This essential surf gear guide will ensure a surfer can withstand anything the elements can throw at them.
Every surfer should have a toolbox of the necessary items to get you through numerous beach sessions. The kit should include everything to withstand the rigors of sun and sea, while also preparing a surfer for the inevitable repairs and maintenance their surfboard will need.
Fill your pack with these invaluable surf gear supplies to turn major problems into minor inconveniences.
The fin key is an easily-overlooked little item that allows you to switch out fins, something you’ll want to do when conditions change or you’re looking to get a different performance feel from your stick. Whether your changing your single fin to a twin or your thurster to a Twinzer setup, you’ll need a fin key to pull it off. Fin keys are small, compact and can easily be thrown into a small bag to bring with the rest of your surfing gear.
Wax scrapers are indispensable tools used to scrape off an old wax coat and make way for a new one. You should use a wax scraper and apply a brand new wax coat every two or three times you surf. You can use the old wax for longer, but it flakes away and loses its stickiness. Most wax scrapers come with a fine-toothed edge that allows you to rough up your existing wax coat to give it more friction for more sessions. This is a good way to go if you’re out of wax.
Basecoat and Topcoat Wax
After removing any old wax from your deck, you’ll want to apply a basecoat. This wax is the first layer that the softer, stickier wax will adhere to. The topcoat you use will depend on the temperature of the water you’ll be in. Read our Surf Wax Infographic to make sure you have the right wax for the job. Just rub the wax all around making either a cross-hatch pattern or rubbing in circles. Grip is very important when taking on the waves, so don’t forget this piece of surf gear.
No board is immune to the thrashing it’ll get in the water, no matter how much you baby your board. It’ll get bumped, scraped, gouged and otherwise roughed up. When you have deep gouges or dings that afflict large portions of the fiberglass, find a good ding-repair pro by asking the folks at your local surf shop. For everything smaller than that, such as minor bumps and nicks, you’ll want to buy some epoxy made specifically for surfboards. Solarez has a full line of such products, many of which harden in the sun in mere minutes. Take caution to follow the instructions on the packaging, and make sure you buy the right kind. If your board is made of epoxy, you’ll need to get epoxy resin. Likewise for boards made of traditional polyurethane foam and fiberglass.
Sandpaper is essential for repairing dings. You will need it to rough up any areas where you want to apply resin. Once you have done that, you will need the sandpaper again to smooth out those repaired spots. For minor cracks or tears in the fiberglass or resin coating of your board, use a fairly rough grit of sandpaper – a grit of 200 is a decent place to start. Rough up the surface of the board so that the resin will adhere. Once you have applied it, you will want to use sandpaper again to smooth it out. Score the area where you’ll apply, but don’t remove more material than you need to. For this second round of sanding, choose a lighter grit, somewhere around 80 or 150. Sand only so the surface of the board is smooth, and make sure not to sand so much that you make a dent.
Even waterproof sunblock is susceptible to washing off when you are paddling face first into wave after wave. Some sunblock, however, has more staying power than others. You’ll want to bring along a zinc sunblock – the kind that comes in a little jar rather than a squeeze tube. These are generally thick and meant to be applied to your face and neck, which for most surfers, are the most important areas to protect. If you wear a wetsuit most of the year, as do most California surfers, it may be the only parts of your body you’ll need sunblock on.
If you use your wetsuit often, it may never dry. That’s an invitation for mold and mildew to colonize your precious, warmth-giving neoprene. This can shorten the life of your suit. That’s why it’s worth it to shell out for a wetsuit hanger, preferably the kind that has a built-in fan which will circulate air through the suit and help dry it from the inside out. Another bonus is that the hanger is made to take care of your neoprene, which is prone to deleterious creases. This makes it less likely to develop cold spots or leaks.
Have any other essential pieces of surf gear in your kit? Let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen on Twitter.