Having to transport your bulky SUP can be a huge problem, especially if you have a compact car. Fortunately, manufacturers have gotten wise to this problem, so, with a little research, you can find the best stand up paddle board roof racks designed to make transporting your SUP a cinch. However, not all roof racks are created equal. You’ll come across many low-quality models that may only last a season, are difficult to use, or a hassle to install.
That’s where I come in. As a SUP rider, I’ve created this buyer’s guide, which includes all of the information you need to know when you’re in search of the right roof rack for your vehicle and your SUP. I’ve also tested out several racks, narrowing it down to six that are built tough, are versatile, and designed to last.
Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each model that landed on my list, how it rated, and information regarding important features.
Stand-Up Paddle Board Roof Racks Comparison Chart
YAKIMA – SUPDawg Rooftop Mounted Stand
This model by Yakima can carry up to two stand up paddle boards and comes with everything needed to attach them securely in place, such as the SKS locks and straps. This rack is highly adjustable, so it can fit boards that are up to thirty-six inches wide. It’s also compatible with most types of crossbars, including aerodynamic, factory, square, and round. However, it does require a minimum crossbar spread of twenty-four inches. The rack’s design helps make loading it up a cinch using the included integrated rollers. For added protection and to prevent scratches on the board’s surface, the manufacturer thought to include padding on the mount cradle.
- SKS locks
- Padding for SUP protection
- Arrives fully assembled
- Straps can be difficult to adjust
This versatile, adjustable SUP roof rack can accommodate up to two boards, works with most types of crossbars, and includes SKS locks and straps that make loading up your boards for a day on the water a cinch. The installation process is also fast and easy, since the rack will arrive fully assembled, right out of the box. In total, the installation process should take only about ten to fifteen minutes. This rack may be on the pricey side, but considering how adjustable, versatile, and durable it is, most SUP riders will find that it’s worth every penny.
IKURAM Stand Up Paddle
This roof rack is very versatile and can be used for stand up paddle boards, kayaks, and surfboards. The rack itself is thick, oversized and comes equipped with padded upright and all-weather rubber saddles, both of which work to prevent the SUP from getting damaged during transport. The mounting design is universal. The J-cradle can accommodate boards up to forty-two inches wide and works with square, round, and oval shaped crossbars. This set comes with everything needed to transport up to two boards quicky and easily. The boards fit vertically on the roof of a vehicle for fast and easy loading and unloading.
This model also comes with two straps and safety tie downs. The heavy-duty straps have a break strength of up to seven hundred and fifty pounds, which is pretty impressive. The frame is made out of high-quality anodized aluminum, which is rust-resistant, durable, and lightweight.
- Rust resistant
- Includes two security straps
- J-cradle accommodates boards of all sizes
- Padding for added protection
- Difficult installation
This model features a multiple carrying option, for a versatile design that allows you to store and secure a couple of stand up paddle boards, kayaks, or surfboards, in a variety of positions. The acrylic fabric sleeves and thick padding on the J-cradle offer the type of extra-proctection needed during transport, so you won’t have to worry about your board getting damaged when loading, unloading, or during a bumpy ride
Thule SUP Taxi XT
This SUP rack features a push button lock system that promotes an easy and fast locking operation and improved security. The patented telescoping design provides a custom fit for paddle boards up to thirty-four inches wide. The installation process is also a breeze, thanks to the tool-free mounting design. The webbing is made of out reinforced heavy-duty steel. The locking cam is what makes this model one of the most secure racks on the market. You’ll also find a padded cradle, which will prevent any damage to your board during loading, unloading, and transport.
- Tool-free mounting
- Telescoping design
- Push button locking system
- Weather-resistant padding
- Steel reinforced webbing
- Only accommodates one board
- Difficult to adjust
This versatile stand up paddle board rack can accommodate even wider board designs, thanks to the rack’s telescoping design, which provides a secure, custom fit. This model can transport one board at a time, which may be a drawback for the rider who needs a rack that can handle transporting their board and a friend’s. However, for those in search of a single board rack, this model is a great buy and one that offers the security and protection needed to safely transport a SUP without a scratch.
SportRack Mooring 4-in-1 Kayak & SUP Carrier
This rack system is very versatile and can be adjusted in various configurations to maximize carrying space and roof space. This model offers four different ways to carry, including J-style and saddle style. It can also be used as a stacker. The single load should not exceed seventy-five pounds. When used in stacker mode, it shouldn’t exceed over one hundred and thirty pounds. The rack can mount directly to most types of aftermarket and factory rack systems, for crossbars with a maximum of three and a half inches in diameter. This set comes with a couple pairs of stern and bow tie downs, in addition to four loading straps. The rack can accommodate boards up to thirty-six inches wide and can be folded down when not in use.
