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Surfboards, paddleboards, and longboards are a whole lot of fun, but they’re not exactly portable. Trying to carry one in a regular-sized sedan is inconvenient at best. Even if it does somehow fit inside, it’s going to have a serious impact on your visibility and ability to carry passengers (not to mention the sand that you’ll be cleaning up later). Without a doubt, a surf rack is a must have for any surfer or water sports enthusiast. Check out our guide to the best surf racks below.
Curve LOCKDOWN Roof Rack
- It's versatile and can be connected through the doors or mounted on the roof rails
- It holds the boards tightly, even at high speeds
- The installation of this surf rack can be a little difficult
Ho Stevie! Surfboard Car Roof Rack
- The straps are heavy-duty and capable of withstanding highway speeds
- Overall materials quality is good
- The entire rack is easy to use and takes a few seconds
- No instructions … though it really is quite easy to figure out
- Users must ensure they tighten it down really good, as it has a tendency to make a lot of noise in the wind
INNO Car Top Mount Roof Rack
- It has ratcheting straps and hand knobs to keep the boards tightly secured.
- It also has the security option of locking the board to the top of your car.
- There have been complaints about customer support.
- This rack system is also very bulky for some people.
Summary List of Best Surfboard Roof Racks
- Best Overall: Curve Lockdown Roof Rack
- Best Value: Ho Stevie! Surfboard Car Roof Rack
- Premium Pick: INNO Car Top Mount Roof Rack
- Honorable Mention: Dorsal Wrap-Rax Surfboard Roof Rack
- Best Inflatable: HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars
- Honorable Mention: IKURAM Kayak/Surf/Ski Roof Carrier Rack
We came up with this thorough list of surfboard roof racks by delicately weighing out type, price, construction, user reviews, and features. Whichever had the best score out of all of them won, but still, you really can't go wrong with any of the options on this list. Though, keep in mind that it depends on what kind of a rack you're up for: Something temporary and easy to take down, something solid and more secure, something that allow you to lock the boards in place, and so on. For more on how we review products, check this out.
Best Surfboard Roof Racks Reviews & Recommendations
The Curve Lockdown is a soft roof rack with a difference. Instead of being just a pad and a strap, this innovative design features extendable foam padded loops, which surround the board at both ends. Wrapped in its “cocoon,” the board can be strapped to the roof either directly through the doors or via roof rails, so it won’t shift or flap around in the wind. Both the straps and the loops are cushioned with one-inch of foam padding and a soft neoprene lining, offering maximum protection for your surfboard and your car roof. The extendable loops should hold one longboard or a maximum of three shortboards. You can adjust the tension on the straps with the zinc cam-buckle, which is super strong and plastic coated to protect it from corrosion.
Brilliantly simple design
No instructions … but actually not really needed
Have to really tighten down for it to not make noise
Ho Stevie! is a Southern California-based operation that specializes in all things surfing equipment. Its soft rack is a solid indicator that this company takes a "for surfers, by surfers" approach, as it's brilliantly simple and quite effective. Its simplicity makes it easy to set up and take down, and all materials, including the fasteners and padding, are of good quality.
That being said, it might be a tad tricky for noobies to set up and use effectively, and there are no instructions included. Otherwise, it's an all-around very good product and among the best values in our list.
This hard rack from INNO describes itself as having a universal mounting system, but buyers should be aware that this is in relation to the type of roof rails you have. It cannot be mounted directly onto the roof like a soft rack, but it does fit easily onto most factory-fitted rails using the included clamp-on hardware. This surf rack will carry up to three shortboards or two longboards, which can be easily loaded onto the innovative floating strap system and secured via a ratcheting mechanism. Tension can be increased for extra stability with the use of integrated hand knobs, and the whole thing can be securely locked with the included set of keys.
Very easy to install
Stitching wears out easily
Cannot install over a roof rack
This portable surfboard roof rack is perfect for carrying 2-3 surfboards on the roof of your car or SUV. The pads are 19 inches wide and have universal compatibility as long as your vehicle doesn’t have a permanently installed roof rack. The rack comes with two soft pads that each have straps for securing it to your roof. The strap material is heavy-duty and capable of withstanding highway speeds.
