How to Pack a Kiteboarding Travel Bag
It's getting colder, and rather than break out a wetsuit, many kiters are beginning to plan their winter kite 'Surfari' to somewhere warm and windy. But how to you fit the 7, 9, 12, two boards and a harness into one bag? Easy - just follow these tips and tricks!
First of all, the travel bags themselves. You need one. A good bag that fits all your kitesurfing gear inside is worth it's weight in gold. Not only will it protect everything far more than a standard kite bag, it will keep all your junk in one place so you won't leave anything behind at the airport. Good travel bags can be found for around $200, and they'll fit around two boards, three kites, plus your harness, a towel or two and your pump.
With all that stuff inside one big bag, things will be rubbing together for the flight, and the van ride to the spot. So make sure to remove anything sharp - like your fins from your board. Screw the fin bolts back into the fins, and wrap them in bubble wrap before placing them into a pocket on the bag. This keeps the fins from cutting holes in your kite, and it also prevents damage to your board.
When you pack down your kites, make sure to get all the air out to save space, and roll the leading edge up straight to prevent bladder twists. If you are really tight on space, you can even remove the one-pump clips to allow you to pack kites down REALLY small!
Your kites should be rolled up, but not folded in three. Leave them long so they cover the whole length of the bag. This way they can provide protection for your board too. Layer the bag with a kite on the bottom, a board (or two) in the middle and then a kite with your harness, bars and pump on top. The kites provide a padded layer around the rails of the board, and some protection from dings and knocks from the baggage handlers. Don't fold you pump hose either, these need to be kept long and without kinks. A great trick is to undo the top of the pump, and coil the hose inside the pump. (You can give your pump a service then too!)
Finally, weigh your bags before you leave home, and check with your airline to find out how much weight you can take on the plane with you. Don't rely on the check in staff giving you a little leeway because in most cases they don't. If you're flying with Virgin Australia, who give you 23kgs of check in luggage. Your bag should be 22.99kg's to avoid disappointment at check-in. A simple set of bathroom scales will usually tell you that you're within the ballpark.
Finally, don't stress too much - kite gear is pretty tough, and short of a baggage handler stabbing your kite bag with a forklift, your gear will probably arrive untouched. The golden rule is to remove your kiteboard fins - if you do that, you'll be fine...
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