Transporting Stand Up Paddle Boards presents some unique challenges. Because of their shape and length, Hardboards don’t transport easily. If you don’t want to deflate and re-inflate your inflatable SUP every trip, it will also be difficult to take from point A to point B. Although at first glance stand up paddle boards look easy to transport, their long and flat shape actually makes them act like wings when strapped to the roof of a moving vehicle.
When using a hard board you need to keep the board off of your car or risk damage to your vehicle and board.
One thing you must think about when you purchase your new SUP board is - how do I get it home, as well as to and from the water? First check if your vehicle has a factory rack installed already. If it also has cross bars going from driver’s side to passenger’s side you’re all set.
Keep in mind, even with your board flat on the roof your SUP is going to act like a sail as the air rises up the windshield and hits the underside. Depending how fast you’re traveling and how strong the winds are may also affect how extensively you need to secure it to your vehicle. I recommend strapping it down securely in at least 2 places, but 3 certainly can’t hurt. You can purchase a pair of ratchet tie downs at any auto parts store for under $10 and pair them with towels or blankets for protective padding.
Final note If you’re going to tie down multiple hard boards then you are going to want to stack the boards on top of each other. Also make sure you put a towel or other soft flat object in between to protect them.
If you don’t have a roof rack you can use a temporary soft rack. This can be a great inexpensive way to keep your SUP and car safe. Soft racks have a foam crossbar type pad that protects both the paint on your car and the SUP itself. These racks rest on your car’s roof and have straps that go through your car’s interior via the door/windows.
If you do have a roof rack another option is to buy a specialized surf board rack add-on that can attach to your cross bars and keep your board secure while traveling. Thule and Yakima are just 2 of many brands that offer this type of accessory. They come in a variety of types and configurations for you to choose from.
Most people transport SUPs on top of their vehicle. If that’s how you plan on transporting yours consider the following:
Always transport your SUP flat on the roof with the fins up, if the board is on its edge it will act like a huge sail when you are driving which could cause you to lose control.
Even with your board flat on the roof your SUP is going to act like a wing as the air rises up the windshield and hits the underside depending how fast you’re traveling and how strong the winds are. For this reason you will need to strap it down securely in at least 3 places. If you already have cross bars installed on the roof you can purchase 2 pair of ratchet tie downs for under $10 a piece and you’re all set.
Inflatable SUPs or iSUPs are increasingly popular, because they are much easier to transport.
iSUPs are the easiest and most convenient boards to transport because they can roll up and pack down very small. Because inflatable SUPs can be deflated and stored in a carrying backpack you can take them anywhere! Most include a storage backpack that allow you to store all your accessories along with your SUP in one convenient place so you always know where to find them. No need to buy an expensive car rack or pay an oversize baggage fee on airplanes. They are extremely portable to take with you wherever you want to SUP.
Consider the price of Inflatable SUPs vs hard boards
The cost of hard boards versus inflatable boards is another reason why iSUPs are so popular. A standard 10’6” hard board’s cost ranges anywhere from $900-$1600 USD, while an inflatable SUP ranges from $500-$1100 USD. So the cost is cheaper on a inflatable board from the start. Transporting iSUPs is also cheaper, whether you are flying or driving. Because inflatable boards can roll up into a backpack they are cheaper and don’t incur oversized baggage fees like a hard board will. You also won’t need to have a roof rack or bother with tying the board down on top of your vehicle because the board can be deflated and easily stored in its included carrying bag.
Another convenience of transporting an inflatable SUPs is that most often they are lighter than hardboards. They are also more durable because of the material they are made out of. iSUPs have become the “go to board” for people who travel around a lot and don’t have the money or time it requires to travel with a hard board.
Both iSUPs and hard boards each have pros and cons when it comes to traveling with them. Picking the correct board is something that shouldn’t be rushed. Do your research and discover all your available options prior to committing. Set your budget and decide if you are going to be doing a lot of traveling with your board, as well as if your vehicle is already equipped to enable doing so. Not trying to scare you off. SUPing is AWESOME, but do your homework before buying so your next of first board fulfills all your needs and dreams.