How To Pack Your Kiteboarding Gear For Vacations
One of the best attributes of kiteboarding is being able to do it in so many diverse locales, as long as a relatively open source of water is nearby. As vacations generally involve visiting places that meet that criteria, it can be quite hard to leave all your kitesurfing gear behind as you flee the winter doldrums. Fortunately, by getting an appropriate kiteboarding gear bag and learning how to effectively pack it, you'll have no reason to leave your equipment behind.
The first step is selecting the correct travel bag that can successfully harbor all of your kitesurfing gear. Both the Dakine Club Wagon and Dakine SX Bag are great options. Occasionally called golf bags, the original intention with most kiteboarding bags was to disguise them as other sports equipment luggage that could take advantage of airlines' free baggage policies. This leeway is increasingly rare with airline cost controls nowadays, but the influence lives on. The length of your kiteboard(s) is important when determining the size of bag to opt for; you will want a bag that is slightly longer than your largest kiteboard. Many kiteboarding bags, when packed correctly, should hold two kiteboards, at least two kitesurfing kites, a pump, harness, and water garb.
The most important consideration when beginning to pack your kitesurfing travel bag should be the kiteboard. The fins need to be removed, not only because of size considerations but because they have the most potential to damage your kites, especially on their tumultuous journey through baggage handling. Leaving fins on also makes them highly susceptible to being broken. The easiest thing to do is to remove all of the fins and screw the fin bolts back into the fin to keep the various pieces together, then to wrap them in bubble wrap or a t-shirt for protection. Depending on the bulkiness of your kiteboard footpads and straps, they may be necessary to remove as well. Be sure to keep the gear all centralized and small parts such as screws in a bag, and be sure to include a screwdriver.
When packing the kites, make sure all the air is removed by running your hands down the struts and bladder, forcing any excess out. Removing the strut clips may also be a good idea if they don't have a covering, as depending on how much weight is stacked on your bag during transit, the plastic clips may puncture the kite. You'll want to roll the kitesurfing kite from the wingtips towards the centers along the leading edge, much the same as if you were putting it away on the beach. You'll want it to be the length of the kiteboarding bag, so only fold as much as needed.
From there you will layer the bottom of the travel bag with one kite, a kiteboard or two in the middle (be sure to put some form of layer between the two kiteboards to prevent scratching), and then another kite, harness, bar and lines, and pump on top. This will provide a padded layer around your kiteboards, helping to prevent dings and scratches during handling. Remember not to fold the hose, as this can cause kinks and subsequent holes. Finally, make sure your kiteboard bag abides by the airlines weight constraints to avoid paying extra fees - bathroom scales tend to serve this purpose well.
With all that said, don't worry too much. Remember, your kiteboarding equipment is durable enough to handle the abuse you subject it to while riding. Just make sure to remove the fins. If you have casual beach clothes, you can use them as extra wrapping/padding (I generally use my t-shirts, boxers, and towel as buffers).
For further guidance, the crew at Slingshot Kites explains below how to pack a kite really small in the event you want to take your whole quiver of kiteboarding kites in your travel bag. Sprinkled throughout are some other great packing tips, definitely making the video worth a view.
Years Kiteboarding: 3
Favorite Kiteboarding Bag: Dakine Club Wagon