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Although inflatable stand up paddleboards can be conveniently packed down to fit into a backpack, you CAN transport iSUPs on a roof rack. Transporting your SUP on a roof rack can come in handy now and again, so it’s good to understand the proper set up. This article covers exactly how to transport your inflatable stand up paddleboard via a roof rack and provides a few extra tips and tricks along the way.

Transport your inflatable stand up paddleboard on a roof rack.

There’s a variety of reasons you may decide you want to transport your SUP on a roof rack. Maybe you need the extra space in the vehicle, find it easier to pump the boards up at home, are going to be paddling several days in a row, or are portaging between nearby bodies of water. Whatever, the reason it’s worth understanding the ins and outs of how to transport your SUP on a roof rack properly.

Thurso Surf Expedition Touring, Max Multi-purpose, and Waterwalker All-arounds on roof rack

If you need the extra space inside your vehicle, transport your SUPs on a roof rack. Photo by InflatableBoarder.com

Before Anything Goes on the Roof Rack

Before you put your board up on the roof to tie it down there’s a few things you’ll want to consider, like how far are you traveling with your board on the roof and what are the likely driving conditions. If it’s just a short drive to a nearby location on roads you’re familiar with then you don’t need to do anything special. However, if you’re going on a long drive or doing a bit of off-roading it might be worth considering some added protection.

Use a SUP specific roof rack if possible. Many roof racks have the perfect accessories designed to protect your board from damage. If you don’t have a roof rack designed for stand up paddle boards, you can improvise by affixing foam blocks, pool noodles, soft towels (or other soft materials) at major points of contact between your board, the rack and the straps. Common contact points include, where the tie down straps touch the board and where the board touches the roof rack.

Inflatable stand up paddle boards don’t suffer from dents and dings like hardboards. Their soft inflatable bodies actually makes them more durable to those typical accidents. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take much to follow the added precautions, so why not?

Thurso Surf Waterwalker All-around SUP and Prodigy Junior SUP on roof rack

Stack your boards with the largest on the bottom. Photo by InflatableBoarder.com

Mounting Your SUP to the Roof Rack

After you pad your roof rack you can mount your board. If you’re transporting several on the roof make sure to place the largest at the bottom and work your way up to the smallest. This helps build a solid and sturdy foundation for the load you’re carrying.

When placing you SUPs on the rack you want to place them deck down. Placing your SUP with its deck down decreases wind resistance. By placing your board so its tail is at the front of your vehicle you can also increase safety and security a little bit. Here’s the idea, if a strap loosens while you’re driving your board could slide off. However, if the tail is at the front (with or without fins attached) as the board slides back the fin box and or fins will catch on the strap. Of course this isn’t something you want to rely on. It’s simply a last line of defense against an unwelcome accident.

Thurso Surf Waterwalker and Prodigy stacked on roof rack

Check the straps to make sure your boards are secure. Photo by InflatableBoarder.com

Securing Your SUP to the Roof Rack

Now that you have your board is in position you can secure it to the roof rack. Wrap the strap over your board and under your rack. *Although roof racks are quite similar it’s best to check your specific model’s instructions. Once the straps are in place, but before you buckle them shut twist the straps. The twist in the strap prevents them from flapping in the wind and creating an unpleasant wind noise while driving.

Now that the straps are buckled check to make sure they’re pulled tight. You don’t want the boards to be able to move around while they’re secured to the rack. With an inflatable paddle board you also want to make sure it’s not too tight. Look for creases around where the strap meets your board. If it’s too tight you’ll see creases in the board as though it’s being pinched or squeezed.

Thurso Surf Expedition Touring Board on roof rack

Securely transport your SUP on a roof rack. Photo by InflatableBoarder.com

Added Security

Although the tie down straps should be enough if attached properly you can give yourself some added security by securing your SUP with it’s D-rings. DO NOT solely rely on the D-rings as a way to tie down your stand up paddleboard. They alone are not secure enough and the tension could cause damage to your board. Instead, using additional straps or rope to attach to the D-rings and your roof rack can simply give you an added peace of mind that your SUP won’t fly off if something happens to the main straps.

Thurso Surf Waterwalker on roof rack

Ready to go as soon as you park. Photo by InflatableBoarder.com

Quick Guide to Transporting Your SUP on a Roof Rack

Step 1– Pad the rack.

Step 2 – Place your board on the roof rack centered between the crossbars deck down, tail first. Always place the largest board at the bottom and work your way up to the smallest.

Step 3 – Attach the straps according to your roof rack model. Adding a twist in the strap will prevent it from flapping loudly in the wind.

Step 4 – Check that the straps are tight and your board can’t move around.

As you can see it’s nothing complicated, but having the added insights will help you transport your board properly. Which in turn will help you keep your gear in good condition and stay safe on the road.

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