Best Surfboard Car Roof Rack Buyer’s Guide

Getting your surfboard from the house to the beach can be difficult, though luckily we’ve compiled a list of the best surfboard car roof racks to help you out.

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Depending on the board you have, it may not fit inside of your car. Besides physical space, throwing your wet and sandy board in your car after surfing can ruin the inside of your car.

Lastly, having a surfboard or multiple surfboards stacked in your trunk, can obscure your vision.

It’s no doubt that getting a solid surfboard car roof rack is the safest and best way to transport your board.

They don’t cost an arm and a leg and are typically very easy to install.

So whether you’re looking for a soft rack, hard rack, or any hybrid of the two, you want to make sure you have one that will suit your needs, fit your board, and work with your car or truck.

Inno Racks BoardLocker Surf Carrier

The Inno Rack Boardlocker racks are premium quality racks that feel sturdy and have a strong build. The straps are made from a rubber-coated stainless steel, making them strong, durable, and long lasting.

The floating strap system helps to keep your board secure while the rubber cushions help to protect your boards from any dings or dents. It’s a very simple and straightforward rack, which we absolutely love. Inno Racks says that the system is rated for either 3 short boards or 2 long boards though there truly is no golden rule, and you should always check to make sure your boards are properly secured before driving off.

Because they are tied to the crossbars on your car, and they do work for most factory crossbars, there is little wind noise and vibration, even when at high speeds. Another cool thing is, once they’re installed, you can just leave them on your car.


#2 - 54” Universal Locking Roof Rack Crossbars

54 Universal Locking Roof Rack Crossbars

Vault Cargo Management is known for their ultra-strong, heavy-duty transport gear for an array of sports. If you can trust their bars to hold 150lbs worth of canoes and kayaks, you can trust them to hold a few surfboards.

Their 54” Universal Locking Roof Rack Crossbars include padded clamps that are adjustable and 2 sets of keys to lock them on. Because they have a low profile, they will also be less prone to wind noise. They are durable, simple, and will fit rails up to 47” wide.

If you are the constant adventurer, these are nice to just leave on your car or truck when you’re all done with them. If your vehicle is compatible with a crossbar rack, we would highly recommend picking up a pair of these.


#3 - FCS Premium DOUBLE SOFT Surfboard Car Racks

FCS Premium DOUBLE SOFT Surfboard Car Racks

FCS’s Double Soft Surfboard roof racks are very well made and the wide, 17” pads, integrated straps, and strong metal buckles, will give you the utmost confidence when strapping down your boards for the next adventure.

Unlike the crossbar roof racks that we just mentioned, these FCS soft racks are placed on top of your car, run through the windows on each side of the car, and latched around the board. They will take a little bit longer to secure on, though they do just as good a job.

You will also get a bit of noise as you drive faster as well. Luckily, you won’t have any movement, as the FCS D-Ring keeps the straps more secure than any other strap we’ve used without worrying about slippage or breakage. These racks are rated to hold 1-6 shortboards or 1-4 longboards. Again, just make sure that everything feels nice and secure before driving off and never push your limits.

They come with a nice little zip storage pouch so you can store them when they’re not in use. We highly recommend these soft straps for simplicity, ease of use, and reliability.


#4 - Curve Premium Surfboard Soft Rack

Curve Premium Surfboard Soft Rack

As the name suggests, these racks curve around the sides of your boards like a cocoon to secure them into place. This is very unique, but totally makes sense in terms of eliminating noise and jitter. The padding is nice and wide, as well as 1” thick, making it perfect to protect from strap contact and rail damage.

They say it holds up to 1-4 shortboards or 1-3 longboards. This strap is not for SUPs, though Curve has a nice SUP rack in their lineup if you need one.

Though they may be one of the cheaper racks on our list, the high quality webbing, zinc cast cambuckle, and durable pads, give you the feel and protection of a high-priced roof rack. It also comes with a nice little zip up storage pouch and directions to make sure you install them properly.


#5 - Nixie Sports Universal Soft Roof Rack

Nixie Sports Universal Soft Roof Rack

Nixie Sports soft racks, while the cheapest on our list, are durable and well made with 420-denier nylon and heavy-duty metal buckles. We love the lashing straps, as their design will leave you with peace of mind knowing that the racks aren’t going to damage the top of your car.

