October 26, 2023 9 min read

Safe, easy, and secure SUP transport for every paddler

Man transporting his boards on a pickup truck with tailgate rack

So you have got your dream stand up paddle board and it is time to get it to the water! To safely transport your gear in your truck you are going to need a tailgate rack. A tailgate rack securely fastens your board in the back of your pickup, perfect for the casual paddler on a weekend mission. 

Tailgate racks are different from truck roof racks. Roof racks are a more serious piece of kit that can travel more than one board. Tailgate racks are perfect for the more laidback paddle boarder just going down the road with their hard paddle board. Also, they are often the cheaper option for paddle board transportation solutions.

Keen to learn more about paddle board tailgate racks for trucks? The GILI Sports team is here for you. In this article, we outline what to look for in a tailgate rack and the top 6 best paddle board tailgate racks for trucks. Keep reading to get all your questions answered.

GILI Top Picks: Best Paddle Board Tailgate Racks For Trucks

Best Overall
Dakine Tailgate Surfboard Pad
Dakine Pickup Tailgate Surfboard Pad

The Dakine Pickup Tailgate Surfboard Pad is wide and perfectly padded, ideal to transport SUPs in the back of your truck. With a reasonable price tag and decent materials used, this is a great option making it our best overall!

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Best Budget
Onefeng Sports Tailgate Surf Pad
Onefeng Sports Tailgate Surf Pad

The Onefeng Tailgate surf rack pad is great for truck beds to transport surfboards and SUPs short distances. This is a simple product but super affordable making it our best budget option to recommend. 

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Paddle Board Tailgate Racks vs Truck Racks

Both tailgate racks and truck racks are used to transport stand up paddle boards. They do differ in their design and mounting methods, offering varying solutions depending on the adventure seeker's needs.

Padded tailgate racks are best for inflatable stand up paddle boards and individual lighter paddle boards. They are perfect for quick solo missions to the local lake or shoreline to get your paddle fixed. Mounted truck racks are best for multiple, heavier, and longer pieces of equipment, giving you more versatility in transport solutions. 

We will get into more of the finer details below so you can determine what you need.

Tailgate Racks

Tailgate racks are specifically designed to attach to the tailgate of a pickup truck. They typically consist of foam padding and adjustable straps that secure the paddle boards to the tailgate. The foam padding protects the truck's surface and prevents the boards from shifting during transport.

These racks are specifically designed to attach to the tailgate of a truck using adjustable straps or webbing. They typically have hooks or buckles that secure the rack to the tailgate, while the foam padding provides a cushioned surface for the paddle boards while using a lot of space in the bed of the truck.

These padded racks are best for one individual board. They are temporary and can easily be removed and installed. Generally, tailgate racks are cheaper than truck racks.

Truck Racks

Truck racks, also commonly known as roof racks, are designed to mount on the roof of a truck. They are generally more versatile and can carry various types of cargo, including paddle boards. Truck racks typically feature crossbars or a specialized rack system that provides multiple attachment points for securing different types of gear.

Truck racks come in different configurations and mounting systems. Some roof racks require the installation of crossbars on the truck's roof, onto which the paddle boards can be secured. Other truck racks are a soft design and use adjustable straps to secure the truck body to the roof.

Mounted truck racks are best for larger, heavier, or multiple paddle boards. They can be removed but some racks require drilling holes for installation, so permanent markings. These racks are often more expensive but they free up the bed of the truck for more storage. 


How To Choose A Paddle Board Tailgate Rack That’s Right For You

Boogie boards leaning in a truck

Choosing the right paddle board tailgate rack involves considering a few key factors to ensure it meets your specific needs. From appropriate padding to the length and width of the rack, we have outlined everything you need to think about to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Compatibility - Check if the rack is compatible with your truck's tailgate. Different racks have varying designs and attachment mechanisms, so ensure that the rack you choose fits securely and properly on your truck's tailgate. Also, consider the dimensions and weight capacity of the rack to ensure it can accommodate your paddle boards.
  2. Rack Design - Look for a paddle board tailgate rack that provides adequate support and protection for your boards. Ideally, the rack should have foam padding or cushioning to prevent scratches or damage to your paddle boards and your truck's surface. Adjustable straps or webbing should be present to securely fasten the boards to the rack.
  3. Ease of Installation - Consider how easy it is to install and remove the rack. Look for racks that can be easily mounted and secured without requiring extensive tools or modifications to your truck. Quick and hassle-free installation is important, especially if you frequently need to install and remove the rack.
  4. Durability and Materials - Evaluate the quality and durability of the rack. It should be made from sturdy materials, such as high-quality metal or reinforced plastics, to ensure it can withstand the weight of your paddle boards and endure various weather conditions. Additionally, rust-resistant or corrosion-resistant materials can help maintain the rack's longevity.
  5. Security - Assess the security features of the rack. It should provide reliable methods for securing your paddle boards, such as adjustable straps or buckles. Look for features that prevent the boards from shifting or coming loose during transportation. The rack should also offer a locking mechanism to deter theft and keep your boards safe while you check conditions before unloading.
  6. User Reviews and Recommendations - Read customer reviews and seek recommendations from fellow paddlers or outdoor enthusiasts who have experience with tailgate racks. Their insights can provide valuable information about the rack's performance, ease of use, durability, and overall satisfaction.
  7. Price and Value - Consider your budget and the value the rack offers. While it's important to find a rack within your budget, also prioritize quality and functionality. Opting for a reliable and durable rack may be a worthwhile investment in the long run.

The Best Paddle Board Tailgate Racks

While we’ve found plenty of great paddle board tailgate racks during our search, these are the top picks in our eyes for a number of reasons.

