SUP Carriers & Car Racks: Comparing Your Best Options

What is the best way to transport your SUP?

(Updated: 02/01/2018)
Owning a stand up paddleboard opens up a whole new world of fitness, fun, and exploration. A paddleboard lets you access and discover waterways in a whole new way.
It’s getting the board to and from the launching point that can be a challenge at first.
Find Yourself a Better SUP Rack
Since a SUP tends to be on the large and cumbersome side of recreational equipment, figuring out the best way to transport your board is an essential step in the learning process.
In this post, we review a few of the best options for traveling and carting a stand up paddleboard around.

1) When you already have a roof rack and crossbar

For those of us with factory installed racks and crossbars, there are some very simple options for attaching the SUP to the roof.

a) The budget-friendly option: Surf Pads + Straps

Get yourself some rack pads and tie down straps. This is the most basic set up for strapping your SUP to the roof of your car and will do the trick for most of us. As mentioned, you need to already have a rack with cross bars.  Then go find a couple of SUP specific foam surf pads that will fit your cross bars and are wide enough to support your board.

Rack Pads
Why do you need “SUP specific” surf pads? Yes, your basic foam surf rack pads will probably work fine. These are usually in 16 – 20″ width range.
However, SUP boards are generally much wider than surfboards and many windsurfers, so it will make your life a lot easier to find rack pads that support this extra width. It will also make the board sit evenly and stay secure on the roof. Luckily there are a few good options to choose from.
For example, the Dorsal Aero Rack Pads are designed specifically for carrying stand up paddleboards. These 28″ rack pads fit both square and round crossbars. They are made from very durable nylon and work well with heavy duty straps.

SUP Rack Pads

Another option we like are the NRS Barrito roof rack pads. These pads use durable neoprene to protect your board, with a heavy-duty hook-and-loop closure strip for secure attachment. They come in either 22″ or 32″ packages. If your car and crossbars are wide enough, we tend to prefer the wider option.

NRS Barrito Pads
NRS Barrito Pads

As a reminder, make sure you check the product descriptions to see whether the pads can fit round, square or factory crossbars. Rack pads come in several different lengths and packages.  Many can also come in sets that include the tie down straps (don’t forget the straps!).
These systems do not include locks, though, so make sure not to leave your board unattended if you’re worried about theft.

Straps
Now you need some straps. Since this set-up is relatively inexpensive, to begin with, there is no reason to skimp on this part. For a SUP board, you want to find thick, high-quality straps with sufficient padding under the cam buckles to protect your board from scratches.
I like the Deluxe SUP Carry Pack by Own the Wave. This strap is designed for strapping down a SUP, so it comes with nice thickness, padding, and durability. It also includes a padded shoulder area for carrying the board and a loop for hanging the board on your wall. Last but not least it’s really cheap.

SUP Straps Tie Down
Deluxe SUP Carry Pack by Own the Wave

In general, a heavy duty roof rack strap will work just fine though. I have used the Dorsal SUP Tie Down Straps to tie down a bunch of gear.
These are burly straps with thick webbing, steel 1″ cam buckles with padded protection to protect your boards.
They work well with larger SUPs, kayaks and more. The photo below shows the 15 ft version, which is helpful when dealing with both a larger roof and the general volume of a SUP board.

Paddle Board Tie Down Straps

Tying Down Your Board
Now that you’re equipped with some rack pads and straps, you need to secure the SUP to your roof rack. There are a lot of techniques for tying down the board with straps. It is hard to describe with words, but the process becomes quick and easy once you get used to it.
The best way to learn is to watch someone else do it, and then practice a few times until you’re comfortable before leaving your driveway or fumbling through the process in the lot.
Check out this video for instructions on how to properly tie down your paddleboard. This person is using a truck rack, but the process applies to your car roof rack as well.

If you have a longer board, make sure you consider using nose and/or tail tie downs to add some extra security.
For example, the Yakima SUP Brah Nose/Tail Tie Down Kit will secure your board against fore/aft winds while you’re driving.

b) SUP Transport Systems and Carriers

Next up are full “SUP specific” carrier systems designed to secure and transport one or more SUP boards. Expect to find padded racks, integrated straps, and locking mechanisms. These systems are a little more expensive, but the added convenience and SUP specific features may come in really handy when you do a lot of traveling with your board(s).

