Paddle boarding is one of the most fun activities you can do out on the water. It's a great workout, it's full of adventure, plus it's also a great chance to spend some quality time with your friends and family!
But first things first, before the fun begins, you'll need to get your stand up paddle board to the ocean or lake you plan on paddling.
To do that, you’ll need a SUP roof rack. However, there are all kinds of different types to choose from, and different models might be better for different vehicles. How can you know which one to pick?
We’ve done the research so you don't have to. In this complete guide, we’ll examine the best paddle board roof racks in detail, explain which one is best for your ride, and answer many commonly asked questions.
Ready to begin? Let’s get started.
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This depends on the type of roof rack your vehicle has, (as outlined below), but generally, we recommend the StoreYourBoard Removable & Universal SUP & Surfboard Rack, Woowave Universal Roof Rack Pads, and Paddlesports Roof Rack Sets for Cars & SUVs. These are great options if you’re looking for something reliable, easy to install, and secure.
This removable, universal system is a perfect stand up paddleboard storage solution for the road. The bars come with foam padding to protect your boards and roof. Plus, the kit is easily adjustable to fit a wide variety of SUP sizes.
This set includes waterproof racks and strapping, making it a great choice for all-weather SUP transportation. Additional benefits include a one-year warranty for manufacturer defects and easy adjustability – the SUP rack pads included in the kit are designed for aerodynamic stability and flexibility to accommodate tons of different paddle board sizes.
In truth, there is no single "best" way to transport a inflatable paddle board. It all depends on whether your car or truck has a roof rack system that you can use to secure your SUP in the first place. If it does have a rack installed, you’ll need to determine what kind of rack you have so you can figure out how to safely transport your SUP, as well.
Ultimately, safety is the most important thing to consider when transporting any stand-up paddle boards and accessory gear.
Safely transporting a standup paddle board involves determining several key factors, including:
Therefore, you’ll need to think about all these factors and whether or not you have a roof rack to safely transport a SUP to your paddle boarding location.
Yes, it is safe to transport an inflatable paddle board on the roof of your car or truck. For improved security and safety, strap your iSUP with the deck facing down and the tail at the front of your vehicle. If you’re storing more than one paddle board on your roof, stack them from the biggest to the smallest.
When transporting a paddle board on a roof rack, you have two main options to pick from: SUP carriers or transport systems, and SUP rack pads or straps.
For starters, ensure that your rooftop rack has crossbars. If it doesn’t already have crossbars installed, you can purchase some from manufacturers like Yakima and Thule. Or you can order a separate roof rack system that already has crossbars installed by default.
Then you can decide which of the two transportation options above you want to go with.
SUP rack carriers and transport systems are great picks for longer trips and for traveling at faster speeds. They tend to be more durable and suitable for bigger SUPs as well.
On the flipside, rack pads and strapping combos are better for short distances. Only use these for trips to bodies of water within about 50 miles, and that doesn't require you to travel at highway speeds for long periods of time.
As mentioned, SUP carriers and transport systems are a little more secure and durable than the alternative. SUP carriers and transport systems are characterized by secure slots and bolting systems that can even hold more than one standup paddle board at a time. They’re excellent choices for highway travel since you don’t have to worry about your SUP falling off at any point.
Rack pads and strapping is used in conjunction with one another. The pads protect your car's roof from being scratched by your paddle board and vice versa. They offer some cushioning and help the rack traps secure your paddle board to your vehicle's roof more tightly.
Meanwhile, rack straps are the actual securing ties that you use to fix your SUP to your car's roof rack. Strap and pad combos are generally much cheaper than purchasing a full-on SUP rack system or installing additional crossbars on your existing rig.
Additionally, pads and strapping comes in two major types: round and aero (or flat). Round pads and straps are for round crossbars. Flat pads and strapping are for square or flat crossbars instead.
Another big benefit of using SUP rack pads and straps is how easy it is to secure your SUPs to your car.
All you have to do is place your pads around the crossbars of your car's roof rail system. They will prevent your board from rubbing against the roof or the cross bar itself as you drive. Next, take the strapping and attach the padded lock buckle on either end to cinch the paddle board securely to the roof of your ride. Each strap can usually be loosened or tightened depending on the size of your board.