- Four carry options
- Four loading straps
- Two stern and bow tie downs
- Can carry up to two boards or two kayaks
- Low price
- Easy to remove thumb screws can make the rack vulnerable to theft
- Low quality plastic handle
This model is versatile, durable, and includes a couple of strap options for ultimate protection and security. It also features padded arms, which are designed to protect the surface of your board when you’re loading, unloading, or during transport. This model can carry up to two stand up paddle boards or two kayaks, which is a huge plus for the SUP rider who loves to hit the water with a buddy.
Sportneer SUP Roof Rack
This SUP rack features a versatile design and easy installation. It’s also able to handle boards that are up to forty-two inches wide, with a weight up to one hundred and sixty-five pounds. This model works with most types of crossbars, including aerodynamic, factory, and square. The tool-less installation will be a big plus for most buyers, with an installation time of around ten to fifteen minutes.
The system’s 180-degree fold and raise design allows the rack to adapt to both SUPs and kayaks of all shapes and sizes, so you can easily and quickly adjust the size and shape of the rack, no tools required.
- Scratch-proof padding
- Can carry up to two SUPs or kayaks
- Sturdy and tough design
- Low price
- High weight capacity
- Tool-less installation
- Rack can be difficult to fold
- Vague installation instructions
This system is loaded with some great features, including the rubber and EVA sponge pedals that are designed to keep your board in excellent condition as they hold the board in place, securely. This rack system will keep a couple of stand up paddle boards stable and securely in place while you drive, so you won’t have to worry about the boards becoming damaged during transport. Additionally, the rack’s lightweight, durable frame is made out of aluminum alloy that’s rustproof, waterproof, and fireproof. The lightweight design allows you to easily install the rack in a matter of minutes, load up your boards, and hit the road for your next SUP adventure.
CargoLoc 2-Piece Universal Roof Top Mounted Paddle Board Rack
This SUP rack is made out of high-quality steel that has a weather resistant coating that will prevent rust. The cradles come equipped with thick padding that’s designed to gently secure and support your paddle board, preventing surface damage such as gouges and scratches as you load, unload, and transport your board. The rack has a one-hundred-and-fifty-pound load capacity. The rack can accommodate paddle boards, kayaks, bikes, and more. The rack is also covered by a limited lifetime warranty, which will give buyers peace of mind knowing CargoLoc stands behind their products.
- Large load capacity
- Padded cradles
- Steel construction
- Rustproof coating
- Low price
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Difficult installation
- Low-quality foam
This is a fairly basic paddle board rack that’s available at a low price. While the rack lacks some of the same features that a higher priced SUP rack does, such as high-quality EVA foam, this model does get the job done and works to keep your board secured and safe during transport. If you’re looking for an affordable rack you can use for short trips to the beach, this model by CargoLoc delivers.
Stand-Up Paddle Board Roof Racks Buyer’s Guide
Using a roof rack is the best ways to transport and store a paddle board. While truck owners can simply place their board in the bed of a truck, SUV and compact car owners may not have enough room in their vehicles to transport a board, even with the seats down.
That’s where a stand-up paddle board roof rack comes in. In this buyer’s guide, I’ll go over the following information:
- Roof rack setup
- Number of boards
- Rack lock
- SUP roof rack versus mounting a board directly to the crossbars
- Using a rack for an inflatable SUP
- Transporting more than one SUP
- Protecting your board
- Security concerns
- Maximum weight
By the end of this buyer’s guide, you’ll know exactly what to look for in a roof rack, how to choose one that’s compatible with your board and vehicle, how to store your board, and which models are crushing the competition.
Before I begin the buyer’s guide, let’s take a look at the many benefits that come with using a rack to transport your SUP.
Benefits of Stand Up Paddle Board Roof Racks
There are a number of benefits of using a roof rack for your SUP. Some of the most important ones are:
- Most SUPs measure in at ten to twelve feet in length, which makes it very challenging to transport a board inside a vehicle. Some riders will opt for inflatable boards because of this, but even inflatable paddle board users prefer to leave their board inflated, so they don’t have to deal with the hassle of inflating them once they reach the water. A rack will allow the rigid and inflatable paddle board user to easily and securely transport their board.
