A travel bag is an essential piece of gear for surf trips and finding the right bag for your needs will keep you stoked and cut out a lot of stress. There are a ton of travel bags out there, and with so many different features, materials, and brands it can get a bit overwhelming sifting through pages of bag specs. We’ve saved you the hassle by reviewing the best of the best that we believe will be able to cover any surfer’s needs and budget.
These bags are listed in order from the simpler, lightweight offerings to the heavier duty options available. I think there’s something in this list for every surfer, from the weekend warrior to the sponsored pro. These are the seven travel bags we found to offer the greatest features, value, and quality.
Pro-Lite Boardbags Rhino Travel Bag
“The Best Value in Basic Travel Bags”
If you had to own only one board bag to cover everything from day-to-day use to weeks abroad, I’d go with the Rhino Travel Bag by Pro-Lite. The Rhino is a 1-2 board bag that is suited for the week-long trip, the sketchy hike-in spot and road trips. It’s a pretty slim and light bag, which makes it very easy to travel with and store when you’re home, but by no means does this mean it can’t hang with some of the bigger board bags.
This bag has the same 10mm of protective padding, and an extra reinforced nose found on bags twice it’s price. It fits two shortboards effortlessly and with enough space to pack some clothes in for extra padding. Even with the shortboard-specific Rhino bag, we were able to stuff a few different wider hybrid style boards in with no problems. Other cool features on this bag are the sturdy non-corrosive zipper, large accessory pocket, a burly handle, and a vent to air the bag out in summer heat.
If you’re packing a really wide shaped board I’d go with the Rhino Fish/Hybrid/Big Short Travel Bag and for those looking to take their log check out the Pro-Lite Boardbags Rhino Longboard Travel Bag.
Channel Islands Travel Light CX Series Coffin Bag
“Lightweight and Excellent Choice for 90% of Trips”
I think this is a great all-around light bag that’s perfect for most trips. It features 10mm of padding throughout the bag and additional padding in the nose and tail. The nose especially is where a lot of boards get thrashed during travel so it’s nice to have all the help you can get.
While technically a double bag, the CX2 can fit a third board if you’re flying out with standard shortboards. We tried throwing some wider boards in and it can definitely accommodate wider groveler and fish style boards (sub-21″ width), however, I would only ration out enough space for two.
I really like how this bag is super light and slim in shape. This reduced light-weight profile makes the CX series of bags easy to travel with and pays off when your bag is getting weighed and measured at the airport. Other nice features are the corrosion-proof zippers and compatibility with the CI Carry On Bag (pictured below) that connects via straps and enable you to easily put the bag on wheels. A few of our team riders have used the CX2 as a sleeping bag so that’s worth to consider as well.
For the quick trip, Channel Islands now offer the lighter CX1 that fits 1-2 boards and if you’re stoked on the CX2 and want to bring a larger quiver, I’d recommend checking out the CX3. The CX3 is a 3-4 board travel bag option that’s the bigger, thicker brother of the CX2. We really like that CI bumped up the padding on the rails, which now are cushioned by an ample 20mm of foam. The CX3 also has a pair of wide internal straps to hold your boards securely against each other. Other than that it’s pretty much identical in features to the CX2.
You really can’t go wrong with these bags and they’re a great practical choice that covers most travel needs, whether it be a week down in Baja or a month in Bali.
Pro-Lite Timmy Reyes Smuggler Travel Bag
“Pays For Itself After One Trip”
I think this is easily one of the most ingenious designs ever for a board bag, especially for the traveler who is getting crushed by “per board” airline fees. If you’re flying thousands of miles to surf, the last thing you want to do is spend a huge chunk of change before you even touch down. The Timmy Reyes Smuggler bag doesn’t make it free, but it helps in a big way.
Using a false bottom, the bag appears to be holding only two boards when you have three packed in, no matter which side you look at it from. This illusion allows a free third board to be stored out of sight.
Aside from its magic trick, the Reyes Smuggler bag is well-built and has a bunch of quality features you come to expect from Pro-Lite. There’s a reinforced nose, extra rail protection and a heavy-duty handle which help this bag feel ready for the abuses of travel. I also really appreciate the strong non-corrosive zippers on Pro-Lite bags, because if you’ve ever had a zipper seize up or break you know it’s usually at the least convenient time.
The Smuggler is also a pretty wide bag (24” width) so you don’t have to worry if your groveler or fish will be able to sneak in. However, if you tend to travel with mostly wider shapes, I’d go with the extra wide Fish/Hybrid version. Overall, we’re all very stoked on the Smuggler bag here at Cleanline and the more you travel with it, the quicker it pays for itself.
Dakine Regulator Triple Surfboard Bag
“ No Frills Workhorse”
For those needing a simple triple bag that will offer great all-around protection, the Dakine Regulator is just a plain old good bag. This bag might lack some of the bells and whistles of some of the other travel bags out there, but there’s no dead weight on this one and it’s an excellent triple bag option.
The Regulator is well padded with a thick ⅜ layer of foam and a really durable 600D Polyester top. On the bottom, the bag is cased entirely in a heat-reflecting material that can help your bag from getting too hot if left out in the sun. Inside the bag, there’s a non-corrosive zipper, tarp lined wax pocket and a velcro mesh sleeve for fins. My favorite part of this bag is the internal padded dividers to cushion the boards. The dividers on this bag are much thicker than most bag’s dividers and it’s just another layer of security to make sure you’re good to go as soon as you get out of the airport. This bag gives you all the basic features you would want in a travel bag, done well.
