A Beginners Guide To Choosing Car Roof Racks For A Paddle Board

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Struggling to transport your paddle board? Every year, thousands of paddle enthusiasts face the challenge of getting their boards to the water safely. Our guide lays out everything you need to pick the best roof rack for your paddle board, ensuring a secure fit and peace of mind.

Let’s get into it.

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The Importance of a Quality Paddle Board Roof Rack

Safely transport your board and protect your vehicle from damage with a quality paddle board roof rack. The right rack can make all the difference in ensuring that your paddle board reaches its destination unharmed.

Safely transport your board

Securing your paddle board properly on a roof rack is essential for road safety and the protection of your gear. Start by placing the board on its side, fins up, to minimize wind resistance and avoid damaging the fins during travel.

Use quality straps designed for paddle board transport; they should be tightened enough to hold the board firmly in place but not so much that they cause pressure dents in the board’s foam.

Make routine checks a part of every journey with your stand up paddle board roof rack. Pull over periodically to ensure everything remains secure, especially after driving through rough terrain or experiencing high winds.

Straps can loosen over time, so it’s vital to adjust them as needed to keep your equipment safe until you reach the water’s edge. Remember that protecting both your vehicle’s finish and keeping other motorists safe are as important as shielding your paddle board from harm during transit.

Protect your vehicle and board from damage

Choosing a high-quality paddle board roof rack does more than just hold your board; it guards against scratches, dents, or any transport-related damage to both the rooftop and your prized stand up paddle board.

Well-fitted racks cushion the impact of bumpy roads and prevent abrasive motion that can wear down the finishing on your vehicle and create gouges in the delicate foam of your SUP.

Invest in racks with padding—these are essential for added protection and vibration dampening that keeps everything snug during transit. Make sure straps are sturdy without being overtight as this ensures boards stay put without pressing too hard against the car’s surface or causing pressure dings to its structure.

With careful selection and proper use of a quality paddle board roof rack, you’ll avoid costly repairs while keeping your adventures worry-free.

Types of Paddle Board Roof Racks

Whether you prefer the convenience of a J-bar rack or the versatility of an inflatable rack, there are various options to choose from when it comes to transporting your paddle board.

Each type has its own advantages and it’s important to consider which one best suits your needs before making a decision.

J-bar racks

J-bar racks offer a secure and efficient way to haul your stand-up paddle board on your vehicle’s roof. Their design features two bars that form a ‘J’ shape, cradling the board on its side, which saves space atop your car.

This setup provides strong support, making it easier to transport multiple boards without them rubbing against each other or the roof of the car.

Installing J-bar racks is straightforward, as they typically attach directly to existing crossbars on your vehicle. They’re perfect for those who frequently hit the water and need reliable paddle board transportation.

With padded arms to prevent scratches and dents, J-bar racks keep your SUP snug during travel while minimizing wind resistance. Always check that the straps are tight before you set off to ensure maximum safety for both your paddle board and others on the road.

Inflatable racks

Inflatable roof racks are a versatile and convenient option for transporting paddle boards. These racks are easy to install and remove, making them suitable for occasional use or different vehicles.

They provide a stable base to secure inflatable paddle boards while protecting the vehicle’s roof from damage.

Additionally, inflatable racks offer an affordable and space-saving solution, as they can be deflated and stored when not in use, unlike permanent roof rack systems. Inflatable racks are also compatible with various vehicle types and can accommodate multiple boards securely for your outdoor adventures.

7 Amazing Roof Rack Recommendations In 2024

So now that we know the different types of roof racks that are available on the market, let’s take a deep dive into some of the best recommendations that I’ve found over the last few years.

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I will be breaking the roof racks down into inflatable types and J-Bar types, so keep reading to see both recommendations.

CategoryRoof Rack
Best Inflatable Roof RackHandiRack
Great For Carrying Different EquipmentHeyTrip
Great Everyday Roof RackMeeFar
Best Budget PickCor Surf Aero

Inflatable Roof Rack 1: HandiRack (Best Inflatable Roof Rack)

paddle board roof rack

Where To Buy: Amazon

Key Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of 14.6 x 7.4 x 5.7 inches

– Load capacity of 175 lbs

– Strap mounting type

The HandiRack roof rack is an incredibly versatile and easy-to-use solution for transporting your paddle board, kayak, or other outdoor gear. It’s the go-to choice for anyone who loves outdoor activities but doesn’t want the hassle of a complicated roof rack system.

First off, it’s a breeze to install. You don’t need any tools, and it sets up in just five minutes. That means more time on the water and less time fiddling with equipment. The rack’s inflatable design not only makes it easy to store in your trunk but also ensures a snug and secure fit on your vehicle, whether you’ve got a small car or a big SUV.

