You've chosen the destination, tickets are booked now comes the dreaded part - packing your kites, boards, and all your gear! To make it easier, here's our top tips on how to pack and travel smarter not harder!
- 1. Choose a kite bag with wheels
- 2. Know the wind conditions at the spot
- 3. Leave the kite backpacks at home
- 4. Pack your kites the right way
- 5. Remove footstraps, fins and handle from your kiteboard
- 6. Don't forget the pump hose
- 7. Put your screws, fins and spreader bar in a small bag
- 8. Pack the bag in the right order
- 9. At the check-in counter and the "Golf Bag" trick
- 10. BONUS - sneaking the surfboard
1. Choose a kite bag with wheels
Trust us - you want a bag with wheels! Don't bruise your shoulders or have a sore back before your first ride lugging a 50lbs bag around the airport, down the street, or up 3 flights of stairs to your suite. Easy - wheelie is the way to go!
Check the specs when buying a board bag
Obvious one but make sure it fits! Not all boards fit in all bags so check the length and the width. Don't be too hung up on the length, many airlines publish a max length for a golf bag / kiteboard bag but after 10 years of travel we've never seen a north american airline pull out the measuring tape at check in. Also check if the padding of your board bag is good, nothing worse than arriving with a ding in your board
We suggest the super durable Ride Engine Trolley bag, or the Ocean Pro Tour bag for added space and light weight.
2. Check wind conditions for the kite sizes you'll need.
Be prepared with the right sized kites for your trip. Always check before you leave and contact a local shop or school as forecasting sites are not always accurate in remote places. Ask around in a Facebook-Group or Kitesurf Forum or friends of you who have been there.
3. Leave the kite bags at home
Leave the kite bags at home, they typically add 2 lbs each so with 2-3 kites that's equal to having a second board in the bag. Take the repair kits and any spare parts out and leave the bags at home or just take one large bag.
An ultralight solution instead of the kite backpack
We like to use lightweight compression bags that weigh virtually nothing and also serve as great day trip bags for excursions or carrying beer back from the local Mercado!
4. Pack your kites the right way
Make sure your kites are completely deflated and all valves (inflate and deflate) are open. Take the time to do it carefully but don't crush your kite or use vacuum bags - they squeeze the kite far too much and can damage your kites bladders.
5. Remove straps, fins and handle
Fins left on the board can be broken or cut the inside of the bag, and removing the handle is easy and makes for added space for any large item. Its not always necessary to remove the footstraps but if you can you'll notice its far easier to fit your kites if you do. If you're going to a remote spot, a screwdriver, multi-tool and some spare mounting and fin hardware can save your bacon or someone else
6. Take the hose off the pump
Don't arrive to find your pump hose is broken! Where it attaches to the pump is sometimes the weak link. So remove the hose and pack separately. Its always a good idea to bring a pump especially to a remote spot or that all-inclusive where you will likely be the only one kiting. If you're really tight on space, and plan to borrow a pump - bring your hose only with the adapters you need for your kite.
7. Fins, hardware and screwdriver in one bag
We suggest putting the small heavy items like screwdrivers, fins, mounting hardware, your spreader bar and any other items like this into one bag, inside your board bag. That way you won't loose these bits and in the event you're 1kg over the limit its easy to pull out and toss in your carry-on.
8. Pack in the right order
Its easy...big items first, then smaller, then put your TETRIS skills to work for the rest.
- Board first - use some cardboard or beach towels to protect the tips
- Neatly folded kites - perhaps in the compression bag we suggested
- Pump, bar, footstraps, then bag of fins, hardware, etc.
9. At the check in counter
Believe it not, the check in counter attendant is not out to get you! Be early, pleasant - yes even at 6:00 am and try these tips:
We've found that by checking in yourself and the bags online, well in advance of the flight (24 hrs) usually eliminates any worries and its easier for you and the attendant at the counter.
When you arrive at the airport if you didn't have an accurate scale at home or just want to be sure, toss that bag on the scale at an empty check in counter first and check the weight. This way you can be sure that you won't be tossing your gear around from bag to bag with 50 people in line behind you and a frustrated check in attendant at the counter
Really....? You don't look like a Golfer...
Some people say to buy a board bag with "GOLF" on the side and you'll go free. Not exactly... The airlines have been flying kiters for years - the golf bag "trick" isn't a trick anymore. You don't look like a golfer.
At the check-in counter, you won't likely be asked what's in the bag, but if you are don't lie about it - you'll only look silly if asked to open it and then you won't get any breaks. We've found that if you explain that your bag is no different in size than a standard golf bag and under their weight limit then its never been an issue in our experience.
Always check the airlines baggage policy in advance and print it, that way you have copy of their policy at the time you booked your flight.
Check in online - including your bags if possible, be early, be courteous, under the weight limit and you'll be fine.
10. Bonus: Sneaking the surf
No sage advice here on getting big surfboards on a plane - there's no secret to making a 6ft surf board smaller (and split boards don't count - besides, they're like mopeds!...they look fun but don't let your friends catch you riding one).
We have traveled a lot with this gem - the Ocean Rodeo Jester surf, its a bombproof freestyle surf machine and it neatly fits in our favorite bags - the Ride Engine Trolley bag. and Ocean Rodeo Pro Tour Bag. The Jester is a whole lot of board and ton-o-fun in a small package! Low rockerline, minimal nose kick, and lots of concave all add up to a board that planes up quick for its size, rides through small lulls, and is a whole lot of fun to thrash around.
Let us know if these tips help you to be better prepared for your next kite trip.
And don't forget to SHARE THIS with other riders who might love these tips
Good Winds Y'all - Drop Watersports