The Best Surf Backpacks
We test and review the very finest surf backpacks of them all
Thinking of making a dorsal equipment carrying purchase, but wondering which exactly are the best surf backpacks out there?
Un-furrow that troubled brow, sunshine. Coz we've reviewed the latest and greatest for you.
But backpacks are a slightly less obvious proposition. In fact, whether or not you use a surf backpack, or even believe in their existence, is probably more the defining characteristic on this topic.
I'll level with yas... I used to be one of those folk who thought the best surf backpack was not having one.
"Seriously, just throw your wetty over your board and walk, one foot in front of the other, FFS," I'd probably have said in a dismissive tone. "If it's a long walk, the focker'll be half dry by the time you get back to the car/base camp."
How so very wrong I was.
The leading surf packs these days will nuzzle your tech lovingly, they'll caress your eyewear, they'll organise your fins, wax, sunscreen, even keep your beer -- I mean sandwich -- cool. But with so much on offer, how to chose?
Allow us to help.
Billabong Surf Trek
Size: 35L / 21.5 x 12 x 10cm
Billabong's Adventure Division have gone all out on the Surf Trek, packing in a bunch of features that make it a do-all surf backpack of note. one of the few surf packs to features a wet/dry bag with roll-top, changing mat, accessories compartment and a padded laptop compartment, the Surf Trek has you covered whether you shredding, geeking, or all of the above. With a generous 35L capacity it's big enough to throw your full winter gimp suit n rubber accessories in, and having been tested by the Bong Adventure Div nutters like Sancho, Shane-o & pals, you know it's built to handle whatever the ocean throws at it.
Dakine Jetty Wet/Dry
Size: 32L / 48 x 33 x 25cm
Materials: 600D Polyester Ripstop
Featuring waterproof roll top wetsuit pocket, insulated cooler pocket, fleece lined sunglasses pocket adjustable sternum strap and side access, the Jetty Wet/Dry has everything you need to hike in and out of a radical surf scenario. It also boasts a laptop sleeve for when you need to get studious/productive. Hard to argue with the classic understated styling which even tips the fedora to alpinist rucksack tradition of yesteryear, including lash tag detail (to hang your ice pick... obvs), the Jetty Wet/Dry looks smart enough for the urban commute, and rugged enough for the unblazed trail.
"Smart enough for the urban commute, and rugged enough for the unblazed trail"
Size: 40L / 73cm x 35cm x 16cm
Material: 300D Polyester
"There's no bespoke pouch for your coffee grinder, or custom built flap for your Apple TV. We looked long and hard but simply couldn't find the patented calligraphy set compartment"
The Surfer Elite is another surf back that focuses on simplicity and functionality over omnipotency. We're talking a large 40 litre main compartment with roll top closure, and a simple velcro sealed front pocket for accessories. That's what she's offering. There's no bespoke pouch for your coffee grinder, or custom built flap for your Apple TV. We looked long and hard but simply couldn't find the patented calligraphy set compartment. It's all about throwing in your wet surf shit and keeping it safe and sealed while you travel... if you're one of those people that believes less (shit to go wrong/break) is more (lifespan, fun, better), the Surfer Elite could well be the pack you've always dreamed of.
PU coated ballistic nylon
Germans had a lot to do with the genesis of the rucksack, (rucken is Deutsch for back) and have historically had solid hiking credentials, so it's cool to see Finisterre keep it traditional in the process of going tech, having this waterproof pack developed by Ortlieb and made in Germany. Simplicity and quality are the keys to the success of the Ortlieb, which basically comprises a single main pocket with a small inner compartment and very small external non waterproof pocket with drainage holes. While you'll get your tablet or rather, Moleskin, in the inner pocket, this aint the multi-purpose pack you'd use for Sixth Form College. It's meant for use carrying wet stuff on your back. And that it does very very well. It also feels like it'll survive eons, and given the relatively destroy-all nature of seawater, that can only be a very good thing.
"Simplicity and quality are the keys to the success of the Ortlieb... it feels like it'll survive eons"
Nixon Waterlock III
Size: 28L / 43 x 38 x 17cm
Multi-purose is the name of the Waterlock III's game, and while it doesn't feature specific waterproof spec, it makes up for it by having pretty much everything else under the sun. Padded side entry laptop compartment, two side zipper pockets, small media port pocket and sunglass pocket lined with micro suede, zippered watch pocket, adjustable skate straps, PU coated front and bottom and a wetsuit changing mat all feature in this smart backpack that features the attention to detail you'd expect from Nixon.
Rip Curl F-Light 40
"Comfort is at a premium whether you're searching the back end of beyond, or simply just day tripping your local"
Material: 450D ripstop
Rip Curl have gone next level with the F-Light 40, packing in a bunch of surf specific features to help organise a multitude of shred paraphernalia. Not only does she pack a sizey roll trop wet-dry compartment, surf specific pockets store fins, sunblock, wax (they're all labelled just in case) as well as a large insulated side pocket to keep food and drink cold. Your laptop and tablet have padded storage, there's even a cable organiser. With all the tech and spec you'd expect in the shoulder straps and padding, comfort is at a premium whether you're searching the back end of beyond, or simply just day tripping your local.
Picture Organic Clothing Lunaire
Materials: Eco PVC
Picture have come with a completely different vibe for the Lunaire backpack, shunning claimed multi-functionality for admirable what-it-says-on-the-tin style objectives. The Lunaire is 100% waterproof, for lugging wet gear, and keeping yourself dry, and that's all, and that's it. Featuring a simple yet sophisticated design with a single main roll top compartment and small front pocket, the Lunaire believes wet wetsuits and MacBook Airs are not happy bedfellows, and never the twain shall meet... a logic that's kinda hard to refute. The Lunaire will take care of your soaking wet gear in comfort and style, but will probably not help you do your homework. And it's not sorry about that.
Poler outdoor Stuff Classic Rolltop
"Back to basics, with a lil' bit of Moonrise Kingdom boy scout styling chic"
Materials: Heavy Duty Campdura fabric
28L / 27" x 16" x 4"
They don't come much simpler than the Classic Rolltop from Poler. Rather than bamboozle you with a load of features, this one's all about back to basics, with a lil' bit of Moonrise Kingdom boy scout styling chic. It's got one wee zip pocket on the front, one main rolltop compartment with a basic laptop pouch, two straps for your shoulder, and that's about it. If you're looking for a surf pack that won't have you going through endless secret flaps and folds looking for your flick knife, and this potentially missing low tide in the process, this'n could be for you. It's analog backpack vibes, in a crazy mixed up digital world, baby.