SUP Carriers and Car Roof Racks – What Is the Best Way to Transport Your Paddle Board?

sup carrier car rack

Having your own solid SUP board feels good. You can go paddling whenever and wherever you like. But there is one challenge: transporting it to the water.

Unlike an inflatable paddleboard, you can’t deflate and throw it into a bag.

First, you need to find a method that will work best for you, depending on a number of factors. Then you’ll have to acquire the necessary equipment and get ready to go.

This post brings you the different ways of transporting a SUP board. There is an option for every paddler.

RELATED: 19 Best Inflatable Paddle Board Accessories

Transporting Your Paddleboard on the Car Roof

The roof of your vehicle is the best place to have your SUP board when traveling. Some people put it inside the car—which is more complicated and awkward. It also won’t work for multiple paddleboards. So maybe just go with the car roof.

Paddle Board Roof Racks

You can’t just put the board on the roof and start driving. Unless you have a magic spell that you can use to keep it in place. A roof rack system is safe and guaranteed to work– unlike a spell.

When it comes to paddle board roof racks, you have two choices:

  • Hard racks
  • Soft racks

a. Hard Racks

Most hard racks are designed to fit onto a car rack. You are lucky if your car already has one—otherwise, you have to buy an all-in-one system.

The main downside of these racks is that they are not easy to install. On the brighter side, you can install them once and leave them there.

Be sure to find a carrier system that is designed specifically for SUP, like the following.

Thule SUP Taxi
thule sup taxi sup carrier

Thule is a company committed to improving the experiences of paddlers. The Thule SUP Taxi rack system allows you to carry bigger boards, up to 34 inches wide. Other than being high quality, it has a mounting system and two locks.

You will love it because you won’t need to buy any extra straps of pads. It is compatible with most racks, including round bars, and you can carry more than one board too.

There is a new fancier model with exciting features as well.

Yakima SUPPup Surf Rack
YAKIMA SUPPup Surf and SUP Board Rack

The Yakima SUPPup is a cheaper option if you find the Thule a little too expensive.

This one is meant for both surfboards and paddleboards. It can carry two boards with a maximum width of 34”.

It is compatible with most crossbars. Like its competition above, it comes with straps and padding on the mount cradle.

Installation is tool-free and it is assembled out of the box—good news for people who hate complicated processes.

b. Soft Racks

What if your car does not have a roof rack? Well, you can buy the all-in-one system mentioned above. Alternatively, try soft racks. You will spend less money. Besides, they are easier to install.

The tricky thing about soft racks is that if you are not careful, you will end up with a cheap one. This could put you and other road users in danger.

Orion Motor Tech Anti-Vibration Soft Roof Rack
Orion Motor Tech Anti-Vibration Universal Car Soft Roof Rack Pad

The Orion Motor Tech roof rack is great for watersports enthusiasts. It is not just meant for SUP boards; you can use it to carry kayaks, snowboards, surfboards and even a canoe.

It is adjustable and meant to fit almost all vehicles. The manufacturer says that it can hold a maximum weight of 165 pounds. Your paddleboard is definitely way lighter. Feel free to carry more than one. Two straps and two buckles are provided.

ALSO READ: What Are The Best Paddle Board Storage Racks?

Surfboard Soft Rack
Curve Surfboard Soft Rack

When traveling with friends, you will want a soft rack that holds several boards such as the Surfboard Soft rack.

It is really small, weighing about two pounds. But it carries two SUP boards.

The soft rack comes with foam pads, straps and buckles. When carrying multiple boards, you will have to improvise padding between them.

Choosing a roof rack may seem like a straightforward process. However, you need to watch what you are buying. Here are a few things to look out for:

Locking system: you have seen that the Thule system has a locking system. Long-distance journeys may require you to make several stops. Sometimes, you’ll have to take your eyes off the boards for a minute. So, a locking system is important.

ALSO READ: What are the best paddle board locks in 2023?

Capacity: how many boards can you carry with the rack system? Take note of the maximum board width that the rack can allow, especially if you have a wide paddleboard.

Loading Your SUP Board onto the Roof Rack

Standup paddleboards are not usually heavy. One person can do the loading without much trouble.

If you have a short vehicle and you feel strong, grab the board by the center handle and lift it (with the deck facing you). Do this while standing on the side of the car. Use your other hand for extra support and place the board on the rack system, fin side up.

For shorter paddlers or those with taller cars, go to the back of your vehicle with the SUP. Lift its tail side and place it against the car. Slowly slide the board onto the roof, fin side up.

Foams and Straps: A Cheaper Option to Transport Your SUP Board on the Car Roof

If money is tight, you can still get your board to the water without spending too much. You only need foam blocks and straps. It is like a soft rack system—but a DIY one.

  • Get two foam blocks and two tough straps with buckles.
  • Place one block on the roof, towards the front and the other one towards the back.
  • Next, lift your board onto the roof and place it on top of the foam blocks. Make sure it does not touch the roof.
  • Take the straps and pass them over the board, one towards the front and the other one towards the back, where the foams are.
  • For each strap, its ends should meet inside the car where you tie them as shown in the video below.
  • Before tying, check to see that the straps aren’t twisted anywhere.

Note: in addition to the two straps, you can buy two more to tie the bow and stern to the car bumpers. Your board will be much more secure.

Transporting Your SUP Board Using a Truck

A truck is another great way of moving your SUP board. There is nothing complicated about it. But you can’t just place the board on the truck bed and go. What will happen when you hit a bump? Or when driving on a rough road? Solid paddleboards are not indestructible.

  • First, you need to prepare the truck bed. Remove all the junk and clear it completely.
  • Improvise padding and place it on the truck bed. Anything soft will do.
  • Lower the tailgate and put the paddleboard on the padding. If it is a little too long, let it sit diagonally. You can also let it extend to the tailgate. You don’t have to close it anyway.
  • Use straps to tie down your board.

Transporting your SUP Board Using a Cart/Carrier

What if the distance to the water is too short for a car but too long to carry the board by hand? In that case, sup board carts will come in handy. The following SUP carriers are worth checking out.

Cor Surf Adjustable Stand Up Paddleboard Cart

Cor Surf Adjustable SUP Cart

One thing that makes this a good option is that it can carry a board of any size.

So, if you have a family paddleboard that is a pain to transport, get the Cor Surf cart.

It is made using high-quality aluminum and has plastic tires. This means that you never have to worry about rust or a flat tire.

The Cor Surf UP cart has foam bumpers to protect your SUP during transport.

Users say that the cart is easy to install and will also fit wider SUP and surf boards.

Suspenz Double SUP Airless Cart

Suspenz Double SUP Airless Cart

For two paddleboards, the Suspenz Double Cart is perfect. It makes everything effortless. The tires are premium and they can never go flat.

It has foam pads that protect your boards from dings. Just like the Cor Surf, the Suspenz cannot rust.


And there you have it. All you need to do is choose a system that works for you, depending on your car type and distance. Whether you are on a budget or don’t mind spending more money, there is something for you.

Be careful when loading the SUP board, for your safety and that of others. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun and create beautiful memories.

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