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December 14, 2021 6 min read

The Easy Way to Strap Your SUP to Your Car

GILI paddle boards with Pennington summers school

One of the main benefits of stand up paddle boarding is that you can take your board practically anywhere and enjoy hours of fun on waterways all over the world. 

Inflatable boards can be deflated and packed into a small duffel bag or backpack. They’re the perfect option if you’re heading out to remote locations, as they simply fit in the boot or backseat of the car. 

If you prefer traditional hard rigid paddle boards, the way you transport them differs immensely. Hard boards can’t be deflated and packed small enough to fit inside the car, so a roof rack system would need to be installed in order to get your board from A to B. 

If you’re unsure of how to strap your stand up paddle board to your car, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you along with the process. 

How to Carry Your SUP

Man carrying a yellow adventure GILI paddle board

Most traditional SUP’s have a carry handle that is found in the center of the board. 

To easily carry the board, all you need to do is reach your hand over the edge of the board, grab the handle, and tuck the board neatly between your body and your arm. 

Windy days may prove a challenge for carrying your board as the larger surface area means more push from the wind. 

If you find carrying your board a problem, you can also purchase a paddle board cart. A paddle board cart is essentially two wheels that strap on the back end of the board and allow you to pull it along.

How to Put a SUP on Your Vehicle With a Roof Rack System 

Before you begin placing your SUP on the roof of your car, there are a few parts you need in order to transport your board safely. 

  • Crossbars:Crossbars are bars that run across the width of the roof and attach to factory-installed bars in your car. 
  • Cam Straps:You’ll need 2 cam straps to securely hold your SUP down. 
  • SUP Rack or Padding:You can purchase rack systems made especially for SUPs or you can use other forms of padding, like foam blocks. 

Tips for Transporting SUPS

GILI paddle boards on a car roof rack

Step 1: Secure Padding Around the Roof Rack Bars

Before placing your board on the rack system, secure your padding or SUP rack to the roof rack bars. Adding this layer of padding will prevent damage to your board during transit. 

Step 2: Lay Paddle Board Face Down With Fins Toward the Windshield

When placing your board on the roof rack, ensure the fins are toward the windshield and up in the air. By having them placed this way, if the straps were to loosen while driving, the fins will prevent it from flying off the back of the vehicle. 

The widest part of your board needs to be between the two crossbars of the roof rack. 

Step 3: Throw Your Cam Strap Over the Top of Your Board

Hold the buckle end of the cam strap in your hand near the support beams of the roof rack system. Then, throw the other end of the strap over the topside of your board. 

Step 4: Loop the Tail End Under the Crossbar on the Other Side of Your Car

Walk over to the other side of the car and loop the tail end of the strap under the crossbar. 

From here, you will need to pass the tail end back over the board to the other side of the car and loop the end under the crossbar on this side. 

If you twist your cam strap when it is placed on top of the board, it will prevent it from flapping against your board in the wind. 

Step 5: Insert the Tail End Into the Buckle and Tighten

Once you have taken your strap under both crossbars, it is time to place the tail end of the strap through the bottom of the buckle. 

Tighten the straps, so they fit snugly on the board and prevent it from moving out of place. 

You can either have the buckle on top of the SUP if it has padding preventing it from damaging the board, or place the buckle between the car roof and your board. 

Step 6: Repeat Steps 3-5 for the Second Strap

Once you have finished with the first strap, repeat steps 3 - 5 with the second strap. 

Step 7: Tuck the Rest of the Straps Into the Car Doors

When you have finished with both straps, open your car doors and tuck the rest of the straps inside so they don’t fly about in the wind while you’re driving. 

Step 8: Check Your Board Before Driving

Before you set off, check to see if your board is secured tightly by giving it a shake at both ends. 

How to Put a SUP on Your Vehicle Without a Roof Rack System

Man standing near a car beside his GILI paddle board

If you don’t have a hard roof rack system installed on your car, you can also purchase soft rack systems that are removable and work well for short-distance travel only. 

Soft rack systems come with straps and are fairly simple to install.

Step 1: Open All Four Doors

Soft rack systems will only work on cars that have four doors because you need to feed the straps through the doors to secure it to your roof. 

Step 2: Place the Soft Rack Across the Top of the Car

Lay the soft rack on the roof of the car a few inches from the front and back windshields and allow the straps to hang down on both sides. 

Step 3: Fasten the Straps

Once the soft pads have been placed on top of the car, take the straps and feed them through the inside of the car. 

Fasten the straps together and make sure the pads are secure and unable to move. 

Step 4: Place Your Board on Top

Take your board and place it fin side up with the fins at the windshield of the car. 

By having the fins at the windshield, if the straps become loose, the fins will catch the straps and prevent the board from flying off the top of your car. 

Step 5: Tighten the Top Straps

Tighten the top straps over the top of the board and secure it in place. Twisting the straps over the top of the board will prevent any annoying noises while driving. 

Step 6: Tuck the Rest of the Straps Into the Car Doors

Tuck the rest of the straps into the car doors to prevent them from blowing in the wind.

Step 7: Check Your Board Before Driving

Check to see if your board is secured properly by giving it a shake at both ends. 

FAQ’S

🏆 How do you transport a SUP paddle?

Some SUP paddles are adjustable and allow you to break them down into two or three sections. 

If you have a fixed paddle, you may be able to place it lengthways in between the seats of your car.

Alternatively, you can tie the paddle down on the roof rack with the board itself. It’s best to add a layer of padding, such as a towel, to keep the paddle from damaging the board during transport. 


👍 How do you strap a paddle board to a car without a roof rack?

If you don’t have a hard roof rack system installed in your car, you can purchase removable soft rack systems that are easy to install and great for short-distance travel. 

Step 1: Place the soft pads on the top of the car with the straps hanging down on both sides.

Step 2: Open the car doors and secure the straps together inside the car.

Step 3: Place your board on the soft pads, fin side up with the fins at the windshield. 

Step 4: Tighten the top straps over the board and place any excess straps inside the car. 

Step 5: Check your board before driving off. 


🏝️ How do you put a SUP on a car?

You can put a SUP on a car by using either a hard roof rack system or a soft roof rack system.

Hard racks are made for long-distance travel when your vehicle will be driving at faster speeds.

Soft racks, however, are designed for short-distance travel and shouldn’t be used on motorways. 


❓ How do you tie a SUP to a roof rack?

To tie a SUP to a roof rack, you’ll need 2 cam straps. 

Step 1: Place your board on the roof rack, fin side up with the fins at the windshield.

Step 2: Throw the tail end of a cam strap over the top of the board and loop it under the crossbar.

Step 3: Then, throw the tail end back over to the other side of the car and loop it under the other crossbar.

Step 4: Place the tail end in the bottom of the buckle and tighten.

Step 5: Repeat steps 2-4 with the other cam strap at the other end of the board.

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant


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