What’s your experience with surfboard roof racks?
Personally, I was never a big fan and always paranoid about fitting my Subaru with one.
See, years back, I had an incident where my beloved Wavestorm Longboard somersaulted down Interstate 95.
And no, I wasn’t going fast as you would think at the time; if anything, I’m a “Sunday driver
I was in the inside lane when I suddenly heard a violent thud/crack combination, followed by the horrific sight of my longboard getting ripped on the motorway.
My longboard, racks, and bars were strewn across the lane.
It was a horrific moment, and I couldn’t help, but it scared the bejeezus out of me.
I’m glad no one was hurt, but I still shudder inside when I think what might have happened if anything had gone through someone’s windscreen.
While it was still impossible to tell what went wrong after the event, I’m pretty sure it was either the plastic socket through which the bolt fed had broken or the bolt had sheared and caused the socket to smash.
But either way, it was my fault for getting the cheapest surfboard rack on eBay. I regret.
Yes, I know a surfboard rack parting company with the roof of your car is quite rare, but you should never compromise the safety of your board just because of the inferior quality of the rack system.
Today, I use the Thule rack, and while it’s a bit expensive, I never have to worry about reliability issues or anything.
It keeps my surfboards secured tightly, and when I’m not heading to the beach, I use it to hold my bikes when hitting the trails or even my kayak when going for whitewater rafting.
The roof rack is such a handy option, especially for my mid-sized car, because I also get to save so much space that would have otherwise been used for cramping the bulky luggage.
Plus, I don’t have to worry much about sand, pieces of wax, and salted water damaging my car’s upholstery.
Now, if you need the best roof rack that won’t disappoint, I’ll share some of my favorite options that have served me well over the years, including my favorite pick, Thule.
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#1 Thule SUP Taxi XT - EDITOR'S CHOICE
The SUP Taxi by Thule is, in my opinion, the hands-down, easiest, and most secure way to carry your stand-up paddleboard on your car’s roof rack.
Sure, it’s an expensive car roof rack, and I’m frugal. But the price makes sense because I wanted security/safety and easy/quick loading and loading for my choice of car rack.
Plus, I’ve had boards on and off this rack all season and found it reliable, secure, and easy to use. The easily adjustable saddle makes it great for all board sizes.
It’s also well-made from high-quality materials (aircraft-grade buckles), has great functionality and great attention to detail.
Thule earns a five-star rating from me without reservation or hesitation. Absolutely love.
Features and Benefits
Ease of Use
Right out of the box, SUP Taxi from Thule comes fully assembled, and ready to use. Installing it is about as easy as you could hope for. No tools or anything!
I couldn’t be happier with the installation because it only took me 10 minutes to install, and that included packing.
Before that, it would take a minimum of 30 minutes to secure the board to the crossbars.
Now, with the help of Thule’s Speed-Link mounting system, I throw it in the SUP Taxi, and I’m on the road in five minutes tops.
I even find myself boarding more than before just because it takes so much less time to undo and re-secure the board.
My only regret is I didn’t make the purchase earlier.
I love the ultra-long straps on the Thule Car Rack.
It’s long enough for two normal surfboards, though it can stretch up to three surfboards at a time.
I start by loading one, then add a layer of small foam padding noodle tubes to prevent the boards from scratching before adding the second board.
And not only that, but this hard rack also works like a charm when securing a kayak.
However, the kayak needs to lie flat and not on the side. Also, keep in mind that the base doesn’t cradle the kayak well, so you need to be cautious with your speed.
Otherwise, you would be good to go.
I’m also pleased with the rack’s exclusive telescoping design that delivers a custom fit for most roof racks.
Thule hard rack can be used on most car roofs because the carrier attaches over the bars. No worries if your car has no roof rails, as most cars can be fitted with a crossbar solution.
So, yes, when I’m not using it on my Subaru, my wife can use it on her Honda CRV or Mini Cooper.
Of course, the litmus test for any car roof rack is how well it secures your board.
The good news is with Thule hard rack is once you hit the road, the SUP Taxi gives your boards plenty of protection.
