4 Long Distance Skateboarders Share How They Pack and Carry Their Bags

Traveling long distances by skateboard is no joke. You need to be prepared and have your stuff in order, including what to bring and how to pack and carry everything.

To improve how we pack and carry our bags, we have talked with four experienced long-distance skateboarders and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all the skateboarders have lots of experience, so they really know what they are talking about!).

The 4 Long Distance Skateboarders

Dave Cornthwaite

My name’s Dave Cornthwaite, I live on a boat in London for half the year and for the other half am on the move, almost always without a motor. After realising my cat was way cooler than I was in 2005, I quit my job and decided to head off on a long distance skate. Thing is, I’d only been skating for a couple of weeks! Still, somehow, with plenty of luck and a bunch of support, I skated the length of Britain and then across Australia.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all long-distance skateboarders bring?

I think these are commonly available now but back then I attached a small mirror to the back of a glove, so I had a wing mirror without having to twist around. For me, travelling slowly on roads is beautiful but is one of the most dangerous things a human can do so adding safety elements helped me enjoy my trip. I carried water in a bottle that had a hole in it, so grip was easy. Honestly, my board, a rollsrolls, was the central bit of kit to this journey. Not only did it cruise like a dream but it was so distinctive that it turned heads every mile of that 4500 mile trip – helping my team and I raise tens of thousands for kid’s charities.

The most useless things? Lights built into the board or trucks. They look friggin’ cool, but totally useless!

How do you bring things with you?

My packing has evolved a bit over the years. When I go on a little skate journey now, I have an outer duffel made by Eagle Creek, who also have a series of Pack-It plus dividers that make it easy to find different types of kit. If the climate is wet, I chuck in some Aquapac drybags, too.

What are your top tips for other long-distance skateboarders?

The more you carry the slower you go, the more energy you use and the less enjoyable your trip will be. If you wanted to carry a tonne of gear you’d be in a car so revel in going ultra light. Sleep in a bivi bag or a hammock, wear a helmet that they could see from space and if you have a website get it printed on your clothes. It’ll save on business cards 😉

Visit Dave Cornthwaite’s website

Clay Shank

I’m from California, born and raised not far from where I am today, up the coast a little bit from San Francisco. I got into long-distance skating because the longer you go the more you get! I have always loved skating, whether in a skatepark or a town, and always aim to skate as much as possible. I started stretching out the ride to learn what some part-wild, part-urban endurance tests could teach me and to meet people and maybe inspire them to drive less. It’s a lot easier to roam free and camp wherever you want when you don’t have to park a car. I like the skateboard as a travel tool because it’s so versatile. You can bomb a huge hill and then pick it up, climb over a fence and carry it through the forest, through a train yard, wherever. Find a spot and do some skate tricks with your pillow. This thing does it all!

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all long-distance skateboarders bring?

Haha. I’ve never been on a long-distance skate trip with anyone else so I don’t know what’s common. But the most important things for me are a sleeping bag and some kind of waterproof ground cloth. Beyond that I think a headlamp is most important. Those are common things, as is a second pair of fast drying shorts or undies. What’s top 3 beyond those? Iodine tablets? Water bottle? Video camera? Probably patience, gratitude, and wonder.

How do you bring things with you?

I carry a small backpack that rests on my shoulders and doesn’t get in the way of my ass as I skate. Belly straps are good to keep a backpack from swinging around, but it is no fun skating with a big hiking backpack with a waist strap that rests on your hips. Obviously you want to minimize weight as much as possible, but the durability and size of your bag will depend on the route of a trip. I had great success with an old school Lowe Alpine bag on my 700 mile skate trip. I had my sleeping bag in the bottom then stacked and squeezed stove and food and clothes up the rest of the pack with water bottles on the sides and tarp rolled and clipped on the back. There were minimal straps that were in the right places and I could synch everything down close to me. It was black, better than a flashy color, and well worn, which didn’t make me a target for mugging.

At first I would hike with my board strapped to the back of the pack, but realized it was way more tiring (and needs ropes or clips or something) than just slipping the board through the straps and having it rest on my back under the backpack when not being ridden. Now I’m experimenting with this tiny Poler bag made of super thin material that fits inside it’s own pocket. I may use it on a very urban trip this summer, but don’t think it would be sufficient for back country.

What are your top tips for other long-distance skateboarders?

