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  TEST DRIVE:  SOMA AIRBAG
Finally, a
travel-proof, airline-proof board bag you won't want to leave home without
 
  by kelly vander kaay   | published october 1, 2009  
     
 

Hate worrying about getting your beloved board damaged in transport? Jaded with the board packing hassle and the excess weight?  Then you will want to hear what we have to say about the inflatable SOMA AIRBAG a cool, compact alternative to the classic foam-padded travel bag that can withstand all sorts of abuse.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Model Tested:  
7’2” Single-Carrier Entry Level SOMA AirBag (fits up to a 6’6” surfboard)
 

Testing Conditions:
Sure, when we met up with the Santa Cruz-based SOMA AirBag Designs crew on the Eastside to test their smart alternative to the traditional foam-padded travel bag, we expected a few bag drops and knocks.  But we got a whole lot more.  Namely, two motorcyclists on a Suzuki DRZ400 Super Moto and a KTM 250XC, with engines revving and determined to demolish a 7’2” Entry Level AirBag and the Stretch 6’3” Fletcher 4 zipped up within.  When the neon orange KTM 250XC charged towards the AirBag on its rear wheel and railed on it, we admit we entertained doubts about whether the Stretch board would survive. 
 

But that was just for starters.  Next, the bikes struck the bag and hocked it across the pavement, one at a time, two at a time, over and over.  Then one of the riders hooked the AirBag to the back of his bike with a rope and took off at full speed, cracking the whip.  Despite the heat of that summer afternoon, the riders carried on.  Again and again, they took turns pouncing on the bag with their bikes (combined run-over weight of 630 lbs and 400lbs).  The riders then handed the bag over to Stretch Surfboards’ Dave Aumentado, who wrapped up the testing by lifting the AirBag overhead and dropping it from a second-story floor, kicking it around like a careless airline baggage handler might, and stomping on it with his 6'2", 180-pound frame.  When all were satisfied that they had done more damage than the airlines could possibly inflict (see video footage of our session here), the test team unzipped the bag and removed the board.  Unscathed.  That’s when we started asking questions. See below for answers.

 

Specifications for the 7’2” Single-Carrier Entry Level Model AirBag:

  • Heat-protective white (newer models will be available in the color grey)
     

  • 600 denier ballistic polyester material with a triple coating of polyester vinyl chloride (PVC)
     

  • Reinforced 1000 denier PVC-coated material around the tail, nose, and rails
     

  • Individual air columns + patented Asymmetrical Interior Rocker Protection for contoured fit and protection of your board from snapping, flexing, or dinging during transit 
     

  • 100% sonic heat-welded design  
     

  • Virtually stitch-free and seamless
     

  • Padded shoulder strap with over 300 lbs of weight resistance
     

  • Large, electroplated, non-corrosive #12 zippers
     

  • Once deflated, rolls up for easy storage in a 27” x 7” carrying bag 

 

Our Assessment:

We found the AirBag to be lightweight, durable, and easy to use.  In addition to withstanding a serious amount of abuse, what is really appealing is that the Airbag, when deflated, can be stored in a tote sac with a small 6" x 27" footprint. (if left inflated, it can always creatively double as a handy mattress, should you need one).   We also liked that it is environmentally-friendly: The AirBag, which can be blown up in just five minutes under lung power, is available through shapers, such as Stretch Surfboards, at a discounted price at the time of delivery of a newly shaped surfboard.  This eliminates the need to use packaging materials and foam for protection, which would otherwise end up in the landfill—not to mention reducing time & labor costs.  Plus, the AirBag comes with an easy-to-use vinyl cement repair kit and fabric swatch in case of rare punctures or damage.   
 

While we tested the 7’2” single-carrier model, the AirBag is also available in 7’0” and 7’6” (single and double carriers), as well as a 7’2” double-carrier for two surfboards.  Longboard and kiteboard versions, as well as a Ratboy signature model, will be released this Fall 2009, along with a few other very cool surprises.  So stay tuned. 

 

At $150 to $200, the Soma AirBag is a smartly-designed, reasonably priced solution to the quandary of getting your board to your travel destination in one piece.  We're pleased to finally see serious, protective gear for the avid surf traveler.  For more product information, see www.AirBagDesigns.com.


 

Accessories:  
A kiteboard pump is available as an accessory for approximately $20. (Lung power works fine, but a bike pump can also be used). 

 

Price Range:  
$150-200
 

Warranty:  
All AirBags come with a 5-year warranty on workmanship and a 1- year material warranty.
 

Availability:
The Airbags can be bought locally at NorCal Surf Shop, O'Neill and Arrow.  For direct online orders or to find more shops, visit SOMA's website, airbagdesigns.comFor dealer inquiries, contact Support@AirBagDesigns.com for a rep in your area.

 
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