What’s really great is the built-in safety and stability. The HandiRack uses heavy-duty materials and has anchor points for secure tie-downs, so you can drive confidently knowing your paddle board won’t budge. Plus, its 175-pound load capacity means you can easily carry multiple boards or switch to skis or snowboards in the winter.

The HandiRack is also kind on your gear and car. Its cushioned bars protect both your equipment and the roof of your car from scratches or damage. And when it comes to noise, this rack’s aerodynamic design cuts down on wind noise, so your drive is as peaceful as your time on the water.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Inflatable Roof Rack 2: HEYTRIP (Great For Carrying Different Equipment)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Key Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of ‎17 x 13 x 7 inches

– Load capacity of 176 lbs

– Strap mounting type

paddle board roof rack

The HEYTRIP roof rack pads are a smart and versatile choice for anyone who loves kayaking, surfing, or paddleboarding. What makes them so great is their universal fit. You don’t need a fancy car with special rails; these racks fit almost any vehicle, whether it has side rails or not, and can support up to 176.4 pounds.

Security is a big plus here. The racks come with two 15-foot tie-down straps and additional ropes for the bow and stern. This means you can safely carry everything from shortboards to longboards or even a couple of kayaks. The racks are designed to keep your gear firmly in place, so you don’t have to worry about anything sliding around while you’re driving.

Another cool feature is the protection these racks offer. They have a non-slip mat and foam padding, which not only protect your car’s roof from scratches but also reduce noise and vibration during your trip. This design detail makes for a much quieter and smoother drive.

Installation is a breeze. You don’t need any tools, and everything you need comes right in the box, including clear instructions. They’re also easy to clean and foldable, making them convenient to store in the included bag when not in use.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Inflatable Roof Rack 3: MeeFar (Great For Carrying Different Equipment)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Key Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of ‎7.2 x 17.63 x 13.27 inches

– Load capacity of 180 lbs

– Strap mounting type

The MeeFar universal roof rack is a fantastic pick for anyone needing to transport a kayak, surfboard, SUP, or canoe. One of the best things about this rack is its universal compatibility. It doesn’t matter if your vehicle has gutters or not; these racks are designed to fit. They’re a great solution for people who don’t have a permanent rack system on their car.

What’s really impressive about this rack is the materials used. It’s got a built-in non-slip mat, which means you won’t have to worry about scratches or scuffs on your car. Plus, it’s designed to reduce wind noise, a common annoyance with roof racks. The top-grade EVA foam padding ensures that whatever you’re carrying has a soft landing and doesn’t jiggle around during the drive.

Setting up the MeeFar rack is super easy. You won’t need any tools, and it comes with everything you need to get it attached to your car and your gear secured. This includes two tie-down straps, quick loop straps, and tie-down ropes.

When you’re not using the rack, it folds up neatly, making it easy to store in the included storage bag. This is a big plus for people with limited space.

The safety features are also worth mentioning. With the 15-foot adjustable straps and bow and stern tie-down ropes, your gear is going to be snug and secure. Whether you’re carrying one large kayak or a couple of surfboards, this rack can handle it.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Inflatable Roof Rack 4: Cor Surf Aero (Best Budget Pick)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Key Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of ‎28 x 4 x 3 inches

– Load capacity of 250 lbs

– Strap mounting type

The COR Surf Aero roof rack pads are a top-notch budget-friendly option for transporting large items like paddleboards, kayaks, or surfboards. These pads offer an affordable way to secure and transport your gear without compromising on quality.

Durability is a key feature here, thanks to the high-density foam wrapped in tough 600D Oxford fabric, complete with a PVC-UV protective coating. This means even with regular use under the sun, these pads won’t fade, saving you from needing frequent replacements.

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Ease of use is another highlight. The pads come with strong Velcro fastenings, ensuring a quick and secure fit. This design not only saves time but also gives peace of mind; no matter your speed, your gear stays put.

The design of the COR Surf rack pads focuses on efficiency. The foam padding on top and the pre-formed shape snugly fit around vehicle crossbar racks, reducing wind noise and helping with better gas mileage. It’s a thoughtful feature that cuts down on fuel costs over time.

What really sets these pads apart as a budget-friendly choice is the balance between quality and cost. They offer premium protection for your equipment without the premium price tag. Plus, the anti-UV rating above 50 ensures they remain resistant to fading, extending their life and saving you money in the long run.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Those are my top picks for inflatable roof racks, let’s move onto J-Bar racks now.