For the John John Florence fan, Dakine now also makes a signature version of the Regulator they call the JJF Quad Travel bag. The JFF bag might look at first glance like a Regulator with different colors but it’s worth the extra price for the hefty 3/4″ padding on the rails of the bag. It’s good to see that bag manufacturers are starting to reinforce these areas of the bag, as it’s where you most commonly see damage in transit. The bag also can connect to a carry on bag to make transporting your boards through an airport or street easy.
If you plan to bring your entire quiver or share one bag between a friend or two, Dakine makes the Tour Regulator which is identical except it can fit 6-8 boards comfortably.
FCS Travel 3 All Purpose Shortboard Bag
“ Re-Designed to be Tougher Yet Lighter”
Previously this bag was called the FCS Triple Travel cover, which was an employee and team rider favorite for years. Now for 2019, FCS has distilled what made that bag great down into a sleeker and simpler package. The first big update to this bag is it now features more padding throughout with 12mm of foam and an additional 2mm of reinforcement padding in the nose.
Despite the added thickness, this bag feels lighter and more manageable than ever before. The outside of the bag is covered in a heavy-duty nylon skin, and out of all the bags on the list, this bag seems to have the strongest exterior.
Also on the outside is two pairs of convenient tie-down loops. These loops allow you to throw your travel bag on top of any vehicle and cinch it down tight without a car rack. This is an incredibly practical feature and if you’re driving a rental, taking a cab, or hitchhiking this allows you to easily stash your boards on the fly. The fragile stamp is another welcome addition, especially since the fragile stickers you receive at airports sometimes have trouble sticking to board bags. There are internal board straps to keep the boards in place and the bag now comes only in black which is fine by us since it looks way cooler anyway.
FCS also makes an excellent Double bag they call the Travel 2 which is near identical except for the fact that it holds only two boards and has 10mm of padding with 5mm extra in the nose.
Pro-Lite Finless Coffin Series Bag
“Well Designed and Built To Last”
For total peace of mind that your travel bag is going to withstand any long trip I’d go with the Pro-Lite Finless Coffin Bag. The Finless Coffin is lighter, but definitely still as road-worthy as Pro-Lite’s Wheeled Coffin bag.
Inside the Finless Coffin, your boards can be separated by an internal divider and held together snug by interior “seat belt” straps. While on the outside, there are four compression straps to pack the bag down nice and tight. Pro-Lite also reinforced the stitching at stress areas and box stitched the handles. This is worth noting because if you’ve ever had a handle rip out, you know how much of a bummer it is.
The coffin design of this bag works well as it allows you to fully open up the bag and make sure your boards are protected from all angles when you’re cramming in board shorts and tees.
Some other features of the Finless Coffin are 2 external pockets for accessories and convenient tie-down loops. The Finless Coffin is available in a double and a triple/quad version and the only difference is that the triple/quad version has a light day bag.
Pro-Lite Wheeled Coffin Series Travel Bag
“The Big Hoss”
The Wheeled Coffin by Pro-Lite is one of the most heavy duty travel bags out there, so if you need a bag that can bring all of your boards, fin collection, clothes and save your shoulders some work this is the what we recommend you check out.
The Wheeled Coffin has all of the great features of Pro-Lite’s Finless Coffin put onto wheels. The wheels are the bag’s big feature, and these are definitely not some cheap wheels that are going to give out on you. They’re actually rollerblade wheels which allow you to lug your gear effortlessly and are sturdy enough for dirt roads. There’s even an extra tough handle at the nose of the bag for smooth pulling.
This a huge bag and it definitely has ample room for both boards and accessories. It’s labeled as a shortboard bag but you can fit about anything into it and has a ton of pockets and places to stash gear. So if you’re bringing everything with you and want to keep it all organized I think there’s more than enough places to do so.
Pro-Lite also offers the Deep Wheeled Coffin Travel Bag that can comfortably fit 4-7 boards and I believe it’s the best travel bag out there when carrying more than 4 boards. There is also a Wheeled Coffin Longboard Travel Bag available for the log enthusiast as well.
Finally, below is a comparison chart you can use to quickly compare the 7 best travel bags and their different variants.
The “-” in the number of boards column is a suggested number for standard sized shortboards without fins. If you’re bringing fish or thicker groveler-style boards it’s recommended to use the smaller of the two numbers.
Pro-Lite, Dakine, and FCS bags are cut slightly long (1-2″) to accommodate a longer board in an emergency. For Example, a 6’4″ board will be able to fit into a 6’3″ bag. Channel Island bags are cut true to size, so it’s not advised to try and fit a 6’4″ into a 6’3″ bag.
*10’0″ and 10’6″ Can Only Fit One Board
That’s About It…
That’s our review of the 7 best surf travel bags out there. Hopefully, by now, you’ve found a suitable bag for your next trip. Now you just need to get out there and travel!
If you have any questions about any surfboard bag you can always give us a call toll-free at 1-888-546-6176 or reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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