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How Fast Can You Drive With a Board on the Roof?

Transporting a surfboard or paddle board on the roof of your car gives you the flexibility to practice your hobby within a wider radius.

However, it’s important that neither you nor other road users are endangered in the process. Not only is it important to properly secure the board to the roof racks so it doesn’t fall off, but there are also some specific speed limits to consider.

We looked at different scenarios and want to share with you our findings on the optimal driving speed with a board on the roof.

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How Fast Can You Drive with Roof Racks?

When driving with roof racks, it is advised to adhere to a speed limit of 85 mph (130 km/h). Roof racks pick up a lot of wind when mounted on a vehicle, which means driving will become increasingly more difficult at higher speeds.

Generally, a roof rack without a load isn’t a major restriction on driving speed. But the rule of thumb is: The lower your speed, the more comfortable and safer your ride will be.

How Fast Can You Drive with a SUP on the Roof?

How Fast Can You Drive With Roof Racks
Source: Unsplash

Driving with a paddle board on the roof means you’ll need to reduce your speed even further to counteract the wind resistance – to about 65-80 mph (104-128 km/h). Paddle boards are very light but have a large surface area. This means that they can quickly act like a wind trap or a sail, catching the wind beneath them and creating a very strong upward pull.

Roof rack manufacturers will always specify the maximum allowable speed without load. Beyond that, think carefully about the dimensions and the number of boards on the roof because this directly affects the acceptable speed. On occasion, you may need to go lower than 60 mph (100 km/h) to be on the safe side.

All things considered, roof racks are a very good choice for stability and safety of both your board and other drivers on the road. For light boards or short distances, you can also use inflatable roof racks fastened with straps.

Read also: Foam Paddle Board (2022 Expert Guide)

How Fast Can You Drive with a Surfboard on the Roof?

A top speed of 65-85 mph (104-130 km/h) is considered safe when transporting a surfboard on the roof. Surfboards have a similar weight and size to paddle boards. As a result, the way you mount them on the roof rack and the speed at which you travel are very similar.

If you choose to drive with more than one surfboard on the roof, you need to slow down and enjoy the ride a little longer 😉

Read also: Can You Use an Inflatable SUP in the Ocean?

How Fast Can You Drive with a Roof Box?

Similar to roof racks, a maximum speed of 85 mph (130 km/h) is recommended when driving with a roof box. It makes no difference whether the roof box is transported full, half full or empty. Driving faster than this will not only be less safe, but it’ll create a lot of background noise like whistling and rattling.

Due to careless driving and roofbox overloading, accidents can occur in which the complete roof box gets torn off the roof, often together with the fastening. This not only endangers the drivers themselves but also other road users to a great extent.

How fast you can drive with a roof box can be seen in the manufacturer’s specifications. A high-quality, more expensive roof box from a reputable brand offers a significant plus in safety and durability thanks to the better materials and workmanship.

How Many Surfboards Can You Put on a Car?

We don’t recommend stacking more than six surfboards on top of each other. The higher the stack, the less stable it will be due to higher wind resistance. Also, make sure that the larger and heavier boards are on the bottom and the smaller and lighter ones are on the top. This prevents deformation and distributes the weight better.

How Many Surfboards Can You Put On The Roof
Source: Unsplash

As a general rule, you should use enough transport belts to secure each surfboard directly to the roof rack. This will provide extra stability from the top of the stack down and prevent the entire deck of surfboards from flying off the roof all at once.

How Do You Transport a Board on Your Car Without a Roof Rack?

There are several alternatives to roof racks when you want to transport a paddle board:

  • Transport Belts
  • SUP Trolley
  • Car Trunk
Transport A Board Without Roof Rack
Source: Shutterstock

Transport Belts

Tie-down straps or belts are vital to secure a board to the roof rack – but they can be very useful even without one. To transport a SUP on the car with just that, you also need a few EVA foam blocks. These are placed between the car roof and the board to prevent shifting and damage to surfaces. Alternatively, a more sustainable way would be to just use some old towels.

The transport belts are attached through the open doors of the car. Place the foam blocks/ towels on the car roof, balance the paddle board on them, and wrap at least two straps around the board. Then thread them through the open doors and secure them at the other end. Tighten the straps so that they are connected inside the car. This way it will be harder for someone to steal them.

Don’t forget to close the car doors before you start driving! 😉

Pelican Tie Down Strap with Buckle Bumper

  • heavy-duty
  • 15 ft long, 1 inch wide
  • for loads up to 500 lbs (227 kg)
  • UV resistant
  • plastic buckle bumper

SUP Trolley

A SUP trolley is a small two-wheeled cart placed underneath the board which is then in turn strapped onto the car. This is a practical solution because it allows you to transport the craft easily even after you detach it from the car.

SUP Trolley
Source: Surfshop Andreas

Apart from using the standard trailer hitch that you might have on your car, you can also get a special multitrack trailer. With this, you can transport not only SUP carts, but also luggage boxes, bike racks, and more.

As per usual, multiple tension straps will be necessary to secure the board to the trolley and to the car.

Pelican Canoe Kayak and SUP Transport Cart

  • universal – for canoe, kayak & SUP 
  • carries up to 175lbs (80kg)
  • 7.5ft. (2,2m) adjustable strap included
  • aluminum frame and soft foam handles
  • lightweight and corrosion-resistant

Car Trunk

Besides the inflatable paddle boards, you can also transport normal SUPs in the trunk. In this case, you’ll need to secure them so they don’t slide around – or fall out!

In addition, consider padding to keep the board from coming into direct contact with hard surfaces. Wrapping it in a soft fabric can help you avoid scratches and dents on your SUP, or holes if it’s inflatable. Some options for good padding are a SUP sock, a special SUP travel bag, or simply a thicker blanket.

Note that in some places you will need to attach an alert signal to the end of the board that sticks out from the vehicle. This is usually a red flag made from a piece of cloth or plastic film that you tie or tape to the board.

KONA SURF Insulated SUP Travel Bag

  • foam padding
  • insulating case
  • waterproof lining
  • carrying handles
  • shoulder strap

Final Thoughts

Last but not least, always be aware of the regulations regarding when and where you can paddle or surf. We have a useful collection of tips and info for you here: Is It Legal To Stand Up Paddle Board Anywhere?.

Stay safe and have fun paddling!

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