Going away on vacation and thinking about bringing your paddleboard?
Here are some packing essentials, tips and things to consider before taking off on your next adventure!
Travelling with a Paddleboard (SUP)
Before you start packing
The first thing to think about is what type of vacation are you going on and the likelihood of paddling at your destination.
- How often will you be using your board? It might make more sense to rent locally either from a budget perspective or the number of times you’ll go paddling.
- Do you have access to waterways? Space to store the board?
- Are you staying in one place or moving around a lot?
- Do you have the knowledge, tools and resources for paddling locally at your destination? If not, do some research or find a local paddle/surf shop to reach out and get information on best spots, weather, safety and probably more!
Inflatable Paddleboard (iSUP):
The dimensions of the iSUP bag are similar to those of a large suitcase and give you the ability to check your board in on a flight with no additional oversize costs.
Most airlines now charge for checked bags; check with your airline for costs. Tip: check your SUP (with a few additional travel items in the bag) and bring all your clothes in a carry-on! This saves on additional checked bag fees. It’s also a good idea to measure the bag and check the airline’s requirements.
- Roll the board around your pump to help protect it.
- Strap the rolled paddleboard to create a tight roll and to keep it in place.
- Try to roll and fold the board to ensure the fin box is flat and not on a curved edge.
- Bring an inflatable PFD to help save space. Add a printout of the security regulations for approved CO2 canisters with a PFD and keep the PFD easily accessible. More below.
- Having wheels on your SUP bag is very helpful as well as the ability to tuck away any backpack-type straps.
- Put your board in the bag first, followed by your paddle (3 pieces) and wait to pack additional items like the leash, dry sack, repair kit. You’ll find that there are lots of little spots like in the ends of the rolled board and gaps between the bag and the board. Depending on space, it’s best to try and keep as many items together as possible. If you’re bringing a dry sack store a few items in here.
- A mesh bag for your fins, especially if you use a finger screw and plate. This ensures they won’t get lost in the SUP bag or misplaced.
- Place UV rash guards, hats or soft clothing around your paddle to help protect it.
Travelling with a hardboard is doable but can be trickier and more expensive than an iSUP.
Here are things specifically related to travelling with a hard paddleboard you need to consider before you go:
- Most airlines consider this a surfboard and will need to be categorized as sports equipment. Check with the airline on the total length limit. Some airlines require it to be under 9’6.
- Since airlines consider SUPs sports equipment there will likely be an additional cost outside of the normal checked bag fees. The fees will vary from airline to airline and will also depend on your destination.
- A protective carrying case for the board and one for your paddle.
- Transportation upon your arrival. What type of vehicle do you have? Is it big enough or does it have the proper equipment to transport your board, including straps to tie it down?
- Storage and safekeeping at your destination.
- Proper gear for the weather and water temperature! It can be hard to remember what summertime is like when you’re living in the cold winter. To help jog your memory, look at photos you took during similar weather conditions on your board.
- 3 piece paddle. This is most important for iSUPs since the paddle needs to fit in the smaller board bag.
- Carabiner, waterproof bag/camera case and other accessories you typically use paddling in similar conditions to your destination.
- Repair kit
- Spare parts! An extra fin & screw and plate, pump washers, patches for iSUP, etc
- A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved lock. This will help keep the zipper closed for the duration of the trip, avoid security cutting the lock or zip tie and help prevent easy theft.
- Hanging luggage scale like this Heys one, to easily weigh your bag and ensure you aren’t over the airlines limit. There is lots of room to add in additional items for your trip (not just paddling gear). Be careful not to pack over the weight limit.
- Inflatable PFD with secured CO2 cartridges.. *Most countries/airlines allow you to bring an inflatable PFD and CO2 cartridges.
CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) all accept 1 inflatable PFD per person. You are allowed two CO2 cartridges as part of the PFD and two additional. CO2 and the size of the cartridges found in inflatable PFDs are not harmful and are needed for this piece of safety equipment to operate. Always check with your airline and any connecting airlines in advance as they have the final say. Be prepared for inspection at the airport and have printed supporting documents.
If you’re packing a waterproof camera remember to keep it and any other valuables on you. Don’t check it in your bag with the rest of your paddle gear.
For tips and advice on filming and capturing moments on the water read my blog post: Capturing Content While Paddleboarding.
Things to Consider
- Give yourself more time at the airport. Even with an iSUP bag. I’ve had to go over to the oversized area (no extra charges) and they wanted to see inside and inspect my CO2.
- Always check the information with the airline before you leave
- Notify the airline. Not applicable for iSUPs but I would highly recommend this when travelling with a hardboard.
- Airlines are not responsible for loss, theft or breakage. Consider getting additional insurance.
- Check oversized baggage claim not just for a hardboard but often iSUP bags get sent there too.
- Your board bag will get banged up. If you have an iSUP you could roll your board and put it in a large suitcase vs the SUP bag it came with. If your bag doesn’t have the ability to hide backpack straps, consider securely taping them.
- Make sure you have all the safety essentials accordingly to the rules and regulations of the country you’re visiting. Here are the requirements in Canada.
- Don’t put anything in outside pouches that can’t be zipped and closed securely with a lock. The bag could bump something and open the zipper.