It holds your boards down right, so you won’t feel them rattling or shifting around.
Not only does this make me feel safer, but it also helps to keep my boards safer, even when racking up miles in uneven and rugged terrain.
The built-in corrosion-resistant stainless steel reinforced strap secures my board well, and I don’t even have to carry a rope or tie-down straps.
Best of all, the integrated strap locks in so well that I no longer have to worry about the prying hands when I stop my car to grab a quick lunch.
Then, there’s the question of noise.
I hate the whistling, wind-flapping noise that some bars create.
Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with any of that because Thule has an aerodynamic design allowing air to shift around the system and not slam onto it. This makes for a quieter experience.
Overall, I’m pleased with the Thule bar and system in general. My boards are safer, and my car is quieter now.
Thule car racks come with rubber tops, which is awesome as it prevents scratching of the board during transport.
Equally, the high-quality straps have rubber protectors that prevent damage to the boards and keep them from moving at all.
The only time you may scratch your board is when you’re loading or unloading.
#2 Block Surf Surfboard Roof Rack – Best Value for Money
I didn’t expect much out of this car roof rack.
I mean, at a price of nearly a third of surfboard car or wall racks on the list, I had my reservation about the car rack’s performance.
But to my surprise, it worked really well.
The Block Surf Surfboard is a good surfboard car rack for the money, and so far, I’ve used them with both one and two boards doing freeway driving (at speeds I’d rather not admit to), and this bad boy works like a charm.
It’s a good car rack and offers an inexpensive solution to the problem of carrying your board without expensive or permanent racks.
Features and Benefits
Ease of Use
I was worried that these would be challenging to set up, but they were so easy.
Compared to my previous hardtop car rack, this one doesn’t take a while and remains secure.
I can place on the two soft pads and strap on the board without a hassle. It also works great, and I didn’t have any trouble.
Usually, it’ll take a few minutes and a couple of people working together, especially when securing several boards, but overall, it’s easy to put up.
The only problem with this soft-roof is I wouldn’t recommend leaving it in your car all the time, so it’s a bit of a hassle to take it on and off every time I want to use it.
Usually, soft surfboard roof racks are flimsy, and I thought the Block Surf wouldn’t last.
In fact, during my purchase, I got the Block Surf to do the job for the moment before I saved enough for a “real surf rack.”
But it has so far exceeded my expectations, especially with its longevity.
Even after long exposure to the sun, elements and bearing the brunt of the extreme conditions, it remains sturdy.
It doesn’t show any signs of fraying, and the neoprene fabric looks like it’s going to last for a long time.
I use the Block Surf soft racks with a 9’10”, though it allows a stacking arrangement in which you can keep several boards over one another.
So, yes, I don’t have to worry much when we need to go out as a family for surfing because it can accommodate all our surfboards.
Plus, it’s not only designed to carry surfboards alone; this soft rack is multi-purpose and useful in carrying longboards, board beaters, and snowboards with equal ease.
And when it comes to the choice of cars, the Block surf rack system is specifically designed for cars without a normal surf rack.
The way it works is it goes over the top and through the actual inside of the car and acts like a car rack.
I hadn’t used a soft rack before and was a bit nervous, but the Block Car Surf rack worked perfectly.
It does what it promises and will hold your board on the roof quite well.
I managed to get good solid tension on the webbing straps to hold my board in place, and it didn’t move around an inch.
On top of that, I was driving at highway speeds of up to 80 mph. I even forgot the boards were on the roof.
We did encounter some strong crosswinds through parts of the trip, and the board stayed strong.
And the good thing is I didn’t have to worry about the board or surf rack scratching my car.
Yes, there’re metal pull clips, but they’re well-protected from your car and board with nylon strapping.
#3 Inno Boardlocker Rack – Best Anti-theft Roof Rack
I bought the Inno Boardlocker Surf Rack, and since then, I’ve been a happy beachgoer and camper.
See, for a long time, I wanted a surfboard rack that would lock to my SUV crossbars and prevent theft.
This is it.
You can already tell from the name that Inno Boardlocker will allow you to lock your boards in your car.
