Rash guards or shirts: If you want some extra sun and rash protection in the warmer months, a rash guard or t-shirt is a good choice too.
Storage & Transport
Getting to the beach and storing your surfboards and equipment are made easier with a few more pieces of equipment. These include:
- A surf rack: If you’ve got a few boards, a surf rack can help organize them and keep them protected when they’re not in use. You can buy one or build your own pretty easily.
- Roof racks: If you’ve got a longboard or are transporting a lot of boards, roof racks for your car make getting to the beach easier.
- Board bags: Different types of board bags will suit different needs, but something is often better than nothing in protecting your board from dings, scratches, and sun damage.
- Bike racks: A surf rack for your bike is a great addition to your surf equipment if you live close to the beach.
Repair & Maintenance
Keeping your equipment sea-worthy is key to maximizing your time and enjoyment in the water. It’ll also make you a more sustainable surfer in keeping surf-stuff out of the landfill.
- Ding repair: You can get a kit or a collection of spare fiberglass, resin, tape, and sandpaper.
- Fin screws and tools.
- Leash-loop rope (a big spool of paracord is nice to have laying around)
- Wax comb or something scrapey for removing surf wax.
What to Keep in Your SurfMobile?
I’m a believer that anything can be a surf-mobile – a van, a truck, a sedan, a motorcycle, a bicycle – all shapes and sizes. As long as it can get you from point A to point Beach and can carry a surfboard, you’ve got yourself a worthy surfmobile.
Now, the best surfmobile would probably be your own two feet when you’re within walking distance to the surf, but most people have a bit more distance to cover. If you’ve got some distance between home-base and the surf, you’ll want to keep your surfmobile – whatever form it may take – stocked with some key essentials.
Here’s my take on what to keep in the ultimate surfmobile:
- Wax and extra wax: It’s always a good idea to keep a few bars of surf wax in your surfmobile. Everytime you buy some new wax, buy an extra and throw in the back.
- Extra leash: Most people don’t think about their leash until it breaks. If you’ve just driven to the beach and the surf is pumping, an extra leash in the car is much better than a new leash at the surf shop.
- Extra leash rope: Some extra paracord to tie a new leash rope is a good idea. You should replace your leash rope if it’s looking frayed or worn as this can be a common area where the leash will fail.
- Fin key/fin tools: Some hex keys and a screw driver so you can swap, adjust, or tighten your fins is essential.
- Extra fins: Keeping some extra fins for either experimentation, matching conditions, or back-ups is a must as well. Experimenting with fins is going to help you get the most out of your boards.
- Quick ding repair/ding tape: While quick fixes are not always ideal, if you can repair your board and continue a good session, some quick ding repair supplies can come in handy.
- Extra towel: Always good to have at least one extra towel.
- Changing mat: You can help prolong the life of your wetsuit if you avoid stomping on it on the asphalt, rocks, or dirt. Do you towel changing while standing on top of something soft.
- Sunscreen: Definitely don’t neglect your sunscreen. Throw it in the back near your wax and you won’t forget to put it on.
An extra board or a go-to/daily driver can be a good thing to keep in the surfmobile as well.
And there you have it, whether you’re driving a tricked-out Sprinter Van or a Honda Accord – you too can have a surfmobile.