January 22, 2024 7 min read

Surfing is a lifestyle that demands preparedness for both the predictable and unpredictable. Hence, everyday carry (EDC) items are crucial for every surfer, regardless of their experience level. These items ensure safety and functionality and enhance the overall surfing experience.  

This article dives into the essential everyday carry gear that surfers should have, tailored for various skill levels.

From the novice catching their first wave to the seasoned pro-riding giants, these EDC essentials cover all bases. 


The surfboard is the quintessential element of surfing. Choosing the right surfboard depends on a variety of factors, including skill level, body weight, and the types of waves being ridden.  

For beginners, a longer, wider, and thicker board provides more stability and ease in catching waves. As skills develop, surfers often transition to shorter boards, which offer greater maneuverability.  

Surfboards come in different shapes and constructions: longboards are great for smooth, gliding rides and small waves, while shortboards excel in sharp turns and big waves. Materials also vary from traditional fibreglass to lighter and more durable epoxy.  


Fins play a crucial role in the stability and direction of a surfboard. They work by providing resistance against water, allowing surfers to steer and maintain control of the board.  

There are different fin setups, including single, twin, thruster (three fins), and quad. Each configuration offers different qualities in terms of speed, control, and maneuverability.  

Fins also come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, affecting the board's performance. Larger fins provide more stability but less maneuverability, making them suitable for bigger waves or beginners. Smaller fins, conversely, are better for quick turns and are preferred in smaller waves or by experienced surfers. 

Fin Key

colorful surfboards on the beach

The fin key is primarily used for installing, adjusting, and removing the fins on a surfboard. This key is compatible with common fin systems. Despite its diminutive size, the fin key is crucial for ensuring fins are securely fastened, a necessity for both performance and safety in the water.  

Easy to carry and often attached to keychains for convenience, its compact nature also makes it prone to being misplaced, prompting many surfers to keep spares handy. Essential for adjusting to different wave conditions or replacing damaged fins, the fin key is an indispensable part of a surfer's gear. 


The surfboard leash, also known as a leg rope, is fundamental for surfer safety. It tethers the surfboard to the surfer, ensuring that the board doesn't drift away after a wipeout, which is particularly crucial in strong currents or big waves.  

The leash should be approximately the same length as the surfboard to allow enough distance to avoid the board hitting the surfer, but not so long that it becomes cumbersome. Modern leashes are designed with a swivel to prevent tangling and have a cuff that is comfortably secured around the ankle or calf. 


A wetsuit is essential for maintaining body temperature in cold water conditions. Made from neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber, wetsuits trap a thin layer of water between the suit and the skin. This water is then warmed by the body, providing insulation.  

Wetsuits come in various thicknesses, indicated in millimetres, to cater to different water temperatures. Thicker suits offer more warmth but less flexibility, and vice versa.  

Besides warmth, wetsuits also provide protection against UV rays, abrasions, and stings from marine life. The fit should be snug but not restrict movement, with special consideration to the neck, wrists, and ankles to prevent water flushing. 

man waxing surfboard

Wax And Wax Comb 

Surfboard wax is crucial for maintaining grip on the board. Different water temperatures require different types of wax: cold-water wax is softer and tackier, while tropical water wax is harder to withstand higher temperatures.  

Regularly applying and maintaining wax is essential. The wax comb plays a vital role in this process. It helps in retexturizing and roughening the wax surface when it becomes smooth from usage. This ensures a better grip and prolongs the life of the wax. The comb's edge can also be used to scrape off old wax, making it a versatile tool in a surfer's kit. 

Traction Pad

A traction pad, or deck grip, is an EVA foam pad that is adhered to the back of the surfboard. It provides grip and a more secure foot placement, especially in critical maneuvers and turns.  

Traction pads come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, with different features like arch support and kicktail for added grip. The texture and density of the foam can also vary, offering different levels of grip and comfort.  

Traction pads are particularly useful for shortboards, where precise foot placement is crucial. They also protect the board's deck from wax buildup, UV exposure, and foot pressure dents. Installation is straightforward, involving cleaning the deck surface and carefully applying the adhesive pad. 

Water-resistant Sunscreen

surf couple

Extended exposure to the sun's rays can pose significant risks to a surfer's skin. High-quality, water-resistant sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection is crucial to safeguard against both UVA and UVB rays. Reapplying sunscreen every two hours or more frequently after prolonged water exposure is recommended.  


