Surf Van Essential Gear & Packing Guide 2024

surf van essentials equipment packing list

We’ve been travelling the coasts of Europe in our Mercedes Vito since 2009 and discovered some absolute must-haves we can’t live without.

We’ve created the essential surf van packing list with a combination of items we’ve found and some others we’ve been told about by fellow surf nomads.

We hope our surf van life essentials checklist helps you as much as us on your journey.

surf van essentials equipment packing list

Wetsuit Hanger

Mo’re Wetsuit Hanger Foldable Surfing Suit Hangers…
  • Heavy duty plastic construction, durable and non-corrosive.
  • Designed to ensure quick drainage and drying for your underwear/drysuit/BCD.
  • Folding hanger for easy storage and transport.
  • Great accessories for diving, snorkeling, surfing.
  • Easy to carry, easy and convenient to use.

We’ve tried and tested various surf equipment, and the Mo’re Wetsuit Hanger has been a game changer.

It’s a lifesaver after those early morning sessions; we pop our wetsuits on this beauty, and by lunchtime, it’s near dry, thanks to those clever vented shoulder extensions. 

Beyond speed, it protects our suits – traditional hangers warp the shoulders, but this one keeps the wetsuit’s shape.

Built tough with high-strength polymer, it can rattle around without too much drama. The foldable feature is genius for our van life; compact travel and no wetsuit stretching.

This hanger’s a must for any serious surfer living the van life. 🤙🚐🌊

Seat Covers

waterproof seat covers to protect your surf van form wet wetsuits and sand

Throughout our surf jaunts across Europe, hopping from one beach break to another in our trusty van, the Dryrobe van seat cover has been an unsung hero. 

You know the drill – you’re soaked but stoked after an epic session, but you want more. Jumping into the van without changing wasn’t an option until this beauty came into our lives. 

With this seat cover, our van stays pristine, even when we’re drenched. The adjustable straps, hook, and loop fastenings fit most double van seats snugly.

And it’s not just about keeping things dry; it feels warm against the skin – a godsend on those chilly dawn patrols.

Bonus points for being eco-friendly, crafted from 100% recycled fabrics. So, drive in wet comfort without compromising your van’s interior. It’s an essential companion for our European surf adventures.

You can find them here.

Wetsuit

We learnt this one the hard way. My wetsuit smelt awful, so I left it under the van in an undisclosed car park in Northern Spain. 

We wake up on Sunday morning to find the wetsuit gone, waves pumping, and we’re miles from the nearest surf shop.

Long story short, lesson learnt. Always bring a spare wetsuit and forget to familiarise yourself with the best way to wash your wetsuit for a longer lifespan.

We’re a big fan of Xcel wetsuits here at Honest Surf, they seem to last longer than most of the other brands (as in longer than a season), and they’re snug as even in the depths of winter.

Here are our top picks for some quality rubber.

Xcel Comp 3/2mm (Men)

Buy it here

Xcel Infiniti 3/2mm (Women)

Buy it here

Dryrobe

The Dryrobe Advance feels like a warm embrace after those chilly winter surf sessions. It’s perfect for shielding you from biting winds and unexpected downpours, and the sleeves keep you cocooned in warmth from head to toe.

Zipping up feels effortless, even with cold hands, and despite its rugged protection, it’s crazy lightweight, making it no hassle to carry on when you’ve got a bit of a trek to the waves.

This one’s as much for after the surf as general camper van life. We use them just sitting in our camping chairs, and they’re a godsend when you want to enjoy your morning coffee when it’s freezing.

While they may not be the height of fashion, It’s a 10/10 from us. This is a must-have in any van life packing list, surfer or not.

Grab yours here.