They don’t come with the same D-Ring mechanism that we love on the FCS system, though will still securely carry your boards for the occasional beach trip. They aren’t rated for a specific number of boards, though they will hold up to 180lbs. Just remember to be careful when you get everything tied down to make sure it’s properly secured. The pads here are not integrated with the straps, so installation may a take a bit longer.

There also may be a bit more noise, but hey, you get what you pay for! If you’re only taking a few trips out to the beach a month and don’t want to spend a lot on a pair of soft racks, we would definitely recommend picking up a pair of these Nixie Sports racks. They’ll get the job done without any problems!


How To Setup a Surfboard Car Roof Rack

The setups will be a bit different depending on if you purchased hard racks or soft racks. Hard racks will only work if you have a pair of aftermarket racks on your roof, while soft racks will work for any car that doesn’t have racks built on.

Hard Racks

For hard racks, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the pads you buy will be able to strap along the length of your racks on top without hanging off the sides.

If you have 50” racks, don’t get 60” pads.

These pads will have some sort of latching system to where you can easily attach them to your built-in racks on your vehicle.

The reason we need these pads is that your racks will inevitably do damage to your board when they are tied down. It’s a protective measure.

When the pads are on, it’s time to put your surfboard on your car. ALWAYS put your board on with the top down and the fins facing the front of your car. It’s top down so that it doesn’t mess with the rocker and fins forward so that, in the case it slides back while driving, the fins should catch the straps.

Most of these pads will come with tie down straps, though you can purchase them if need be. Loop it under the left side of the front rack, over the board, and under the right side of the rack in the same fashion. Loop back over, pull tightly, and you’re set. Repeat with the backside.


Soft Racks

Soft racks will strap over your car and around the ceiling of the inside of your car through your doors. Place them on your car this way and space them apart in a way that covers a solid amount of surface area for your board.

Take time and figure out the spacing to make sure they aren’t too wide or too narrow. If they are, your board will likely thrash around or slip out once you get driving. Thread the bottom straps through your open doors and latch them together on the inside so that they are secured to the top of your car.

Next, take the top straps and latch them around your board in the same way. There you have it!


How can I reduce strap noise?

That ungodly whistling sound can be very distracting and annoying, especially if you have a 30-minute drive to the ocean.

Here are a couple tips to reduce that noise.

  • If you’re stacking multiple boards, stack your smallest boards on top. This will not only reduce noise, but also keep things from slipping

  • Twist the straps at each side just before they go in your door. This lessens wind force on the straps, the main culprit of noise.

  • Make sure they are very tight. Obviously you don’t want to damage your boards with the digging of straps, but if your straps are even the slightest bit loose, the noise will be incredible when you get up to speed.

What are the advantages and​​​​ disadvantages of hard roof racks?

Advantages

  • Very durable and secure
  • Perfect for long distance drives
  • Little to no noise
  • Can leave on when finished

Disadvantages

  • Are much more expensive than soft racks
  • Are more difficult to mount initially
  • Only work for people with aftermarket racks already installed

What are the advantages and disadvantages of soft roof racks?

Advantages

  • Perfect for short distance drives
  • Very easy to setup and put away
  • Much less expensive than hard racks
  • Work on a wider array of vehicles

Disadvantages

  • Are noisier than hard roof racks
  • Are not as secure as hard roof racks



FAQ

How many surfboards can I stack on top of each other?

If your rack that you end up purchasing is a single rack, only stack two boards on it. If it’s double, you can stack four with a pad in-between the first two. You never want to stack more than two boards on top of each other without another pad.


Can I use these soft pads on my two-door car?

We’ve seen people maneuver it and make it work, though it isn’t safe. Typically, there isn’t enough room to space the pads out enough so that they properly support your board. This is especially true if you have a longboard. We would highly recommend installing some sort of aftermarket crossbars if you really need to transport boards with your two-door vehicle. That way you won’t have to worry about spacing out any pads.


Can I put my board in a bag before tying it down to my racks?

Absolutely! In fact, we would highly recommend doing that. Not only will it protect the rails of your boards from strap, but it will also keep it out of direct sunlight and safe from any flying pieces of dirt or debris that might land on it. Obviously this isn’t a huge deal if you’re taking a quick 5-minute drive to the beach, but for those of us who have to endure the ride before surfing, this is a no-brainer. Just make sure that your racks are rated to hold a board with a bag, as some aren’t wide enough.