This was our original first choice as THE number one surfer’s accessory for the holiday season, but it eventually slid down to number 2 on the list since we could not have a tie! We mulled it over for a lengthy period, but we stand by our decision. That being said, Soma Airbag Designs has created a truly unbeatable product with this safe and sure alternative to a surfboard bag or sock, a travel case, a shipping crate, and at times an air mattress.
We have a rather extensive review of Soma’s Airbag queued up for the site where we take it for some serious beatings in an attempt to find just where the limits are to the ‘safety factor’, but we just could not leave it off this surf list for the holidays so we did an excerpt type review in the meantime.
Soma Airbags is the answer to your surfboard worries when it comes to shipping or transporting your blank or stick, whether it be from the shapers or right out of the showroom floor! Constructed from “denier ballistic polyester material with a triple coating of polyester vinyl chloride”, this King of Surfbags provides the lightest and most portable form of secure protection.
The bag is inflatable via your standard ‘blow hole’, much like a raft or an air mattress. However, unlike those products, Soma Airbags sports some serious individual air columns from top to bottom, as well as in the areas where your board’s rails will sit. The confined individual air columns disperse energy and pressure, and therefore does not allow contact with your surfboard. A patented technology that the Soma people call AIR-P (Asymmetrical Interior Rocker Protection) additionally ensures that your stick does not ding, snap, or flex when heavy weight is applied on the top and bottom of the bag.
We stuffed an old 6’6″ board in the bag, and just like the video on Soma’s website, we jumped up and down on the bag … slowly at first, and then progressively harder as we felt that it could take more and more punishment — after all, this was one of our staffer’s surfboards! (By the way, see the employee manual for calling in sick!)
The Soma Airbags website does a great job of showing people beating this bag up and even running over it with a motorcycle. We wanted a more “real world use” test scenario for our extensive review (coming soon!) so we tested the bag during transport from the airport check-in and through the baggage handler’s domain (we know people who know people in the airline industry), against sharp objects that protrude from other luggage bags, strollers in transit, and suitcases, as well as (gulp!) using the darn thing as a kite and dropping it down the side of Diamond Head lookout just for kicks. Please stay tuned for that article in our upcoming reviews …
One word of note as we claim this bag to be totally worth the money … the Soma website claims that the bag takes 5 minutes to inflate “under average lung power”, so we wanted to test that out. We don’t have smokers in the office to use as a tester, so a 10 year old child was recruited for the task of imitating average lung power. In all, it took longer than 5 minutes total (about 10 minutes) to inflate the Soma Airbag. Following the directions of inflating the rail first, then bottom and top, we found that the most challenging part was inflating the rail.
You all are familiar with the inflation aid most inflatable accessories such as rafts and mattresses, right? It is the plastic lever much like an uvula that hangs from inside the blowhole, which stops the air from escaping when you stop blowing. Turns out, the inflation hole for the rails does not have that feature (the air chambers for the top and bottom sport this feature thoug!) so pauses in inflation resulted in lost air.
One bonus use for Soma Airbags that a shaper friend of iJS discovered serendipitously is to use it for transporting shaped blanks from the North Shore shop to the airbrush company’s shop in Honolulu. The bags, as it turns out, protects the unglassed blanks from the usual bumps and dings that an average foam board suffers from in transport. He ships the board in a Soma Airbag to the airbrusher’s shop, he paints his magic on it, and once it is dry … back in the bag it goes to the North Shore for glassing. No dings, no damaged paint job, no worries!