How to Find the Perfect Set of Roof Racks for Paddle Boards

Finding the perfect set of paddle board roof racks

Believe it or not – roof racks are the most important paddle board accessory for epoxy and soft top SUP owners. Without roof racks, you would not be able to bring your epoxy or soft top paddle board anywhere with you because they are too big to fit inside your car, unlike inflatable paddle boards which can easily be transported when deflated.

Today, we’re going to walk you step-by-step on how to find the perfect set of roof racks for paddle boards.

Roof Racks for Paddle Boards

Step 1:  Figure out if your car needs crossbars 

If your car does not have cross bars already installed, you will need to purchase a roof rack system from Thule or Yakima. A roof rack system will allow you to rest your SUP on top of your car without it touching the roof. Generally, they are made of steel and clamp under your car windows unless you have rails (or gutters) above your car windows already.

Both Thule and Yakima have a custom vehicle picker on their websites that will allow you to find a durable set of roof racks that will fit the year, make and model of your car. Once your car has a roof rack system installed, you are ready for the next easy step.

Note: Thule and Yakima offer surfboard & SUP racks, but all these racks require roof rack systems to be attached.

Roof Racks for Paddle Boards

Step 2: Choose between soft racks & straps vs. SUP rack system

You have two options for securing your stand up paddle board to your roof rack system:

Soft Roof Rack Pads & Straps

This is the most popular option because soft roof rack pads & straps are the most affordable by a long shot. These will cost you around $50 versus a SUP rack system will run you $150-$500 depending on the type you get from Thule or Yakima.

Soft rack pads & straps come with two pads and two straps. The pads wrap around the crossbars of your roof rack system with velcro to prevent your paddle board from rubbing against the steel crossbars while driving. The straps are used to secure your paddle board to the cross bars. Both straps have a padded cam lock buckle on one end to effectively cinch down your paddle board tightly to your car’s roof.

There are two types for soft rack pads and straps – round and aero (flat). The round is for round cross bars and the aero are for square or flat cross bars.

Roof Racks for Paddle Boards

Are Soft Rack Pads & Straps right for you?

Soft Rack Pads & Straps are for those who transport their paddle board within a 50-mile range. These racks are easy to install and attach to with little effort. If you plan on frequently taking your soft top or epoxy paddle board to your local bodies of water, then soft rack pads & straps will work just fine. However, soft rack pads & straps are not robust enough to safely transport your stand up paddle board on longer road trips. This method will not be safe with a lot of highway use because increased speeds can be dangerous for your SUP.

SUP Rack System

A SUP rack system is a great option if you aren’t on a tight budget or frequently plan to go on long-distance adventures with your paddle board. As mentioned earlier, SUP rack systems will run you around $150-$500 from Thule or Yakima. Keep in mind, your SUP rack system will need to be the same brand as your roof rack system because they will not fit otherwise.

SUP rack systems are designed for unsurpassed security and effortless access to your paddle board. You will not have to worry about your paddle board falling off your roof when locked into a SUP rack system, even when on the highway. You can trust that your stand up paddle board will always be locked in and secure. All SUP rack systems are designed for quick and easy access to your paddle board and have a state-of-the-art locking mechanism to keep your SUP board secure. Loading and unloading take under a minute. The whole process is very streamlined and effortless. Most racks come equipped with a telescoping design, delivering a custom fit for all paddle board shapes.

Thule SUP TaxiPhoto: courtesy of thule.com

Is a SUP Rack System right for you?

A SUP rack system is right for you if you aren’t on a tight budget and want the extra security for your SUP. If you plan to use your paddle board regularly and go on more epic adventures, then a SUP rack system will help you do that simply and easily.

Roof Racks for Paddle Boards

Step 3: Secure your paddle board to your rack system

Once you have your roof rack system installed on your car and have picked between soft racks and a SUP rack, it’s time to secure your paddle board to your car’s roof so you can go paddle boarding. Securing your paddle board to your car’s roof is simple with some practice.

Once, you have successfully secured your paddle board to your car’s roof, it’s time to go paddle boarding! Make sure to check if everything is tight and locked into place before driving.

Roof Racks for Paddle Boards

Wrapping up

Roof racks for paddle boards are the most important paddle board accessory for epoxy and soft top paddle board owners.  They are mandatory for transporting your epoxy and soft top SUP to and from the water from your car, unless you own a large truck. You will first need to purchase a roof rack system if your car doesn’t have cross bars already installed. Secondly, you will need to decide whether you want to secure your paddle board to your roof rack system with rack pads & straps or a SUP rack. Once you have decided on one of these options, you are ready to secure your paddle board to the roof of your car.

Posted in Gear Guides, Paddle Boarding Tips & Tricks
Douglas Robichaud - Doug is the Marketing Content Manager at ISLE Surf and SUP and has been surfing and paddle boarding for over 10 years. With a degree in English/Journalism, Doug has been an outdoor adventure content writer for over 4 years. Since joining the ISLE team, he has become a paddle board expert in all topics ranging from products, basic tutorials, tips & tricks, SUP safety and new trends.