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Review: Ocean & Earth Wheelie Triple Shortboard Travel Bag

We thrash test Ocean & Earth’s latest wheeled triple board bag cover and find that they just don’t make them like they used to … thankfully.

The Ocean & Earth Wheeled Triple Boardbag Coffin impressed us. Photo: Derek Morrison

There is nothing worse than opening a board bag after you’ve seen the baggage handlers tossing it around like a lion might its half-maimed prey. And how many times have you opened it to discover nothing but a pile of fibreglass and foam? Well, the Triple Wheel Shortboard Cover by Ocean & Earth aims to completely dispatch with that archaic, accepted normality of travel.

Wheels, yes, please. Photo: Derek Morrison

There are a bunch of clever design features that Ocean & Earth reckon make the difference. Firstly, the bag uses a heavy duty inline bearing wheel system to make transfers by foot a heap easier. Some people don’t like wheels on a board bag as it does add extra weight with the additional frame that is required to maintain the bag’s integrity. For me, wheels are a no brainer. They make any lengthy foot transfers a lot easier. We chose the 6’6″ bag to take our up to 6’3″ boards, and it weights in at 6kg dry. We could pack four boards and still hit 23kg with a bit of extra pool noodle padding and gear.

20mm extra protection where it counts.Heavy duty zippers.Fragile stamps a nice touch. Compression straps. Clean design, sturdy build quality.Four boards at 22-23kg.

The bag also uses a shock-absorbing foam in a three-layer sandwich construction. The sandwich includes three layers: an armour-weave polyester outer, a filling of 10mm shock absorbing foam and a Tarpee lining on the inside. The armour-weave is tear proof, lightweight and water repellent, which we tested over several days of unseasonal monsoonal rainfall. It also boasts an extra 20mm of padding on the nose, rail and tail – all target areas for bored baggage handlers. The double thick gusset padding is claimed to be the thickest rail protection on the market.

The Ocean & Earth coffin uses heavy duty zips, but only time will tell if they can avoid the corrosion that ends the life of most board bags. Photo: Derek Morrison

The zipper is common fail point on all board bags, so it was good to see heavy duty zippers used. We never got to the point of failure in this test, with the zippers thankfully. They are also lockable and we are always careful to zip-tie zippers together on international flights to avoid any unwanted Schapelle Corby incidents.

A useful addition to the board bag is an inner sleeve – a very lightweight board bag that allows you to pack boards top and bottom around it. It dispenses with sheet linings between boards, or towels. A really nice touch and, when used with the compression straps and pool noodles, creates a really compact package.

The bag does feature fin pockets, but we never used these. They sit along one rail and we didn’t like the thought of hard fins rubbing against the rail, even through the padded design. Having said that, the fins themselves would add another level of protection against piercing etc.

The board bag also comes with a storage hook and compartments inside as well as an external pocket (to stow the shoulder strap for flights), and a place to include your contact details. Nice touches and adds to the bag’s premium appeal.

The bag we tested is a 6’6″ model. The wheeled version retails for $579 and the same bag without wheels is $469). It is 2032mm long and can take a board up to 22.5″ wide and 6’8″ long. The depoth of the bag is around 178mm and it weighs in at 6kg. Each length board bag comes with a slightly different price and weight.

Our test route would take us to Indonesia on the cheapest airline we could afford (only to make sure we got the sloppiest baggage handlers for the test, of course), then a ferry to Nusa Lembongan and back (in rough seas) and more than 10 transfers where the board bag was the foundations for a very tall stack of boards atop our driver, Manking Donkey’s car. All in the name of testing this bag in real-life conditions.

After a month of travel we managed to completely avoid any in-transit dings – apart from a few pressure dings on the decks when we didn’t get the pack quite right. We did pack the board bag carefully as we normally would for travel. This included pool noodles split and used on rails, noodle wedges on the nose and tail blocks and to fill negative spaces between rocker curves.

It’s fair to say the bag copped a fair amount of abuse and I was pleasantly surprised not to discover any dings. The extra padding, internal sheath, compression straps and smart packing certainly worked.

Four boards packed into the Ocean & Earth Wheeled Triple Boardbag. Photo: Derek Morrison

As far as the bag’s usability goes, it has a shoulder carry strap that can be anchored at different points, depending on how you want to carry it. Over the shoulder and up the front to make the wheels do the bulk of the donkey work. It makes it a cinch to lug 23kg of boards and gear.

The wheels themselves are a large diameter so roll over most obstacles. They are an area where we could see improvement – they are set quite narrow and we reckon a wider set wheelset would give the bag more stability and allow the bag to sit more squarely side on when shuffling forward in airport queues. The hardware used in the wheel chassis is a lightweight metal and after a few months of abuse, our bag already shows surface rust on it. That should all be stainless or titanium in this environment. Certainly an area to address for Ocean & Earth.

Surface rust already setting in and too narrow with the wheel placement. Photo: Derek Morrison

The hardware used in the wheel chassis is a lightweight metal and after a few months of abuse, our bag already shows surface rust on it. That should all be stainless or titanium in this environment.

The zipper worked fine throughout and hopefully will have the quality to last for many years to come. Most board bags end their life with zipper malfunctions. We should note that there are many skilled canvas product makers who can sew new zips into them.

Internal and external compression straps ensure a stable load. Photo: Derek Morrison

In summary the Triple Wheel Shortboard Cover by Ocean & Earth has taken the humble coffin and spent money on tech where it needs it. The padding is superb and you don’t have to have that sinking feeling when you pack your favourite quiver into the bowels of this one. Yes, there’s still room for improvement, but this is a step-up in multi board travel bags.

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