Insights on Why You Should Purchase a Board Bag
You’ve bought your new board. Oh, it’s beautiful! Those shiny rails. The perfect deck. You just can’t wait to take that puppy home and ride it. Then the salesman pops the question, “You want a bag for your board?” It’s (only) another $200! Should you do it?
Fortunately, the answer is simple. Get the board bag. I know you just bought a board, PFD, paddle, and a leash, already some serious clams, but a bag is the best protection for your board. Here’s a little secret: paddleboards are fragile, but a lot of the damage happens out of the water. You’ll ding it shlepping, lugging, hauling, jostling, shoving, ferrying, and lugging your ride to and fro. You’ll bang it against a pole while schlepping it from your car to the water’s edge. You’ll scrape the rails when you stow it in your garage. You’ll roughen up the bottom in the sand. All these are preventable with a board bag.
Your board isn’t even safe on your car. We’ve all noticed how cars on the highway launch little pieces of gravel and whatnot. There’s no avoiding these. We’ve all heard the crack when one of those things hits your windshield. Now imagine a pebble hitting your board. One of these tiny rocks can easily crack the skin, which is a required repair. (Any damage that allows water to enter your board is a required repair.) A bag also protects you from those clumsy moments putting the board on the car, which happen a lot more often than we’d like.
Your board can also be damaged by the sun. The deck can cook under intense light and form blisters. I didn’t believe this until it happened to my very tough-skinned NSP board. After a day the smooth skin looked like the surface of the moon. It’s cool when you get to the beach to lay your board out like some sort of totem, proclaiming your allegiance to the wave-riding tribe. However, what you’re actually doing is offering your board as a ritualistic sacrifice to the sun god, who will, slowly but surely, turn your board into mush. Make sure you cover it up.
Yet protecting your board is only one reason to bag your board. You’ll notice that board bags tend to have handles and shoulder straps. These make board shlepping so much easier. A good shoulder strap means you can even carry your board without using your hands, leaving them free for your paddle or any other goodies. Handles make it easier to lift your board off the floor or a rack. Some bags even have a pocket for extra fins.
You can get an adjustable bag which for different sized boards, but the best bag is the one designed specifically for your board. A loose bag is much better than no bag, but the floppy edges can make the board difficult to carry. A snug bag is just easier to manage. It also won’t billow in the wind so much at highway speeds, which can be very noisy and annoying. On the other hand, adjustable bags can be good in case you want one bag for multiple boards. A really big bag can even hold two at once.
You’ll notice that the bag has an opening at the end for a fin. This keeps you from having to take your fin off every time you bag the board. Or not. Often these slots are designed for surf fins or the mediocre flat water fins that come standard with your board. If you’ve purchased a custom fin, make sure it fits through the opening. I ended up tearing the custom board bag for my Amundson 12’6” trying to fit a custom Gladiator fin through the slot. Don’t be stupid, like I was. If the fin doesn’t fit, take off the fin and spare the bag.
Does every board need a bag? Probably not. If it’s going from a protected porch to the water, no need to bother. Some boards are pretty tough — there are some that can take a blow from a hammer — and a bag might be redundant (not counting sun damage, of course). Plastic boards certainly don’t need a bag. Ultimately, it’s your choice, but there’s no question that a bag will lengthen the lifespan of most boards.
So do your board a favor and bag it. It will thank you. The bag might even protect your ride during unexpected events, like if squirrels break into your garage some winter and make themselves a home. Yes, this happened to me. The two unprotected boards had their padded decks chewed up by these trespassing rodents, but the one in the bag was fine. You see, damage can happen when you least expect it. While most boards aren’t going to be mauled by predatory rodents, a bag is still your best bet.
So bag it, bud, and breathe a little easier.