Thule SUP Taxi

The Thule SUP Taxi carrier system is a fully integrated carrier system designed specifically for stand up paddleboards. It can carry up to two SUP boards and features telescoping padded holders that expand to hold boards up to 34″ wide.

thule-sup-taxi
Thule SUP Taxi

The SUP Taxi carrier system is easy to install and includes a locking mechanism to keep your boards secure. The Thule SUP Taxi can work on round, square, or factory bars.
Thule also makes the SUP Shuttle Carrier, which can also carry up to 2 boards and extends to 34″ wide.

Yakima SUPPup
Where there is a Thule SUP carrier system, it’s not surprising to see a rival Yakima SUP specific option. The Yakima SUPPup is a full SUP transport system designed to protect and carry one or more boards.

Yakima SUPPup
Yakima SUPPup

It will work with round, square, factory and aerodynamic crossbars and includes integrated top straps (plus tail a tie-down). It includes padded surfaces for protecting the board. This system is fairly quick to set up and extends to 34″ wide.

Inno SUP Locker
Another option is the INNO SUP Locker Rooftop Carrier. This system has a universal mount to fit most crossbars. You can ratchet down the strap to get a nice snug fit on your board too.
The INNO SUP Locker includes the rack pads and can carry up to two stand up paddle boards.

INNO SUP Locker
The INNO SUP Locker Rooftop Carrier

2) Don’t have a roof rack?

For those of us without an existing rack framework, have no fear. There are still a few nice options for transporting boards of different shapes and sizes.
The first suggestion is usually to visit either the Thule or Yakima fit guide. Find some mounts and cross bars for your car or truck, and then pick up a suitable combination of rack pads and straps.
Or . . .
Find an all-in-one solution
The SeaSucker Paddle Board Rack is an option when you don’t already have a roof rack or even factory installed rails. It uses  6” vacuum mounts, each with a 210 lb pull-strength rating, to quickly attach to your car’s roof.
This rack comes with wrap around pads, extendable aluminum board bars (24″ – 44″) and two 10′ cam-buckle straps for lashing down your boards.

SeaSucker Paddle Board Rack
SeaSucker Paddle Board Rack

3) The SUP Pull-Cart Method

Finally, for shorter distances without a vehicle, but long enough to make carrying a hassle, check out some of the new SUP carts. These make it very easy to strap on your board and paddle, and then wheel your SUP across the road, beach or more rugged terrain.
Seattle Sports makes the SoulMite SUP Cart, with tough frames, WaveChaser™ wheels and a suction cup handle to pull the board.
There is also the Surfstow SUPXpress, which features polyurethane wheels, a heavy-duty suction handle, and an included bungee to strap your board down.
Update: I recently came across a product called SUPWheels. It’s similar to the SUP Cart and SUPXpress but can also be attached to your bike making it easy to bike your SUP to the water. I recommend it instead. You can read my full SUP Wheels review here or check out the product here.

The SUP Wheels Classic
The SUP Wheels Classic
Seattle Sports Soul Mite
The Seattle Sports SUP SoulMite Cart
SurfStow SUPXpress
The SURFSTOW SUPXpress

It’s all about finding a simple and secure solution so you can spend less time strapping your board to the car (or cart) and more time on the water. Let us know what works best for you…

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63 thoughts on “SUP Carriers & Car Racks: Comparing Your Best Options”

  1. Hey, just bought four new paddle boards and I’m curious if there’s any way I can fit all four on a roof rack. I currently have a Ford Explorer with a rack but have been looking for an attachment to carry all four. Please let me know if ya have any ideas!

    • Hi Dal.
      Unfortunately there is no roof rack we know of that supports 4 boards. The Thule Sup Taxi is a great option but it only carries 2 boards. You can find it about halfway through the article.

      Hope that helps!

    • Check YouTube. There’s a great video that shows how to fit six boards on a roof rack using only three 20′ straps.

  2. Any recommendations for cross country travel? Ill be moving to Florida next month and want to bring my SUP with me. A little concerned about the high speed and crowded highways.

    • Hi Sarah,
      I use the Thule SUP Taxi myself and never had any problems even on highways. It’s not a standard board rack that’s also used for surfboards but specifically made for stand up paddle boards. You can read about it about halfway through the article. If you want to be 100% sure you can always add on some utility straps but I honestly don’t think it’s necessary. There is also a video in the article showing you how to properly tie down a paddle board. Just double-check the straps and rack whenever you stop for coffee but don’t worry about it too much. I’ve never heard of a properly fixed board coming lose.

      Let me know if you have any other questions and be sure to post a picture of your setup on our Facebook page 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/SUPBoardGuide

  3. Are there any SUP trailers? I need to be able to carry a variety of equipment and a roof mounted rack wont fit with everything else I already carry on top of my Ford Expedition.

