How to fly with an inflatable paddleboard

Many posts have come before this one about how to fly with an inflatable paddleboard. How do I pack my SUP kit? Is my bag too heavy for flying? Do I need to book my SUP gear on as sports gear? However, until I had actually packed a board and taken it abroad, I felt I couldn't comment!

The journey - Paris SUP Nautique

So I should preface this by saying these tips are from my experience flying Edinburgh to Paris with Air France. Other airlines may have different policies when it comes to outsize baggage and weight allowances.

I flew with a Naish One 12'6 Alana in a wheeled bag with rucksack straps and my Naish Alana 3 piece paddle tucked inside. My paddle buddy flew with a Red Paddle Co Sport 11'0 and a 3 piece Carbon/Nylon Paddle. We had to take them to the outsize baggage in both Edinburgh and Paris, but the process was no different to travelling with a normal rucksack or skis.

Paris SUP waiting to launchThe top tips

  1. Roll your paddle inside your board - Pack your paddle with clothes or bubble wrap, then roll the paddleboard around it. The pump will help keeping the shape of the bag and to prevent the paddle from snapping.
  2. Pack your clothes around the sharp edges which may poke through in transit, namely paddle ends.
  3. Luggage straps may not be cool but pretty indispensable for peace of mind. No one wants an exploding bag!
  4. Use a mini paddlock or even just a circlip (the ring from a keyring) to keep the keys on your bag together. This will add an extra layer of hassle for any potential thieves looking for a quick and easy job.
  5. Put irreplaceable bits such as your fin inside your hand luggage. It's going to be relatively tricky to get hold of the right kind of fin that will fit your board, but you can probably borrow a paddle or a leash in an emergency.
  6. Pack spares. Now this goes for any paddle expedition - there's nothing worse than having a leash snap halfway through a paddle down a river for example. You would have to stop and be picked up (how embarrassing, right?!
  7. Pack tools. Don't forget a cross-head screwdriver. This will be useful for putting your paddle back together, but also your fin - depending on the set up on your board.

    How Heavy?

Finally, both our bags, packed with a weekend's worth of kit (including winter paddle gear such as wetsuit and boots) came to 22kg or so each. Even on the return trip with wet kit, they were only fractionally heavier.

So don't let fear of the unknown put you off! Pack that bag and set off to #exploreyourworld.

Paddleboarding on the Avon Aqueduct