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How to Transport Your Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board

The length of most stand up paddle (SUP) boards is ten to twelve feet long, so it’s pretty difficult or impossible to transport SUPs inside a vehicle. Some paddlers choose inflatable paddle boards for this reason, but most paddlers strap their boards (with or without carrying bags) to the top of their vehicles to get them to and from the water.

Fortunately, there are several easy ways to do this, but with all methods the board should be placed upside down with the deck pad and curvature of the board facing down towards the roof of the car. This position prevents the board from having “wings” that catch the air and make your board move up and down, or even “fly” off your roof! If your tail fin is removable, it’s best to remove it during transportation. If your fin is not removable, this is another reason why you should place it deck side down. The tip or tail of the board should be facing forward over the windshield in most instances as well to create the most aerodynamic ride.

Additionally, with all methods the board should have padding between the board and the roof and be properly strapped down and secured with cinch straps. Do not use ratchet straps, as it is too easy to pull these too tight, which may cause damage to your board.

Vehicles with Roof Racks:

Many vehicles are built with mounts attached to the roof with a pair of racks that run the length of the roof on both sides and often have two cross bars. If this describes your vehicle, purchase long cross bar roof pads that attach to the cross bars with Velcro, then place your SUP board on top of these. To secure with cinch straps, run the straps under the cross bar then up and over the board across to the other side and back again, then cinch. Putting a twist in the strap will help prevent an annoying buzzing sound caused by vibrations in the wind while driving. Pull the straps tight and snug, but not so tight as to cause damage to the board. Then put one or two overhand knots under the buckle so it doesn’t slip, and tuck the tail end of the strap inside the vehicle and close the door to prevent distracting loose ends flying around while you are on the road.

Vehicles without Roof Racks:

If your vehicle does not have a built-in roof rack, purchase flat long roof pads that lie on top of your vehicle between the roof and your SUP board, then secure with cinch straps as above but with the bottom of the straps running through the inside of your vehicle.

 

Other Options:

If you are traveling often or for long distances with your SUP board, you may want to invest in a mounting system for your roof rack such as a Thule SUP Taxi. This product locks your board right to the roof of your car too. Or, if you have many stand up paddle boards to transport like we do, use a small enclosed trailer with built-in racks inside. Look for our RAVE Sports SUP trailer at public beaches and water sports dealerships across the Upper Midwest this summer to see our set-up first-hand. For a list of stand up paddle board “try it before you buy it” events, click here.

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