Ding Repair Kit

Sale
SOLAREZ UV Cure Epoxy Ding Repair Resin – SUP…
  • Includes Solarez UV Cure Epoxy Resin & 60/240 Grit Sand Pad
  • No mixing necessary. UV curing assures complete hardening.
  • Provides complete crosslinking; Remarkably tough and resilient
  • Contains urethanes that keep from yellowing; Eco-friendly Zero vapors, non-flammable
  • These resins cure exceptionally dry unlike other UV cure resins that cure tacky.

Mishaps can and do happen, especially to our beloved boards. That’s where the surfboard repair kit comes in handy.

Dings or cracks are no longer a problem with this epic little kit on hand. Instead of waiting days for a professional repair, we’re back in the water within hours (sun-providing), making the most of every swell. 

It uses UV-activated resin, so you complete your repair, leave it in the sun to dry and then sand it to a smooth finish. With some practice, you can achieve near-pro results.

It’s a great way to repair on the go, making sure you’re board doesn’t take on water; plus, you’ll be saving a fortune on expensive repairs at a surf shop.

Surfboard Fins

Whether it’s colliding with another surfer or a dangerously shallow reef break, losing a fin is a very real possibility.

Don’t forget to pack at least one set of spare fins so you don’t get caught short when the waves are firing.

You’ll also need some fin keys if you can’t find some good samaritans in the car park. Head over to Evo for all the latest from Futures and FCS.

Leash

Dakine Procomp 6Ft X 3/16In – Sun Flare, One Size
  • Up to a shoulder high intended use
  • 3/16″ (5MM) highest quality urethane Dura-Cord for maximum strength
  • 1.5″ (40MM) molded neoprene ankle cuff
  • Posi-Lock hook & loop closure
  • Opti-Flex leash ends for maximum durability

A leash snap can still happen even if you’re surfing mellow waves.

They take up literally no space in the back of the van, and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t. Here’s a ripper from Dakine that should keep you attached to your board for years.

Ear Plugs

Creatures of Leisure Surf Ears Plugs 3.0 Red Teal
  • PROTECT YOUR EARS – Keep water out with our cutting edge design double curved wing and tilted core…
  • COMFORTABLE FIT – The silicone surfer earplug tips are thinner, softer, and have a customizable…
  • LET SOUND IN KEEP WATER OUT – The worlds only surfer ear plugs that helps protect your ears without…
  • FAST & EASY TO USE – Improved leash for quick attachment and detachment & a foolproof fitting with…
  • TRAVEL READY – Premium eco-friendly packaging designed for simple, reusable ear plug storage

Putting in an ear plug can initially seem uncomfortable, but not getting surfer’s ear is better in the long run.

We highly recommend the Creatures of Leisure SurfEars. They’re comfortable to wear, with customizable silicone tips to fit all ear canal sizes.

What sets these apart is the amazing hearing you’ll still have; they’re also fast and easy to use, with an improved leash for quick attachment and detachment and colour-coded plugs for foolproof fitting.

Don’t compromise on these, and make sure you grab a pair of SurfEars.

Surfboard Bag

Dakine Daylight Surfboard Bag Thruster – White,…
  • Versatile shape fits most thruster shape boards
  • Upgraded heat and water resistant tarpaulin material
  • 1/4″ [6.5mm] Foam padding
  • Heavy duty, YKK coil zipper
  • Non slip padded shoulder strap with stash pocket

A board bag may not seem necessary in a van, but it doesn’t take long for a knock here and there to start to add up.

Day bags give you extra protection that can keep the fibreglass on your board looking nice and fresh.

I don’t travel without one now; you can pick them up relatively cheaply, like our option here for under $100.

Changing Mat

Wetsuit Changing Mat ‘IslandMat’ Surf Mat &…
  • THE ONLY Surf Changing Mat with 5000X WATERPROOF TECHNOLOGY – IslandMat using an incredibly…
  • THE BEST Beach Change Mat for SURFING, PADDLE BOARDING, KITE SURFING, DIVING, BIKING, SNOWBOARDING…
  • CompactFolding 2 IN 1 Design – THE MOST COMPACT wetsuit changing mat on the planet! Say goodbye to…
  • DON’T NEGLECT YOUR CAR, TREAT IT WITH RESPECT: IT’S NOT WORTH ruining your car seat just because…
  • THE LAST SURFING MAT YOU’LL EVER NEED, LIFETIME Guaranteed: While most surf changing mats wears out…

Van living is all about keeping things neat and organised; part of that is ensuring sand and dirt in the van stays to a minimum.

