Quick Guide to Transporting Surfboards

S C Surf Butler’s
Quick Guide to
Transporting Surfboards


This is an  important aspect of surfing, that is most often overlooked by surfers.   Most new surfers do not realize that 90% of their surfboard “dings” ( when foam is exposed to water damage) happen while transporting their surfboards to and from the beach.  Surfboards are designed to withstand 20 foot Hawaiian sets, but the slightest knock on your car door can cause the inner foam to be exposed to water damage.   Transportation of your surfboard is very important.

The absolute best way to transport your surfboard is by van.   I am talking about a van built for rugged use or equipment like a work van.  This would allow room for even the biggest of boards to be stashed inside, unharmed from bouncing on roof racks or shifting in truck beds.   I said” ideal”, so don’t be alarmed if you do not own a work van to transport your surfboard.  So let’s talk about cars and trucks.

First in order to properly transport your surfboards to and from the beach, you should invest in a soft rack surfboard carry system.  They make these as roof racks for cars or SUV’s as well as for truck beds.   The main company’s that manufacture soft rack systems are:  

  • Ocean Earth
  • Dakine
  • OAM ( On a Mission)
  • FCS

The most difficult issues arise when you are transporting longboards or stand up paddle boards, because of their size and weight, or when you are carpooling and transporting multiple boards.


Most short-boards, Fish and Fun shapes will fit diagonally in a truck bed.  Just be sure to cover the corners of the bed with a soft towel to prevent dings to the nose.

Longboards and stand-up paddle boards take a little more effort. First, you will need a tailgate pad, which will keep your tailgate and surfboard from getting scratched, dinged and covered with wax. You will want to place the tail diagonally into the truck bed, with the fin pointed toward the sky. The bottom half of a longboard is heavier than the top and should be placed inside the bed; this will prevent the board from bouncing in the truck bed and possibly falling out (depending on how fast you drive to the beach). The tailgate pad will come with a strap that clasps; be sure to fit it snugly around the board.

I also like to use a bungee cord to secure the board inside the truck bed. I hook the bungee cord around the clasps that are inside the truck bed. This method works well for both longboards and stand-up paddle boards up to 12 ft. in length.

If you are transporting more than one longboard, place them one on top of the other, all with their fins facing up, inside the bed. Wrap the secure strap and bungee cord tightly around all boards.


You must definitely need to invest in some good quality racks.  Heavy duty racks are the most secure way to go. They are available trough your car manufacturer or from companies that specialize in-car rack systems like Thule or Yakima.  A cheaper way and less secure system would be one of the soft racks available through  FCS,  OAM,  Ocean Earth, or  Dakine.  These are the soft pads.  These are removable rack systems, so the pads are not as stable. Below are some examples.

The proper way to position your surfboard on top of a car is with the fins in the front and the nose facing rear of the car.  The fins must be turned up, toward the sky, this better channels the wind around the board.  Transporting multiple boards with a car can be a little trickier.  Place each additional board on top of the other all with the fin facing up.  Place a towel between each board to prevent the top boards wax from rubbing off on the bottom board and to act ass a layer of padding to prevent indents.  Wrap a strap or bungee cord tightly around all boards, and make sure they are securely and snugly strapped down.

additional ways to transport your surfboard

It is always wise to invest in a surfboard bag or sock.  A surfboard travel bag is heavy-duty, while the sock is just a thick piece of cloth that goes around the board.  Day bags keep your board covered in a protective case that zips and unzips for easy use.  They are a good investment to preserve your board for years to come.  FCS, OAM, Ocean Earth and Dakine all make good quality surfboard bags and  socks.

I hope this is helpful !

I’ll see you at the beach!


10 responses to “Quick Guide to Transporting Surfboards

  1. The best I ever saw (in the earl 80’s) was the fella who had the moves, the image… the money and the surfboards BOLTED to the roof rack! 😉
    FAKE!! (Needles to say… he was soon laughed out of town!) 😀

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