If you skate all day every day and know how to deal with your hygiene without taking showers then you can go on a long distance skate trip about as easily as you can find a place to take a *cough* in a town you’ve never been to. Do you know how to sleep out under the stars? Can you find dips in the dirt for your hips and shoulders to rest? If you’re thinking about going on a long-distance skate trip, you’re probably ready to do it because you’re obsessed with skating and you’ve slammed so many times you know skating down the road is not gonna be a big deal, in fact, it might be the best thing ever to camp wherever you want and not pay for anything but food.

If you don’t skate all day every day then you may have more trouble on a trip like this, but your blessings of discovery may be even greater. Your needs are the same. You need to stay dry and find a dark place to sleep where you’re not freezing. You need to keep going towards your goal and simply abstain from car usage. This is a good way to get people’s attention if you want to share a message or collect opinions, and you can move at whatever pace you like. Enjoy it, or die. Keep a positive attitude and everyone you meet will be your friend. Connect the world in joyous peace, and keep going. You got it!

Visit Clay Shank’s website

Kaspar Heinrici

I was born in NYC and grew up in Eugene, OR. Currently, I am in Stockholm, my wife and I have been traveling since May 2017 and have visited over 17 countries.

My interest in long-distance skateboarding began when I lived in Eugene at the top of a big hill. Whether meeting friends in the park, going to swim in the river or going to one of the buttes, I could easily get anywhere in town on a skateboard. I went to college in Maine where I forced myself to skate switch stance so I could go longer distances when I tired of skating goofy, but it was not until I moved to NYC in 2003 that I got introduced to proper LDP skating.

I met a guy who was going to race around Central Park on a longboard and I thought that sounded like fun (even though I had not ridden a longboard in years at that point) so I went and I got third place. They told me about the now infamous Broadway Bomb race in October. I got third in that race and then won it the next four years which solidified my interest in LDP racing (although we didn’t even call it that at the time). At that time skating 8 miles was considered a long distance. In 2009 the first official LDP marathons of 26.2 miles were being put on so I started training for those in Central Park. By 2014 I had gotten into the long distance 188 mile multi day stage race called Chief Ladiga Silver Comet Challenge, which I was able to win in 2015. Then in 2017 I finally did my first 24hr ultra marathon in Miami, getting 3rd place, which is pretty much the pinnacle of LDP racing for me. LDP racing represents a specific challenge of the mind for me: a mixture of physical preparation and psychological fortitude that pushes your body to do things you didn’t realize possible and that is what drives my continued interest in the sport.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all long-distance skateboarders bring?

Vaseline: Because you can push through the pain of dehydration and hunger, but a bad case of chafing will put you out of a race real quick and it is easy to prevent. I once asked one of the fastest LDP racers what happened to him when he pulled out of a race when he had a super fast pace going and he told me the chafing was unbearable.

Skanunu: Because it can clean and lubricate any bearing almost instantly without the need for bulky cleaning kits.

Bathing Suit: Because there will either be a river at the end of the ride or someone with a hot tub in their hotel and you don’t want to be that guy soaking your bones in your underwear.

People typically bring too many wheels (which are super heavy). Maybe for Downhill you need fresh wheels but for LDP you should be going with something that is already scrubbed and been trained on and dialed in.

How do you bring things with you?

Basic Ride / Training:
Luzon 18 Del Dia from Cotopaxi

It is all the basics you need and nothing you don’t. It has generous interior space with a sleeve for a 3L bladder and a retainer for the bite valve on the right shoulder. There is a small exterior zipper pouch for wallet / sunglasses, two shoulder straps, hip strap and chest strap and thats it. What I like the most about this bag is that it is made from manufacturing scraps from other bags so they always come in surprising color combinations and only cost 39.95!

Commute / Race:
Camelbak MULE

I got this bag specifically for the Chief Ladiga 188mile Challenge because the bag I had used the year before failed me big time dropping precious electrolyte bottles along the trail. The Mule is good for commuting and racing because it has specific places for everything. The hip strap has small pouches for goo packs. The main pouch can hold a change of clothes for after the ride or for work. There is an expandable outer sleeve with synch straps which let you put shoes in there for work or extra water bottles that you pick up at an aid station. There is a dedicated sunglasses pouch with super soft lining so you don’t need to remember your sleeve for your sunglasses. Finally there is the outer zipper pocket for extra lube, skate tool, wallet, phone…etc.