The benefit is I no longer have to live under constant worry that my board will be stolen when I go for a quick after-surf fish taco, grab a bite, or trip to the supermarket.
And that is not all; Inno has plenty of goodies.
Features and Benefits
Easy to use
First off, the Boardlocker is ridiculously easy to use.
It gets rid of all the hassles associated with strapping boards to your car.
After using it for a while, I like it even more because it takes a short time to get it to pull the board from my garage and load it to the track.
Nowadays, I don’t even bother putting my shortboard in my car anymore. It’s easier just to throw it on the surf rack.
But my partner loved it more for its “crane” system.
It’s a unique technology that lifts the center straps, so my wife doesn’t need to run around to the other car to loop the straps around the bars.
She simply slides the board into the rack from the back of the car and then just goes around to the side and tightens them up.
Simply put, we get more water time, and the Inno seems like it was designed for a surfer who KNOWS.
Inno is a great surfboard roof rack if you want a bit of security for your boards.
Of course, it’s not the ultimate theft-proof lock. Just like anything, if someone wants your stuff, they’ll find a way to get it- the lock won’t keep out someone that really wants your boards.
But having the lock in place provides a level of deterrence.
Inno has enough slack in the strap to accommodate several boards.
I usually stack multiple boards, and the recommended limit is three shortboards or two longboards.
Inno proves itself most convenient if you load your boards from the rear.
With fins to the rear, you don’t have to detach the steel cables from the crane.
Inno utilizes ratcheting straps for securing the board.
From experience, Inno Rack holds my longboards better and more securely than my previous straps and pad.
When I mount them correctly, I feel confident they won’t slip sideways, so I don’t see the need to crank the rack so hard on the board.
See, with my previous straps, I always felt like I had to pull them super tight to keep my longboard from moving. This meant they were prone to scratching, dinging, and breaking.
Plus, the racks float in the air, so I Don’t have to fish around for them, allowing me to slide the board in easily.
They’re padded too, with rubber, so they remain soft yet strong. They grip the board tightly but do not damage it.
On top of that, I also got tired of the noise from the wind causing the straps to vibrate and buzz.
The Boardlocker eliminates this completely, and I’ve noticed almost no wind noise from the rack. There seems to be a very minor swooshing sound, but it’s barely noticeable.
Overall, Boardlocker is worth every penny, and they’re not expensive.
It’s a value-packed investment and worth enough to protect your surfboards from faulty straps and thieves.
#4 FCS D-Ring Double Soft Rack – Best Surfboard Roof Rack for Family
Our last pick is anything but the best surfboard roof rack for the family.
It’s an ideal option for those that don’t want to leave their surfboard quiver at home when heading out to the beach.
And not only that, the FCS Soft Rack can be pretty awesome to use for those with small cars.
If you’ve a bigger car, you can probably figure out how to get a board to fit in the car without surfboard car racks.
Features and Benefits
Easy to Install
Most surfers don’t need anything crazy for their rack system.
All they need is some pad that will keep their boards from getting dinged while heading out to the beach.
The FCS Car Rack fits this description nicely.
It’s easy to set up, and takedown and won’t take much of your precious time.
It’s important for me because I’m left with more time to use for swimming.
Plus, I don’t always have to ask for a helping hand when mounting the rack.
This is not to mention I can always remove them when I don’t need them, so I save on my car’s fuel efficiency.
I was impressed with FCS’s load capacity because it can hold anywhere from one to six boards.
Yes, I can now load a couple of friends with their rack or even carry my entire surfboard quiver for the beach.
I also love how the surf racks themselves strap to my car, so no worry about dinging or compromising their integrity during transit.
I’m satisfied with this soft rack in every measure.
Once rack properly, it works fabulously.
The quality measures up, and I don’t think I’ll be replacing the rack anytime soon.
Plus, I feel like it holds onto my boards a lot better than the plain bar and pad.
Safety is everything with the best surfboard roof rack, and the FCS soft rack doesn’t fail in this department.
See, I’ve high-quality stand-up paddleboards, and I wanted to ensure my boards are well-protected during transport.
