Stand Up Paddleboarding 2.0: Top 101 Stand Up Paddle Board Tips, Tricks, and Terms to Have Fun, Get Fit, Enjoy Nature, and Live Your Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Passion to the Fullest From A to Z!

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When I first borrowed a paddle board from Waterman’s Landing to take to the River City Paddlers Fall Classic in Sacramento, I had no idea how to secure it to the top of my tall Nissan X-Terra. As I state in the book, this was the hardest part of preparing for a race.

A 12’6” or 14’ paddle board is generally too big to fit inside a typical SUV. However, with a little guidance and practice I figured out how to get the paddle board on top of my car, back down, and securely strapped in to not damage the board, the vehicle, or completely losing it on the highway. Here’s how I do it:

I have Thule kayak racks on top of my vehicle that actually fold down and work pretty well as pads for my paddle board, but I’ve seen my friends use yoga blocks as a buffer between the top of their car and the paddle board as well. Waterman’s Landing and other SUP shops usually sell paddle board car pads that fasten around the roof racks to help protect the board.

These are the steps I take when putting the board on top of my car:

  1. Carrying the board over to the back of the car, I prop it up lengthwise with nose up in the air, tail resting on the ground. Yet, I usually prop it up on a blanket or take the fin off as to not damage it.
  2. Next, as the paddle board is propped up against the car vertically with the pads facing up, I grab either side of the board in the middle and start hoisting it/rolling it on top of the car. I usually place it to where the nose is sticking up a little over the windshield and the fin is right behind where the roof rack ends.
  3. With the board on the car centered between the racks, I place four extension straps fastening the board to the roof rack. One strap goes at the top, two in the middle, and one at the end. My four straps are made of a polypropylene webbing (a little softer than seatbelt material) with metal tightening buckles, about an inch in width and at least 80” in length. I cinch them down tight (but not too tight) so that the paddle board is not moving on top of the rack at all.

Please note that you don’t want to use the straps with the large metal/rubber tightening buckles because you have a better chance of cinching down the straps too tight and crushing your board. Anik Wild, owner of Waterman’s Landing, says that she’s seen this happen before where someone totally destroyed their board trying to secure it to their roof rack. Remember- you don’t want to lose your board on the freeway but you don’t want to damage it in the process of securing it either!

To get the paddle board down off my car, I just reverse the steps. When I’ve reached my destination, I undo the straps and start pushing the board towards the back of the car. Then I put a pillow down to where the board is going to touch the ground, go around to the back, grab either side of the center of the board, and gently lower it down. By the time your board is off your car, it should be leaning up against the back vertically, nose up and the tail resting on the ground propped up on a pillow to protect the fin.

Then you simply go around to either side of the board, grab the handle, and carry your board to the water and can start warming up for your paddle board competition!

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