Shopping for Christmas gifts for river surfers can be tough; any time someone has a hobby they’re interested in, there’s a good chance that they have some pretty specific likes and dislikes. Unless they’ve specifically told you they like the style and snap of Fin X over Fin Y, it can be a chancy thing for you to guess.
Fortunately, there are some sure-fire gifts for river surfers that just about anyone interested in the sport will enjoy.
1. Zinc, Reef-Safe Sunscreen
If you’re surfing, you’re going to be out in the sun. Cheap, greasy sunscreens can do in a pinch, but a clear, zinc, reef-safe sunscreen like this one is really what you want. And even if your surfer already has sunscreen, another tube or jar to toss in a bag or in their gear closet isn’t going to hurt anything. For extra credit in stocking stuffers, try some lip balm with sun protection.
2. Barbarian Days
It’s hard to find good writing about good surfing. Usually, the great writers are mediocre surfers (Kook, by good writer Peter Heller, is about exactly that), and usually the great surfers are mediocre writers. But William Finnegan is both a great writer and a great surfer, and Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life is a must-read book for any surfer, river or ocean. Don’t believe me? Believe the Pulitzer Prize committee; it won the 2016 Pulitzer for autobiography.
3. A wet gear duffel
It doesn’t matter if you’re surfing in boardshorts or a 5 mm wetsuit – at the end of a session, you’re going to have wet gear, and you need somewhere to put it. A rubbermaid tub can work – it’ll keep the inside of your car dry – but it’s kind of awkward to lug around with two hands.
A basic mesh scuba duffel keeps your gear from getting funky, and it’s a lot easier to carry. The surface it’s sitting on will get wet though. Not a big deal if you have a truck, but annoying if you want to throw gear on the backseat of your car.
If you really like your gift-ee, get them the high-dollar Patagonia Stormfront Duffel, which will keep everything dry, separate the wet gear from the dry towels, and keep your car dry as well.
4.View From a Blue Moon
Some surf movies are timeless. Endless Summer comes to mind. But most media has moved away from the feature surf movie in the direction of five-minute Youtube highlight clips. And though there’s nothing wrong with a great highlight reel, there’s something to be said for surfing with great music and amazing cinematography. View From a Blue Moon is it.
5. Bicycle Surfboard Rack
If your surfer is lucky enough to live within a reasonable bike ride of a good wave, get them a good bicycle surfboard rack, like this one. It makes riding to the waves straightforward and eco-friendly. Some others, like this, are a little simpler and more straightforward with only one contact point. But they make handling longboards or SUPs a lot more difficult.
Before I was an adult, I never expected to ask for socks for Christmas. Earplugs are right up there in the category of not-very-exciting gifts. But the dangers of Surfer’s Ear are real. And a cheap pair of earplugs like these, designed for swimming (not foam), can make all the difference in the world. Or get a pack of them to keep in bags, cars, etc.
7. A Warm Hoodie
Not many of us would scoff at a warm, well-made hooded sweatshirt, even if we already have lots of hooded sweatshirts. Add in a couple of features for getting into them while a bit cold and wet, like a full-zip front, and you’ve got a guaranteed winner. The Carhartt options are solid and will wear like nails.
8. Changing Towel
Flashing bystanders in the parking lot shouldn’t be your pre or post-surf goal. The towel-wrap can work, but it can be a risky gambit. Enter the changing towel (this one even has pockets!). Or, if you’re reasonably handy with a sewing machine, you could make one yourself for that personal touch.
9. A Warm Shower
A warm shower goes a long way to making you feel human again after surfing in cold water. But plenty of surf spots don’t have shower facilities at the ready. Enter the Rinse Kit. Charge it with water at home and get a shower at the river. You can even heat it up on the spot with their Hot Rod Kit. Though be warned, as the reviews bear out, lots of people have had problems with the products in the past. A big insulated jug of warm water is a fail-safe solution.
10. Ding Repair Kit
If your surfer surfs a hard board on a river, they’re going to pick up dings at some point. Sun Cure can work in a pinch, but it’s not much harder to do a proper repair with a ding repair kit. Even if they’re surfing PU boards, get them the epoxy kit, since the epoxy kit can be used with PU boards, but a PU kit won’t work with epoxy boards.
Though getting the right gift for a river surfer can be tricky, this should give you a good start. Happy shopping!