Which Surfboard Roof Rack Should I Buy?

Transporting your surfboards to the beach can be a challenge, but whatever size of board and car you have there will be a roof rack system for you. Your choice of rack will depend on what kind of car you have and the type and number of boards you’d like to transport.

I Have a Hard Roof Rack

If you have a hard roof rack in place on your vehicle you will just need some pads to protect the boards and straps to secure them, we offer different lengths and styles of straps to suit your needs.

Surfboard Roof Rack Pads

We stock pads for regular square or round shaped bars and pads designed for rectangular or oval shaped “aero” bars, they are both fastened using velcro on the underside of the bar and offer protection to your boards so you can strap them done securely without worrying about damaging your board.

All our roof rack pads are sold in packs of two, we offer longer lengths for wider boards like SUP’s, and you can use two sets of pads side by side if you want to carry more than one stack of boards.

The FCS premium hard rack pads and FCS camlock hard rack pads are provided with tie down straps in the package, but if you opt for one of the alternatives we also sell a variety of tie down straps for securing your boards to your hard roof rack.

Surfboard Roof Rack Tie Down Straps

Straps come in different lengths, generally speaking if you’ve got a hard rack you don’t need straps longer than 2.5m for the majority of surfboards, the straps fasten in a variety of ways but they will all be secure and easy to tighten and loosen.

If you will be leaving your boards on the roof of your vehicle fro extended periods you can purchase lockable straps, we have the SPT lockable rack straps which are steel wire reinforced, come in a variety of lengths and are locked in place with a key, or the FCS Premium lockable bungy tie downs which are also reinforced but feature a combination lock system so anyone with the combination can release the boards.

I Do Not Have A Hard Roof Rack

Sometimes you need to transport your boards and you don’t have access to a hard roof rack for your vehicle, in this case you can use a soft rack system.

A soft rack is made up of straps with pads attached, these are fed through the open doors of your car, with the pads in place on the roof the straps are tightened to secure them in place then the doors are closed.

There are short straps attached to the pads which allow you to secure the boards to the pads so if you go for a full soft rack system that’s all you need to get your boards on your car.

Surfboard Roof Rack Pads

A regular soft rack is designed to work with cars that have front and rear doors, so you can spread the rack out over a suitable distance on the roof, they can also be used if you have rear windows that can open.

Any car with four doors will be able to use this type of system.

Surfboard Roof Rack Pads

If you’ve got a hatchback which has rear windows that don’t open you can still use a softrack system, the Northcore three door soft rack can be used with any car that has a hatchback style boot, it secures through the top of the boot and the front doors.

How Many Surfboards Can I Carry?

You can buy single soft racks and double soft racks, double racks have two sets of pads at the front and two at the rear, placed side by side, they allow you to carry two stacks of boards on your roof instead of one.

Single roof racks are usually rated for up to 4 shortboards or 2 longboards, but these are just guidelines and if your boards fit somewhere in between a traditional shortboard and longboard, like the majority of boards do, you will have to experiment a bit to gauge how many boards you can fit, generally we’re happy transporting 3 mid length boards on a single roof rack.

Double roof racks naturally allow you to carry twice as many boards, you can use them to just carry one board at a time on one of the sets of pads but we’d really recommend going for a single style rack unless you’re going to be needing to carry a lot of boards frequently.

How Do I Carry a Kayak or Canoe on a Soft Rack?

We don’t recommend trying to carry a kayak or canoe, or anything bigger than an SUP on a soft rack, there are many hard roof rack designs that will give you much more stability, soft roof racks are designed to transport surfboard shaped boards only.

What Else Do I Need To Know?

There are a few things to bear in mind when using a soft rack system:

  • If it’s raining hard the straps can cause water to enter the car – we’ve experienced this in heavy rain showers, because the straps are tightened against the rubber door seals they can allow water to come in to the car, when we’ve had this happen to us we just use a towel to soak up the water
  • The straps vibrate and make a humming noise – when you get up to speed you will hear a humming noise from the straps vibration, you can cut out most of this noise by putting a twist in the straps before feeding the through the doors
  • You can’t use this type of soft rack on a convertible car
  • Each system fastens in a different way, they will all allow you to secure the pads to the roof and the boards to the pads but you might fins one is easier for you to use than another, if you’d like some advice give us a call on 01548 800567 or an e-mail on [email protected]

Many people prefer to put their board in a surfboard bag when transporting them using a soft rack system, we’ve produced a surfboard bag guide to help you choose the right bag for you.

A Soft rack system makes it easy to transport your boards to the beach on a variety of vehicles, they are supplied in a bag which makes them perfect for travelling with, you can throw one in your board bag and then attach it to the hire car at your destination.