When it comes to surfboard rack choices, there are several options available. Which option is best for you depends on how your car is made, where you’ll be driving and how many boards you’ll be carrying.
There are two main types of surfboard racks, called hard racks and soft racks. Hard racks are slightly more difficult to mount onto a vehicle, but they are considered to be a much sturdier surfboard rack option due to their solid frame. Because hard racks are so sturdy and hold boards so securely, they are ideal for when you’re driving over a long distance. They also work very well for driving at any speed over 45 mph. When using a soft rack, boards can become loose at these speeds due to the rack designs, but with hard racks, this problem does not usually occur. In addition, not only are hard racks considered to be more secure, but most hard rack styles can hold up to four boards, where as many soft rack options will only hold two boards.
Some hard racks have hooks that are designed to attach onto the gutters on a vehicle. The hooks simply clamp onto the gutters and
keep the rack secure. Many vehicles made after the mid-1980s don’t have gutters, though. If your car doesn’t have gutters, you can select a hard rack that is designed for gutterless vehicles. Depending on the type of rack, a rack for gutterless vehicles will use a different clamping method or, more commonly, will utilize a set of straps that wraps around the inside of the vehicle to hold the rack in place.
In addition, there are hard rack options for larger vehicles. If you drive a van or another wide vehicle, a van sized hard rack might be the perfect option for you. No matter what your vehicle situation is, there is most likely a hard rack option that will work for you.
Soft racks are easier to install onto your car, and also easier to remove. However, they are not designed to carry boards at speeds over approximately 45 mph, or over long distances. Generally, soft racks are not considered as secure so, although they will protect your board on a short trip to the beach, they’re considered to be more of a temporary rack and are not recommended for long drives or highway speeds.
Soft racks are made with a pad and strap system. The pad sits on top of your vehicle, and the attached straps wrap around the inside of the car and can be tightened in order to remain secure. Soft racks come in pairs, so that one pad sits at the front of your car and the other sits at the back. The surfboard is laid on the pads and can then be strapped down.
Soft racks are available in two size options. A single soft rack is ideal for carrying one or two surfboards, stacked on top of each other. However, it’s usually best not to stack boards more than two high. If you want to carry more than two boards, it’s best to opt for a double soft rack, which consists of two adjacent pads. This allows you to stack two sets of boards, two high, next to each other.
Another option, similar to a soft rack, is a set of pads and straps. Pads are designed to wrap around an existing car rack and Velcro onto the rack in order to remain secure. A set of straps can then be used to hold your surfboard onto the pads. Pads are also sold in pairs, and can either be bought separately from the straps or as a set. Like a soft rack, pads and straps are considered to be safest at slower speeds or shorter distances.