Transporting Your SUP from Point A to Point B

by Kim Hawkins and Karen Jewell

So you are the proud owner of a SUP!  Congratulations, now how do you get that thing around?  If you’re using a car/SUV/truck you have many options, whether you have crossbars, sidebars, or no bars.

First, A Few Things to Consider:

  • Board Bag – an insulated bag protects your board, your vehicle, and yourself when loading and unloading; protects from rocks and debris that kick up from the road or fall from trucks while driving; regulates the temperature of the board – so never too hot or cold, and protects the finish from fading.
  • Board Position – on the top of the vehicle position the board deck down with the fin forward for the safest, most aerodynamic ride. Center it width-wise and length-wise.
  • Go easy mate – when cinching the straps, don’t do it too tightly – you could create a compression crack. Tighten straps slowly until when you shake the board, the car moves, not the board. Ideally have the buckle finish up on top, not the rails (side), which could damage it.
  • Grab a Pal – it’s safer and easier with two of you. If you’re tall and strong, you can lift it overhead and do it on your own, alternatively you can use a yoga mat to position the nose on as you lean it against the back of the car, and then push it up and over.  Be super careful in wind.
  • Choose Your Parking/Storage Space Wisely – avoid leaving your board in the sun as much as possible. Sun damages the traction pad over time, causes fading, and in a carbon board causes delamination/bubbles. Using a board bag will help.
  • Transporting Multiple Boards – place a set of stack pads or even a yoga mat between the boards to prevent potential damage (not necessary if they are in board bags). The longest board goes on the bottom, slightly forward than if it were by itself. Then place the second board on top of the first, aligning the fins one behind the other in a straight line. If they’re the same size, just make sure they’re centered lengthwise as well as possible.

What does the process look like?  Carolina Paddleboard has one of the best You Tube Videos out there, check it out.

What are your Car Topping Options:

If your car has cross bars (runs the width of the car)

  • Our favorite system is the Thule SUP Taxi, because it locks to the cross bars and to the board, and can carry two boards. More with additional straps.

Thule SUP Taxi

  • Another option is to use rack pads, which go over the rails and usually Velcro to secure to them. With this set-up you need straps, the best are Kanulocks, which are steel reinforced and lock. Otherwise any strap that has a cambuckle closure – which will prevent the straps from coming loose.  Bungies and rope are not secure options.  You’ll need two straps (some like to add a third in the middle, and even through the car for added security – consider that for long trips).  The straps go around the cross bars on either side of the car and feed back over the top before being cinched.

Rack pads (left), cambuckle straps (middle), Kanulocks (right)

If your car does not have cross bars

Soft Racks (or Quick Strap) is an all-in-one system that has a set of straps that run through the car doors and a set of straps that go over the board. Quick video on how to attach these here.


Soft Racks

Pick Up Trucks

A Tail Gate System is the best way to transport your board when you have a pick-up truck. Pads and straps are all connected!  Yakima, Thule and FCS make these, and Yakima has a great video.  Be sure to use a yoga mat or something similar to protect the other end of the SUP from getting damaged in the truck bed.  Best to have the tail in the bed and the deck up in this scenario.  Depending on the size of your truck, you may be able to put it over the cab, using soft racks.

Tail Gate System

Having the ability to take your board to new places will open up a whole new world to the sport you love.

And remember, no matter what type of car, there is a way to make it happen!