Unfortunately, most plain straps and latches tend to damage the side roof rails on a SUP if you tighten them. Not tight enough, and the boards shift quite a lot and can even fly off the car.
With the FCS, I no longer have to worry about any of that because the long and robust strap system features a rubber protector along with the straps, wrapping along the SUP side roof rails.
My boards are completely protected from scratching, and most importantly, I no longer have to worry about damage or flying off my car because they’re secured down tightly.
#5 Lockrack Universal Watercraft Carrier – Simple Car Roof Rack
Everyone wants an easy-to-use and secure car roof rack.
With Lockrack, you get both. How cool!
Once you mount this roof rack on your car, taking your boards on and off is a breeze. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your board’s safety anymore.
I’ve been using one for several seasons now, and I’m amazed at how well it has worked for my family.
Features and Benefits
Ease of Use
If you love a Yakima or Thule setup for crossbars for your vehicle, then you’ll be good to go with the Lockrack.
The installation and mounting system are absolutely flawless.
Plus, it comes with the locks, key, mounting hardware, and mounting instruction for a pretty quick setup.
My favorite thing about having this rack is I no longer have to mess with straps.
It takes me less than 30 seconds to load up. In fact, it takes longer to get the board in its bag than it does to secure it on the Lockrack.
Lockrack is an ideally designed carrier that brings a handful of features, including a special hold-all system that can hold multiple boards.
On top of that, it works well for other gears such as kayaks and canoes. Many sit-inside kayaks and low-profile sit-on-tops will work with the Lockrack.
I’ve even used the rack to carry a ladder!
In addition to the awesome multi-purpose design, Lockrack comes with a superior telescopic design. It’s a handy feature for dialing in and adjusting the optimum width for your board or boat for a perfect fit.
So, yes, I no longer have to worry whether the car rack will fit even when I borrow my buddy’s car.
I’ve owned the Lockrack Car Roof rack system for several seasons now and racked up thousands of miles carrying a variety of SUPs.
I’ve hauled everything from the normal 11′ to 14′ raceboards, and so far, I’ve not encountered any safety issues.
The tightening straps are solid, allowing me to tie down my boards for safety.
I no longer have to worry much about them becoming loose, slipping off my car, and falling on the ground.
Plus, as its name suggests, Lockrack has a “locking” system that deters theft. It’s a great improvement for such a simple rack because many times, locking systems are extra with crossbars.
And they only secure your bars, not the cargo!
But Lockrack comes with the system as a standard. Sweet!
No more cables or big padlocks.
In fact, it would be easier to steal the car than it would get my board off the roof without the key.
Also, I’m impressed with the quieter ride Lockrack gives me.
I hardly know if it’s there until I get out of the car.
Overall, the quality and features of the Universal Watercraft carrier are sure to win your heart.
Best Surfboard Car Racks Buying Guide
With so many options to pick from, choosing the best surfboard roof rack can be nerve-wracking.
But it doesn’t need to be so.
In the guide below, I’ll share everything to help you narrow your search for the best surfboard car racks.
Hopefully, you’ll find it easy to select the right rack by the end of the buying guide.
Types of Surfboard Roof Racks
First things first, let’s look at the different types of the best surf racks in the market.
1) Hard roof rack
Hard surf racks are designed for carrying surfboards or paddleboards.
Usually, they’re a much more permanent option.
They’re also more secure and durable than straps or soft surf racks but tend to be taller and bulkier with a higher load capacity.
2) Soft roof rack
The soft roof racks offer a universal fit, meaning they’re largely compatible with any type of car or SUV.
Unlike the hard roof racks, the soft racks don’t require roof rails because they use a strapping system for securing the surfboard to the car roof.
Usually, the soft racks are made out of a strapping system of neoprene and webbing.
They’re also lightweight, affordable, and simple to install and take down.
However, they run through the car doors and car windows to let some moisture in wet weather.
Soft Racks Vs. Hard Racks
Generally, the difference between these two is on security and weight load.
If you need more security or need to carry more weight, then a hard surfboard rack is what you need.
