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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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.
The Catch Surf Surf Wax is a great option for the soft top Catch Surf boards.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
16 Reef Booties
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.
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.
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.
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,.