How to slim down your surfboard bag

President JFK once famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” And when it comes to packing for a surf trip, I say, “Ask not how much you can cram into your board bag; ask what you actually need.”

Both messages couldn’t ring truer, but indeed it is hard to slim down that 7-foot by 4-foot bag of fiberglass and fin keys. The thing is, once you do whittle the bag down, you’re more mobile, stress-free at ticket counters and on your way to having an easier surf trip.

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Heed the following advice. (In the meantime, find a sturdy carry-on bag for the knickknacks.)

Get real

Pro tip: No more than two boards, bud … unless you’re actually a pro. Then you’ll need a bigger board bag. Photo: Beau Flemister
Writers have a saying about editing: “Kill your darlings.” It means to delete unnecessary words. The same can be said for the amount and size of surfboards you bring on a trip. Because unless you’re on the Championship Tour, there’s absolutely no reason to bring more than three boards.

Two strong boards is actually a better number. (You’ll thank yourself when lugging them around.) Also, don’t bring a huge gun for the one day it might get big enough to use one. Unless you’re specifically going for an XXL swell, a step-up will always do.

Keep it light

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Spread the wealth — as in, “don’t throw everything into your board bag.” It’s a common misconception among traveling surfers that you’re supposed to load up that thing, but it only makes weigh-ins at the ticket counter more stressful and leaves you more prone to getting nailed for excess weight. Make the bag as light as possible.

RELATED: How to escape surfboard baggage fees at the ticket counter

Bulk up the carry-on

Where’s your weight coming from? Most likely, it’s smaller (but heavier) items that can all fit in a TSA-legal carry-on bag. Things like fins, batteries, electronics, laptops, cameras, books/magazines, etc. — put all of that in a carry-on. Typically, they aren’t weighed like checked bags.

Trade towels for bubble wrap

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Towels are great and all, but they can get wet and become heavy AF. Instead of packing your boards with towels and jeans, use super-light bubble wrap.

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Get some lighter boards

The technology is out there, plus they’re usually stronger, so why not? Epoxy, polystyrene, carbon wraps and FutureFlex: All of these new, progressive board materials and constructions will make your board bag slimmer.