Travel to Races:
Uncle Funky’s Skateboard Travel Bag

This is the ultimate one and only multi longboard bag. I got my first one over a decade ago when they made the first prototype and I was one of the first customers when they updated it. Boards from 33in-47inches fit in this bag (it has a zipper expansion so if you have smaller bags there is not a lot of extra material flapping around) and you can fit 2 boards or more if you take the hardware off. Once you take the boards out it tri-folds into a backpack that you can skate around with. There are dedicated shoulder straps that zip away into hidden pouches when not being used (you don’t have to attach/detach them). The interior has a zipper pouch for extra hardware and there is an exterior zipper pouch for quick access to travel documents or things of that nature. If possible I try to take only this bag for air travel. You can fit a helmet and fold all your clothes to fit between the 2 boards (clean your boards first). You will get funny looks when you check into your flight and tell the attendent that its skateboards in your bag, but they never give you any trouble.

What are your top tips for other long-distance skateboarders?

The most important thing for packing light is good training and preparation. If you have been doing your training you will know exactly what nutritional supplements and hardware you will need and you won’t second guess yourself at the last minute and bring a bunch of erroneous items that you, “might need.” The worst is when you see people lugging several sets of wheels and bearings to the race and then wasting time switching them out. Putting in ceramic bearings at the last minute is not going to win you the race.

Always know exactly what you need to be comfortable on a ride and keep a pack ready to go if possible. I used to commute to work at 6:30am so I always kept the basics in my pack so I knew I was ready to go. Did I forget to bring fresh underwear for work a few times? Of course, but I always have a skate tool, lube and some water in my pack. If I don’t have music or headphones or food it doesn’t matter because those things are not necessary for a ride, just your board, your helmet and maybe a pair of shoes.

Visit Kaspar Heinrici’s website

Sam Holding

I live and work in Cornwall, UK. I work as a post-production supervisor at a film production company and have been a team rider for Original Skateboards for six years now. My riding has been rooted in freestyle and flatland from the get-go, but being exposed to the LongTreks series combined with a desire for adventure and wilderness inspired me to dabble in to long-distance skating.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all long-distance skateboarders bring?

One abnormal thing I took on my trip through Utah/Nevada/California was an abundance of camera equipment. Taking up a significant weight in my pack was my 5D Mark ii, lenses, small tripod and laptop, which seems a high expense for the ability to film. For me though, the ability to document everything and talk to the camera about the day so far was an additional motivator for getting out pushing every day and somewhat of a therapy for when times got tough. I think if I wasn’t shooting that trip I wouldn’t have made it.

Randomly, one of the things I put in my tool pouch along with my pen knife and allen keys was a paper clip. Harmless to bring in terms of weight and it turned out to save the day. I was in-between towns in Utah when my phone service died and I couldn’t access maps to figure out my location and how far I was from the next town. I needed to switch sim cards and was able to whittle down the paper clip thin enough with my knife to pop out the sim card tray from my iPhone. I imagine it could have many uses in a pinch.

If I could advocate anything in terms of packing I’d say just always weigh up probability of use vs. weight/space. On my push in the states I brought spare wheels, full spare bearing set, fresh grip, thinking I’d need it mid way or swap it all out. In reality I never used any of this and feel the probability of a board part breaking is very low. All parts should have been manufactured to withstand much greater force to what you are exerting during a distance skate. In hindsight I would have brought two spare bearings and keep it at that.

How do you bring things with you?

I use an Osprey Exos 48L backpack. Highly recommend this pack and found it very comfortable even with a heavy load of camera equipment and gear. The mesh on the back is a life saver for long days riding in hot climates as I did. The Exos has a handy exterior top pocket which was perfect for things needed in a hurry – wallet, tracker, phone, pen knife, road snacks. I could fit my tent, sleep bag, matt, two lenses, camera, laptop, food, poncho and 2L camel back perfectly in the bag. As I was carrying a camel back and could have encountered a rain storm, interior to the bag I used dry sacks to keep valuables in separate water tight pouches which also made the pack easier to unpack and repack without hauling out many singular items.

Packing with the aim to keep as much weight as possible closer to your back proved very important and a tip that saved me a lot of wasted energy and discomfort. The more weight that is further out from your back, and thus centre of gravity, the more the pack is going to be pulling you backwards. Having my camel back on the inner lining, laptop up against my back, and exterior items clipped to the top, sides and bottom instead of the back face helped keep weight centred.

What are your top tips for other long-distance skateboarders?

Be minimal, but ultimately safe. Always skate for yourself and the enjoyment of the journey.

Visit Sam Holding’s website

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