Stab Magazine | Why Every Traveling Surfer Needs A "Go-Bag"

Why Every Traveling Surfer Needs A “Go-Bag”

Last-second trip? Don’t get caught with your shorts down.

style // Nov 20, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A Go Bag, or a ‘bug out bag’ in espionage terms, is a bag that’s prepared and ready for evacuation at a moment’s notice. Survivalists prepare these in the case of disaster. Motorists have it as a ‘get me home kit’ when things go pear-shaped.

This all sounds dramatic, but if you’re a busy person who likes scoring isolated perfection in remote places, then we’re suggesting that you limit packing time.

The result? You can focus on nailing work so when you need to pull the trigger, you’re organised—also known as complete mental freedom. Anxiety’s fucking with a lot of good people at the moment and we’re not sure why—this is a step to lighten a small load for future psychological comfort.

In surfing, survival is sometimes required if you’re an animal who loves the big shit—but that’s a separate convo. For the rest of us, the ultimate goal of a show-up and blow-up mission is to have the most fun in the window you have, to fill those days up with so much fucking hedonism—waves, tins, pals—that you’ve surgically sucked the marrow out your trip. Where you can’t help but puff up your chest at your decision to go.

Life in general has gotten really fluid, mobile and, well, impatient. From how we connect with friends, places, and adventure, to travel becoming increasingly cheaper because we are smack-bang in the middle of the information hyper-age.

In one phone-call (180 611 163) or email [email protected]) you can have a personal forecaster and surf travel specialist. Traveling to score has never been easier, if you’re bold and prepared (albeit willing to sometimes lose), then you’re likely already on this program. By “lose” I mean the ocean has many moods, so we can’t always land on the button, but fuck it’s fun trying.

But this isn’t a hiking trip, it’s surf. However it’s also travel, which is a skill—honed over time and riddled with lessons learned the hard way. So this is about having a bag that’s prepared for anything surf-related. It’s comfortable, functional and only holds items of importance. No fat. It’s the minimalist approach to sporadic surf travel. This bag lives in a spot in your house where you can grab and go with pace and lack of thought to remedy last-minute scramble time. It’s packed and ready. Shit, it might even save you a few bucks at the airport pharmacy after you’ve forgotten your (insert personal fuck-ups here, dear readers).

They probably do this feature every month in Outside Magazine, but I feel like it’s time to revisit this go-bag with a modern twist. Whether you’re going to the tropics Iceland – you need to really think about what’s readily available to you.

Board bag is easy/obvious.

2 + boards, leashes, fins (with key), spare boardies, zinc, flip flops/thongs. Set.

The main event is that pack. It needs compartments which you memorise. One-percenters that make you smile when you revisit this thing of beauty. Carry on, of course. Compartment heavy, waterproof optional.

No Brainers:

  • Binoculars. Why? If you’re hunting an outer-reef or a tiny fucking rip bowl down the beach – whatever, make life easier for yourself: Expensive but makes a difference.

  • Extra fins (twins, and or quads to mix things up). Wax – in case you get separated from your board bag

  • 2 x long sleeved shirts, sun and Mosquito protection, preferably with top pockets.

  • 2 x Boardshorts (best you got, aesthetic does not matter), 1 x walk/sport shorts that are so comfy you’d sleep in them. Be very diligent in decision making on this: critical.

  • Hat x 2 + sunglasses. Go a surf brand and go polarised. Allows you to blend in, less initial judgment than if you’re rolling through in Tom Fords.

  • Shoes + pants you’ll be wearing on plane, so these aren’t actually in the bag as such.

  • A light sarong: Remarkably practical for boat commutes when it’s stifling hot.

Let’s talk tech (this has its own home within the bag):

  • Charged, portable speaker + charger.  Can’t stop the music, literally.

  • Get your phone set-up well. Dropped pins on Google Maps (on satellite of course).

  • Saved numbers of boat drivers, work out which guys have hustle and wanna work on Sundays. Don’t take a burner, use your main vein for its features, buy a sim on landing.

  • Download 2 x audiobooks for the in-between times, really fills the gaps.

  • Headphones, I won’t tell you how to suck eggs but I’d suggest 2 pairs, just in case.

  • Vodafone: Controversial, I know. In Australia’s she’s got her black spots—yep, real shit in southwest WA—however between Indo, the Pacific (comically good), US and Europe that $5 all you can eat roaming is a fucking bonanza for those who like hitting the tarmac.

  • International adapter.

  • Battery pack: 20,000 is fine: remotely charges the phone which gets drained from Google Maps and Windy. 

  • Juul, etc. All depends on your speed.

  • Backup charger etc.

