The humble abode of a surf bum



Massey University final year honors project

March, 2016

8 months

Wellington, New Zealand



Looking to the various areas of the surf culture I honed in on surf camping in specific the process of the journey and the ability to stay at a spot for long periods of time. I came to this conclusion after researching the common places surfers travel to, how they travel, what they use and how they use it.

To conduct my research I followed videos and photo blogs, talked to people and joined them on their journies to understand surfers behaviors and attitudes. I looked into the common locations people go surf camping and the environments that could effect the products performance. From here the materials used became important for durability, waterproofing, weight and sustainability.

After all the hard work on the computer I did my own ethnographic studies (explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study). For this I embarked on surf trips with a range of people and going to a variation of places extracting pain points and opportunities.




learning to sew was a bit of a learning curve especially with the heavy rigid billboard material but the use of an industrial leather sewing machine helped with the multiple layers of thick material.   Sewing the bag and tent module took around 5 weeks but as a finalised design and using specialised machinery could take a matter of hours.
Water jet cutting was used for the custom G-hooks which are made from 3mm stainless steel and can easily hold the bag when fully packed to approximately 23 kg.  To make the bladder for the inflatable struts I experimented with ultrasonic welding and adhesives but ended up using heat pressing to seal the recycled kite bladders.

A big thanks to Matt Taggart at Ozone kites who supplied me with materials and information on constructing the inflatable struts.




Overnight testing to Castle point validated a few of the design ideas such as the quick strap giving the ability to carry as a backpack, the inflatable struts take less than 30 seconds to inflate and withstood strong winds when pegged down.



The board bag

After noticing a few issues with transporting the board I developed a system that uses a basic hybrid system that allows the user to carry their board bag as a backpack or use as a shoulder strap, I also integrated the roof rack system into the board bag so one person can easily and securely attach their boards to the car.
Looking into materials I found that recycled billboards material attributes are perfect for a board bag in terms of strength, UV resistance, Waterproofing and most importantly each bag is unique and represents a large amount of material otherwise destined for the landfill.

The carry system was developed to accommodate for the different ways the board is carried and the long distances walked. The system that I designed transforms from a shoulder strap to a backpack in a few seconds using specialised G-hooks.



The inflatable tent

Inflatable tent systems take inspiration from kitesurfing and are a fast growing method for tent structures. I chose to use it for its fast set up and wind resilience. The tunnel shape is a classic tent shape chosen again for its resilience to windy coastal conditions.

I designed the tent to be used without the fly and to look complete without it, as I found most tents didn’t do this very well. The fly is integrated into the edge of the bag so when the rain does start coming down the user simply drapes the loose edge of the fly over where conveniently placed clips pull the fly tight. The Tent comes in a watertight modular bag that is slid into the board bag when camping, this is to keep the tent uncontaminated by the wet and dirty board bag contents.


Photos of the Boardroom in the Exposure exhibition in Wellington


for a short video check out the link HERE


A massive thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. In particular:

Jack Candlish – Organic Dynamic surfboards

Matt Taggart – Ozone kitesurfing

Matt Taylor – Bataleon snowboards

Stefan Clauss – Heimplanet tents/backpacks

Mark Imhoof – proofreader

Gina Bolle – photography




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s