Unless you’re paying $1,700 for a business visa to get into Bali, or dodging $5,000 tickets for violating quarantine in Hawaii, you probably haven’t been doing much airplane-dependent surf travel this year.
With more than 6.5 million reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, mainland Americans engaging in air travel are a coronavirus liability that many foreign countries and U.S. islands are still not welcoming.
But after a summer that for many began with local surf bans and then devolved into unprecedented crowds of wave-starved surfers, a change of surfbreak scenery could be in order — in the form of a surf road trip.
With a bit of planning and smart packing, road trips can be almost completely socially distant — no shared transportation, no hotel rooms, no restaurants. But their appeal really lies in everything you don’t plan, and the ability to explore your home coast unencumbered by itineraries. When you stumble upon an empty A-frame peeling over a newly formed sandbar, all you need to worry about is where you’ll park that night, not making it to your next stop.
These 10 gear items will help keep you fed, caffeinated, charged and comfortable in between surfs on your next road trip. Remember — Costa Rica and Fiji will still be there next year.
Hitting the road but didn’t exactly get the OK from work? Stay on the grid with the Jackery Explorer 1000, which has 1002 Wh capacity and two USB-C, two USB, one DC carport and three AC outlets to power your computers, hot spots, cameras and more.
On one charge, you can power a laptop 12 times or a car fridge for 66 hours. The integrated handle makes it easy to move around your campsite or van, and at 22 pounds, the Explorer 1000 is a good 10 pounds lighter than some comparable power stations on the market — not to mention a couple hundred bucks less expensive.
Don’t be misled by the name — Yakima SupDawg Board Mount isn’t just for paddle boards. So long as your board is wide enough and/or thick enough to create tension on the straps, which most longboards and mid-lengths will be (especially if they’re in a board bag), you can use this rack system.
The SupDawg adds convenience and security on the road. The integrated strap system is a lot more convenient and faster to use than tie-downs, which is crucial hen you’re stopping at multiple breaks in a short amount of time. But more important, the straps have wiring inside of them, making them difficult to cut, and they’re lockable, giving you more peace of mind any time you’re away from your vehicle.
There are no tools required for installation, which takes less than five minutes. So if you only want to use these racks on trips, they’re easy to take on and off.
Helinox camp systems are always some of the easiest to set up and take down, and the Helinox Beach Chair is no different. You can assemble this chair in a matter of seconds, and it packs back down into a zip bag that weighs 3.4 pounds. Use it for the beach and the campground, and pair it with the Helinox Table One to play cards or eat dinner.
If you want to stay out of the sun, add on the Helinox Personal Shade, a UPF 50 nylon canopy that quickly clips onto the Beach Chair.
For shorter missions when you only need a few days’ worth of food, the Yeti Tundra 35 is a great option to stow away in your backseat without taking up too much space.
The Bearfoot non-slip feet will keep the Tundra from sliding around in your car and the double-haul handles make it easy to transport around the campsite.
The 35 is the smallest of the Tundra series. If you want something even more compact, you can go with the Yeti Roadie 24, which will fit in the floorspace behind your front seat, but you’d be giving up a good amount of storage capacity.
The 100-percent nylon, TPU-coated Patagonia Stormsurge Wet/Dry Duffel is water resistant and durable, making it the perfect bag for throwing in the back of a truck or the floor of a van.
With a spacious, fully separated bottom zip compartment, you can separate wet gear from dry. The Stormsurge Duffel also has reinforced handles on the top and sides, making it easy to reach and pull out of any part of the car you choose to store it.
The Stormsurge is ideal for wetsuits, swimwear, towels and gear. For lighter-duty needs, like a day bag for clothes, try the Patagonia Planing Duffel 55L, which is $110 less and also has a bottom compartment to separate dirty from clean.
For those who love a hot coffee after surfing, the Primus Lite+ Backpacking Stove System will quickly become your best friend. It’s lightweight (12.4 oz) and simple to set up: The .5L aluminum pot attaches to the burner with one twist, and the stove ignites with a push of a button.
The 4500 BTU flame will boil your water in just a couple minutes. Once it’s ready, slip your hand into the integrated handle and grip the insulated pot sleeve to twist off the pot and pour water into your coffee, tea or oatmeal.
For more involved cooking, you can also remove the lid and set up the included pegs to support a larger pot or pan.
While many portable pour-over systems are made from plastic, the Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Drip is 100-percent stainless steel. It folds down into a super-thin package, fits over any mug, and is compatible with Hario and Chemex filters, so you can make just as good a cup of coffee on the road as you’re used to at home.
When you’re on the road, there’s not much time to dry a suit after a session. The Malo’o Dry Rack makes it easy to hang suits and get some drying time in when you stop for lunch or pull over to sleep for the night.
It might seem excessive (whatever happened to just hanging your suit over a tree branch?), but if you want to keep your suit clean and undamaged, it’s a nice luxury to have. Instead of hanging your suit to dry over a dirty side mirror, unfold the Dry Rack and hang it on your mirror instead, letting your suit hang-dry free of grime or abrasion. Each rack has two hanging bars, so you can throw a towel or trunks on there too.
If you want a day bag that’s still protective enough for air travel — but don’t want to break the bank — the Dakine Mission Noserider is for you.
The Mission bag has all the features you need for daily use on the road: a heat-reflecting bottom for long rides strapped to the roof, 600D ripstop material to withstand abrasive asphalt, and a zippered fin slot for easy in-out. But it also has 10mm closed-cell foam, a removable shoulder strap and internal fin pocket, making it ready for flight — when that’s a thing again.
While polyester multiuse travel towels are having a moment right now — toting abilities like quick-drying, compact foldability, and sand repulsion — the Slowtide’s Sunny Turkish Towel is a nice return to the basics.
Made from 100-percent cotton, turkish towels boast many of the same characteristics as their synthetic counterparts: They dry fast, they’re easy to pack, and as good for lying on the beach as they are for drying off. The Sunny is made from ultra-lightweight Turkish chambray fabric and is 73 inches wide, making for an easy-to-wrap and spacious changing towel, too.
For other road trip essentials, like sleeping bags, portable showers and more, click here.
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