rob gilley

Small Saviors Redux

| posted on January 15, 2012

Unless you're into finless surfing, you don't want to forget this when packing for the far corners of the earth. Photo: Lowe-White

Rob Gilley

Previously in denial about his photographic past, Rob Gilley now rummages through his trove of mediocrity.

On a recent journey to Mexico I came to the realization that my previous blog list of inexpensive, important items to bring on a surf trip was incomplete. I became painfully aware of this fact as I paced back and forth, sweating and nervous, hoping beyond hope that the dude I had met earlier in the day was going to fulfill his promise and bring an extra fin key to the cantina. While waiting for this guy and his precious cargo, I remembered a few other key items as well.

Fin Key(s)
We might as well call them church keys. Unless you ride an Alaia or a sponge, without one you can not re-assemble your sacred craft, ride into the crystal cathedral, or get spit out of the pope’s living room. Do yourself a favor, buy a bunch of them and stash one in your backpack, one in your board bag, one in your toiletry kit, one in your colorectal netherworld—wherever you have to in order to make sure you are never without one.

Approx. cost = $1.00 ea.

Tie Down Straps
I’m still not sure why people continue to use “soft racks” when these puppies exist. Items actually borrowed from a kayaker’s playlist (I know, I know), pro surfers started using these easy-to-pack straps over fifteen years ago for huge coffin board bags, and then realized they work for any situation. These straps go around your boards and then through the inside of the car, giving you extra strap awareness as well. The only downside is during foul weather: rainwater can travel down the straps and into the car, transforming a simple car ride a drippy, miserable hell.

Approx. cost = $20.00

Lightweight Towel
This is one of those items that doesn’t seem that important to pack, but can be sorely missed on the other end. Just make sure you bring a lightweight one (for some reason there is a huge disparity in towel weight), and one that’s large enough to wrap around your body in order to avoid a foreign nudity conviction.

Approx. cost = $10.00

The Dynamic Duo : Pepto Bismol/ Immodium
It was at the precise moment that my son hurled up a bean and cheese burrito, French fry, and virgin Pina Colada rainbow stew that I remembered having anti-nausea medicine is a good idea. And bring some Immodium too to avoid the potential of burning the candle at both ends.

Approx. cost = $15.00

Wax/Wax Box
Believe it or not, surf wax is a precious—even hoarded—commodity in some parts of the world. Rumors of it replacing the Gold Standard in the tropics are unconfirmed. The bottom line is to make sure you bring a couple of appropriately temperatured bars, and it’s also probably a good idea to buy one of those plastic containers to avoid a melted, lint-corrupted blob.

Approx. cost = $5.00

Free from the distractions of home, a good book can be a valuable companion on any trip. Besides re-igniting a computer-stymied mind, a book is also a good way to kill time during those eternal waits at foreign airports, restaurants, banks, and post offices. A good book can literally turn frustrated impatience into Zen-filled joy.

Approx. cost = $15.00

So, adding to the previous Small Saviors list, we now have a dozen precious, inexpensive items to bring on your next foreign surf trip:

Item Approx. Cost ($)

1. A Working Pen (1.00)
2. ½ Roll of Toilet Paper (1.00)
3. Headlamp (20.00)
4. Hooded Sweatshirt (25.00)
5.Extra Credit Card (Free)
6. Tylenol/Tums/Sucrets (10.00)
7. Fin Key (1.00)
8. Tie Down Straps (20.00)
9. Lightweight Towel (10.00)
10. Pepto/Immodium (15.00)
11. Wax/Wax Box (5.00)
12. Book (15.00)

Approx. Total = $133.00

Keep in mind these are approximate retail prices for new items. If you’re a real cheap-ass, you can save even more cash by visiting your local thrift store or garage sale.

Vaya Con Dios.

  • LG

    you forgot to pack one of those mini UV cure ding repair kits… I’ve had the same one for years and have used it to fix plenty of dings on boards (mine & friends).

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  • rayden

    …..and duct / gaffer tape – never, EVER leave home without it!

  • Chris Garcia

    I wrap some gorilla tape around the end of a Bic pen, I also pack good vinyl stickers for dings.

    A few years back I was traveling to a well known surf town in Mexico and figured I could just buy a fin key when I arrived, wrong, All three shops in town had been out of keys for weeks, there was a big swell on tap for the next morning and after two hours searching I eventually found a builder that loaned me an allen wrench.

    Since then I put a key on the zipper pull of every bag I bring (board, toiletry & luggage) I also loop one extra leash rope as well.

  • Craig

    You can’t bring those kits on the flight (if they find it) cause it is flammable. I lost a couple that way. Just sayin.
    My suggestion would be a fishing pole and tackle, maybe a mosquito net.

  • John yashinowsky

    Xtra leash strings. I travel With a small chefs knife, filet knife and sometimes a plastic cutting board. Some cheap sunglasses as backups and for trips to high theft areas..If there’s fishing happening on boat trips a couple of packs off high quality circle hooks and some 80 lb test leader material. We once caught thirteen sail fish from a panga off costa rica, if I had not packed those two things we would have been on our way home after the fourth fish. Also the tool that remove stripped fin screws and extra screws. Wish I could put this list to use.

  • Krish

    Hi Rob I just started reading your blog from the beginning today.
    Fuck all the haters, you rock, even for an old guy.

  • wiley

    STARBUCKS? how much are they paying you? u cant leave home without ur starbucks? hey u gotta lotta good points but wow. starbucks?