  4. In the process of building a 14 foot SUP. Worried about its length being strapped on top of a Hyundai Santa Fe. Would any roof rack system be capable of carrying a board this length worry free. What system would you recommend? Thanks

    • Hi Jim,
      I would suggest the Thule SUP Taxi. It’s the best system for carrying stand up paddle boards. I mention it about halfway through the article. You can get some extra straps to tie down the board and as long as you don’t exceed the recommended 75mph you should be fine.

      A 14 foot board sounds massive. Would love to hear more about it once it’s done. If you’re interested in sharing the story of building the board let me know. 🙂

      Tobias from SUPBoardguide.com

  5. Is there any feasible way of transporting a sup or two on their side. I have roof racks but most of that space is occupied by our Thule Pod for storage.
    Cam

    • Hi Cameron.
      I don’t think there is a roof rack that will let you transport your SUPs on their side (wind would be an issue). You could obviously try to tie them to your Thule pod with some straps but I’m not sure that would be stable enough.

      Another option would be the Yakima Rack and Roll. I actually just added some information about it to the top of the article.

      Hope that helps!
      Tobias from supboardguide.com

  6. Wow!! All this info has been so great. I had been able to tie my boards down onto a simple roof wrack as I was driving a van. I am now driving a VW Jetta, and am going to purchase the Thule SUP taxi carrier system. I am a bit worried about putting the boards on a shorter vehicle due to their length and risk of catching the wind. Will the carrier system prevent that from happening and is it safe for a small vehicle?

      • Hi Christine.
        Glad to hear that! The Thule SUP Taxi is great! I use it myself and you shouldn’t be worried at all. As long as you fix the boards properly you’re good to go. Make sure you tie down the boards with the deck facing the car. That way they can’t catch wind. All of that is explained in the instructions that come with the Thule box though 🙂

  7. Can you give me your opinion on the Thule SUP taxi vs the Yakima SUP dawg? The padded cross bar on the Yakima is a great feature but everyone seem to like the Thule ???

    • The Yakima SUP dawg is a great product. A friend is using it and he really likes it. The Yakima fits boards that are up to 36″ wide. The Thule boards up to 34″. If you have a really wide board that’s one thing to keep in mind. Besides that they are pretty much the same. Both are good options and the price is basically the same so it’s really up to you what you like better.

      • Is one or the other easier/quicker to put on and take off your car? I don’t plan on leaving my rack on my car all of the time. Thanks.

        • The Thule SUP Taxi (it’s mentioned at 1b) is super easy to mount and take off. I use it myself and it’s done in 1 minute. No tools needed.

  8. Any experience using Kayak J-racks for a SUP? I’d like to transport both a kayak and a SUP and wonder if a J rack would work?

    • Hey Angie. The Yakima Rack and Roll (first one mentioned in the article) is the only rack I can think of that can carry a SUP and a kayak at the same time. That is the by far most expensive option though. It would be a lot cheaper if you just bought a bunch of surf pads and straps and tied down your gear that way. That should definitely be possible with a Toyota Sienna. You can find the pads and straps I recommend under point 1a.

  9. Hi,just wondering what the best idea would be for transporting two sups in their boxes still on a highway. we have a van. they are a little too long for the inside of the van.

  10. Hi there! We have a Jeep Cherokee and want to take our SUP on vacation with us. We have a small antenna on the top of the car towards the back and in the middle. Any suggestions on how to transport it?

  11. I would like to roof top a pair of SUPs, the only problem I have is that the antenna on both our cars are in the centerline of the roof and stick up about 8″. Any work arounds or ideas. 2013 Ford Edge and 2011 Mercury Milan.
    – Thanks

    • Hi Mike.
      Does your Ford have crossbars that you can fix a rack on? If you get a Thule rack you should have enough space and the Ford antenna looks like a flexible one. If it’s slightly bend that shouldn’t be an issue.

