How to: Paddle Board Transportation
The huge size of a stand up paddle board is great for providing stability to the paddler. It's not always the most convenient shape for moving it around, however, and many people find them awkward and difficult to transport. If you're looking for the best ways to get your paddle board from point A to point B, then this post is for you.
Hard Paddle Board Transport
Hard boards are great but one of the major drawbacks is that they can be difficult to transport. Here are our favorite ways to transport a rigid paddle board. These methods will work for many canoes and kayaks as well.
A car roof is one of the most accessible options for transporting a hard board. Many cars even come with built in roof racks which makes this method a total breeze. Even if your car doesn't have any roof hardware, there are still some great options to try.
In my opinion, this is the most accessible method for transporting a rigid board. For this option, you will need a car with a roof rack and crossbars and two cam straps that are around ten feet in length depending on how many boards you are taking. This method works just fine for multiple boards, the most I have ever done is four and anything more than that would make me pretty nervous.
Start by placing your paddle board on top of the cross bars with the board deck down and the tail towards the front of the vehicle. Center the board so that the center of balance is in the center of the roof rack between the two cross bars. If you have multiple paddle boards, place them on top of each other with the biggest board on the bottom of the pile.
Loop the cam strap underneath the cross bar and pass the loose end over to the other side of the board and do the same on that end, passing the loose end over the top of the boards again. Make sure that there is a twist in the strap as it passes over the top of the board. If you leave the strap completely flat it will make an awful flapping noise while you drive.
Position the cam mechanism so that it is just below the top corner of the boards and feed the loose end through the cam. pull the strap tight until the boards are secure. Don't over tighten the strap as this could damage the boards.
Repeat this for the second cross bar. Once you think you have your boards secure, give the load a test by trying to move it with your hands. If the load doesn't feel secure, you can adjust the straps until you get everything properly secured.
Once everything feel secure, tie up the loose ends of the straps or shut them in the car door so they don't blow around.
If you don't have roof racks, don't stress! There's a great form of paddle board transport involving foam blocks and cam straps.
To start, you'll need two thick foam blocks that are about as long as your board is wide and cam straps as before. In this case I cut two pieces of styrofoam that I found laying around.
Place the foam blocks sideways on the roof of your car, one near the front window and the other near the back window. Too close together and the pressure from strapping down the paddle board will potentially dent the car's roof. If you car's roof is slightly curved on top, you will need the blocks at least close enough that the board is resting on the blocks and not the roof.
Place your paddle board on top of the foam blocks with the tail end of the board towards the front of the car. Center the board so that the center of balance is in the center of your roof.
Toss the straps over the top of the board onto the other side of the car and loop the loose ends into the cab of the car.
Thread the strap through the cam and tighten until secure. Repeat this on the other side of the board so that you have two straps securing the board. Close the doors on the straps.
Like with a roof rack, make sure that there are twists in your straps on top of the boards to prevent the wind causing an annoying buzzing sound.
Check your work by making sure that the board feels secure on the roof of your car with the straps tightened and doors shut.
Make sure to adjust the straps inside your car so that they won't be dangerous to you in the event of a crash or obstruct your vision while driving.
Transporting paddle boards becomes a lot easier if you have a truck. For this method, all you need other than a truck is a cam strap or other tie down straps and something soft to lay over your truck's tailgate. If you are using cam straps, you will need at least a twelve foot strap for this method.
Start by laying a blanket or something else that is soft over your truck's tailgate. This will prevent the tailgate from hurting your board deck.
Put your paddle boards in the back of the truck with the decks down and the tail in the truck bed. The tailgate should be up so that the front end of the board is resting on the edge of it.
Loop your cam strap through the secure attachment point on the rear of your truck bed. Toss one end to the other side of the truck bed and the other end under the board to the other side. Loop the loose end through the attachment point on that end. Feed the loose end of the strap through the cam and tighten until the boards are secure.
For added security, take a rope or another cam strap and pass it through the attachment points on the front of the truck bed to prevent the board from flipping out of the truck if the cam strap comes undone somehow.
Inside a van
The easiest way to transport a rigid paddle board is in the back of a large van. If you are lucky enough to have a van large enough to fit a whole paddle board, simply slide it into the back of the van, make sure that it is somewhat secure and not likely to fall if it is tipped on its side and then shut the door.
If your van isn't quite long enough you can do some finagling to get it to fit by moving the front passenger seat if possible or slipping your paddle board into the space between the seats and the wall of the van. Just make sure that it doesn't block your exit in case of an emergency
Inflatable Paddle Board Transport
The biggest benefit of inflatable boards is that they are so easy to transport. Most methods are pretty straightforward and I'll go over some of the most common methods here.
Transport paddle board while inflated
There are some instances where you are going to want to transport your inflatable paddle boards while they are inflated so that you don't have to pump them up on site. Really any of the methods that are listed above for hard boards will also work for an inflated paddle board. Just be aware that inflatable boards are typically a couple inches thicker than a hard board, so make sure that your cam straps are long enough.
Transport paddle board while deflated
This is the best option if you are looking to maximize the space in or on your vehicle.
Inside your vehicle
This is the most common way by far to transport an inflatable board. Simply put the board bags with all of your boards inside your car and shut the doors. It's that easy.
If you are looking to maximize space in your car you can get creative with taking the deflated boards out of their bags so that they're easier to fit in the nooks and crannies between seats. Board bags are really convenient but sometimes they are not the most space efficient.
On your vehicle
If you are looking to save space in the cab of your car for people or gear, you can consider attaching a cargo rack system to your roof rack. You'll be able to fit a handful of boards on your car and still have plenty of room in your car for people, camping gear, dogs, etc.
Make sure your cargo rack system is secured properly to your car and just tie the bags down to the frame of the rack so that they aren't going anywhere. Put a cargo net on top for added security.
Frequently asked questions
How do you transport a SUP without a roof rack?
If you're driving a compact car without a roof rack and need to transport a hard paddle board, the easiest option is the foam block system outlined above. All you need is two foam blocks and two cam straps and the process is fairly simple.
How do you transport multiple paddle boards?
If you're trying to transport multiple hard boards using the roof rack, foam blocks or truck bed methods outlined above, adding a second or third board is fairly easy. Just place the second board on top of the first with the deck down. Make sure to start with the largest board first and work your way up to the smaller ones.
The most I have ever seen on one car is four boards and anything beyond that would be a big stretch as four was making me a little nervous as it was.
For inflatables, you can easily fit four or five boards in the back of a car without much trouble but you will need to balance the number of boards and the number of people and other gear you can fit into one car.
Can a paddle board fit in a car?
If you have a large van, you will probably be able to fit your rigid paddle board inside. Most stand up paddle boards are at least ten feet long so you will need a car with at least a 10 and a half foot cab to make it work. I have fit a paddle board into a minivan before but it took a lot of finagling to get it past the front seat in a way that felt safe.
What is the best way to store paddle boards?
The best way to store paddle boards long term is in a cool, dry place that is out of the sun and doesn't experience large temperature swings. A dry spot in a garage or shed works great. You can check out our full guide on paddle board storage here!
How do you travel with a paddle board?
Traveling with a paddle board sounds intimidating but it is possible! Even if you are flying, most airlines will allow you to check a surfboard or paddle board for an extra fee. We wrote a whole blog post about it here!