As much as we love surfing here on the Great Lakes, we all need a little salt water therapy every once and a while. Bringing the right gear is crucial on any adventure, especially on a surf trip. We are going to be talking about our staff's favourite items to bring on a surf trip to the tropics. Most of the items we have decided to talk about are the items that are more often than not forgotten. That being said there are a few items that are common but too good to leave out.
A good pair of board shorts are so important when traveling. My favourite board shorts right now are the Rip Curl Mirage MF React Ultimate. Some of the reasons I love these shorts so much are their surf grip waistband, silicon draw string, welded seams and the elastostretch 5 technology. The combo of the surf grip waistband and silicon drawstring make it nearly impossible for these babies to come off unintentionally. That's right no more mooning the beach after a gnarly rip in the washing machine undertow.
I love going on vacation and not worrying about time, just surfing all day and letting the sun tell me when it's time to paddle in to shore. That being said I don’t go on a surf trip without my Rip Curl Search watch. I am obsessed with this watch mainly because you can now look at live surf conditions any time. After your surf you can download your session onto the app and look at your wave count, time surfed, how far you paddled and your max speed. This watch is the second model Rip Curl has come out with and it is smaller, faster and can connect to GPS satellite anytime, anywhere.
I don’t usually like wearing rash guards or neoprene in the tropics because I always get to hot and uncomfortable. However, ever since the first time I tried this front zip jacket, i've been in love. In the Tropics, sun safety is super important obviously, but what most people don't expect is that dawn patrols and sunset surfs can have a little bite to them and this jacket will cover all conditions. I am a huge fan of being able to unzip in the middle of the session and have the jacket fly open like a young Leo standing at the front of the Titanic. It's a super retro style and pairs perfectly with a cruiser longboard session but when things get serious all you have to do is zip it and rip it!
This item is not as important when you are surfing but absolutely essential for any travelling coffee lover. The tropics typically have really good coffee but not so great coffee makers, the Aeropress will allow you to make delicious, quick and consistent coffee anywhere. It comes with 350 paper filters so no need to bring extra. The best part is the fact that this travelling companion easily fits in a backpack because it breaks down to only being a about 8 inches long.
Headhunter face stick was designed by a wider variety of surfers, lifeguards and members of the military. Surfers always need to be applying and reapplying sunscreen. Being in the water does not mean you are safe from the sun. In fact sitting in the lineup waiting for a wave is one of the most common places surfers get burnt. Since surfers sit so close to the water, the sun's UV rays reflect off the water and toast your skin the whole time you are surfing. Headhunter is a zinc oxide sunscreen meaning its meant to last longer and protect better. When surfing, always use SPF 30 or higher.
The reality of Surfboards are that they are fragile, this combined with heavy handed baggage throwers, rocky point breaks and limited board fixing resources when you need them make Phix Doctors Micro Kits a necessary addition to any surf trip.
Each handy sized kit comes with enough Sun Powered resin for a small repair or 2, sandpaper, smoothy sheet and simple instructions on how to get your stick back in the water as soon as possible while the waves are pumping.
These kits are space, weight and cost friendly ,dry ultra clear and are totally safe to patch up your favourite epoxy board just as well as your regular polyester one really leaving you with no excuses not to bring a couple.
Body surfing can be done at any point on a surf trip. Before the morning coffee, taking a rest day, can’t handle being out of the water or introducing your friends to the waves. Or you can dedicating your day to mixing it up and getting the smallest barrels of your life. A hand plane is going to give you that extra edge. Hand planes are small enough to fit in any board bag or backpack making it an easy travel companion. The reason we prefer Enjoy Hand Planes is because they are made out of all recycled materials. The hand plane is made out of broken boards, the strap is made out of recycled wetsuits and the GoPro mount is made out of an old surf fin box.
The perfect partner in crime for the hand plane is a set of DaFin swim fins. DaFin is based out of Hawaii and used by all the top bodyboards, body surfers and life savers including Brian Keaulana, Hawaii well known surfer/ life saver. Swim fins are much smaller than normal flippers so they are easy to fit in a suitcase. I love bringing mine along for the days when the waves are small or when I have surfed so much I can no longer use my arms to paddle. They help you get into waves on your stomach and can be doubled as a water assist if you are teaching a friend to surf.
Ear plugs are one of the most underestimated pieces of equipment. Surfers ear is one of the most painful injuries a surfing can experience. It is caused by cold water, high winds or repeated impact to the ears. All of these can cause ear canal growth. When your body is exposed to harsh conditions, it tries to protect your eardrum however most of the time it doesn't stop growing once you are out of the water. It causes hearing loss and can lead to infections. Good news! There is a very easy way to stay safe. Surfears is a company that has designed ear plugs that keep water out and let sound in. They are by far the best quality ear plugs I have ever owned.
Anyone traveling should always bring a book. Weather you are relaxing on the beach or kicking it in your room, there is no better time to read then on vacation. Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an incredible life surfing his way through life. Finnegan is an incredible writer, now writing in New York, and even better surfer. Barbarian Days was the 2016 biography Pulitzer Prize winner. The book is written so that a non-surfer will be able to enjoy and follow the story, but for a surfer to read it, you will be mind blown by his descriptions of surf breaks and culture.
10 picks by our team members Laurie White & Haynes Kent