  • Tide watch. Yep, you will use it, love it and probably nail the timing of when best to surf + nothing wrong with clocking your time in the brine so you know how many hours that bald patch has been copping it.

The Handy section:

  • Thin strong rope, to tie the sarong off for sun protection

  • Yeti stubbie holder.

  • A book, and or kindle.


  • Surf mud, zinc—real deal here. Worthy investment.

  • After sun cream, in case you weren’t diligent on your lunchtime dance.

  • Mosquito Spray. Or mix Dettol and Coconut oil in an empty mustard jar. Mossies hate it, plus it defends the bronze (arvo only, you’ll get cooked if you’re oiling ya self in the day)

  • Valium, Muscle relaxants, panadeine forte, magnesium tablets, sleepers: when it’s torturous sleeping, a little assistance gives you the rest you’re chasing.

  • Zantac (bananas, bacon, and coffee fuck you up)

  • Hydralight, plenty of these. Go the slow release (less sugar), you’ve got time.

  • Eyedrops, Betadine powder, bandages

1 %-ers:

  • Italian twist coffee bench top press. Sounds over the top, but they are aluminum (light) and get you in the water 60% quicker + Ground coffee beans

  • Yeti Rambler, if you know you know.

  • 9 x protein balls/bars.

  • $400 USD cash: I can’t even begin to explain how much money talks in remote locales, and don’t worry about ponying up overs for a boat trip. When you’re back in your office or on the tools it will be your best decision of that year.

Tell whoever the fuck you live with to never touch that bag, Take Instagram off your phone and you’re good to go—yep, just said that. You’ll be tempted to show off, but long term you’re a smarter operator to just enjoy the moment and know that you can return again with similar solitude. Depends on how much of a fuckwit you are really, but we’ll leave that with you.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

An Unorthodox Marriage Of Science And Surf

Cliff Kapono and The Mega Lab are changing stereotypes on all fronts.

Nov 28, 2022


Harry Bryant Dumps Crutches, Visualizes Pipeline Pits After Snapping Leg

“For once in my life, I’m taking something a bit more serious."

Nov 27, 2022

What If You Bought This Sumatran Surf Camp For $690k?

Making a blue print out of surfing's most recurring day dream.

Nov 27, 2022

Sierra Kerr On Greasing Full Rotes, Making Dad Cry & Her Concussion @ VSHPBME 

'I haven’t got my license yet, but I'm thinking of buying a little truck.'

Nov 27, 2022


“There Definitely Needs To Be More Girls That Try Airs”

Caity Simmers' thoughts on her Vans Pipe Masters debut.

Nov 26, 2022

Preview: Who’s John John Florence Flushing Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl?

The final event of the CS schedule is almost upon us. Let's dissect.

Nov 25, 2022


Dane Reynolds Said These Clips Weren’t Good Enough

Could'a fooled us.

Nov 25, 2022

Watch Now: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Nov 24, 2022


How A Magic Island Birthed One Of The Most Radical Surf And Skate Scenes In The World

Mateus Herdy, Pedro Barros and friends in Red Bull x Stab's No Contest, Brazil.

Nov 23, 2022

The Uber Driver Turned Crypto Millionaire Who Denounced His US Citizenship And Whips Into XXL Nazare

"I do what I want, I don't have a boss." -Toby Trouble

Nov 23, 2022


‘I Thought He Was Gonna Grab A Machete… Then He Picked Up A Rock’

2x SSOTY Jai Glindeman’s drama (& left-tube) filled Sumbawa trip.

Nov 23, 2022


“The Inside Of Pipeline Sounds Like The Center Of The Universe”

Tosh Tudor seeks solitude at the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 22, 2022

Is Rasta Rob Really Going To Ride His Beloved Stock Dims Rad Ripper At The Vans Pipe Masters?

An interview with the most rapidly ascended surfer in recent memory.

Nov 22, 2022

Sierra Kerr And Robbie McCormick Win Vans Stab High Indonesia Presented By Monster Energy

And we had a live premiere in Oceanside to celebrate.

Nov 22, 2022

The Stab Guide To The World Cup

Including which team bears most similarities to former CT surfer Ricky "Ricky Badness" Basnett.

Nov 21, 2022

Unlocked: Albee Layer Speaks His Mind In His SEOTY Entry, ‘Delirium’

Come for the double rotations, stay for Albee's existential thoughts on surfing and life.

Nov 20, 2022

Buy Now: John John Florence’s ‘Gravity’

Get Gravity and support Junior Lifeguards.

Nov 20, 2022


Craig Anderson Could Find A Spitting Tube In A Tranquil Koi Pond

“How the fuck did I get an invite?”

Nov 19, 2022