Your essential San Diego surf gear guide so that you are in the know. This is a curated list of my personal favorite surf boards, wetsuits, accessories and surf gear. I want all my readers to be ready for surfing in San Diego – so here you go!
Do note that I earn a small commission through Amazon from any gear purchased on this page – I appreciate your support!
Wetsuit Surf Gear Guide
Ripcurl is the first brand wetsuit I ever purchased and remains my favorite wetsuit to this day. I purchased my first Ripcurl wetsuit heavily discounted through their outlet store in San Clemente – about a 45 minute drive North of San Diego. To begin, Ripcurl’s wetsuits have always fit me perfectly. I’m 6’3 and 185 lbs. Their XL size fits me like a glove. They even have tall sizes if you are taller than me. To view Ripcurl’s full wetsuit size guide, check here.
Secondly, Ripcurl has awesome wetsuit technology with their proprietary Ripcurl Flashbomb. This fuzzy material lines the inner wetsuit keeping you warm and is their fastest drying wetsuit technology.
Finally, they offer all three wetsuit zipper systems (chest, back, and zipper free). My personal favorite is the zipper free because it’s hassle free.
In conclusion, Ripcurl offers a stylish, warm, and comfortable fitting wetsuit that is essential for surfing in San Diego. If you still have questions on the best wetsuit for surfing, I wrote a full blog post about it. As part of my San Diego surf gear guide, a few of my favorite wetsuits are also listed below:
|Ripcurl Flashbomb Zip Free||Zip Free 3/2||Check Price|
|Ripcurl Flashbomb Chest Zip||Chest Zip 3/2||Check Price|
|Ripcurl Dawn Patrol Back Zip||Back Zip 3/2||Check Price|
Surf Bootie Surf Gear Guide
Surf booties are a perfect complement to your cold water wetsuit. When the water temperature drops below 60°F – this is normally when I break out a pair of surf booties. This temperature is oftentimes during winter months while surfing in San Diego.
My favorite surf booties are made by RipCurl. The RipCurl Dawn Patrol split toe 3mm surf booties are my preferred choice. A few things to note. First, I find 3mm to be the perfect wetsuit thickness for booties. It’s thick enough to keep you warm but not too thick that it constricts your toes/grip on the board. I also prefer the split toe models over the round toe. Again, this is because split toe model surf booties allow for better grip to your surfboard. Finally, I am a just a fan of RipCurl products. They make great all around surf gear including their wetsuits and surf booties. Here are my tips to decide when to wear surf booties.
|Ripcurl Dawn Patrol||Split Toe||Check Price|
|Hyperflex||Round Toe||Check Price|
|FCS Surf||Reef||Check Price|
Surfing Accessories Guide
This part of my surf gear guide will include common surf accessories such as wax, traction pads, tie-down straps, etc
Surfing wax is a staple and essential for every surfer’s list of accessories. As most surfers know, with no surf wax on your board – you’re gonna have a bad time 🙁
There are a ton of surf wax brands on the market including Mr. Zogs, StickyBumps, and Bubblegum surf wax. In my opinion, Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax is the best. It applies easily and offers a nice firm group. Additionally, it’s a good bang for your buck coming in at a $1 per bar (if buying at a retail surf store like Hansen). Finally, I enjoy the coconut aroma and like the name 🙂
For more details on how to choose the best surf wax, check out my blog post on the subject.
|Mr Zog's Original Sex Wax||Zog's Sex Wax||Check Price|
|Bubblegum Original Surf Wax||Bubblegum||Check Price|
|Sticky Bumps Surf Wax||Sticky Bumps||Check Price|
Surf Tie-Down Straps
Surf tie-down straps are essential if you have a small car or if you are transporting a longboard or SUP. The exception of course is if you have a pick-up truck. Otherwise, a good set of tie-drown straps will be essential.
Like I shared, smaller cars may not even be able to fit a shortboard. I personally have a Jeep Cherokee so I can simply throw my shortboard in the back. However, I need to use the straps when taking my longboard or SUP to the beach.
Some people go the cheap way with a set of bungees or rope. I would not recommend this. Get some heavy duty tie-down straps with ratchets to secure your board to your surf racks. (which reminds me, you should have a set of roof racks like Thule). The straps that I personally use are from Dakine. They are rugged, can hold several boards, and their ratcheting system make it incredibly easy to secure boards; as well as remove them.
Don’t forget to get a set of pads to cushion your board either!
A good tide watch is essential to know sunrise/sunset times and when high and low tide is. More importantly, you know when you have to get out of the water if you have somewhere to be. Lastly, you need a watch with a solid water resistance rating. My favorite tide watch for the basics is the Nixon Base Tide Pro shown below. Check this link for latest in surf watch tech.
