What is a Travel Beater?

travel beater surfboard in overhead bin

Photo: Travel Beater surfboard in an overhead baggage compartment.

A Travel Beater is a DIY open source travel surfboard that can be brought on a plane as a carry on. This board is a work in progress. I’ll explain here exactly how I made my board and I hope you’ll make one yourself and improve upon my ideas and share your version here.

Travel Beater 1.0 Photos

Added some photos I was missing that show the carbon fiber tubes inserted into the board and some better shots of the fins and fin alignment. Wish I had included them in the Korduroy video. They got lost in the shuffle.

Travel Beater 1.0 Twin Fin Recipe


1. A finless Catch Surf Beater board about $150

2. FCS Softboard System about $15 (any shop that stocks FCS fins should be able to order one for you)

3. Two FCS fins. You can use any FCS fins. I like :

FCS Medium Keel Fins: http://www.surffcs.com/us/products/fins/specialty/FK-2.aspx (Medium keel fins for hold and drive) about $68

FCS Bonzer Side Fins: http://www.surffcs.com/us/products/fins/specialty/b5.aspx (You get 2 pairs of small keel fins with this set. One pair is larger than the other so you can experiment with an almost finless feel. You can see the larger ones in the header image at the top of this page.) about $84

4. 2x Braided Carbon Fiber Rods about $60


5. 32 TPI Jigsaw blade about $3


6. 3″ Duct Tape about $15


7. Nylon Carry-On Bag about $35


8. Misc: A silver marker, straight edge, L square ruler, jigsaw, silicone.

Estimates total cost about $350


Find the centerline on your beater by measuring from multiple points along the board and marking the halfway point with a series of dots. Draw your centerline by connecting the dots with a straight edge. Mark two lines 18″ from the nose and tail of the board. Using your L square ruler draw a perpendicular line across the board at your two 18″ marks. This will give you three roughly equal sections on the board.

Using your 32 TPI blade cut along the two lines with your jigsaw. As you cut the board remember that there are four graphite stringers inside the board so don’t be surprised when you feel them as you are cutting.

After you cut the board you’ll notice that some of the graphite tubes are quite short.  You may want to slide these sections out and glue them back in with some foam safe glue (3M makes a few in spray cans) so they don’t slip out of or into the board later.

Using the same blade cut your carbon fiber rods into 6″ sections (in half and then in half again). Seal the ends of the rods with a small dab of silicone. Mark the center of each tube with a line going all the way around with a silver marker.

Choose your fin placement and install your FCS Softboard System according to the FCS instructions. Note: I used a large drill bit and then made two small incisions with a knife off the hole to accomodate the shape of the plastic.

To build your board insert your carbon fiber tubes to the halfway mark in each of the 4 graphite holes. It’s easiest to build one section of the board at a time. Gently place the matching end of the board onto all 4 tubes. Adjust the tubes by sliding them in or out so that they stay as close to centered as possible.

Once the two pieces of the board are flush tape them together with duct tape. I find it easier to tape the bottom first and then pull up gently on the nose to close any gap in the top. Overlap about an inch at the end and smooth the tape down vigorously on the top and bottom. Note: The tape won’t stick to a wet or damp board top.

Repeat on the other side of the board, install your fins, and you are ready to surf.


Ideas for version 2.0

1. Try making a travel board out of the Catch Surf “The One”.

2. Seal the open ends of the foam with a heat gun and a wet latex glove by heating the foam and running the wet glove over the hot foam to seal it.

3. Glue a tape strip to the top of the board to avoid the damp board no stick problem.

4. Add silicone stops to the inside of the graphite tubes to limit flooding and to prevent the carbon fiber tubes from getting stuck inside the board.

5. Create a velcro mechanism to attach the board pieces so you don’t need the duct tape.