Ask anyone who is getting into stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and they will tell you that the hardest part is not keeping your balance on the board. It’s getting the board from your garage to the water. And unless you’re driving an extra long pickup, chances are you aren’t going to be able to fit the board in the car.
The best SUP roof racks utilize ratchet-based strap systems to hold your board tightly to the roof of a car. Some of these systems are more comprehensive, and feature bars and locking systems. Others are more simplistic and use thinner straps and less hardware.
We’ve had a look at over 20 of the highest-rated SUP roof racks on the market. Now, we’re ready to present you with our Top 6, defined by price, functionality, security, and more. Afterwards, we’re going to answer some of our users’ most commonly asked questions about SUP roof racks.
Best High-End SUP Roof Rack
#1. Thule 810 Stand Up Paddleboard Taxi
Anytime you’re writing about roof racks you are pretty much obliged to begin with Thule. These are the guys who truly defined modern roof rack design and have been at the top of the marketplace for the last few decades. The 810 is their entry into the SUP rack game, and from what we can tell so far, it’s exactly what you would expect it to be: sturdy, functional, and ruggedly weather resistant.
The telescoping design here isn’t exclusive to Thule, but it does seem to work a bit smoother here than on other models. Thule’s design makes for a smooth extension or retraction. This makes it possible to deliver a custom fit, no matter how big or small your SUP board is.
You can actually fit two boards into this thing when it is extended to full capacity. You won’t have to sacrifice any stability either. Even at high speeds, the 810 rack can keep both boards tight and safe with no sign of rattling or shaking.
Thule’s lifetime warranty is always worth mentioning. Only issue that we found with the 810 is the price … it is a few bucks more than some of the other racks we review here.
- Reliable, warrantied product by a reputable company
- Telescoping design is high function; can accommodate two SUP boards
- Thule tends to be more expensive than INNO or HandiRack
Best Mid-Level Locking SUP Roof Carrier
#2. INNO INA 446 Locking Roof Carrier for SUP Boards
Designed to support a number of different aquatic toys, the INA446 by INNO is a versatile option. This rack can support canoes, kayaks, surf boards SUP boards, and more. With a rack like this you aren’t going to have to decide on a new beach hobby; you can go ahead and pursue them all.
While not as large as the Thule 810 (above), the INA446 is still capable of holding two boards. However the smaller design means that this rack is not as widely compatible as the 810. Some smaller vehicles might have to purchase a long-bolt adapter to get this one to fit (Later in the review we will be talking about how to size a SUP roof rack).
The best thing about the INA446 is how easy it is to load things. The process is much easier than other strap-based systems. From the moment you buckle the thing down it’s clear that the board or kayak isn’t going anywhere.
This rack does suffer from a small security problem, as the locks are present on only one side.
- Very easy to load with a board or kayak
- Similar performance to Thule, but slightly more affordable
- Lock system is not the most secure
Best Roof Rack for Shortboards
#3. INNO INA744
It wouldn’t be inappropriate to describe the INA744 as a sort of ‘little brother’ to the 446 that we looked at above. This one is smaller, cheaper, and not quite as bulky. Yet it still has the capacity to hold 2 full-side paddleboard or longboards.
Like the 446, this rack is as easy as throwing the board up there, attach the loop, and then crank it down. The remarkable functionality of a rack like this makes us wonder why people are spending hundreds extra on a more well-known name brand.
On the other hand, there is little question that the INNO racks are not quite as burly as Thule. For us, it’s pretty clear that the more expensive Thule racks are going to last a lot longer. INNO also suffers from the lack of any kind of warranty … but for the price, that’s not as big of an issue.
Installation can require a little bit of patience, but once the rack is on there, you’re good to go.
- Like the INO446, this rack is really easy to operate
- Even more affordable than other racks by this brand
- No form of manufacturer warranty
- Not as sturdy as a Thule rack, but it does have a tight hold
Best Tie Down SUP Roof Rack System
#4. DaKine Long Aero Rack Pads with Tie Down Straps
Unlike the INNO and Thule racks, this more minimalist system from DaKine includes only pads & straps. It is designed to work with existing roof rack bars. Simply install the pads on your Aero bars, then used the included ratchet straps to secure your gear to the top of the vehicle.
There are a number of drawbacks to a more simplistic system like this. For one, there is no locking mechanism. Secondly, the basic ratchet straps used here tend to be a bit more complicated. They are not always easy to release, and they can sometimes become jammed.
Still, there is a lot to be said about a system like this one. The design simplicity means that it is far more affordable than complete rack systems. This is especially true if you already have an Aero rack installed on your car. The pads are 28” wide, and they look like they would work great on just about any roof rack.
There is probably a debate to be had over cam buckles vs. ratchet buckles, but we’d better not. We’ll just say that the cam buckles here provide a more than adequate hold.
- Simplistic system designed to work with existing roof rack Aero bars
- Far more affordable than complete SUP roof rack systems
- No locking mechanism; straps can be cut
- Straps are less padded than those made by INNO
Best Alternative Inflatable Roof Rack System
#5. HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars
As folks who spend lots of time looking at gear & gadgets, we tend to be thrilled with surprises. This inflatable roof rack system by HandiRack is so simple, so ingenious, that we only expect to see a large number of copycat brands popping up in the near future.
