Surf racks for board and budget

Listen to the following statements:

“My longboard doesn’t fit in my car!”

“I’m tired of jamming my board through the middle and not being able to see out of the rear view mirror!”

“What do I do when I can’t borrow my friend’s truck?!”

If any of these sound like you, it is likely that you are ready to invest in surf racks for board and budget.

Everyone needs a way to transport one’s board from the house to the beach, regardless of whether its a 5 minute or 5 hour drive.

When you find yourself at the point at which you are surfing regularly and slowly outgrowing the make-shift method of transport you’re using, it’s time to invest in some surf racks.

But where do I begin with surf racks for board and budget?

What is out there? Straps? Roof racks? Soft racks? Hard racks? The answer is, it depends.

The main factors to consider when purchasing surf racks are distance traveled, speed, convenience, safety, and affordability.

You should invest in the surf racks, at least initially, that are the most conservative option while still checking all the boxes that you require.

Short boards and fun boards, essentially anything under 8 ft., can fit inside your vehicle with little issue. Even in a sedan, recline the front seat and you can fairly easily slide your board through the front or back door.

However, roof transport may be preferred should you wish to avoid sand, debris, wax, and other residue from your board to damage your car’s interior. A simple way to mitigate this is to store your board in a board bag or board sock. These are always useful surf racks for board and budget.

However, longboards (i.e. anything over 8 ft.) do usually require roof racks, to ensure greater visibility, comfort, and security on the road.

Read on to learn about the different options available to you:


Pros: cheap, good for short distances

Cons: no locks, not appropriate for long distances or high speeds

Surfboard straps are the most basic, rudimentary method of tying down your board for transport, and can often times work in a pinch when no other options are available.

Surf straps alone are not the most secure method of transport, however, when travelling short distances they can suffice just fine.

One of the key things to remember is to pull the strap tight and taught to avoid slippage while on the road. This is essential for surf racks for board and budget!

If the board will be in direct contact with the roof of your car, always remember to put down a towel barrier to prevent scratches on your board and wax from sticking to the roof of your car, eroding the paint.

Padded soft racks:

Pros: Decent protection for board and car, cheap

Cons: no locks, not great for long distances or high speeds

A slight upgrade from basic straps, many surfers opt to buy padded surf racks to prevent damage to the board and roof.

Padded straps function the same as normal straps, except that they provide more cushion at the board’s point of contact.

Like straps, because there is no hard structure in place, padded straps are NOT great for long distances at high speed, for example, from LA to San Diego.

In these instances, it is better to choose one of the following options:

Surf racks for board and budget: hard racks 

Pros: quick set up, appropriate for long distances/high speeds

Cons: more expensive, sometimes without locks

If your car is already equipped with cross bars, then the best bed would be to get hard racks that attach and grip on to the cross bars.

If you car does not have cross bars, you just need to research some form of hard racks in your price range to find options that secure to the door frame.

Have you ever been driving on the highway at higher speeds and heard the loud vibration sound from the straps? (If you know, you know).

It can be really irritating and distracting to say the least. The easiest way to avoid this is to twist your straps a few times over on the outside of the car, before passing the straps through the car door. This can cut out the annoying vibration sound that occurs when the straps are pulled taut.

Some of the best, most popular brands which have surf racks for board and budget, and the racks are hard include:

Thule, Yakima, and FCS.

Keep in mind that many car models offer make/model-specific racks for your car, for example, Mercedes and Chevrolet.

Depending on your arrangement with your dealer and car service provider, you may be able to find options that fit your car make and model perfectly.

However, model-specific designs are not necessary, and you can easily purchase racks from Thule or the other brands listed above, given that you accurately measure the dimensions required.

If you’re looking for more affordable options, check out what is available on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and resale options in your area.

This is a simple way to cut costs but still find what you’re looking for!

Surf racks for board and budget: racks with locks

Surf racks for board and budget sometimes include options that are fully equipped with locks that can be easily opened and closed with a key.

This guarantees the utmost security cross-country or during long drives at high speed, and offers the best protection from theft and damage.

Hard racks with locks ensure ultimate peace of mind. If you’re planning on taking your surf boards on highways with a commuting time of over one hour, hard racks with locks are highly suggested.

Not only does this simplify the loading and unloading process, but you can comfortably park your car at necessary stops and not worry about keeping an eye on your board at all times.

Here are some additional tips related to surf racks:

  1. Always load your board fin-side-up on the car.
  2. Make sure to wrap your leash around the board, or remove it completely before loading up. If your leash becomes undone on the road, it can be a visibility issue.
  3. Remember to always have a towel barrier if your board is in direct contact with the roof of the car.
  4. Load multiple boards on top of one another, beginning with the longest on the bottom.
  5. Last but not least, pull over if you sense anything is wrong! Don’t compromise your precious cargo.

Remember, surfing is a journey! Embrace the struggle and enjoy the ride!

If you are looking to find surf shops in the California area, check out this article!

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