SUP and Surfboard Soft Rack Loading Tips

Securing Boards Safely with a Soft Rack
One of our students approached me last weekend to carry her board to Deception Pass State Park, as her soft rack didn’t seem safe on the highway. When she arrived at my garage, I worked with her to make her soft rack a safe option for highway and long distance driving. Check out these surfboard soft rack loading tips …
Soft racks are cylinder shaped fabric pads that can be attached to your car through the doors. Then you secure your SUP or surfboard on top the pads, running the straps through the doors.
Soft racks are great for travel if you’re renting a car with no rack option. Or if you don’t have a rack on your car or prefer a minimalist rack for personal use at home.
In some cases, you can just lay the board on the pads then run the straps through the doors. Or have straps through the doors for both pads and boards.

Surfboard Soft Rack Loading Tips:

1. Place your board on your car with the leash plug over your windshield (tail first). Deck up or down doesn’t matter. Though I generally go deck up for the nose rocker will allow me to open my hatchback.

2.. Make sure you soft rack is secure and as tight as possible on car and rack.

3. Add two more car rack straps over the board on both ends placing them as wide as possible. Open all side doors and thread the straps through the car – with both loose ends inside the car. Thread the loose end through the buckle, then tighten as much as possible. I put my weight int to, not just a light pull. Then for safety tie a knot the loose strap ends in case the buckle loosens. *Many worry about denting their car roof. Generally this isn’t a problem and if it is, the roof will bounce back most often.

Note: I’m not a fan of the metal crank buckle straps, they can tighten too much damaging your board. I use these or similar.

4. Tie a Strap to each Bumper. Thread a rack strap through your leash plug string (should be parachute cord or similar) then one end through a solid metal loop under the front end of your car (or through a metal front grill). Secure both ends by pulling lightly so as to not pull the board tail down too far.

Rack straps over soft rack straps and board

5. Do a shake test – Go to both ends of the board(s) and push, pull and shake them (be aggressive) to make sure they’re tight.  If not make adjustments where necessary. Check your load 10-20 miles down the road to make sure all is good. Use all your weight to tighten straps as long as the board or car doesn’t make funny sounds.

Loading Tips:
– If loading a few boards, before tightening, place insulation foam or rack pads between each board ends where they curve up to prevent the boards from spinning or sliding onto of each other.  Remove fins if loading 2-3 boards, they stack easier.
– Tie extra strap ends around the bars securely (tight) as a backup in case your buckles or knots fail.
– Twist straps before tightening to prevent whistling on the road. Concave decks and flat straps = super noisy.

Safety Tip: Don’t load more than 2-3 boards for soft racks.

Cost Saving Tip: If your car comes with a stock rack – just use that for your main rack. No need buy a brand name rack unless you need specific things such as a bicycle attachment, etc.  Pad the rack bars with insulation foam or rack pads.

Security – Traveling in places like Hawaii or Mexico, gear is stolen often. Soft racks with lock options such as those from FCS are a great way to have a less stressful vacation.

Where to Get SUP and Surfboard Soft Racks

REI – Sea to Summit Traveler Soft Racks

EVO – FCS Lock Soft Racks

EVO – FCS Premium Soft Racks Double Pad with Lock

Interior view of secured straps

More Info on Surfboard Soft Rack Loading Tips

Paddle Board Racks – Keep it Simple

SUP Racks – Keeping it Simple

SUP Racks 2 – Extension Bars

Easy SUP and Surfboard Pads


Any questions give me a holler!  rob@

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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