- Some SUP users will strap their boards to the top of their vehicle to transport. Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to damage the surface of the board. Over time, the board can become scratched, damaged, or gouged. Using a rack, you can protect your board from damage, via the included padded cradles. The cradles elevate the board and are cushioned, so the padding and cradles will support the board, without damaging its surface.
- A rack will give you several ways to securely transport your boards. Other transportation options not only put a board at risk of mild to moderate surface damage, but they also run the risk of their boards falling off their roof or the back of a track, when they’re driving on busy highways at top speeds.
- With a rack, the board will be locked in place with the help of heavy-duty straps and a rack’s locking system.
- These racks are versatile, and most are highly adjustable, so you can transport your board in a variety of configurations. The versatility of these racks will allow you to transport more than just a stand up paddle board. In fact, these racks can be used to transport surfboards, kayaks, or even bicycles.
- These racks also offer multi-carry options, ranging from one to four boards. This will allow you to transport your board and the rest of the family’s boards.
- Installation is often fast and simple. Many of the latest models feature a tool-less design, so you can have your board installed in just ten to fifteen minutes.
- Racks that have adjustable cradles will allow you to finetune the support and security of the rack, instantly, for a custom fit that offers top of the line protection against damage.
- A roof rack may be pricey, in some cases, but it’s much cheaper than what it’ll cost you to replace your board, if it gets gouged and scratched up, or ends up flying off your vehicle.
Now that you know more about the benefits that come with using a roof rack to transport your board, let’s take a look at the different types available, so you can choose the perfect rack based on the type of vehicle you drive, the boards you use, and how much space you have to work with.
Types of Stand-up Paddle Boards
When you’re shopping for roof racks, you’ll come across a few options:
The type of rack you choose will depend on the number of boards you’ll be hauling, the size of your board and the type of vehicle you drive.
A soft rack attaches to most types of vehicles, via a strap system. This style doesn’t require roof rails or crossbars.
Soft racks tend to be a more popular option since they’re more affordable and easier to use.
This type of rack consists of a couple of straps and two pads. The pads wrap around the vehicle’s crossbars via Velcro, which prevents the boards from rubbing against the crossbars while you drive. The straps will secure the board to the crossbars. Each strap should feature a padded cam lock on one end, so you can cinch down the board securely to a vehicle’s roof.
There are a couple types of soft rack straps and pads, flat and round. Round sets are designed for round crossbars, while the flat sets work for flat or square crossbars.
Soft racks are often a better choice for boarders who transport their SUPs within a fifty-mile range. Additionally, these racks are simple and fast to attach. If you plan on heading to your local spot often, then a soft strap rack will work just fine. However, a soft rack isn’t durable enough to transport a board on a longer trip, especially one that involves plenty of highway use.
If you’re looking for ultimate protection, you love taking long trips with your board, and you have a flexible budget, a hard rack is the way to go.
A hard rack provides more stability and security. Additionally, it can also handle more weight. The installation process is more in-depth, compared to a strap or a soft rack. Hard models usually attach to crossbars and can be more time-consuming to install.
A strap style rack also uses crossbars to fasten the boards. For added protection, you should use a SUP bag or crossbar pads for your board.
Once you choose the type of rack that will work the best for your vehicle and the type and number of boards you want to transport, then you’ll need to take into consideration the many different features these racks have to offer.
Most racks are pretty simple in design, although a hard rack often comes with more bells and whistles compared to a basic soft rack. Below, I’ll discuss some of the must-have features to look for in your next paddle board rack, to help you choose a model that’s right for your board and your vehicle.
Roof Rack Setup
Different crossbars can impact different types of SUP racks. Take a look at your car or SUV’s crossbar compatibility with a hard rack. Crossbars that are factory installed may not be very versatile compared to aftermarket crossbars because spacing can be a problem. Most types of paddle boards come with clamping mechanisms that are universal.
An aftermarket crossbar system usually extends beyond the width of a vehicle’s roof. A wider base offers a platform that’s more versatile since the clamps are able to attach at any distance needed.
If you have more than one SUP and you love to switch between board types, then you’ll need a rack that’s versatile. On the manufacturer’s spec sheet, they should mention the board dimensions the rack is compatible with.
Number of Boards
Some racks can only hold one board, while others can accommodate two. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a rack that can hold three or more boards. If you need a way to transport several boards at once, you may want to look into renting or buying a trailer, which can be hitched to the rear of your car.
A rack’s locking mechanism can ensure that thieves are unable to make off with your boards when you’re away from your vehicle. However, not all locking mechanisms are tough enough to deter thieves, in which case, you may also need to invest in a locking strap mechanism, which features a design that consists of nylon straps that are reinforced with metal.