  12. Great article! I have repurposed an old XM soft rack setup for use with my 2 SUPs. For the SUPs I also have added ratchet straps for extra peace of mind. This ‘works’ i.e. SUPs have made it to destination attached to car. Besides the time consuming part of hooking up the soft rack system, my issue has always been the noise from the straps rattling during transport. That high-pitched hum can drive a man to the brink on the long journeys. I am now in a Subaru with stock rails, so I am thinking of getting a more substantial setup. How do either the Thule SUP Taxi or the Yakima SUP Dawg or SUP Pup do with noise?
    Also, what would be the reason to choose the more expensive SUP Taxi or SUP Dawg over the lesser expensive SUP Pup?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Thank you! Sounds like an interesting setup you’ve got there. I’d definitely get a new setup for your Subaru though. I can see how the noise is driving you crazy 😀 All three racks you mentioned will be a lot more quiet than the straps you have now since the boards don’t touch the roof. There will be nothing moving, vibrating or rattling. The Thule SUP Taxi and the Yakima SUP Dawg are basically the same. Very similar products different manufacturer. The SUP Pup is similar. It can also hold two boards. The main features that are missing are the rollers that make it really easy to load and more important in my idea the locking feature. So if you intend to leave your boards on the rack the Thule or Dawg are the better choice.
      Hope that helps!

  13. Any recommendation on how to transport a paddle board using a 2013 toyota corolla? My truck busted on me so had to purchase a car. The car doesn’t come with a roof rack so I’m trying to figure out a way to be able to transport my board.

      • Hi! I’m in the same predicament as Brency. I’ve been using soft racks on my Toyota Corolla, but I’m honestly not a fan. I’m looking into other options primarily for the accessibility to transport my SUP long distances. Do you feel comfortable with the SeaSucker Paddle Board Rack, and it’s ability to transport SUPs long distances? I’m a little skeptical of a product that only seals with suction cups… makes me nervous. Can’t find many reviews out there of the product as well.
        Thanks!

  14. Hi There, I have a 2014 Ford Mustang Convertible and am wondering if there is a side mount rack or something to carry a SUP Board as I cannot mount a roof rack with a soft top?? Or any recommendations on how to transport a SUP board with a convertible car, other than buying an inflatable board…

    Thanks in Advance

    • Hi there. The only thing I can think of is to buy a trailer which is going to be fairly expensive and only possible if you have a tow hitch which you probably don’t on a convertible.

      Sorry to not be more helpful but an inflatable is probably the only option you have.

  15. If im transporting 2 snowboards in winter and 2 standup paddle boards in summer do I need two separate roof racks? Or is there a universal one that will work? Comparing the Thule SUP Taxi and the Yakima SUPPup.

    • The Thule Sup Taxi probably isn’t your best option since its shape and design is really made for thicker boards ie. SUPs. The SUPPup should work just fine though. I’d use some pads to make sure your boards won’t wobble and stay in place and I think it will work out just fine.

    • You can use a lot of pads and straps and tie it around the bars and I guess it will work. I wouldn’t feel too comfortable on a long drive or at faster speeds though to be honest.

        • I think that will work just fine. That’s more or less what you get with a normal car rack as well. If you don’t have to stack 5 boards on top of each other it should definitely work out. 🙂

  16. Any thoughts on how to transport SUP and a Kayak on a CRV. I have Dakine rack pads but I am not sure if stacking the kayak on top is a good idea.

    • Stacking them on top of each other will be difficult and probably not a good option for the Highway or longer drives. The only option I can think of is installing some crossbars and J-racks. That way you can have the Kayak next to your SUP.

  17. Do you know of any SUP racks that would allow for vertical carrying like the Thule Hull-a-Port Pro does for kayaks? I would like to be able to carry a SUP and also have my roof box. Thanks

  18. I have a Thule Hullivator (so easy to load my kayak) and also the older Hulli-port J bar kayak carriers for my Subaru Outback. The Bic SUP I just got is 33” wide . I cannot fit theSUP flat and carry my kayak in the Hullivator…too wide. Could the SUP load in either kayak rack safely so I could fit both in kayak racks? Hmmmm!
    Thanks, Janice

    • It’s worth a try. I just looked at your racks and both are designed for kayaks. Kayak racks aren’t usually wide enough for SUPs so it might be an issue. Good luck though!

  19. I have the Thule XSportster Pro Truck Rack…I just purchased a Hala Rado board which is 35” wide. will the Thule Taxi work for a board that wide. It says 34”…..
    Thank you for any information to transport and protect my board. white water riders

    • I’ve transported 34″ wide boards before and had a tiny bit of extra room so the Hala might fit. No guarantees though I think the only way of really knowing is to try it. Sorry to not be of more help

  20. Do u guys sell the brackets for old style falcons that attach to the rain gutter, I v’e seen the photo at the top and want the brackets shown in the photo, cheers

    Ray

  21. We want to get a couple SUPs but are stymied about how we can best transport them. We drive a 2015 Toyota Sienna with factory racks and crossbars. We go road trip and camp a lot as a family of four, so we use a Thule cargo box.

    Is there any way for us to transport one SUP with the cargo box on the roof?

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