Packlist: The gear we took on the NYC subway to surf hurricane swell

September was one for the history books in terms of quality and consistency of surf on the Eastern seaboard of the United States.

Hurricane after hurricane churned through warm waters, giving us surf-starved East Coasters the start to fall that makes us forget all about the flat summer months we just endured.

Fall has already been good to East Coast surfers. Photo: Tad Mask

The unfortunate reality is that some hurricanes that cause destruction do create incredible surf along the way or in other areas. This was certainly the case for Hurricane Maria, the effects of which are still being felt throughout the Caribbean. (You can help out with those relief efforts here.)

What Hurricane Maria brought to the North Carolina/New Jersey/New England/New England area was nearly a week of non-stop surf, offshore winds, warm water and cooler air temperatures. Fall is the time when things are still palatable in New York City before the big freeze and the whole game of surfing while taking the train completely changes.

Waiting for the A train in the pre-dawn hours. Photo: Tad Mask

We headed out to Rockaway Beach on the A train before the sun came up during the run of swell from Maria to test some of the key pieces of gear needed for riding the train to surf in New York City.

Yeti Panga 50L Duffle ($300)

The Panga offers a plethora of strap options with six QuickGrab Lash Points. Photo: Tad Mask

I was a bit hesitant to use a duffle bag as my backpack for transporting my gear — comfy, reliable backpacks are usually the way to go when lugging wetsuits around on the subway.

But Yeti’s Panga Duffle is no ordinary duffle bag. It essentially doubles as both a backpack and a duffle bag, with handles and straps for all sorts of carrying options. The minimalistic straps are still extremely ergonomic for the shoulders and back, as it sits tall. It also is a fully immersible, waterproof dry duffle.

And at 50 liters, it has plenty of room for all the extra neoprene when the winter rolls around. If using it as a bag to transport wet surf gear, you’ll want to make sure to pack a dry bag to keep your gear from getting soaked.

Brixton All-Terrain Maven Jacket ($124)

The All-Terrain Maven Jacket is perfect for a crisp fall morning. Photo: Tad Mask

Crisp mornings like we’ve just started experiencing demand a light jacket when you’re catching the subway before the sun starts to warm things up. And Brixton’s All-Terrain Maven Jacket is the perfect option since it packs into its own pocket. Lightweight, it’s also water-repellent and is great for when you’re looking to keep your gear light.

Leus Tie-Dye Poncho Towel ($52)

Pure comfort is a full-length changing towel. Photo: Tad Mask

A changing towel is the single most important piece of gear you need if you are taking the subway to surf. And Leus has got an incredible, all-cotton option that gives full coverage down to your ankles (unless you’re six-foot-eight by chance).

Most changing towels only go down to the knees, so a full-length like this one from Leus will be a game-changer for the winter months.

Leus Great White & Boho Towels ($32/$34)

An extra towel (or two) is key for changing on the boardwalk. Photo: Tad Mask

Yes, you have your changing towel and that’s extremely important. But you’ll also need a towel to stand on while changing because that ground gets cold quick and numb feet are the killer to any surf session.

Need Essentials Long Arm Spring ($110)

The Long Arm Spring from needESSENTIALS. Photo: Tad Mask

Fall brings cooler mornings and evenings that we have longed for all summer in the steam of the city. This means you might need a little extra neoprene for those dawn and dusk patrols. Since the water was still in the low 70s, we opted for the Long Arm Spring from needESSENTIALS.

A long arm spring suit is one of the more under-appreciated wetsuit options around, as they offer enough warmth up top when cool offshore winds are typically blowing. The Long Arm Spring from needESSENTIALS kept us going long enough until the sun started warming things up a bit more.

The Long Arm Spring in action. Photo: Tad Mask

See more photography from Tad Mask here.

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