Rather than grinding your wetsuit into the ground as you get changed, a changing mat lets you stay relatively dirt free and feels like clouds on your feet.

Roof Rack

When space in your surfing van is minimal (or you have a longboard), a roof rack is an easy way to maximise your little space.

Soft racks like these are a quick and cost-effective option, make sure to remove your boards from the roof overnight, or you may not find them in the morning.

*Pro tip – If you have a board bag, throw any towels or robes in to free up extra space in your van.

Here’s the set we got from Walmart for under $40.

Stormrider Guide

Sale
The World Stormrider Surf Guide (World’s Best…
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sutherland, Bruce (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 446 Pages – 11/20/2018 (Publication Date) – Low Pressure Publishing (Publisher)

What’s not to love about hundreds of surf destinations at your fingertips? These books are packed full of all the world’s best surf spots with detailed advice on when to go and what to expect when you get there.

These carefully researched guides are essential on any surf trip packing list, with years of searching for waves poured into the pages.

Surfboard Wax

That sandy, month-old sliver of wax somewhere in your wetsuit bucket will only last so long.

If you plan on going on a real surf van adventure, you’re probably far from the nearest surf shop. This handy pot from the legends at Sex Wax helps keep your wax relatively dirt-free, keeps it from melting and even has a spare wax comb.

Just grab the right temperature wax and get ready to make friends in the car park as the less organised sheepishly ask for a go.

Grab yours here.

Tent

THE NORTH FACE Stormbreak 2 Two-Person Camping…
  • QUICK PITCH. The Stormbreak 2 is our classic two-person camping tent. Featuring large doors for easy…
  • COMFORTABLE DESIGN. Easy to get in and out, this tent features two doors and two twin-zip,…
  • EASY ACCESS. Doors stuff into the adjacent mesh pockets so you don’t have to roll them up and they…
  • QUALITY CONSTRUCTION. A fully seam-taped canopy and floor help enhance durability and waterproofing….
  • TECH SPECS. Total Weight: 5 lbs 14.2 oz; Trail Weight: 5 lbs 5oz; Fastpack Weight: 3 lbs 14.1 oz;…

Weeks spent living amongst your life and surf gear can leave you needing a bit of a change, and that’s when we pull out the tent.

I know it seems strange, but you’d be amazed how nice it is to change it up occasionally, especially if you can camp right next to the ocean (the dunes are our favourite).

Sunscreen

Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50…
  • Superior Skin Defense – Provides heavy duty SPF 50 skin defense against damage. Reef safe. Will not…
  • The Original Sunscreen for Surfing – Designed for surfers and avid water sport enthusiasts….
  • All Natural Active Ingredients, 100% Reef-Safe – This reef-friendly sunscreen is made with natural…
  • Fast and Easy Application – Gentle formula that won’t sting eyes. Applies and absorbs easily….
  • Travel-friendly Convenient 3oz Size – Headhunter SPF 50 sunscreen comes in a slender and…
Waxhead Coral Reef Safe Sunscreen – Tinted Mineral…
  • 4 EDIBLE-GRADE INGREDIENTS – Broad spectrum protection of this mineral formula made from only 4…
  • EWG 1 RATED – Scored #1 by the EWG Sunscreen Guide this baby safe sunscreen is built for sensitive…
  • ZINC SUNSCREEN – All our sunscreens are coral reef safe, approved for Hawaii, all marine…
  • TINTED FACIAL SUNSCREEN – This sunscreen is all-natural and made from 25% zinc oxide. It’s safe…
  • HOW TO APPLY – Rub finger in tin to warm sunscreen. Dot, spread and rub on face. Goes on THICKER…

Just like Baz Luhrmanns says, always wear sunscreen. It’s a quick, cheap purchase, but it’s probably the most important on this list.