What if your car doesn’t have a roof rack system fitted? Then you’ll need to either install a system yourself, or rely on a separate, all-in-one style solution. The former is good if your whip already has rails, while the latter is better if you don’t have a rack system or rails at all.
Installing roof racks by yourself is relatively straightforward. First, you'll need to identify a compatible model for your automobile. Use manufacturer guidelines to make sure that a given roof rack system will work.
Once you’ve determined this, follow these steps:
This installation process will necessarily vary based on your car’s make and model, and whether or not it has rails already. Again, be sure to consult official manufacturer guidelines when installing a rack system to make sure you don’t damage the rooftop of your vehicle.
All-in-one solutions are great choices if your car doesn't have factory racks installed or any rails whatsoever. These packages use vacuum mounts that can quickly be attached to your car's rooftop. They also usually come with wraparound pads and extendable aluminum board bars. All-in-one solutions also include cam buckle straps that can help you lash down your board securely.
So, what if you don't have a ride to get your SUP to the water?
In that case, you can rely on the standup paddle board pull-cart method. SUP pull-carts are maneuverable carts that you can strap a board and paddle to. Then you can wheel your SUP across a road or another short distance.
However, these should only really be used for transporting your SUP for very short distances. You can also use them in conjunction with a roof rack system to transport your paddle board from your car to a beach or another water entry point.
No two SUP racks are alike. Now that you know what sort of rack or SUP transportation solution is best for your needs, you should consider these major factors when purchasing one. This will ensure that you don’t waste your time and money buying something that won't work.
Any pads, straps, or other SUP transportation components must be compatible with your car's rack. Check that any rails or rack systems can work with any manufacturer-installed racks in your ride before purchasing.
Naturally, you should check to see that any given rail or rack system is compatible with your car. When shopping for the ideal SUP rack, go to the manufacturer website to double-check that their paddle board transportation solution can be combined with your car before purchasing.
A great paddle board roof rack should be simple to install. Don’t purchase something that you can’t install quickly and easily; otherwise, you might damage your car’s rooftop.
Similarly, great SUP racks should allow you to quickly and easily load and unload your SUP.
Check to see how many SUPs a given roof mount can carry at a time. The board capacity and board widths are critical to consider to ensure each SUP is properly secured during transport.
Rooftop SUP carriers and transport systems can generally hold two boards or more at once, making them good choices for families that like paddle boarding together.
If your SUV already has rooftop rails, a soft board rack attachment may be a better choice. Soft racks are also easier to load and remove. But hard rails can also be a good choice, since they work with vehicles that have pre installed roof racks and are sturdier overall, though they do take a bit more effort to install and take off.
Be sure to see whether the roof rack includes any security aspects, like a locking mechanism. This can prevent your paddle boards from being stolen when you’re at the beach.
Check to see what sort of additional equipment your chosen racks come with. Many racks come with ratchet straps or utility straps, plus pads and other accessories. Some models even include a loading system that assists in rolling the board up onto the top of your vehicle, which is ideal if you have trouble reaching up that high or lifting heavy weight above your head.
There are two systems that a paddle board roof rack can be mounted on. The first system is one that can be installed on an already existing roof rack, which is generally easier. The second system is one that can be installed on a vehicle without any roof racks.
Before you begin shopping for roof racks, check to confirm if your car has a mounting system in place. If there is a mounting system installed, determine whether the system is reliant on crossbars for loading or consists of two parallel rails. This will narrow down your options.
A secure locking system is paramount for both safety while driving and prevention of theft. If you have to hit highway speeds while driving to your SUP spot, opt for a roof rack with a more heavy-duty locking system. This will also slow down thieves if you have to stop off in an unfamiliar area for fuel.
If you paddle board in areas within close proximity to your home, or spots that don’t require you to jump on the freeway, a soft rack is generally okay. Just know that soft racks are easier for potential thieves to steal your SUP. Ultimately, use your discretion and opt for safety and security.
While we’ve found plenty of great car SUP roof racks during our search, these top three picks are excellent choices for a number of reasons.
StoreYourBoard’s universal car mount for paddle board and other outdoor equipment is an excellent choice regardless of vehicle type. It’s made of durable foam to protect your board and is sturdy enough to work at highway speeds.
This adjustable and removable roof mount is ideal for those who switch up the vehicles they use to transport their paddle boards to local lakes or beaches.