Best InflatableSEE IT
Easy to use and install/remove
Will lose pressure over time
One person can easily install the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars, which are compact enough to store in your vehicle's trunk. The bars can accommodate a surfboard, kayak, SUP, canoe, and snowboard, and have a load capacity of 175 pounds. These cross bars take just five minutes to install and don't require any tools or drilling.
Since these bars are inflatable, they cushion the load. They fit a variety of vehicles, including Jeeps, Subarus, Toyotas, and Volkswagens. You can use these bars with bare roofs, factory side rails, and panoramic roofs. They have an aerodynamic design to minimize drag and wind noise. Included in the package are two twin bars, a HandiPump, two tie down straps, two bow and stern lines, a storage bag, and an owner’s manual. Users report that the rack is tough, durable, and easy to remove between trips.
If you're a fan of water sports, the IKURAM Kayak/Surf/Ski Roof Carrier Rack is a great option. This J-Cradle rack accommodates surfboards as well as stand-up paddle boards and kayaks up to 42-inches wide and 185 pounds, making it a versatile choice. It fits round, square and most oval-shaped, factory-installed cross rails. This is a great rack because it features a fold-down design, which helps with overhead clearance in parking garages.
The rack has thick, padded rubber saddles to protect your equipment from getting damaged. It comes with bow-stern safety tie downs and heavy-duty straps. The rack is made of aviation-grade aluminum alloy that is lightweight and rust-resistant. It's also less expensive than a Yakima or Thule system.
Our pick for best surfboard roof rack goes to the Curve Lockdown Roof Rack for its innovative design and all-round versatility.
For a more affordable option, consider the Ho Stevie! Surfboard Car Roof Rack.
Q: What’s better: a hard rack or a soft rack?
A: Hard racks are sturdier and can carry more weight but require your car to have roof rails. Soft racks don’t require any rails, as the straps run through the car, securing the surfboard onto the roof. Soft racks are recommended for shorter distances because the board will vibrate more and, in some instances, the windows of the car can’t be fully closed.
Q: How much should I expect to pay for a surfboard roof rack?
A: Under $30: The cheapest way of carrying your surfboard is with tie-down straps that are secured (usually with velcro) on the underside of your roof and pass through the car windows. They are basic, and you might get wet, but they are definitely functional.
Around $75: You’ll find a lot of high-quality, well-cushioned soft roof racks in the middle price range. Higher price points will reflect extra features and premium construction materials.
Around $150: Due to their solid construction, hard racks are generally more expensive than soft racks, but you don’t need to pay a premium for a decent model. Those at the higher end will likely offer locking features, adjustable hardware, and other innovative extras.
Q: What are the benefits of a surfboard roof rack?
A: Convenience. When you have your own surf rack, you can pack up and go whenever you like. Just velcro down your board, throw your wetsuit in the trunk, and you’re ready to go.
Extra space. Watersports are more fun with your friends and having a surf rack on the car roof means your backseat is free to carry more passengers.
Versatility. Even if you’re not a surfer, you’ll find most surf rack systems will accommodate longboards, short boards, stand-up paddleboards and, in some cases, even a kayak.
Safety. Just because you can squeeze your surfboard into your car, doesn’t mean you should. Its size and shape means it’s probably going to obscure your view while driving, no matter where you put it. At least if it’s on top of your roof, you don’t have to worry about the safety aspect.
Cleanliness. Even the most hardcore surfer is unlikely to want a wet surfboard getting sand, wax, and possibly seaweed all over the interior of his or her car. A surf rack will protect your surf furnishings and save you all those embarrassing apologies every time you take a fellow surfer for a ride.
Q: What are some key features of surfboard roof racks?
A: Roof Clearance: Carrying anything on your car roof is going to add height that wasn’t there before. It doesn’t matter if you’re carrying a pile of surfboards in a soft rack or attaching a hard rack to your crossbars, those extra inches are going to mount up. Be particularly aware of how much roof clearance you need when entering parking lots or garages while using a surf rack.
