Surfboard Racks 101
Here are some FAQs we often get regarding surfboard racks.
What are the different types of car racks? There are many different varieties of car racks but most can be categorized as either a hard rack or a soft rack. As the name implies, a hard rack includes some type of metal crossbar with padding and straps to hold the board down onto the padded crossbar. A soft rack is an all-in-one solution for vehicles without metal crossbars. A soft rack setup usually includes a set of pads with 2 different types of attached straps.
What are the pros and cons of soft racks? Hard racks? Soft racks are great for a number of reasons. They are inexpensive, easy to set up and take down, fairly universal, and will get your boards to the beach safely. The problem with soft racks is that we don't recommend using them to secure surfboards when driving at highway speeds. Conversely, Hard racks are the most secure and sturdy form of transportation but are generally much more expensive than a soft rack solution. In addition, hard racks are not as easy to install and remove as soft racks. So if you want something you can take on and off easily, you might stick to a soft rack.
Which rack will I need for my car? The correct rack completely depends on what type of car you have. Does your vehicle have cross bars already? Does it have gutters? Will you be traveling at highway speeds? How many surfboards will you carry? Your answers will determine the best rack rack to buy.
My vehicle has existing crossbars. Now what? It's easy. Simply purchase a set of rack pads to pad your existing crossbars and a set of straps to secure your surfboards to the padded rack.
My vehicle does not have crossbars. Now What? You have several options. You can purchase aftermarket crossbars and then pick up some pads and straps (see above). You can purchase a hard rack. Or you can use a soft rack.
I decided to use a soft rack. What do I need to consider? Not much. There are few differences between soft racks. Pick one that looks cool and you're all set.
How do soft rack attach to the car? Set the pads on the roof of the car. One set of attached straps wrap around each side the car and secure inside (the doors close over the straps). The other set of straps goes around the surfboard securing it to the rack. Once all straps are tightened down, you have a functional rack system that is safe for speeds up to 45 mph.
I decided to use a hard rack. What do I need to consider? If you're vehicle has gutters (see below), you may be able to use a rack that attaches to the gutter. Otherwise, it's best to use a hard rack that has straps that wrap around each side of the car and secure inside.
What's a car gutter? A car or truck gutter is a rolled piece of steel that directs rain water to the front and back of a vehicle instead of down the side. There are mostly found on older (pre-1995) cars.
How many boards will my rack hold? As a general rule, you shouldn't ever stack surfboards more than two high (one on top of the other). Single soft racks will support two boards, double soft racks and most hard racks will support four (stacked 2 x 2).
Can I use a rack on a 2-door vehicle? Maybe. It's a matter of support. It's difficult to get the pads far enough apart to adequately support a surfboard. Maybe it will work for a shortboard but the longer the board, the less support it will have. Your best option is to look into some aftermarket crossbars, then add pads and straps.
Do I need to use a board bag when my board is on my car? Not necessarily. We typically recommend that you at least have the board in a sock to prevent any damage from debris. Day bags are ideal because they not only protect your board from debris, but also from damaging UV rays. Especially if your trek to the beach is a long one.
Can I carry a surfboard on my bike? Of course! You can either use a rear mounting surf rack, or a side mounting surf rack. For longboards, we typically recommend the side rack. Using the rear rack with a longboard could result in the board catching wind, and tipping your bike. The rear rack works great for shortboards though!
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