Destination is set? Flight is booked? Let’s start the packing party. Here are my top tips on how to pack and travel smart (I’m saying smart and not light as traveling light is not possible if you’re an kitesurf addict…) I would rather carry myself to death by lifting a too heavy kitebag than leaving one of my kites at home. But since I travel alone and keep traveling to different countries, I had to find a way to make this happen and stuff all my kite equipment and clothes into one 135cm long kite surf bag.
So finally I managed to put 3 kites (12, 9 and 7 m), 1 bar, 1 board (132 x 39cm), a harness, a pump and all my “normal” clothes and stuff for the kitesurf-around-the-world trip in a 135cm long kite surf bag! Here is how I did it and what’s the smartest thing to do when packing.
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1. Choose a kite bag with wheels
My personal favorite
Trust me! You will need the wheels! Everything else will kill you! I use the North Kiteboarding Combi Bag 135cm (weighs 3.3 kg) because I love the colors and it’s one of the smallest kitebags on the market so I usually can check it as normal luggage and they don’t start measuring it. But to be honest, if you fly one time it’s already dirty! Still, I guess I would buy the same one again, the fact that it looks dirty and all scratched up right after the first flight makes me look like a hardcore adventurer on the airport ?
Check the specs when buying a boardbag
When buying a kite bag, make sure to check the weight of the bag in the specs, the one I have now is way lighter than my very first one. Also check if the padding of your boardbag is good, but I think all the current kitebags on the market have quite a good padding.
The lightest kitesurf bag on the market
The lightest bag on the market is actually the Mystic Elevate Boardbag, which weighs only 1.8 kg if you take off the wheel system when checking the bags in at the counter. I think that will be my next kite bag when my current one breaks one day.
The trick with the golf luggage
Some airlines still let golf luggage pass for free, that’s also why some kitebags have the letters golf on them, but unless you look like a typical golf person, most of the times you will have to pay anyway.
2. Get informed about wind conditions at the spot beforehand to pack the right kite sizes
This one was pretty obvious for me. Since I fly to light wind and stronger wind countries, I needed all my sizes: 7, 9, 12 sqm. If you e.g. fly only to Brazil, you would probably only need a 7 and 9 in main season, depending on your weight.
Always check before you leave and if you’re not sure, ask around in a Facebook-Group or Kitesurf Forum or friends of you who have been there.
3. Leave the single kite backpacks at home and just take one with you
I weighed the kite backpacks in which the single kites are in and they were almost 1 kg each. So in the end, although I have 3 kites, I only took 1 kite backpack with me. Which is more than enough because you fit 2 kites in a bag if you pack them tight and these are also usually the ones you will bring to the beach because you know more or less how the wind is going to be.
Check all the pockets beforehand
One advice: make sure to check the front pocket of your kitebag, there is usually a user manual and a kite repair kit in it (don’t laugh, but I carried around 3 user manuals in my kite backpack without knowing it and it took me half a year to figure that out). I took everything out and travel with just one kite repair kit.
An ultralight solution instead of the kite backpack
Update: nowadays I usually exchange that kite backpack for an Ikea Bag since it’s even lighter and you can use it for a lot of different purposes. It also fits 2 kites easily.
4. Pack your kites the right way
Make sure your kites are really deflated, also the tubes, and pack them tight by rolling them from both sides. If you have one of the newer North Kites, make sure to open the main valve so all the air can get out. Usually it works best if you already packed your kite and try to re-pack it, rolling/folding it even tighter.
I’ve seen some people who put their kites in space saving vacuum bags and then pull out all the air to transport them. However, I heard of some people that they had problems afterwards with the bladders that would burst, so I wouldn’t recommend it. For me it works best if I fold the kite in 3 to make the most out of the space in the kitebag.
Here is a video on how to roll it.
Update: If you don’t need to make the most of the space, you can also just roll your kite and put it in “once piece” into the boardbag as shown in this video
5. Dismount the footstraps, fins and handle from your kiteboard
To really get the most out of your space, dismount everything from your kite board. Always take off the fins, they can easily break off if they handle your luggage the wrong way. I know it’s convenient to keep the footstraps and handle on but it saves you some space if you take them off and if your bag is full like mine, every millimeter counts.
Btw if you’re going to a very remote spot or riding a board brand that is not very common at the spot you’re going to: bring some spare screws for your footpads. It’s so easy to lose them and not being able to ride your own board because you lost one freakin’ screw is sooo annyoing! (Been there, done that!)
6. Take the hose off the pump
The weakest point in a kite pump is the hose, sometimes they break because they are folded just after being used a couple of times. So simply take the hose off and put it separately in the kite bag, preferably at either side of the kitebag, where it isn’t squeezed to much.
And yes, bring a pump, you have no idea how often I was standing at beautiful kite spots with a group of 10 people and nobody brought a pump because everyone else thought the others would have one.
7. Put your screws, fins and screwdriver in a small bag
Just not to lose anything, put it all in one place. Make sure your screwdriver won’t do any harm to your kites if your bag is squeezed.
8. How to pack your clothes to make them fit into the kite bag
I use packing cubes like these ones and I like to use the smaller ones because you can fit them better into the space than the bigger ones. If you roll your clothes, you save extra space.
I usually pack enough clothes for a week, you won’t need more and can wash them at the spot. (Except for Bikinis, you can never take enough Bikinis with you ? ) Also, my kitebag is kind of sandy, so since I change locations quite often it’s better for me to just throw the packing cubes in and not the clothes themselves cause I would have sandy stuff every time I travel.
9. Put your stuff in the bag in the right order
- first put the board in (to stabilize the kite bag, otherwise it will be a wobbly something and harder to carry)
- then put the kites in, folded in 3 as described above
- then stuff the packing cubes, the parts from the foot straps and fins etc in between the kites. Just like playing Tetris, make sure you use every space to divide your stuff evenly
- then put your harness as extra protection no top. If you have a towel or yoga mat, stack it on top of everything. I try to give my kites a bit of extra protection in case the kitebag might be ripped open during the flight (which unfortunately also happened to me but nothing happened to my kites)
10. Are you in kind of a hurry or just want to try a different approach?
If you want to see a different approach on packing the kites, check out this video: Jeremy Lund has a different technique, rolling all of his 3 kites at once. Then putting it into the bag and by putting some weight on it, the air is slowly released.
I think it’s definitely the fastest way of packing but I’m not sure if you really make the most out of the space in your kitebag. But a good option if you have enough space and just got out of the water knowing that your transport to the airport is already waiting for you..
Aaaand done! How do you travel with your kite surf equipment? Do you have any other packing hacks? I would love to learn about them in a comment below!