Before you put your paddleboard into the water the first time—you have to get it there. While inflatable SUPs (stand-up paddleboards) are an option, many people prefer the rigidity and convenience of a traditional SUP. They do not have to be inflated, so there are no extra parts, and you do not have to worry about getting them to the right level of pressure before hitting the water. So, how do you get your paddleboard to the water?
Some people can fold down the seats of their SUV and load their board in the back. People who want to travel with other people, or who do not have a vehicle spacious enough to fit a long paddleboard inside have the option of a car rack or carrier. Car racks are advantageous because they let you easily carry the board on top of your car. Some can also be pulled along behind your vehicle. If you need help deciding on how to best transport and protect your board, here are some of the best car racks for your SUP.
- 1 Our Top SUP Board Roof Racks
- 1.1 1. Thule 810 XT Stand Up Paddle board Taxi Roof Rack
- 1.2 2. Yakima Rack and Roll 66
- 1.3 3. Yakima SUPDawg Paddle Board Carrier
- 1.4 4. Cruiser SUP Deluxe Soft Car Rack and Stand Up Paddle Board Carrier
- 1.5 5. Iztoss Motor Tech Universal Soft Roof Rack with Anti-Vibration and Adjustable Straps
- 2 Buying Guide for SUP Carriers and Car Racks
Our Top SUP Board Roof Racks
To get you started, here are some of the best car racks and other carriers for your SUP, designed to keep your board safe and secure when you hit the road for your next paddleboarding adventure.
1. Thule 810 XT Stand Up Paddle board Taxi Roof Rack
This model is designed to be installed on your car roof and securely hold your board in place while you drive, as well as to prevent theft.
If you are worried about theft while you are away on vacation, this is a great option. It comes with a spring-loaded locking cam, steel-reinforced webbing, and 2 locks—one that secures the carrier to a car and a second to secure the paddleboards to the carrier. It works for boards up to 34” in width and you can carry multiple boards on top of the car.
This ‘taxi’ for paddleboards is designed to work with a Thule brand rack system, however, it also works with most factory racks and round bars. It will not work without a rack, so it is a good option if you already have one. For easier installation, it has a Speed-Link mounting system that installs without tools. There is an option of professional install with purchase, but it is simple enough that you likely do not need the extra cost.
This set-up is a little costly, but it is more affordable than some of the others on the list. If you have a board longer than 9-feet, you should use additional padding between the board and strap, to prevent damage. Boards that have a soft outer should also be protected with extra padding. Finally, the strap area can be a little confusing to tuck away, but this does not affect the security of the SUP car rack carrier.
2. Yakima Rack and Roll 66
This is an expensive option for towing, however, it is an all-in-one carrier for all your outdoor fun items. The best part is that you can tow multiple things, up to 250 pounds of weight.
If you are looking for a carrier to pull along behind your vehicle, this is a great option. It is lightweight, but comes with four-inch wheels and a great system of shock absorbers, to prevent damage and make sure your gear gets where you need to go safely. It can carry kayaks, paddleboards, bicycles, and more.
Another great design feature is the carrying handle. Once you detach the set-up from your vehicle, the trailer becomes a hand cart.
Ease of Use
Easy is the name of the game with this paddleboard carrier. It is easy to mount and unmount from the car, and easier to load than roof racks because it is closer to the ground. However, you should note that additional padding or supports may be needed to secure your board better.
One thing to note, however, is that there are overhang specifications in some areas which may be important for longer boards. Know the rules, especially if you are traveling for vacation, and mark your gear accordingly.
If you are taking this cart far, it is recommended that you buy the optional spare tire because of wear and tear. Another great feature is that the cart tilts upward, for compact storage in a garage or at a campsite.
3. Yakima SUPDawg Paddle Board Carrier
This load system includes rollers, which is a great feature for loading and unloading them to the top of your vehicle.
In addition to the rollers that make loading your boards easily, this is designed to hold two boards that are up to 36” wide each. There is an included slider that helps accommodate the size of your board, to cut down on vibrations. It also includes plenty of padding and strong straps that securely hold your SUPs in place. Something to note about the rollers, however, is that they install from the side instead of the rear, which may be a little more complicated.
Like the first model on this list, this SUP carrier comes with two locks, to secure the boards to the rack and the rack to the car. However, the straps could be cut through because they are not steel-reinforced, so they are not completely anti-theft.