The multi-tool is an indispensable piece of equipment for any serious surfer. It often includes various-sized Allen wrenches and screwdrivers to adjust or replace fins, tighten screws, or make other quick fixes to the surfboard.  

A good surf multi-tool should be lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and durable. Many also feature a small blade or cutting tool, useful for cutting through tangled leashes or other emergencies. Compact and easy to carry, it's a practical accessory for both minor repairs and essential adjustments. 

Ding Repair Kit

A ding repair kit is a crucial accessory for surfers, designed to address the inevitable wear and tear on surfboards. This kit usually contains essential items such as a resin (matched to the board's material, either polyester or epoxy), hardener, fibreglass cloth for patching, various grits of sandpaper for smoothing, and application tools like squeegees.  

Quick and effective repair of dings and cracks is essential to prevent water damage to the surfboard's core. The repair process typically involves cleaning the damaged area, applying the fibreglass cloth and resin, and then sanding down the area once it's cured for a smooth finish.  

Carrying a ding repair kit enables surfers to perform essential maintenance themselves, ensuring the longevity of their surfboards and uninterrupted time in the water. 

First Aid Kit

In the dynamic environment of surfing, minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, or reef cuts are common. A well-stocked first aid kit is essential. It should contain waterproof bandages, antiseptic wipes for cleaning wounds, blister plasters for foot protection, and anti-inflammatory medication for pain relief.  

Additionally, tweezers are handy for removing sea urchin spines or coral, and a sterile saline solution can be used for flushing out sand or saltwater from wounds. It's also wise to include a reef-safe jellyfish sting relief spray.  

The kit should be compact and waterproof, making it easy to bring along for every surf session. 

Waterproof Bag

A waterproof bag serves as a protective vessel for valuables like smartphones, car keys, and wallets. The most efficient bags feature a roll-top closure, which provides an airtight seal, ensuring that contents stay dry even when submerged.  

These bags come in various sizes and styles, including lightweight pouches for small items and larger backpacks for more extensive gear. Some are designed with buoyant materials, allowing them to float if dropped in water.  

Additionally, choosing a bag with a clear, touchscreen-friendly panel can be advantageous for those who need to access their phone without exposing it to the elements. 

man carrying surfboard

Hydration Packs

Proper hydration is critical for surfers, as they spend extended periods in the sun and saltwater, which can be dehydrating. Carrying an insulated water bottle helps in keeping liquids cool for hours, providing much-needed refreshment during surf sessions.  

For longer or more intense sessions, hydration packs are a practical choice. These wearable, hands-free devices typically include a reservoir that holds a significant amount of water and a hose for easy sipping. They are designed to be lightweight and comfortable, fitting snugly on the back, and often come with additional pockets for small items. 

Energy Snacks

Maintaining energy levels is vital for surfers, especially during long sessions. Portable, easy-to-consume energy snacks like protein bars, trail mixes, nuts, or energy gels are ideal.  

These snacks should be high in energy, easy to digest, and non-perishable. They provide a quick source of fuel, helping to replenish lost calories and sustain energy levels.  

Storing these snacks in a waterproof bag ensures they remain dry and ready to eat. It's also important to choose snacks that can withstand temperature variations, as they might be exposed to the sun for prolonged periods. 

towel poncho

Towel Poncho 

A towel poncho is a versatile and practical item for any surfer. It serves as a large, absorbent towel for drying off after a session and as a private changing area to get in and out of wetsuits.  

These ponchos are made from quick-drying and absorbent materials and are designed to be spacious, allowing easy maneuverability while changing. They often include a hood for added warmth and privacy.  

The poncho is an excellent alternative to regular towels, providing convenience, privacy, and comfort in public or crowded beach settings. 


This guide underscores the importance of essential everyday carry items for surfers, offering a blend of functionality and safety. From the fundamental surfboard and wetsuit to the indispensable ding repair kit and fin key, each item plays a crucial role in enhancing the surfing experience.  

Equipped with these essentials, surfers of all levels can confidently embrace the waves, ensuring both performance and protection in their aquatic adventures.

Author - Olivia Poglianich
Olivia Poglianich          

Content Strategist

Olivia Poglianich is a nomadic brand strategist and copywriter in the surf, watersports and outdoor adventure space who has worked with brands such as Visa, Disney and Grey Goose. Her writing has taken her all over the world, from a Serbian music festival to a Malaysian art and culture event. Olivia is a graduate of Cornell University and is often writing or reading about travel, hospitality, the start-up ecosystem or career coaching. Her latest interests are at the intersection of web3 and communal living, both on and offline.

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