Pack one for your next surf trip: there is a good chance it could be the only board you’ll really need when the surf bumps up. The Traveler is basically a step-up shortboard that covers a wide range of conditions, from chest-high beachbreaks to eight-foot hollow reefs. It is such a solid and versatile surfboard.
The Traveler is designed to handle bigger waves than a shortboard, but is loose enough to shred small waves all day long. I recommend going with Futures Fin Boxes or FCS with the Traveler because of the convenience while on the move in between cars and airplanes. It is also nice to be able to plug in narrower-tipped fins, which loosen the board up if you find yourself riding it in small waves. Plug in big, wider-tipped fins for stability when the surf is a little bigger.
I really like when one board can cover a wide variety of surf sizes and conditions. There are a good number of surfers who travel with only one or two boards (usually a shortboard and maybe a step-up). The Traveler is an ideal complement to the shortboard as the step-up.
The Traveler is a great board to fall back on if you ding or snap your shortboard, since it works so well in both small and big waves.
I like to ride my Traveler at spots like Cloudbreak, Puerto Escondido, Blacks, and Pipeline. The Traveler gets into waves really early since it has more volume than a shortboard, still has rocker and rails that are maneuverable enough to sneak under the lip or go on rail, and holds its rail in steep, hollow barrels.
I like my Traveler three to six inches longer than my shortboard, and ride it with a round pintail. I also like to ride mine with either a tri-fin or quad-fin configuration, and prefer it shaped out of a PU (polyurethane) blank, but EPS (epoxy polystyrene) works too.
It feels good to have confidence when putting your board on rail when the surf is solid, and the Traveler goes on rail in heavy waves with the best of ‘em. A good friend of mine got the best barrel of his life on his Traveler at six-foot Blacks.
I ride mine wherever I need to sit and take off outside of the bubble or ledge in order to glide in early and set up for the barrel. The Traveler allows for more high-performance surfing in juicy surf, unlike a mini-gun that a lot of other surfers will be riding the same session.
I also like the Traveler when I’m surfing small waves in really cold water, because of the extra volume throughout the board, which helps out my paddle game when I’m restricted in thick rubber. The extra few inches of rail also help keep me from bogging when I’m surfing in booties. The Traveler is the bomb and it goes with me on every surf trip.
The Traveler is a bigger alternative to the Rusty Slayer and a valuable asset to your quiver.
Board Review: John Maher
Photos: Scott Winer and a tourist in South America. Maher in Chile and Fiji surfing a 6’6″ Rusty Traveler.
For more gear reviews and surf tales check out Maher's all new website hungrywalrus.com.