Dakine Pickup Tailgate Surfboard Pad

Dakine’s Tailgate Surf Pad helps protect stand-up paddle boards while you are driving to and from your favorite spot. This tailgate rack offers a 28-inch wide pad, perfect to accommodate even the burliest tailgate, and lengthened board straps now accommodate the largest of boards.

Dakine Tailgate Surfboard Pad

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Larger design for multiple longboards or a single SUP board
  • Contoured raised foam with padded flaps fit a wide variety of tailgate shapes
  • Durable UV-resistant 600D polyester outer material

What we like:

  • Durable and reliable materials
  • Thick foam pad to protect both the tailgate and the board
  • Reasonable price

What we don't like:

  • Plastic buckles could have been metal for a sturdier product

The pad features contoured raised foam with padded flaps designed to drape over the tailgate for added protection. Adjustable straps easily secure the pad to the tailgate and keep it in place, while the top cam strap keeps your board centered on the foam. Meanwhile, a soft fleece backing is watching out for your rig's paint job.

Vamo SUP Tailgate Surf Pad

VAMO’s Truck Tailgate pads are designed to give your board a soft ride while integrating durability and strength. Perfect to get your paddle board from home to the water and back again!

Vamo Longboard SUP Truck Tailgate Surf Pad

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • DuraSkin PVC skin for Heavy-duty weather resistant construction
  • 96" of straps long enough to secure up to 3 stand up paddle boards
  • Quick and easy installation allows for safe transport in truck beds

What we like:

  • Durable and reliably built
  • Removable and replaceable padding compartments
  • Super easy to install to your truck bed

What we don't like:

  • It needs an additional ratchet strap for longer journeys

DORSAL Truck Tailgate Surf Pad for SUP

DORSAL’s Truck Tailgate Surf Pad for SUPs is an excellent option for casual paddlers wanting to get their board to the water. The quality material is reliable and long-lasting, while the design is simple to install and use.

DORSAL Sunguard No Fade Truck Tailgate Surf Pad

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Comes with 1 tie-down strap
  • Dimensions: [pad width] 28 in. [board strap] 5 ft 8 in
  • Material: [padding] foam [backing] fleece

What we like:

  • Super cheap option
  • Easy to install and good padding
  • Lightweight design

What we don't like:

  • Straps are fairly short and may need replacing for larger trucks

Onefeng Sports Tailgate Surf Pad with Adjustable Tie Down Strap

Onefeng Sport’s Tailgate Surf Pad is our top pick for the best on a budget tailgate rack. This product is affordable and gets the job done. Sure, there are no frills, but what else do you need?

Onefeng Sports Tailgate Surf Pad

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Fits most trucks with a pad length 19.6" long and pad thickness 0.8”
  • Made of high-quality durable polyester material for waterproof
  • The pad is compact for easy storage but large enough to provide protection

What we like:

  • Super affordable
  • Versatile design so can carry a number of sporting equipment
  • Easy to install

What we don't like:

  • Material quickly fades in the sun

Blocksurf Tailgate Rack Pad with Straps

The Block Surf tailgate rack is designed to fit most truck tail gates so your paddle board doesn't shift from side to side. This rack incorporates a quick strap system for easy loading and unloading. A mesh carrying case is also included.

Block Tailgate Rack Pad w/ Straps

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Prevents your surfboard from shifting from side to side
  • Incorporates a quick strap system for easy loading
  • Includes a carrying case

What we like:

  • Cheap and affordable product
  • Easy to install and use
  • Handy mesh storage bag included

What we don't like:

  • Straps are short for bigger boards and trucks

Alfa Gear Heavy Duty Soft Folding Tailgate Pad

Easy folding tailgate pad for transporting stand up paddle boards or surfboards. The Alfa Gear Tailgate Pad is lightweight, easy to set up, and offers great protection for your boards in transit.

Alfa Gear No Color Fading No Scratch Heavy Duty Nylon Soft Folding Tailgate Pad

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Universal fit for all types of the pick up truck tailgate
  • Easy Replacing Nylon Straps, help you easy to change the straps if it is torn by the tailgate
  • No color fading fabric, UV treat Fabric help to keep the fabric in original black color

What we like:

  • Decent padding to protect against transportation damage
  • Easy to install and use
  • Easily replaceable straps if they become damaged

What we don't like:

  • Plastic buckles could have been metal for a sturdier product

Wrapping Up: Best Paddle Board Tailgate Racks for Trucks

Tailgate racks are a fantastic transportation solution for those looking to get their paddle board down to the nearby waters in their pickups. These padded racks offer security and protection, to stop your board from sliding in the back or getting damaged while in transit. 

It is important to consider your needs before purchasing a rack. You may find a roof rack is better suited for your adventures. Or you may discover one of these best paddle board tailgate racks for trucks is the one for you! 


🏆 Can you put a paddle board in the back of a truck?

Sure you can put a paddle board in the back of a truck! We do recommend using a tailgate rack for padding to avoid any damage to your board and to secure it in place while you drive. If you have a short pick-up, it is always best to be aware of how far your stand up paddle board is over-hanging the tailgate. 

👍 How do you carry a paddle board in a truck?

There are several options to transport a paddle board in a truck. Either get hold of a tailgate rack to have the board in the pick up bed, add some roof bars and have the board on top, or choose to go for an inflatable paddle board for a space saving option. A truck gives you plenty of space to play around with when transporting your paddle boards.

🏝️ How do you transport multiple paddle boards?

To transport multiple paddle boards, we do recommend using a roof rack with ratchet straps to secure the boards in place. Some tailgate racks give the option for multiple boards, however, they are best used for single paddle boards.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.

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