Just like when you shop for a paddle board, you’ll need to check out how much weight a rack can hold. Some racks, such as soft, may have a maximum weight limit. These are usually the racks that have a one-board capacity.
Other Important Information
Now that you know what types of racks are available and how they work, and what features to look for, now, I’ll go over how to use a rack, what types of boards they’re compatible with, and other mounting options.
SUP Roof Rack Versus Mounting a Board Directly to the Crossbars
If your vehicle comes with crossbars, you have a couple of options:
You can mount the board directly onto the crossbars
You can use a rack that’s specifically designed for sups to mount onto the crossbars.
Some people will choose option number one, however, mounting a board directly to the crossbars can damage your board and doesn’t offer the same level of security that a dedicated SUP rack does. Additionally, many boarders have found that a SUP will move around a lot during a drive, if they’re mounted directly to the crossbars.
A dedicated SUP rack offers better protection, prevents a board from moving during transport, and will not scratch or damage your SUP during transport.
Using a Rack for an Inflatable Sup
For most people, the best thing about an inflatable SUP is the fact that they can be folded down to fit into a pack. This means that loading a SUP into a car takes about as much time as throwing a bag into a trunk. However, there’s also that tradeoff of inflation time once you reach your destination.
Because of this, many inflatable paddle board users have questioned whether or not a roof rack can be used with inflatable boards. Fortunately, many of the leading inflatable paddle boards are very rigid, so they can be transported on the roof in a rack.
Transporting More Than One SUP
If you have crossbars that are very wide, carrying a couple of boards can involve stacking them on top of each other, turning your car into a double paddle board rack. However, because this isn’t the safest option, I recommend purchasing a dedicated SUP rack that’s designed to handle up to two boards.
Never try to load up two boards if the rack you purchased is only designed to hold one board at a time. This can make the rack unstable and will cause the boards to rub against each other during transport.
Protect Your Board
A huge concern for some SUP riders is transporting their boards in hot weather. When the car is in motion, the board will be kept nice and cool by the wind. However, if you’re leaving the board loaded on your vehicle in the hot sun all day, this can lead to extensive sun damage. To protect your board from harmful UV rays, you can purchase a SUP bag. The cost of a paddle board bag will depend on the design, style, and length of your board. Top of the line bags come equipped with thermal protection that’s designed to protect the board from the sun and flying debris, during transport.
Another major concern is how to secure them properly. Unlike a kayak or a canoe, which have plenty of places you can use to run a cable lock through, the paddle board’s simple design means that you will have fewer options for locking them onto a roof. A locking tie-down strap can be pricey, but they’re a must-have any time you leave your board on your roof. These straps are metal-reinforced and feature a lock on the closure. This sturdy design is often enough to deter a thief that’s looking for a fast smash and grab.
As a board owner, you had to consider how much weight a paddle board could hold, before you bought one. It’s the same with a roof rack. All models have a maximum weight capacity ranging from fifty up to two hundred pounds. Typically, racks with a higher max weight will allow you to transport multiple boards.
Frequently Asked Questions
My Car Doesn’t Have Rails on the Roof, will a SUP Rack Still Work?
Most vehicles can be fitted with a roof rack. Even pick-up trucks and two-door vehicles can be equipped with a rack. A car with rails features a universal fastening, while the majority of vehicles have certain fixpoints on the roof and doorways.
Are There Universal Roof Racks?
There are some models on the market that are categorized as universal, but no rack is truly universal. If possible, choose a rack that’s designed specifically for your make and model of car. This will ensure the rack fits securely, the way it’s supposed to. Universal racks are usually cheaper, but they don’t offer the same level of quality, or the same type of fit as a model-specific rack.
Are Roof Racks Safe?
When installed correctly, roof racks are perfectly safe. However, as I mentioned earlier, you should avoid using a soft rack if you plan on driving more than fifty miles. Soft racks simply aren’t durable enough for long trips or highway use. Hard racks are by far the most durable and the safest, offering a higher level of security.
The best stand up paddle board roof racks will be one of the most important accessories you purchase. These racks are mandatory for transporting your board from your car to the water, unless you own a truck. If your car doesn’t have crossbars installed, you’ll need to purchase a roof rack system. Additionally, you’ll need to determine whether you want to secure your board to the rack with a dedicated hard rack, soft rack, or strap rack. Once you’ve determined which type of system and rack will work the best for your board, vehicle, and budget, you can take a closer look at the leading racks I’ve included in my top six list and purchase a model that’s durable, versatile, and one that won’t let you down.