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What's in your surf trip quiver

So you are about to start packing for your surf trip... Before you can think about clothes, sunscreen, wetsuits, board shorts, camera’s, etc., you're going to have to consider what kind of quiver you are going to need.

Sure, you can buy or rent surfboards when you get to your destination, but most of us want our own boards that we already have a feel for so that we can maximise our time ripping the bag out of the waves instead of feeling out a new board.

When you are picking out which boards to bring, the first thing you need to be aware of are the types of waves you plan on surfing. Then decide which types of boards you prefer surfing on those waves.

dave rastovich with his holiday quiver
Dave Rastovich with his Gary McNeil Concepts board quiver in Indonesia and the Maldives.

How many?

From our experience, a 3 board quiver seems to be the magic number no matter where you are traveling to.

At the very least you should be taking two, but three not only ensures you have the right equipment for the varying conditions, it is also a fail safe in case you break one.

Which ones?

The shape and style of boards you take will be dictated by the waves you plan on surfing but they can essentially be broken down into your groveller (smaller wave board), your standard (whatever you surf the most at home), and a step up (for when the waves turn on).

This will somewhat vary depending on where you go. For instance if you are chasing big waves your “groveller” might be your standard shorty or even your step up.

A good rule of thumb is to definitely make sure one of those boards is your favourite go-to when you are at home. Chances are it’ll be your go-to on your trip too.

And be realistic about your surfing abilities and the waves you will surf. There is no need to bring a big wave gun if you have never surfed anything over head high. Bring the appropriate boards for the waves you can handle.

hammo surfboards going good
A Hammo Surfboards model going well in this nice wave.

New Boards

If you are ordering new boards for your trip, get them glassed a little heavier. The Sweet Spot 3.0 comes standard with DHD's bullet proof glassing to give you a little more protection.

It's not going to hurt your performance that much, and it gives you extra confidence that your board will not only hold up in heavier surf but with the help of your board bag will make it through rough baggage handlers as well.

And don’t be afraid to get to know how your board surfs before you go. You may not get the same style of waves, but you can get a good idea of how it paddles and is generally going to want to handle.

asher pacey on sweet spot 2.0
Asher Pacey handling a nice wave on his Sweet Spot.

If you can only afford to get or bring one board, make sure it is a good all-rounder. Something with a conservative round or rounded pin tail is great for a large variety of waves.

A nice balance in the tail rocker to make sure it’ll stay loose in the smaller surf, but hold in waves with more juice. Maybe something slightly longer, or a touch wider or thicker than your standard shorty. Great all-round boards that come to mind are the Hypto Krypto by Haydenshapes Surfboards, the SUPER Pig Dog by SUPERbrand Surfboards, the Chilli Rare Bird and the Sweet Spot by DHD.

Pretty much any brand will have a model suited to handle a large variety of conditions.

Dale Staples in South Africa for 1da shapes
Dale Staples getting going in South Africa on a 1-Da Shapes J Force model.

Where are you heading?

It is a good idea to take into consideration the region you are going to as well. What you take as your groveler, standard and step up may vary depending on where you will be.

Anywhere in the world you go will have days that it is pumping, days where it is mellow, and days that fall in between. Apart from actually tracking the swell for the time you will be there, get a good idea of what an average day is like for the season you are going.

Australian Waves

Australia has every type of wave imaginable somewhere along it’s endless coast. For the most part, these waves come from deep water with long period swell. This translates to waves with more punch and power on average than somewhere like California.

Western Oz, even more so as there is more open ocean that can produce even stronger waves, as well as a gnarlier coastline more prone to heavy slabs and reefs. So the East Coast of Oz, you may want to bring your standard shorty (5150/Stacey), a step up (SUPER Pig Dog/Superbrand) and a small wave board (Puddle Jumper/Lost).

West Oz, definitely a step up (Black Angel/Emery), your standard shorty (Premier/Matt Penn) but maybe beefed up a bit and a board for the smaller days, but more on the performance orientated side (Synthetic Sally/Panda).

mitch crews with his stacey surfboard quiver
Mitch Crews with his Stacey Surfboards quiver.

US Waves

In California and down into Mexico, the waves are generally a little softer.

Still a wide variety, from the heaving bombs like Mavericks and heavier waters of Northern and Central Cal, to mellow peelers like Malibu or San Onofre. Most of us are not going to tackle Mavericks, so a good all-round quiver for California/Mexico might consist of your standard shorty, maybe a little wider like the Rapture by Eye Symmetry, a hybrid style of board like the Sk8ey 2 by Misfit Shapes, and either a fish, fun board or a log depending on your preference, like the Fly Fish by Warner Surfboards or the Virus from Hammo Surfboards.

cali quads all lined up
A nice little lineup of some Eye Symmetry Cali Quads.

Destination Waves

Maybe you are planning a trip to Indo, or other tropical far off places. You are generally going to be surfing good quality reef breaks.

Many people assume they need all step-ups for these destinations, but you would be surprised at what boards can handle these types of waves. Because these are more structured, and usually good quality waves, you should definitely pack your standard shorty and a step up, but also throw in a fun hybrid or fish in the mix like the Hypto Krypto by Haydenshapes, or the Black Diamond by DHD.

These boards will handle size no problem if the waves are of good quality, but will definitely be your choice on the smaller days.

hypto krypto and black diamond
The Hypto Krypto alongside the DHD Black Diamond.


In a nutshell, taking the time to think about the boards that you will enjoy most for the waves you intend to surf will make a huge difference in your trip.

If you can afford to pack it, don’t be afraid to bring it as you may surprise yourself on what can work, but be honest about your ability and the waves you can handle. If you are limited in your choices, three boards, with removable fin systems can generally squeeze into one board bag, helping to lower your travel expenses.

And if you are stuck with only one option, make sure you select the right surfboard. Probably a good all-rounder with a solid glass job, because the last thing you need is a broken board when you have nothing to back it up with.

Make sure you check out the Board Engine and play around with your preferred wave type and board type to find some more surfboard recommendations for your next trip. Or email [email protected] with your details for customized board recommendations.

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22/07/2015 3:49 pm