July 20, 2024

Surf Gear Guide

san diego surf gear guide

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:

Our Pick
Rip Curl Mens Flashbomb 3/2mm Chest Zip Wetsuit - Black - Easy Stretch Lightweight Flash Lining

Don't hassle with a back zip or hard to pull over zip-free. The chest zip is for easiest access in and out of the water.

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03/11/2024 05:12 pm GMT
Ripcurl Flashbomb Zip Free Zip Free 3/2Check Price
Ripcurl Flashbomb Chest Zip Chest Zip 3/2Check Price
Ripcurl Dawn Patrol Back ZipBack Zip 3/2Check 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.

The RipCurl Dawn Patrol split toe 3mm surf booties will cost you about $50.

Our Pick
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3mm Split Toe Wetsuit Boots - Black - Easy Slide on System

The split toe design of this RipCurl surf bootie allows for more traction and control than round tip booties.

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03/11/2024 05:41 am GMT
Surf BootiesTypePrice
Ripcurl Dawn Patrol Split ToeCheck Price
Hyperflex Round ToeCheck Price
FCS SurfReefCheck 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

Surf Wax

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.

Our Pick
Sex Wax Quick Humps Coconut (3X Cool to Mid Warm)

Smells good, easy to apply, cool name...what else do you need from your surf wax?

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03/11/2024 05:59 am GMT
Surf WaxBrandPrice
Mr Zog's Original Sex Wax Zog's Sex WaxCheck Price
Bubblegum Original Surf WaxBubblegumCheck Price
Sticky Bumps Surf WaxSticky BumpsCheck 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.

Dakine Baja Tie Down Straps 12Ft - Black, One Size

Don't let your surfboards fall off your roof rack again with this secure tie down straps from Dakine.

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03/11/2024 04:36 am GMT

Don’t forget to get a set of pads to cushion your board either!

Dakine Aero Rack Pads 28In - Black, One Size

Because your boards need loving too, keep it cushy.

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03/11/2024 05:13 am GMT

Tide Watches

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.

NIXON Base Tide Pro - Black - Digital Watch for Men and Women - Surfing, Diving, Fishing Watch - 42mm Face, 24mm PU Band

Need to be on time to your board meeting? Don't go surfing without one of these waterproof timepieces.

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03/11/2024 06:13 am GMT


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.

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Clear UVA/UVB Face Sunscreen with Zinc And Vitamin E | Reef Safe | 1 Fl Oz

Because your mother said it's good for you. Protect your smile.

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03/11/2024 06:35 am GMT

Action Cameras

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.

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03/11/2024 06:52 am GMT

Once you purchase a GoPro, learn how to attach your GoPro surfboard mount for perfect shots. Check out my other favorite action camera models here.

Surfboard Guide

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/ShortboardCheck Price
Liquid Shredder EZ-Slider 5'10 Fish Surfboard RedIntermediate/FishCheck Price
Wavestorm 8ftBeginner/LongboardCheck 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 Cloud shortboard from Degree 33. 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 +.

Made by local brand Degree 33, the Cloud Shortboard comes in both traditional fiberglass and the super durable epoxy + soft top finish pictured below.

Local's Choice
5'7 Cloud Shortboard Surfboard Aqua Dip (Hybrid Epoxy Softtop) - Degree 33 Surfboards

Designed to glide flawlessly in small surf and to handle itself in overhead waves.

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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.

Beginner's Choice
WAVESTORM 8ft Premium Classic Longboard Surfboard,BLT,8 Feet x 22.5 Inch x 3.25 Inch

Perfect for beginners and more experienced surfers looking for a fun cruising board.

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03/11/2024 12:34 pm GMT

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 longboarding, a fish or fun board is for you!

Degree 33 Surfboards, locally based in San Diego makes a super fun fish model that also comes with an epoxy bottom and soft top finish. This makes the super board durable and forgiving for any level of surfer.

Below, is my recommended choice for an all around, fun time surfing in San Diego summertime!

Expert's Choice
6′ Codfather Fish Surfboard Blue Dip (Hybrid Epoxy Softtop) – Degree 33 Surfboards

With more speed and more paddle power, this fun sized fish surfboard is perfect in both shoulder high peelers and windblown mush burgers.

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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.

Ho Stevie! Surfboard Sock Cover - Light Protective Bag for your Surf Board

For a quick session at the beach and storage at home or in your car.

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03/11/2024 01:15 pm GMT

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.

Dakine Recon Double Surfboard Bag Thruster

Rest easy on the plane knowing your boards are padded and protected. Perfect for those long distance strike missions.

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03/11/2024 01:24 pm GMT

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.

SUN CUBE Wetsuit Changing Mat, Waterproof Surf Bag, Drawstring Wetsuit Bag

Keep your wetsuit sand free while changing on the beach or side of the road.

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03/11/2024 01:37 pm GMT

Surf Poncho

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.

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03/11/2024 01:48 pm GMT

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.

Pomo High Pressure 5L Portable Shower, Camping Shower, Surf Rinse Kit

No time to go home after your surf? No problem, pack this portable shower in your car, van or RV.

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03/11/2024 02:06 pm GMT

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.

My Preferred Local Shops for Surf Gear

Hansen Surfboards – My favorite shop in North County. Shop for 10% using code SAVE10

Save 10% on all orders with code SAVE10 at HansenSurf.com

Degree 33 Surfboards – The best hybrid epoxy and soft top boards built locally in San Diego. Also, a great demo program.