Gear for the Long Haul: Tips and tricks for fine-tuning your SUP accessories

Paddlers fall into two gear camps: Those that obsess over every item, seeking golden bits of information to gain any sliver of performance on the water or an extra year of longevity in the garage; and those that could care less and just want to paddle that board now, factory fins and all. Wherever you fall on the gear-geek spectrum, understanding the basics of optimizing and maintaining your hard-earned equipment will take you a long way. We reached out to our top contributors and athletes to gather some hacks, tips and tricks to maximize both the performance and the lifespan of your gear. 

This article is part of a series of tips and tricks for picking the right gear and maintaining it for the long haul, originally published in our 2018 Gear Guide, available in digital and print here!

Big Board, Little Car

When moving boards from A to Beach with a compact car, there are plenty of ways to rack them wrong. Cinch too tight and you risk a pressure crack. Cinch too loose or use inadequate tie-downs and you're liable to lose the boards completely. Stick them out your side-window and, well, you'll probably wind up on @kookoftheday.

There's an art to hauling boards with smaller vehicles, especially when stacking multiple sleds. The vast majority of SUPs are too big to fit inside a car, making a solid roof rack a necessity for smaller rides. Zip-tie foam around the crossbars (duct tape frays) so there's no chance that exposed rack bars damage your board.

Secure board to rack the tried and true way: with straps. Two long (six- to 12-foot) lengths of one-inch webbing will do the trick, one for each crossbar. Cam straps work well (as do two-part ratcheting come-alongs, though not as simple), with the added benefit of adjustability for stacking multiple boards. (Note: DO NOT use bungee cords; they will eventually break and your board will land on the highway. Refer again to @kookoftheday)

Though fins-forward surf-culture diehards will endlessly argue otherwise, science says the most aerodynamic setup for a racked board is nose forward and bottom up to keep air flowing down on the board (lift is bad). If you're stacking multiple boards for long distances, wedge a couple small pieces of foam or rolled towels between the noses and tails to minimize shift and damage in transport. Tip: Place straps prior to stacking and cinch them snug, but not so tight to risk damage. Tie off loose ends with half-hitch knots for added safety.

The drawback of straps is security. Any knife can cut them during your post-paddle beers. While steel-threaded, locking strap options abound, another system we like that eliminates the tie-down entirely is from Lockrack, featuring simple sliding, locking arms that pinch paddleboards and kayaks in place. Yakima, Thule and Inno also make great locking rack components. The key is finding a setup that works for your ride and your rack. -MM

Editor’s Pick: Lockrack Roof Rack Review