CategoryRoof Rack
Best J-Bar Roof RackTMS
Great For Carrying Heavy EquipmentIkuram
Best Budget PickMr Hardware

J-Bar Roof Rack 1: TMS (Best J-Bar Roof Rack)

paddle board roof rack

Where To Buy: Amazon

Key Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of ‎17 x 13 x 7 inches

– Load capacity of 176 lbs

– Strap mounting type

The TMS roof racks are an outstanding choice for paddleboard enthusiasts looking for a top-quality J-bar roof rack without spending a fortune. These racks are specifically designed to carry paddleboards, making them an ideal solution for those who love hitting the water.

One of the best things about these racks is their universal fit. They’re designed to mount on almost any crossbars, whether your vehicle is a car, truck, or SUV. This versatility means you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues, which is often a concern with specialized equipment.

The TMS racks stand out for their sturdy steel construction with adjustable padding. This design ensures your paddleboards are carried securely and with the utmost care, minimizing the risk of damage during transit. The wide mouth J-bar makes loading and unloading your paddleboards a breeze, which is great when you’re eager to get on the water or tired after a long day of paddling.

Installation is quick and hassle-free, thanks to the quick on/off hardware. It means you spend less time fiddling with the racks and more time enjoying your paddleboarding. The racks’ optimally sized J-style carrier leaves plenty of roof space for other gear or a second set of racks, making them efficient for space management.

Additionally, the racks come with all the necessary mounting hardware and straps, accommodating paddleboards up to 36 inches wide and 75 pounds. This comprehensive package makes the TMS Kayak Roof Racks not only the best J-bar roof rack for your paddleboarding needs but also an excellent budget-friendly choice for both casual and avid paddlers.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Recommendation 2: Ikuram (Great For Carrying Heavy Equipment)

Where To Buy: Amazon

Key Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of ‎14 x 11 x 19.8 inches

– Load capacity of 750 lbs

– Roof mounting type

paddle board roof rack

The IKURAM carrier rack is a versatile and practical choice for transporting not just kayaks, but also paddle boards, surfboards, and other similar gear. This J-style folding rack is a top pick for anyone looking for an easy and safe way to carry their water sports equipment.

Firstly, what makes this rack stand out is its maximum protection for your boards. It features oversized, all-weather rubber saddles and padded uprights, ensuring your paddle boards are protected from scratches and damage. This Best-in-Class TopGuard padding is a real game-changer for keeping your gear in top shape.

The universal mounting design is another huge plus. It fits most square and oval-shaped factory-installed cross rails, making it a breeze to set up on various vehicles. And, it’s not just about being easy to mount; the rack’s design also ensures your boards are held securely in place, giving you peace of mind while on the road.

Durability is a key aspect of the IKURAM rack. It’s made from high-quality anodized Aviation Grade Aluminum Alloys, which are lightweight, durable, and rust-resistant. This means you can rely on this rack year after year, making it a cost-effective choice in the long run.

The quick raise and fold design is a standout feature for convenience. You can easily adjust the rack when not in use, improving overhead clearance and aerodynamics. Plus, the multiple carrying functions allow you to carry up to two paddle boards, maximizing your roof space efficiently.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Recommendation 3: Mr Hardware (Great For Carrying Different Equipment)

paddle board roof rack

Where To Buy: Amazon

Key Specs & Features:
– Dimensions of ‎19 x 5 x 15 inches

– Load capacity of 600 lbs

– Roof mounting type

The Mr Hardware roof rack is an excellent budget-friendly option for transporting paddle boards. It’s designed to offer a simple and low-cost solution without compromising on quality and security, making it ideal for paddleboard enthusiasts.

One of the key features of this rack is its security. It comes with special screws to prevent loosening and includes strong tie-down straps that are 1 inch wide and 10 feet long, boasting a 600 lb break strength. This means you can travel with confidence knowing your paddle board is securely fastened.

The rack’s steel design with adjustable padding strikes a perfect balance between strength and protection for your paddle board. The wide mouth J-bar makes loading and unloading your board super easy, which is a huge plus when you’re eager to get in the water. The quick on/off hardware ensures fast installation and removal, saving you time and hassle.

Additionally, this roof rack is versatile enough to fit most factory or aftermarket round, square, oval, and flat crossbars. This versatility is complemented by the EVA sticker on the mounting hardware, designed to protect your car bar from scratches.

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Durability is also a strong point of this rack. It’s made with 1.5mm thick steel tubing, capable of holding up to 150 pounds, and features high-quality, weather-resistant outdoor paint. The rubber base cover and foam padding are both water and sun resistant, ensuring a long lifespan for the rack.

Check Price ➡️ Amazon

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Roof Rack

Consider the type of vehicle you have, as well as the size and weight of your paddle board. Evaluate the durability and compatibility of different roof rack options before making a decision.

Type of vehicle

Consider your vehicle type when selecting a paddle board roof rack. Different racks are designed for specific vehicles, such as cars with raised side rails or crossbars. It’s essential to choose a rack that is compatible with your vehicle to ensure a secure and stable fit without damaging your car.

