How To Transport Your Paddle Board Without A Roof Rack


How To Transport Paddle Board Without Roof Rack

It’s no secret that unless you have easy access to the waterfront, getting your SUP from your home to the water is the least fun part of the hobby. 

You might think it would be even more difficult if you don’t have a roof rack for your vehicle, but lucky for you, there are many options available. Whether you go with an easy-to-use soft-rack system, or DIY hacks using inexpensive materials, you and your board will be in the water in no time.

This article will show you how to safely get your SUP onto a car roof that has no roof rack. We’ll give some helpful hints that will keep your car, your board, and others safe.

How To Transport A Paddle Board On A Car Without A Roof Rack 

Many cars come without roof racks, and they can be expensive to install. But as long as the roof is smooth and you purchase a few easy-to-find materials, you’ll have your board secured and heading to the water in no time at all. 

Here are step-by-step instructions for a quick and easy way to safely secure your board to the roof of your car without causing any damage to your vehicle. 

Here’s what you’ll need to buy:

  • Two cam straps or two ratchet straps
  • Two EVA foam blocks that are slightly bigger than your board (but not bigger than your roof) 

Many boating or water sports stores will carry the EVA foam blocks you’re looking for, but here are a few options for purchasing them online:

You’ll also need at least 2 straps. You can use a ratchet-style strap or one with a cam buckle but make sure they are long enough, especially if you might be transporting multiple boards. At least a 14 or 15 ft extension should do the trick. 

There are many straps available specifically designed for SUP boards. Here are a few:

Once you’ve got the materials you need, setting it up to transport your board is relatively simple. 

Here are the step by step instructions:

  1. Place your foam blocks close to the front and back windshields to take advantage of this area’s natural stability. You don’t want your roof buckling under the weight of the boards. Doing this will also help you keep your boards flat. 
  2. Lift the board onto our vehicle face down. One person can lift most boards, but if you have a larger touring SUP, you might need a second pair of hands to get it up safely. 
  3. Ensure that the board is centered on top of the foam blocks. How your board has been designed will decide whether you put the fins at the front or the back or whether you should lay it facedown or faceup. On the whole, you’ll want to keep it facedown, with fins at the back and nose at the front.
  4. Boards that have a pointier nose should especially have their points at the front of the car. This makes things more streamlined. 
  5. Open all four doors of your car before you put the straps on.
  6. Carefully lay the straps over the top of the board and the EVA foam blocks, and loop them one at a time through the open car doors.
  7. Connect the straps in the middle from inside your car. This is for added safety. Straps connected to the top of the board can make it easy for someone to steal them. If you leave the vehicle unattended, they simply have to unstrap them and taking the board. 
  8. If you’re using a ratchet-style strap to secure them, remember not to make it too tight, the ratchet can have a powerful grip and cause damage to your car or your board. 
  9. If you don’t want a buzzing noise created by the air flowing between the strap and the board, twist the strap down the middle where it meets the board. 
  10. Use your best judgment to feel if the board is secure. Move the board around and make any necessary adjustments. 

You might have heard people swear by using pool noodles to construct a soft rack for paddle boards, surfboards, or even kayaks. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. Use quality straps and sturdy EVA foam blocks, or purchase a professionally made soft rack to ensure your boards’ safe transportation. 

Transporting Multiple Paddle Boards Without A Roof Rack 

Some vehicles have wide crossbars that can carry two boards side by side with ease. But you can transport two paddle boards even if you don’t have a roof rack. 

The setup is identical to what you do for a single board. Load up the first board onto the foam blocks or whatever system you’re using. Ensure the board is flat and the fins are at the back of the vehicle as suggested.

Now you’ll want to put some padding between the two boards. You can safely use pool noodles as a spacer between your boards. Plumbing insulation is another excellent option. Whatever you use, you don’t want there to be too large of a gap between the boards. 

Before you strap the second board on, you’re going to want to offset the top board. Slide the top board up a bit so that it’s sitting just in front of the bottom board’s fin. 

If you’re transporting multiple boards, a cam strap likely won’t cut it. Make sure you use a ratchet strap that’s firmly tightened so your boards don’t go flying around on the highway. You also will likely need a longer strap.

Strap the two paddleboards exactly as suggested above. The straps go over the top of both boards and through your open car doors. Tighten them and secure them in the middle inside your car. 

Assure Your SUP Boards Are Strapped Down Firmly To The Roof

Paddle boards are not cheap, and most damage opportunities occur when your board is out of the water. Remember, however you decide to transport your SUP, be extra careful when laying your board down and getting it ready to go up on the roof of your car. Find a soft patch of grass if you need to lay it down. 

That being said, there are a couple of things that will affect the stability of your board attachment: speed, wind, and the flatness of your board.  

Belting down the highway at high speeds with a DIY board attachment that isn’t properly secured is a bad idea. Make sure you are confident your straps are secured correctly. And even then, proceed with caution

High winds can also destabilize your board. So pay attention to the weather and make extra sure your board is adequately secured. 

Another thing that ensures stability is placing the board as flat as you can make it. The ‘rocker’ of your board will affect how flat it can lay, so adjust the foam block’s position to enable the board to lay as flat as possible. 

Remember, the board should be face down, wings up, and you want those rockers pointing down and to the front to make things more streamlined. 

Consider An Affordable Easy To Install Roof Rack System For Paddle Boards (The Safer Way)

Maybe you’re a little bit nervous with the DIY approach of sourcing EVA blocks and straps and trusting yourself to get it secured correctly. 

Luckily there’s another way to secure your paddle board to your roof that’s just as affordable and arguably much safer. These are sometimes called soft rack systems or pack racks, and they are readily available and very user-friendly. 

Pack racks are a great option to use if you’re renting or paddle boarding while traveling. You don’t want to have to carry straps and EVA blocks with you wherever you go, and many of these pack rack systems are easily transported. 

Sea To Summit has a soft, inflatable roof rack that’s easy to use and inexpensive. It uses inflatable pads that sit on your roof, straps that run through your car, and bands that hold your board in place. When you’re done using them, the roof rack deflates and stores in an easy-to-carry case.

Curve’s SUP Soft Rack is similar but uses foam padding instead. However, many reviewers are disappointed with the clearance it offers, even though the materials are much easier on the board. 

Epic Surf Racks sells a soft rack that will fit on most cars with a gutterless roof. It includes wide soft racks that can hold two SUPs or two longboards, as well as buckles covered in neoprene that will protect your car and board from scratches. A carrying bag is included that will make storage a sinch. 

So, if you don’t like the thought of making a DIY rack, these soft rack systems might be just what you need.  

My Final Thoughts 

Whether you’re using foam blocks, ratchet straps, cam straps, or you’re using a soft rack, the number one thing to keep in mind is safety. Remember to do your homework and carefully read any instructions. Always ensure your straps and blocks are tightly mounted so that you’re not endangering yourself or others. 

Now, get your paddle board strapped to your car and go enjoy the water!

Joseph Gambino

Paddle Board Enthusiast, Athlete and Blogger. Learn more about me here: https://paddleboardkings.com/about-joseph-gambino/

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