Get good, high spf zinc or sunblock for your face with reef-safe, skin-friendly ingredients and a similar cream for the rest of your body.

Head over here for a selection of our favourite sunscreen for surfing, all tested by the team here at Honest Surf.

Power Bank

Sale
Anker Portable Charger, Power Bank, 10,000 mAh…
  • Quality Throughout:Built adventure-tier touch with superior durability and scratch resistance,…
  • Slim Size, Big Power:One of the slimmest and lightest 10,000mAh portable chargers on the market….
  • Versatile Charging: Anker’s exclusive PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology combine to detect and…
  • Superior Safety:Anker’s comprehensive MultiProtect safety system includes overcharge protection,…
  • What You Get: PowerCore Slim 10000 portable charger, Micro USB cable (to charge the power bank,…

I’m a big fan of escaping the devices when we’re on a surfing trip in the van, but between family and work, it’s normally unavoidable.

That’s when this nifty bit of travel gear comes in handy; with hundreds of hours of fast charging, you can safely snuggle up to some evening movies and listen to the waves crashing in the background.

Portable Toilet

Sale
FUN ESSENTIALS Portable Toilet Kit For Adults, Pop…
  • ✅ FUN ESSENTIALS All In 1 Portable Toilet kit for Adults- A Large portable folding toilet, privacy…
  • ✅ More Comfort With Large Portable folding Toilet- Higher and bigger size, more comfortable. We…
  • ✅ Most Privacy and Sanitation For Your Next Adventures-Full Size Privacy Pop up Tent. The FUN…
  • ✅ Enjoy More and Pay Less- Our goal is to provide quality products with the best value, so you…
  • ✅ The Best Value With Premium Quality-FUN ESSENTIALS All IN 1 portable toilet kit is truly the…

Living in a van has its challenges, and finding a suitable toilet was always one until we came across this nifty portable camping toilet.

It’s not the most glamorous bit of kit for surfing, but it’s amazingly helpful when you get caught short, and the tent avoids any awkwardness while you’re trying to do your business.

Camping Chairs

Amazon Basics Folding Padded Outdoor Camping Chair…
  • Padded camping chair with lightly cushioned seat and back for comfort; versatile black color
  • Beverage-cooler pouch (hangs from armrest) holds up to four 12-ounce cans
  • Built-in cup holder for holding an open beverage; side storage pocket for sunscreen, binoculars or…
  • Heavy-duty steel frame provides reliable strength; compact, collapsible chair folds up to fit inside…
  • Dimensions: 34 x 20 x 36 Inches; carry bag with shoulder strap included for easy transport and…

You can’t have a social with everyone sitting on the floor now, can you? Nothing is better than a good chat after a long day of surfing, but you need to do it comfortably.

These foldable ones take up hardly any space in the van, and we always bring two extras in case we meet fellow van dwellers along the way.

From sharing dinner to an evening spent drinking around the fire, these are a must-have for us wherever we take the van.

First Aid Kit

RHINO RESCUE First Aid Kit, Waterproof Portable…
  • 【Comprehensive First Aid】 The first aid kit includes 118pcs high-quality emergency essentials…
  • 【Water-resistant EVA Surface】 The EVA material, which is carefully selected, is of premium…
  • 【On-the-go Mini Kit】 The mini first aid kit comes in a convenient size that is ideal for storing…
  • 【RHINO RESCUE】RHINO RESCUE is a professional pre-hospital first aid & IFAK supplier. Based on…

Last but not least, this will get you out of a fix when the unfortunate happens.

It’s necessary if you plan to head off the beaten track, and it could save your life one day. You can grab it and forget about it until you need it, but having it there is a no-brainer for anyone.