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paddle board roof rack advice

How To Transport A SUP On Your Cars Roof | A Beginners Guide

Water sports are all fun and games, but the commute to the water bodies isn’t so much fun. 

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the privilege of living near a beach, which means traveling with the boards will be a crucial part of our SUP hobby. Traveling with paddling equipment isn’t hard, but it can be pretty tricky when it comes to boards.

Most cars do not have enough space to fit a paddleboard inside. 

So, tying it on the roof is the next best option. 

So how do you do that? We’ll tell you.  

Table of Contents

Do You Need Roof Racks For Transporting SUPs?

Roof racks are a set of rods attached to the car’s roof for easy transport of equipment. 

Although paddleboards can be tied to the car’s roof without the racks, it is still highly recommended.  Roof racks provide extra safety, keeping the boards in place even on rough roads.

If you’ve invested in an expensive board, invest in roof racks to reduce the potential damage to your SUP. 

There are a lot of roof racks specially designed for paddleboards.  A good set will have foam pads. This ensures the enamel coating of solid SUPs remains unscratched. 

What Methods Can Be Used To Secure A SUP To The Car?

Crossbars and racks

Crossbars and racks are really important on the roof of the car so that you have something to tie the board to. Racks, as mentioned above, are a necessity, especially if you don’t have a truck or a jeep. 

Straps and ropes 

To secure the SUP, you’ll need straps and ropes to tie down the paddleboard on the roof. Two straps and a long water-resistant rope should be enough. If you have chosen not to use roof racks make sure you place padding between the board and the roof.

Is There A Specific Orientation When Placing A SUP On Your Vehicle Roof?

There are plenty of debates on which direction to tie the board on top of the car. Some say the nose should be at the front, some say at the back. The direction in which you should mount your board is dependent on the type of car you have.

sup car rack and the correct direction to place a SUP

Cars with more slanting roofs at the front should mount their boards fin-at-the-front

This way, if the board starts slipping to the front, the fin will get caught in the straps. 

Similarly, keep the board’s fin towards the back if your car roof slants at the rear.

Your main concern is that the board will fly backward if you accelerate rapidly or fly forward if you decelerate quickly. This will happen regardless of the roof slant, so ensure the board is secured for either eventuality.

How To Strap Two Or More Paddleboards To A Roof Rack

Though most of the steps are similar, tying multiple boards to the car’s roof requires extra care. 

sup tie down straps when carrying two boards on your car

  • Make sure you use extra straps when loading multiple boards.  
  • Make sure all the boards you stack are “fin side up”. 
  • Keep a distance between the end of the stacked board and the fin on the board beneath. 
  • Make sure to leave a few twists on the top of the board so that boards don’t make a humming sound when you’re driving. 
  • Strap the boards horizontally for a sturdy tie, one from the left side and the other from the right side.

Is It Okay To Secure An Inflatable SUP To The Roof Of A Car?

One of the main perks of an inflatable board is that you can just deflate and carry it anywhere with ease. 

But you can stack those boards on the roof of the car as well. 

The process of strapping down an inflatable board is precisely the same as solid boards. However, you do need to make sure your iSUP is properly inflated.

The only risk is that of the weather conditions. 

Having an inflatable paddleboard during longer commutes under severe weather conditions is bad for the board. Too much sun exposure, snow, or wind can and will damage the board. 

It’s best to just deflate the board and carry it in the car in those situations. 

Can You Travel At Highway Speed With Paddleboards On The Roof?

If the boards are strapped in properly and securely, the speed doesn’t really matter. But it is advised to take periodic breaks and make sure everything is in its place. Checking the straps and the boards on intervals will ensure nothing slips out. 

Cars with Kayaks mounted on them are advised to travel at not more than 60-90MPH. So, even with a SUP it’s best to stay in that range. 

Precautions In High Winds When Traveling With Roof Mounted SUPs?

High wind travels, especially with longer boards, are not recommended. 

If you must, make sure to use a bow and stern lines for extra security.

Don’t have inflatable boards on your car’s roof unless they are super rigid when inflated.

Are Certain Cars Better For Roof Mounted SUPs

If your car is longer than your paddleboard, it’s a good car for roof mounting. The issue arises when the board extends past the length of the car.

paddle board roof rack straps when the board is longer than your car

But if that does occur, you may have to follow local laws that dictate tying a marker to the end that protrudes behind the car.

Bonus Tips 

1. remember to wash the roof of the car after carrying wet paddleboards on it. The salty seawater on the boards can and will cause corrosion. You can use anti-corrosion treatments as well.

2. Once the boards are nicely strapped and tucked, make sure to tuck the loose ends of the straps as well. This will prevent the ends from flapping around when you’re driving.

3. make sure to add a few twists on the strap when tying down the boards. This will prevent the vibrating of the straps. 

Conclusion

If you’ve never traveled with a paddleboard before, it can seem like a daunting task. But, it is perfectly doable and not difficult at all. Try strapping your board on the roof of the car a few times and driving a bit to get the hang of it. With proper knowledge, practice, and time-learned experience, you’ll have no problem traveling with your board and exploring magnificent paddling spots with ease in no time. 

Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland loves the outdoor life and getting out in nature. He loves writing and sharing knowledge. He's part of the team at thesupguru.com
He’ll find any excuse he can to get out on the water and can often be seen on a SUP with his kids and dogs.