About our company
Surf Munkey LLC, located in San Diego, CA in the USA, is the developer of watersports product technologies. Both our FlipUpBill and our Wet Plugz brands of products incorporate technologies and designs we've created to improve the use of products in the execution and participation of sports activities.
Our inspirations and passions center around the ocean, tropical settings, and of course surfing. Similarly, the surf products we develop are unique, and reflect our years of experience in the water. Our surf hats, for example, are the culmination of using hats over the years and seeing what works vs. what doesn't. We have other products in various stages of development using this same desire to provide solutions no one else has solved. At the very least, we want to provide products that we'd recommend to our closest friends, and that may not be easy to find in other shops. We don't want to be just another surf shop
The Story behind our Earplugs
Surfer's ear - it's a bad nasty thing that requires a horrific procedure to cure, and as surfers and water sports enthusiasts we're all aware of this (or should be). We all know we should be using earplugs to prevent this situation, but we can't stand being unable to hear. The thing most of us don't know is that it's not just a cold water thing, it's also a wind issue, especially when there's water in the ear canal. This wind can drop the temperature in the canal too low and cause the changes and bone growth that are bad.
So we need to wear earplugs, but for comfort and safety we also need to be able to hear. We have used all types of earplugs over the years, including many variations of custom fit plugs (yeah, we've got way too much money wasted on solutions that don't work), and while we've only found one commercially available earplug that's probably the closest to a solution, it's still not the solution we're looking for. The problem is the sound hole easily gets clogged when you hit the water and there's no easy way to get it unclogged, resulting in many very sore ears after a session in the water, caused by the constant banging and flicking of the ear in an attempt to clear the sound hole so we can hear again.
Our solution: We spent a couple years working to resolve the issues with the existing products, and finally came up with a solution that exceeded our expectations. We initially offered these to the public on a very limited basis (limited due to our own production capabilities). Towards the latter part of 2015, we were able to move our production over to one of the top earplug and earpiece labs in the country, which not only eliminated any production limits, but brought with it tons of additional options (ex. lots of colors - even multi-colored; different finishes and coatings - like antimicrobial; even laser engraving).
The Story behind our FlipUpBill™ hats
The subject of cancer is one that most of us don't pay attention to, and don't want to pay attention to, until someone we know becomes afflicted. We'd read about skin cancer, but hadn't been aware about scalp cancer or had any idea that it is one of the most lethal of the skin cancers, until one of our own came back from another dermatology appointment, getting more damaged skin frozen off his head, and said the doctor's orders were "you have to wear a hat every time you're out in the water!".
So began the challenge - trying to find a surf hat that actually works for surfing in real waves and doesn't interfere with the sport. I don't mean cruising around the bay or riding some ankle slappers at your local surf spot. I'm talking about heart-pounding surf where you're scrambling to make it out to the lineup. The problems with the hats out there are numerous. The key issue is the bill on a hat - it's in the way - it's always in the way! With the hard billed hats: 1) you can't see anything when you're laying down, without craning your neck back further than it ever should be; and 2) the water and waves can put quite a bit of force on the neck too by pushing the head around and can even push the hat off the head. With the soft billed hats, you can sometimes temporarily move the bill out of your way, but the moment you push through a wave, the bill is down in your face, and if you're in big waves, the bill is down completely covering your eyes, and it's a scary and dangerous situation. Add to all this most of these hats look so dorky. Okay, so any hat with a chinstrap isn't going to look that great, but can't something be done to minimize the goofiness factor?
So that's what we were up against, when we came up with our first couple of prototypes, we figured we were on the right track, but had no idea this was going to be something big, or that we'd receive such accolades for our design.