Additionally, some racks may require additional accessories or modifications depending on the type of vehicle you have, so be sure to factor this in when making your selection.

When transporting a paddle board, it’s important to consider the size and shape of your vehicle as well. The roof rack should not impede the driver’s visibility or access to other parts of the vehicle.

Board size and weight

Considering the board size and weight is crucial when choosing a paddle board roof rack. Ensure that the roof rack you select can accommodate the dimensions and weight of your specific paddle board.

This will help prevent any damage to your vehicle or board during transportation. It’s essential to check the specifications of the roof rack to guarantee it can support your board securely.

When evaluating the compatibility of a roof rack with your paddle board, take into account factors such as length, width, and thickness, as well as its overall weight. By choosing a roof rack that matches these measurements, you’ll ensure safe and secure transportation without risking any potential damage to your valuable equipment.

Durability and compatibility

When selecting a paddle board roof rack, consider the durability and compatibility with your vehicle. Look for racks made from strong materials like aluminum or heavy-duty steel, as they can withstand various weather conditions and provide long-lasting use.

Additionally, ensure that the rack is compatible with your vehicle’s roof system to guarantee a secure fit and safe transport of your paddle board.

Before making a purchase, check the manufacturer’s specifications for weight capacity to confirm that it can support your specific paddle board. It’s also important to select a roof rack that suits the size and shape of your board for a snug and secure fit during transport.

By focusing on durability and compatibility, you can have peace of mind knowing that your paddle board is safely secured during travel.

Installation and Maintenance Tips

Ensure that your roof rack is properly installed and secured to the vehicle before transporting your paddle board. Regular maintenance and proper storage will help prolong the life of your roof rack and ensure safe transportation of your board.

Proper installation techniques

Here is a video guide if that makes things easier:

To ensure proper installation of your paddle board roof rack, follow these steps:

  1. Position the rack: Place the rack on your vehicle’s roof according to the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure it is centered and balanced.

  2. Secure the mounting brackets: Attach the mounting brackets to your vehicle’s roof using the provided hardware and make sure they are firmly in place.

  3. Attach the supports: Connect the supports to the mounting brackets, ensuring they are aligned and tightened securely.

  4. Install padding: Apply padding to areas where the rack comes into contact with your vehicle to prevent scratches and damage.

  5. Test for stability: Gently shake and tug on the installed rack to verify that it is stable and secure before loading your paddle board.

Regular maintenance and storage

After ensuring the proper installation of your paddle board roof rack, it’s crucial to prioritize regular maintenance and storage. Here are some essential tips to keep your roof rack in top condition and ensure the longevity of your paddle boarding equipment:

  1. Clean your roof rack regularly with mild soap and water to remove dirt, salt, and debris that can cause corrosion.

  2. Inspect all mounting hardware for tightness and signs of wear or rust, tightening any loose bolts or screws as needed.

  3. Store your paddle board roof rack in a dry area when not in use to prevent moisture – related damage and rust formation.

  4. Check the padding on the rack regularly for wear and tear, replacing it if there are signs of deterioration to protect your board during transport.

  5. Lubricate any moving parts such as hinges or locking mechanisms with a silicone – based lubricant to ensure smooth operation and prevent rusting.


In summary, choosing the perfect paddle board roof rack is essential for safe and hassle-free transportation. Consider your vehicle type and the size and weight of your board when selecting a roof rack.

Proper installation, maintenance, and storage will ensure that you get the most out of your chosen roof rack for many adventures to come. Happy paddling!

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Paddle Board Roof Rack FAQs

What type of roof rack is suitable for a paddle board?

A roof rack with wide and padded bars is suitable for securely transporting a paddle board.

How do I know if the roof rack will fit my vehicle?

You can check the manufacturer’s specifications or consult with the retailer to ensure compatibility with your specific vehicle make and model.

Can I install the paddle board roof rack by myself?

Yes, many roof racks come with installation instructions and are designed for simple DIY installation on most vehicles.

Are there weight limitations for paddle boards on roof racks?

Most roof racks have weight limitations, so it’s important to verify that the chosen rack can safely support the weight of your paddle board.

Do I need any additional accessories for securing the paddle board on the roof rack?

Using straps or tie-downs specifically designed for securing a paddle board is recommended to ensure safe transport on the rooftop.

paddle board roof rack
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Jason Watson

My initial goal was to document my paddleboarding experiences with friends and family, but that has evolved into a commitment to share this sport with as many people as possible because of the health benefits & peace of mind it has given me. This sport is not only a great way to see the world, but it also helps us come closer to ourselves. Information gives us strength!

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