California Travel Gear

21 Awesome Gifts for Surfers: Budget-Friendly Surf Gear that Makes Great Presents

September 1, 2021
Best Gifts for Surfers

21 practical gifts for surfers that won’t break the bank. 

Looking for a gift for your favorite surfer? They’ll likely already have a surfboard and wetsuit, or at least a very specific idea of what they want. And let’s be honest, you’d be an extremely generous friend/partner/parent if you were going to drop the kind of cash that a good board or suit costs. These are more budget-friendly gifts for surfers, with most of them around $50 or less.  

As we (and by we, I mostly mean Aaron) have spent more time enjoying California’s amazing surf, we’ve found some gear that makes those surf sessions that much better. When birthdays and Christmas have rolled around, Aaron has dropped a few hints, and in turn I’ve gathered a pretty good list of gifts surfers actually want

If you’re not super familiar with surfing gear, I’ve included a bit of information with each recommendation so you can select the best option. While you can order a lot of stuff online and I’ve linked as much as I can here, sometimes it’s worth stopping in at your local surf shop to see get a few tips and see what’s in stock. Read on for the best gifts for surfers!

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Surboard Accessories


1 Surf Wax

Buying something that gets used up is a great gift, because you know at some point they’ll need more. For surfers, that’s surfboard wax.  

Your best bet is to sneak a peek at what they’re already using and just buy them some more. If you drive around California, you’ll quite a few devotees of Sex Wax, with Sex Wax air fresheners hanging from their rear-view mirrors. So, if you don’t know what they use, that’s always a good place to start! Each brand usually has several different waxes, depending on the temperature of the water. In Northern California, a cool to cold wax will usually work best for water under 68 degrees. If you’re lucky enough to be surfing somewhere warm like Hawaii or Bali, then opt for wax made for tropical waters.

Sex Wax Surf Wax and Sticky Bumps Original Surf Wax both make wax for fiberglass boards. Jack’s Surfboards also sells a full selection of surf wax online.

The Catch Surf Surf Wax is a great option for the soft top Catch Surf boards.

2 Leash

Leashes can snap off or get twisted in knots, so your surfing friend may need a replacement or want a backup. As a rule of thumb, leashes should be about as long (or slightly longer) as the board they’ll be used with. Dakine makes a large range of high quality leashes, so you’ll likely be able to find the right size for just about any board.

Surfboards on the beach at San Onofre

3 Fins

This is one where you’ll want to find out what fins they use if they need a replacement, or what ones they want if they’re looking to upgrade or try something new. Jack’s Surfboards has a large online selection of surfboard fins from brands like Futures, Captain Fin, and FCS II.

Best gifts for surfers: surfboard fins

 

4 Traction Pad

Replace a worn out or damaged traction pad. Shop Dakine traction pads online on Jack’s Surfboards.

5 Surfboard Repair Kit

Dings and dents are bound to happen, and the little ones are fairly easy to DIY with a surfboard repair kit by Ding All. Solarez has a full repair kit with epoxy for several different types of repairs and boards. You can also individually purchase epoxy depending on your board and conditions. 

Surfing at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz, CA

Surfing at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz, CA

Suiting Up – Gear to Help Change into a Wetsuit


Who would’ve ever guessed you’d need gear just to get dressed? But when you’re trying to squeeze a tight neoprene one piece over a dry body on a packed beach, it can be a bit of a (literal) sticky situation. Here are a few things to keep you from mooning the crowd.

6 Changing Towel

Getting in and out of a wet suit in the parking lot or at the beach can be tricky business, but a changing towel or pancho makes it a whole lot easier.  At less than $25, this Microfiber Changing Towel is super budget-friendly and a very practical gift for surfers.

Slowtide makes some of my favorite towels, which are also available as ponchos. The Slowtide Quick-dry Changing Poncho is especially user-friendly, thanks to the front kangaroo pocket that allows you access inside the towel to get everything pulled up and situated just right.

Surf Changing Poncho

7  Changing Mat

Another key piece to easily changing out of a wetsuit is a changing mat. Set it down on sand, dirt, or asphalt so feet stay clean while changing. This changing mat/bag doubles up as a dry bag to hold wet swimsuits, wetsuits or towels. Or opt for a small patch of grass, aka surf turf.

Gear for Transporting the Goods


8 Tie Down Straps

Nobody wants to see their board flying down the highway in their rearview mirror. Securely strap surfboards to the top of a car with these Dakine 12 foot tie down straps.

 

Dakine Tie Down Straps for Surfboard

9 Rack Pads

Pad the precious cargo with Dakine Aero rack pads. Rack pads prevent dents in soft tops and make it easier to more securely strap all boards down when you’re transporting them on your roof rack. Dakine rack pads are available on REI and Amazon.