Function: What are you going to be using the roof rack system for? If you’re looking to carry more than one board, you need a rack with a suitable load capacity. Maybe occasionally you’d like to carry a kayak or a pair of ladders. It may be worth considering a specialized SUP rack or a more comprehensive roof rack that will carry your surfboard as well as other non-surfer-related items.
Noise: Any cargo that’s carried on your roof, not just surfboards, will rattle and hum in the wind and at high speeds. If you spend a lot of time on the highway, or you’re worried the noise is going to bug you more than you’ll be able to bear, select a hard rack over a soft rack. The more aerodynamic design and a tighter hold on your surfboard will be much quieter overall.
Compatibility: It might be the best surfboard roof rack in the world, but if it’s not going to fit in your car, it’s no good. There’s no point in buying a surfboard car rack that comes with crossbars if you don’t have rails, for example. Check the compatibility before you commit to a purchase and if in doubt, choose a surf rack that is designed to be a universal fit.
Q: What are some tips for using surfboard roof racks?
A: Carrying a surfboard on the roof can be noisy. If you are easily irritated by noises and rattles, you might prefer a more aerodynamic rack system.
To cut down on noise while using soft racks, ensure all of the straps aren't twisted.
The height of your vehicle will increase when you have a surfboard roof rack. For safety and security, be mindful of the height increase when driving.
Surfboards on your car roof are exposed to direct sunlight and flying dirt and can be easily scratched by straps and buckles on your rack system. Always transport your board in a carrying case, especially on longer journeys.
Q: What are the different types of surfboard roof racks, anyway?
A: Hard surf racks are roof racks that are specifically designed to carry surfboards or paddleboards. They need to be properly installed onto the car’s roof rails and are a much more permanent option than a soft surf rack. Check the size and setup of your rails and crossbars before buying a hard roof rack because most are not designed with universal fittings. More secure and durable than straps or a soft rack, they are also taller and heavier with a higher load capacity.
Soft Roof Rack: Soft racks are generally designed to be a universal fit, meaning they are largely compatible with any type of car or SUV. They don’t need roof rails either because they use a strapping system to secure the surfboard to the car roof. Usually made out of neoprene and webbing, they are lightweight, affordable, and much simpler to install and take down.
Roof Strapping: The roof strapping models require roof rails and crossbars onto which they can be attached. Because this type of surf rack is just straps, it’s cheap to buy, super lightweight, and easy to store and replace. They are not, however, the most secure option, and they leave your surfboard a little exposed. You might want to think about purchasing a carrying case (if you don’t have one already) for your board and roof rack pads for the crossbars.
Q: What are some other considerations for roof racks?
A: Durability: Saltwater and sand can quickly eat through cheap, low-quality materials and straps if you’re not careful.
Wet Weather: Even the most avid surfers usually don’t want to get wet on the way to and from the coast, so if you live in a rainy climate, basic roof straps that need to come through the car windows might not be the best idea.
Versatility: Are you just carrying one lone surfboard or do you need a more versatile roof rack system that is also compatible with SUP boards, longboards, or even a snowboard?
Security: If you’re going to leave your watersports equipment on the car roof while you are elsewhere, it might be worth investing in a hard roof rack with locking features. And you’re probably not going to want to leave the windows open on an unattended car, either.
Accessories: Check whether you need extras such as roof rack pads, extra tie-down straps, as well as a carrying case (to protect your board and your car roof from scratches) if you don’t already have one.
Q: What safety precautions should be taken when securing a surfboard?
A: The rack should always be checked for damage, such as sharp edges, frayed straps or broken buckles. It should be securely mounted before you add the boards and should never be overloaded.
Q: How easy are surfboard racks to install?
A: It depends on the individual roof rack and whether it’s a hard rack or soft rack. Hard racks are generally more difficult to mount and remove, while soft racks are easier to install.
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.Learn more