Installing this set-up is fairly easy, because it comes fully assembled and you do not need tools to put it on the car. It easily and unmounts and holds its position securely, to prevent rattling on top of the car. One thing to note, however, is that there is a whistling noise that comes from the rack sometimes while traveling.
4. Cruiser SUP Deluxe Soft Car Rack and Stand Up Paddle Board Carrier
This is an affordable option for transporting your SUP, but it can be a little noisy.
This SUP rack comes with high-compression foam blocks that are 30” wide, to cushion your boards and prevent scratching of your vehicle. Even a small car like a Prius can safely carry a board that is over 11-feet long, as well as paddleboards for surfing or surfboards. It is also easy to install, at less than half the cost of some other SUP car racks.
This is a highly compatible carrying option, being able to work with any vehicle that does not have a roof rack. It features the foam pads and front and rear tie downs, making it possible to use this even with a 2-door car.
Something that you should note is that the straps do vibrate noisily as you are traveling down the road. However, you can minimize the noise by twisting the straps before you tighten them.
5. Iztoss Motor Tech Universal Soft Roof Rack with Anti-Vibration and Adjustable Straps
This is another affordable option, the least costly on the list.
There are ultra-long, durable straps for this model, which works with any vehicle that does not have a permanent roof rack installed. It works well with paddleboards, but can also be used for other boards, luggage, and equipment. The 3” thick layer of EVA foam padding and easy install makes it a great choice for any vehicle, even rental cars.
This is easy to install and can hold as much as 165 pounds. Even so, you should note that it can be hard to get the boards or other equipment on top of a large vehicle without upper body strength or an extra person. One thing to note, however, is that the strap system to tuck in can be confusing, but this does not affect how well the paddleboard carrier works.
Quality of Materials
The straps of this carrier are scratch-resistant and UV-protected which prevents wear and tear. The aircraft buckle is high-quality, being resistant to rust and corrosion.
One thing to note, however, is that the anti-slip cover works well for many items but not all. You may still have to stop and adjust the straps periodically.
Buying Guide for SUP Carriers and Car Racks
Purchasing a car rack or other carrier for your standup paddleboard is a serious commitment. You want something that will safely and securely hold your SUP, to get it to its destination without damage. To prevent that, here are some considerations to make before buying an SUP car rack.
Car Rack or Trailer
The best options for carrying your SUP are a rack for on top of your car, or a trailer that is pulled behind it. Obviously, the type of vehicle that you have is a big part of this decision. The style of the hood of your car effects the type of carrying rack that can or cannot be used for your vehicle. If you do not have a flat surface, then you cannot set up a system on your roof for the boards. Additionally, if you choose a SUP trailer to pull behind your car, your vehicle needs a hitch. These can be installed, so it is not a big deal if you do not have one yet.
How Many Boards You Want to Carry
Is paddleboarding something that you are going to do alone? If not, then consider buying a rack that holds more than one board. Even if you live alone, you may find that you have a friend with an interest in the sport or that it is a fun dating activity. You are not required to buy one with extra spots, but it will be convenient if you bring along friends, family, or your romantic interest.
Protection of Your Board
When you spend good money on a paddleboard, you do not want it becoming nicked, scratched, or damaged while you are carrying it. Many racks come with pads to ensure the safety of your board. If pads are not included, buying some is a worthwhile investment to protect your SUP.
You do not want to risk driving down the road and having your board fall off behind you. Using tie downs, straps, or other methods of security is important to prevent mishaps like this and keep your board (and other drivers) safe as you go down the road.
Paddleboards come in many shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific paddleboarding activity. Some are wider to encourage balance, like those used for SUP yoga, while others focus on length and a specifically designed tip, to encourage speed. Regardless of your board type, be sure that the car rack or carrier that you choose meets your needs.
How Easy (or Hard) it is to Load
Something else to factor into your decision is if it will be complicated to get your SUP where you need it to go. The last thing that you want to deal with before hitting the water is wearing yourself out wrestling with your board or wasting time with a difficult set up.
Many of these car racks are useful, depending on the type of board that you have. Our top pick is:
Cruiser SUP Deluxe Soft Car Rack and Stand Up Paddle Board Carrier
If you do not have permanent roof racks installed on top of your vehicle, this is a great choice because the carrier protects your SUP and your vehicle. It is highly compatible with a wide range of vehicles and is an affordable option that will get your board from A to B.
As you make your decision, remember that the most important thing is choosing a compatible rack that gets your SUP where you need it to go, safely and securely. Once you have found something compatible, consider extra features like tie-downs or multi-board carriers before you decide.