Woowave also offers a universal set of soft racks. This is a set of waterproof padded racks that you can quickly and easily strap to the top of your vehicle. They're designed to be aerodynamic so they can protect your cargo. Plus, they're lightweight and very easy to store. The kit comes with two waterproof polyester utility straps and padded metal buckles for extra strength and security.
Paddlesport provides a full mounting system that works with regular cars and SUVs. The J-bars can be mounted on typical crossbars and each bar comes with pads. You can, therefore, protect both your car top and your paddle boards as you set the kit up. The kit overall comes with a pair of racks, an additional pair of safety straps, and all the other installation pieces you need for set up.
The Thule SUP Taxi Board carrier system is ideal for cars that don’t have existing racks or rails. The bars here have a telescoping design that allows you to fit a custom-sized deck up to 34 inches wide. Each piece is made with heavy-duty steel and locking cams. Therefore, the Thule SUP Taxi is incredibly sturdy and safe, even from theft.
INNO also provides a versatile carrier that can support a wide range of paddle boards. It's a universal mounting system that fits square, flat, rounded other factory-installed cross bars on your ride. It also comes with a ratcheting strap system that can connect over your SUP and tighten them for added security. But it’s also easy to load and unload your SUPs thanks to the intuitive design of this strap system.
These soft rack pads are ideal for a variety of paddle board sizes. They fit most vehicles with or without gutters and are equipped with very long strapping and aircraft buckles for added security and easy SUP securing and releasing.
This soft rack system is easy to install and made with EVA foam. Each pad is secured in a weatherproof nylon sleeve and both included pads are suitable for flat, factory-installed cross bars on the roof of your car.
These tie down straps are a great accessory to combine with existing rack systems. The buckles are made to resist corrosion and each strap is built to last.
Vamo also makes high-quality stand up paddle board tiedown straps. These feature integrated bungee material and a pull tab. Therefore, these straps are easy to organize and are guaranteed not to stretch or snap. The set comes with a lifetime guarantee as well.
This all-around stand up paddle board solution can fit most cars and SUVs without roof racks. It includes strapping and pads and can fit up to three SUP boards in total.
This mounting system uses steel cross bars with adjustable pads so they can carry a variety of sizes. The hardware is relatively quick and easy to remove compared to others of its type. The J-bar shape has a wide mouth to facilitate fast loading and unloading.
This kit has everything you need to mount any SUP board on your car's rooftop. While it doesn't include racks, it does include long straps, several tie downs, stainless steel loops, and buckles. All of this means you can secure watersports and other equipment to the roof of your car even if it doesn't have existing roof rails. Everything in the kit is built with durable materials and designed to flex for different deck sizes.
HandiRack’s universal refractive bars are inflatable and made with heavy-duty 400D nylon material, so they should last for a long time to come. They aren't the most durable SUP mounting kit solution overall, but they fit practically any vehicle size and are incredibly easy to mount in about five minutes.
The SUP Wheels Carrier here is ideal for pulling your paddle board via a bike or on foot. It fits a standard size SUP and is made to withstand beach environments, including high exposure to sunlight and saltwater. The carrier doesn't use any rust-vulnerable materials, and the wheels never go flat.
This adjustable SUP pull-cart can work for just about any size of board and the plastic tires don’t use air so they will never go flat. The carrier overall is made from lightweight aluminum. This prevents it from corroding and ensures that it isn’t too heavy for most users.
This mountable truck rack is made of raised foam and weather-resistant nylon, so it's fairly durable. The rack works with super strong straps and includes silicone wrapped cam buckles. These can protect both the surface of your truck and your standup paddle board.
This last pick is a perfect roof rack for trucks. The main bars are made of multilayered foam to reduce vibration on the road. The foam is surrounded by heavy-duty fabric and strong nylon lashing straps. The resulting kit is reasonably durable and simple to install, but it’s not suitable for heavier paddle boards.
In the end, the best standup paddle board car racks for your needs will work with your vehicle, require quick and simple installation, and provide enough room for all your SUPs you plan to bring. Try to find something among all the choices above that fulfills all of these criteria. Then you'll be set to have an effortless SUP experience, no matter where your launch point takes you.
Bookmark this page if you need help finding great paddle board roof rack systems or accessories in the future, and let us know what you think of our favorite choices! Or, if you have a personal favorite that isn’t listed, let us know in the comments below.
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