10 Surfboard Bike Rack

Close enough to the beach to bike? Unless you’re on dawn patrol, finding a parking spot near the beach can be tough. Get a little extra exercise and make life easier with a surfboard bike rack.

Cold weather surfing gear makes great gifts for surfers - hoods, gloves and booties

Suited up for the cold water with a hood, gloves and booties

Cold Weather Surf Gear


If you’re surfing warmer waters, then lucky you! You can skip this one. Once we moved up to the Bay Area, suiting up for colder water became essential. Especially for surfing during the winter months. Cold weather surfers will definitely appreciate any of these gifts!  

11 Booties

If your feet are going to be dangling in water below 60 degrees, booties make a big difference. You’ll be covered for most west coast winter locations with 3mm booties.

12 Gloves

The colder it gets the more you’ll want to suit up. Surf gloves haven’t been essential for Bay Area temps (mid 50s and to mid 60s), but you may want these for colder water. For water between 45° F and 60°F, 1 to 2 mm gloves should work. This covers most of the west coast in the US. For colder than 45° F, up it to 3 mm.

13 Hood

If you’re regularly surfing in colder weather, you (or the person you’re looking for) will likely already have a hooded wetsuit. If you only travel to colder waters on occasion, then it can be worth it to purchase a hood separately. These work well, just not quite as well as a hooded wetsuit.

Cold weather surf gear makes great gifts for surfers

Miscellaneous (But No Less Awesome) Gifts for Surfers


14  Surfline Premium Subscription

Have someone who’s obsessed with checking the waves and finding the best spots? Make their life easier with a subscription to Surfline Premium, where they can watch ad-free Surf Cam footage to their heart’s content.

15 Dawn Patrol App

Already have an Apple Watch? Turn it into a surf watch with the Dawn Patrol app. Track your wave count, distance surfed, time surfed and even your speed via this app on your Apple Watch. The Dawn Patrol App will even map out your routes from your surf session. If you also have Surfline premium, you can connect your Surfline account to your Dawn Patrol app. If any of your waves are caught by a Surfline cam, it will generate a video clip and send it to you as part of its Cam Rewind feature. That way you can relive all your best rides, even without your besties filming you.

Dawn Patrol App for Surfers

16  Reef Booties

If you (or the surfer you’re buying for) typically surf reef breaks, then reef booties are a foot-saver. Check out these reef booties from O’Neill and Billabong.

Reef booties make a great gift for surfers

Reef booties for surfing in Maui

Hawaii Travel Tip: If you’re not bringing your own board and just looking to surf some easy waves, pick up the Costco foamie once you land in Hawaii. It’s cheaper than renting a board for the week, and you can usually resell it close to the amount you bought it for. Also, reef booties come in handy 🙂

17 Wetsuit Shampoo

If your wetsuit has developed a funky smell (and if you’re being honest with yourself, you know why), give it a little TLC with some wetsuit shampoo. Try O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner or Jaws Slosh Wetsuit Shampoo.

 

18  Ear Plugs

Prolonged exposure to cold water can lead to surfer’s ear. Prevent it with Surf Ears Ear Plugs.

Ear Plugs for Surfers

Sunset Surf in Capitola, CA

19 Sunscreen

For someone that spends multiple hours out in the water at a time, an effective, reef-safe sunscreen is key. We’ve tested out a ton of reef-safe sunscreens and listed our favorites below.

Unfortunately, a lot of sunscreen brands will use labels like reef-safe, reef-friendly or ocean friendly, even when they’re not. Many locations (like Hawaii) have started banning Octinoxate and Oxybenzone as these chemicals are the most harmful to ocean life. This has led some sunscreen brands to remove these specific chemicals, but leave in all the others. The other chemicals are harmful too, so it’s best to avoid sunscreens that list any chemicals in the active ingredients. Reef-safe sunscreens are made with non-nano zinc oxide as the only active ingredient. If you want to learn more about what to look for (and what to avoid), read more about reef-safe sunscreen here.

Best sunscreen for surfers

 

20 Beach Towel

If you’re heading to the beach almost every day, it’s time to find a towel that’s a little more fun than your standard beach towel. Slowtide’s art inspired towels make drying off anything but drab.

Slowtide beach towels make awesome gifts for surfers

Sunset Surf in Capitola, CA

21 Coffee Table Surf Books

If you love surfing, what’s better than thinking, reading, and talking about surfing when you’re not in the water? These coffee table books make great gifts for surfers – filled with beautiful photography and lots of inspiration,.

Surfer at Sunset in California

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1 Comment

  • Reply Scott October 14, 2021 at 12:42 am

    Great article! these really are awesome gift ideas. It’s also great to see surfing fins on the list. They come in different awesome designs too. Plus they come in some cool designs and are great for surfer’s safety, especially newbies. Here’s a great article as to why it is essential to have one:
    https://3dfins.eu/blogs/media-spotlight/surfboard-fins-and-safety

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