When Being Prepared Pays Off: Northwest Surf Essentials

Words by Matthew Vanatta
Photos by James Barkman

From Crescent City, California, to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, runs a stretch of coast so rugged, so majestic, and so remote most are mystified that adventurous souls seek out these ominous waters as a temple of enjoyment. For decades, dedicated surfers have been paddling out into the often frigid and monstrous waves of the Pacific Northwest, but it wasn’t until recently that products, a growing community, and shared knowledge combined to create a truly robust scene.

From wetsuit advancements to the recent #vanlife craze, the Pacific Northwest has become a destination for many surf enthusiasts, as one of the few places in the continental United States offering a plethora of uncrowded waves combined with immense natural beauty. And while you won’t be greeted by bronzed babes drinking out of coconuts, what you will find is a landscape so profoundly moving that many surfers find themselves returning to the coast time and time again to draw inspiration from the natural landscape.

Surfing in the Pacific Northwest takes a certain amount of fortitude and patience, and it certainly takes some essential gear, such as a hooded wetsuit, gloves, booties and a quality surfboard. While the essentials are critical there are also a number of products available that can enhance your surfing experience. With the right gear, attitude and a sense of adventure, surfing in the Pacific Northwest can be an unrivaled experience. While conditions may be fickle and scoring waves infrequent, having an understanding of the journey is often the reward that will assure no matter what the waves are doing–your experience will be epic.

Whether camping on the coast for multiple days or conducting a quick strike mission from more metropolitan areas, carrying these products along with your core surf gear can help assure your adventure is a good one.


Poler Reversible Napsack Birdy Print

From post-surf lounging around a campfire to crawling out of the back of your surf van to check the waves at dawn patrol, the Poler Reversible Napsack is the perfect piece of gear for those who value comfort at home or on the road. Paddle in after a bone chilling session and dive right into the Napsack so you can bump your core temperature back to a reasonable level.


Poler Pendleton Towel Poncho Crater Lake

Instead of trying to fumble with a ratty beach towel in finger numbing temps, pack the Poler Pendelton Towel Poncho to make changing in and out of a stiff wetsuit a breeze. Easy to pack, quick drying and super stylish, this one is an essential for both avid and novice surfers alike.

VSSL Mini Black

VSSL has designed a range of multi use lighting systems that are rugged, easy to pack, and stylish. Combining a three mode LED lantern, a nearly indestructible water resistant storage compartment and compass, the VSSL Mini Black is the perfect piece of gear to throw into your surf bag every time you leave the city for a session.

Roark Missing Link Wet/Dry Backpack

Totting around a large bulky plastic tub is unnecessary when you have the Roark Missing link Wet/Dry Backpack. Throw all your wetsuit gear into this functional day pack and head back to the city where the pack can also function as your daily driver in the often wet climate of the Pacific Northwest. Whether packing into the back of a car or hauling gear down to the break, bringing along a drybag backpack is a valuable pro-tip.

Biolite Camp Stove 2 With Flexlight

Hot food and liquids are essential for any Pacific Northwest surfer as they not only help keep core temps regulated but they also provide sustained energy. The mad geniuses at Biolite have created the Biolite Camp Stove 2 that uses energy from the fire inside the stove to generate electricity so you can heat up a post surf coffee while simultaneously charging your phone and the added Flexlight makes finishing late night meals even easier. For those who work remotely, this means you can surf in the morning and still have a enough juice to make your afternoon conference call.

Roark Savage 3-Layer Jacket

The weather of the Coastal PNW can be as temperamental as the sea, going from mild to wild in the matter of hours as giant storms brew off shore in the North Pacific. As the adage goes there is no bad weather just bad gear, and the Roark Savage 3-Layer Jacket is a testament to the statement. Featuring unparalleled breathability, 20k waterproofing and fully taped seams, and modern cut the Savage 3-Layer Jacket will keep you dry and looking good in the wilds or back in the relative safety of an urban environment.

Horse Brand Carbon Steel Camping Knife

A good quality knife should be an essential piece of equipment for anyone who plans to scour the coast in search of surf. With Pacific Northwest surfing being as much of an outdoor excursion as it is an actual surfing safari, a quality piece of steel like the Horse Brand Carbon Steel Camping Knife is an essential tool for the outdoors surf enthusiasts. From whittling hot dog roasting sticks to scaring off trash pandas, a good knife is worth packing along.


Yeti Rambler 20 oz Tumbler With Mag Slider Lid

Yeti makes well designed no-nonsense products built to stand up to rugged conditions, which makes the Yeti Rambler 20oz Tumbler With Mag Slider an epic choice for keeping your liquids hot. Nearly indestructible, the Rambler goes the distance on any journey and the Mag Slider Lid makes it easy to sip on your favorite beverages while scouring the coast for epic spots.

Good gear and good vibes help make for memorable sessions, so shop our PNW surf collection before making your way to the coast. As the best waves tend to happen when weather’s at its worst, packing along the right gear can make all the difference. See you out there.

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