Inflatable roof racks like this one are designed to be used on cars with no roof racks. That means that your car doesn’t need rails, gutters, or bars at all. The inflatable bars are mounted through the car itself and buckled on the interior. The result is a fast-install rack system that can handle a lot more than just stand up paddle boards.
These puppies come with a 175lb load capacity. That means that it can accommodate kayaks and canoes as easily as paddleboards. But anyone who buys the HandiRack exclusively for water sports is perhaps missing the point. This is a highly versatile rack system that can be used for everything from shopping to moving apartments.
It’s also pretty easy on the wallet, and that is always something we’re in favor of. Biggest downside: the HandiRack straps go in between your doors and windows. That means that it’s not entirely watertight while its on.
- Can be used on a car with no rails, racks, bars, or gutters
- Sets up in minutes and can be used for just about anything
- Not 100% watertight when the inflatable straps are installed
Value Pick SUP Roof Rack
#6. Curve LOCKDOWN Surfboard Car Racks
Like the DaKine Straps, this LOCKDOWN Surfboard System from Curve is a more minimalist approach. This is a two-strap system that can accommodate a number of different smaller boards. The strap system is simple and elegant. The lockdown system is smooth and secure.
As the most affordable roof rack on our list, the Curve Lockdown system is not surprisingly also one of the highest-selling. People like having an affordable option for surfboard or SUP board transport. In addition, not all people need some fancy locking mechanism. More often than not, a good roof rack is about getting your board from your garage to the water. You don’t always have to go farther than that.
Unfortunately, this system can only hold one stand up paddle board at a time. It’s great for smaller boards, but if you are going out with a partner then you might want to invest in one of the larger models.
Overall, this is a great value for an entry-level SUP rack and a good pick for casual use.
- The best-value SUP board rack on the list
- Simple operation and reliable ratchet-style hold
- Only big enough for one stand up paddle board
Choosing the Right SUP Roof Rack for Paddleboarding & Surfing
Like any other aquatic adventure, a great day of paddle boarding starts with some thoughtful planning. You need to consider how many people are going, how far you’re traveling, how long you’ll be gone, and more.
Choosing the best roof rack for stand up paddle boards is easy when you’ve answered the above questions. The six different roof racks that we feature here include a number of different features and styles. With the following information, you can easily discern which model is best for you.
Both the Thule Rack and the INNO racks are designed to be used with existing crossbars. This is different from some ratchet-strap systems that use the front-to-back runners as opposed to the side-to-side crossbars.
This is why the mounting style is the first thing to take into consideration. Start with your vehicle make and model.
Does it have rails?
Does it have an existing roof rack?
Before you make a purchase, double check that the rack you are interested in is compatible with your vehicle. It is not uncommon for certain makes and models to require an additional mounting extension kit.
Some of the roof racks we reviewed don’t require any rails at all. The HandiRack, for example, is an inflatable rack system that is strapped through your car interior. This provides the same kind of protective support and can be used on absolutely any vehicle.
Every roof rack is going to be slightly different in size. One of the most important considerations to make when choosing a roof rack is how many SUP boards you will need to be transporting at one time. Both the INNO and Thule racks can support two SUP boards. However some of the other racks on our list are too small for that.
Be sure to double check with the product specifications before you make your purchase. Generally speaking, we always recommend getting a slightly larger rack than you think you need. This will allow you to expand your hobbies and interests down the line if you choose. Or maybe you’ll be adding a new member to your SUP crew who will need a ride!
If you are looking for a SUP roof rack that can lock, you’re going to want to chose either Thule or INNO. Those are the only models on our list that feature locks. The other systems are designed for short distance use, so it’s best to not leave the board or boat on top of your vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
If you have another look at the SUP racks that we featured here, you’ll notice that the cheapest is around $70 and the most expensive is around $300. What’s with the huge discrepancy? How could a product as simple as a roof rack have such a wide price swing?
Like anything else, SUP roof racks come in both higher-end models and more affordable models. The Thule 810 rack, for example, has the strongest locking mechanism, sturdiest construction, and best warranty. When you combine these things it’s easy to see how it could hit three hundred bucks. And to be certain, it is worth the price.
On the other end of the spectrum are the SUP racks offered by DaKine, Curve, and HandiRack. While these racks work great at getting your gear from point A to point B, they cant compare to the superior construction of larger-brand models.
But the easy functionality and low price of these racks make them an excellent option for beginners. They can also be really helpful for SUP boarders who don’t currently have any kind of roof rack system on their car.
Although it can vary greatly from product to product, Yakima tends to be slightly more affordable than Thule racks. What is unfortunate is that Thule parts and Yakima parts are not interchangeable. Once you choose one of the two systems, you are going to have to stick with it.
On the other hand, if your vehicle is equipped with a full set of crossbars, then you might be able to rock two different rack systems, doubling your overall capacity for large group adventures.