No matter where in the world you are surfing, sunscreen is essential. A waterproof, rub in sunscreen that lasts for hours and is also good for the skin is my preferred choice. Sun Bum makes a sunscreen that ticks all these boxes. For more information on choosing the correct SPF for surfing, my sun protection guide will help.
If you didn’t capture the wave, it didn’t happen! 🙂
For those of you that enjoy capturing the moment on camera, my preferred action camera of choice is GoPr. GoPro has been making camera models for years and really are the best in the business. They currently have about 10 editions. As of writing this in 2021, the GoPro 7, 8 and 9 models have similar characteristics. All of these are a step up from the 6 because they have motion stabilization. Motion stabilization allows for super smooth and fluid videos. The 8 and 9 don’t offer many extra features than the 7 while they are also more expensive. As such, my GoPro model camera of choice is the GoPro 7 Hero Black model.
This may be the most important section of this guide. It also might be my favorite 🙂 Getting the right board for your surf conditions and skill level is super important. In this section, I will cover my favorite shortboard, fish, longboard, and SUP so that you can choose the right board based on your skill level and the surf conditions.
|Pyzell Phantom||Advanced/Shortboard||Check Price|
|Liquid Shredder EZ-Slider 5'10 Fish Surfboard Red||Intermediate/Fish||Check Price
|Wavestorm 8ft||Beginner/Longboard||Check Price|
*To complement your board, decide which kind of surf fins are best for you and your board.
Best surfboard for surfing in San Diego
When surfing in San Diego, the conditions can vary greatly. In San Diego, we surf everything from 2ft to double overhead, and everything in between. If you surf enough and you can afford it; it’s really best to have a quiver of board to cover all these different conditions. However, this isn’t practical for most.
So – if you are at least an intermediate level or above, I have the absolute perfect board for you to cover the wide spectrum of waves found while surfing in San Diego. I highly recommend the Pyzel Phantom. They have designed it to be your go to board for everyday conditions from 2-7ft.
I find that this board has enough volume when the surf is small to medium size. On the flip side, this board has enough rocker and turning radius to be high performance during overhead surf +
Yes, I highly recommend the Phantom, from Pyzel!
Best surfboard for beginners
In this paragraph, I will suggest what I think all beginners should begin surfing on. The point of surfing is to have fun and catch a lot of waves. If you try to progress to a smaller board that is above your level too fast, you will never progress. More importantly, you won’t have fun. This is why it is so important to choose the right board as someone learning to surf.
I personally learned on a 8ft foam board. It’s soft, forgiving and has great stability when you are learning to surf. Additionally, it won’t break the bank like fiberglass. I suggest going with an 8ft Wavestorm. Once you graduate from this board, you can still keep it around for friends or a significant other. Otherwise, you can sell it for a decent price since these boards hold their value.
Best surfboard for surfing San Diego in Summer
Most of San Diego has smaller, less consistent surf during the summer months. Due to this, it’s important to have a board that will allow you to easily catch waves surfing during summer months in San Diego. For this reason, you really need a fun board or fish to surf San Diego in the summer months. Most importantly, something with a bit more volume. If you aren’t into longboard, a fish or fun board is for you!
Below, is my recommended choice for an all around, fun time surfing in San Diego summertime!
Best Surf Travel Bags
You got a board. Now you gotta protect it. Whether going to the beach for a day or traveling across the world, here are a few of my favorite surf travel bags.
Stevie Ho Day Surf Bag
For day trips or protecting your board when throwing it in your car or storage, I like knit bags because they are sleek and light.
Dakine Recon Surf Travel Bag
When flying, it is essential to have a bag with extra padding to protect your boards from damage. Travel surf bags come in sizes for one, two, or even three boards.
Post Surf Essentials
Staying cozy, dry and clean will prevent you from rushing home after a surf session. With these essentials, you can go straight to the bar without missing a beat.
Surf Changing Mat
A surf changing mat will allow you to strip off your wetsuit without stomping all over it on the sand, pavement, or grass. This will keep your wetsuit free from small debris so that you can easily cinch it up with wetsuit inside and toss it in your trunk.
SunCube Wetsuit Changing Mat
A poncho constructed from a towel. This will allow you to seamlessly dry off and change out of your wetsuit in privacy, anywhere. Added bonus is it will keep your warm after those cold water sessions in the winter.
Slowtide Surf Poncho
Surf Shower Kit
If you are looking to get fancy, a showerhead to hose yourself down after a surf is pretty sweet. Try filling your tank with warm water after a cold session. Also, ideal for camping.
San Diego Surf Gear Guide Round Up
That concludes my San Diego surf gear guide. Whenever I have the best gear, I’m stoked on my surfing. Get that feeling too! If you prefer to do your shopping in person, check out the best surf shops around San Diego.