The hard surfboard racks are suitable for highway driving as they secure your board tightly, don’t vibrate, and don’t move as much when you hit high speeds.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Surfboard Roof Racks
In the section below, we’ll consider the important factors to consider in your next surfboard roof rack purchase.
The first element to consider is how well a surfboard rack secures your board.
I mean, it’s the primary reason for any surfboard rack.
First, check to see your surfboard rack isn’t damaged and no signs of wear are visible.
Secondly, ensure the rack can tie down your board properly. If it’s loose and not in the correct position, then see how you can fix that.
Finally, consider its weight capacity and don’t make the mistake of overloading it.
After safety, the next crucial element to consider is compatibility.
Here, choose a rack that best fits your car.
Consider the dimensions of the surfboard car rack when not folded and check whether your choice fits your car size or not.
Also, check to see whether your rack will require supporting equipment such as car roof rails and aero bars or installed without them.
While many surfboard car racks claim to offer a universal fit, there’s no harm in cross-checking to avoid disappointment.
Usually, the choice of material of a surfboard roof rack determines the overall longevity of the board.
Remember, saltwater and sand can quickly eat up through cheap, low-quality materials and straps if you’re not careful.
Most surfboard roof rack reviews suggest that most top-rated surfboard racks are made out of high-grade material such as aluminum or steel.
On top of that, they’ve a generous amount of foam, which ensures the surfboard carrier doesn’t scratch the board or the car surface.
Weight Load/ Number of Surfboards
Surfboard roof racks have a specified weight load capacity.
For transporting a single surfboard, a simple roof rack is enough, but if loading multiple gears, you’ll require a sturdy roof rack system that can support more than one board.
In addition, you also need to look for a rack that offers the highest level of stability when traveling at high speed.
I prefer choosing a multi-purpose surfboard, or rather a board that’s not only specific for hauling one type of rack.
Instead, choose a universal surfboard car rack that can carry all types of boards on it.
Here are some of the other features associated with high-quality surfboard racks:
1) Adjustable clamps: It’s found on the hard surfboard racks and helps to move the width of the rail and between rails to give a versatile fit.
2) Aerodynamic design: It’s also associated with hard racks. The design allows the car to move without much resistance from the wind, negatively impacting speed and fuel consumption.
3) Weight capacity: Go for racks with a higher load-bearing capacity as they allow you to hold more gear.
4) Ease of installation: This isn’t exactly a feature, but something worth considering when selecting a roof rack. The best surfboard car rack should have a beginner-friendly installation and removal.
Car Vs. Truck
The racks we’ve listed above are great surfboard racks for cars, but if you want a rack for a truck, you may have to look into other options.
However, if your truck has plenty of roof space, then you can use one of the systems on our list. If not, you need to look into tailgate racks.
The tailgate racks attach your surfboard to the tailgate of your truck, with part of the board hanging out over the back of your truck.
Best Surfboard Roof Racks Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Do soft roof racks scratch my car?
A: No, soft surfboard roof racks don’t scratch your roof. This is because they’re made out of the high-quality and soft canvas.
Q: How do I rack a surfboard?
A: Once you install your rack, lift the surfboard carefully and lay it down on the padding on your rack.
Once it’s positioned, lash it with ropes to secure it.
Keep in mind the fin of your board should always face you.
Q: What are the safety measures for transporting my surfboard with a roof rack?
A: One, check to see that the surfboard car rack retains its structural integrity. It shouldn’t have any signs of wear, frayed straps, and heavy aircraft buckles shouldn’t be broken.
Secondly, properly mount the rack before loading the board. Ensure the racks aren’t overloaded.
Finally, ensure the boards are properly secured and don’t show signs of loose-fitting or wobbling.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best surfboard car racks is SUP Taxi from Thule.
SUP Taxi is an awesome offering and ticks on all the boxes for the best car rack.
It’s reliable, keeping your surfboards safe and secure.
Plus, many surfers find the Thule easy to use.
Sure, it’s an expensive purchase, but it’ll guarantee the safety of your boards, and you don’t have to worry about them slipping or anything.
I would recommend it.