Depending on your needs, manufacturers have manufactured a bag for all basic surfboard action which includes general day to day transport and storage as well as international air and maritime travel.
Surfboard bags fall in three major categories which vary widely in price and usage: the sock, the all-purpose bag, and the hard case
The Surf Board SockAs far as low intensity day to day activity, the surfboard sock is a must for any surfer. If you are buying a brand new board, ask the surf shop salesperson to throw in a free sock. They are inexpensive and help avoid those annoying little nicks, dents and dings, and scratches commonly associated with basic surfboard transport and storage. However, a sock doesn’t add heavy protection. It is, after all, just a big cotton sock with an added nylon piece to cover your board’s nose.
A surfboard sock is easy to roll up and store in a car or in your back pack or even used as an impromptu towel wrap if you need to change into your board shorts. It is also semi-effective in blocking sun rays. However, extended time in a car or in direct sunlight can cause your wax to melt and ruin your bag. This is the least expensive option but it also offers the least protection.
The All-purpose Surfboard BagAll-purpose bags can be used for daily use, but they are also good for traveling. These bags offer stronger and thicker protection than the sock as well as straps for easier carrying. For traveling, be sure you choose a bag with thick padding as well as room for multiple boards and maybe some additional padding pillows or blankets. Some board bags offer a reflective silver surface to better shield it from the sun’s damaging rays. Some travel bags may offer wheels as well to aid in transport. All-purpose board bags can range anywhere from $40 or $50 for a day bag to $150 to $200 for a really good travel bag (especially if you are transporting longboards or paddle boards).
The Hard Surfboard CaseHard surfboard cases offer the greatest overall protection. It’s a full on force field for your surfboards. Once, on a trip from Hawaii to California, I watched in horror from my plane window as a beast of a baggage handler literally threw huge suitcases on top of my board as he loaded his truck. If I had packed my boards in a hard case, that guy would have gotten no satisfaction from his angry attack on my beautiful babies. The only problem with hard cases is that they are unwieldy (difficult to handle and heavy) and they are expensive. We’re talking about $300 to $400 expensive! But they do the job, and with many offering wheels and easy grasp handles, it’s not an issue for a healthy able surfer to cart one through the airport.
So there you have it. If you want to keep your boards looking good and (even more importantly) riding well, keep your board covered when you’re not in the water…and above all else, go rip!