red surfing board on top of a jeep

Can a Surfboard Fit in a Car?

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Considering the range of surfboard sizes, having a car can make getting your board to the beach easier. But since surfboards are typically long, how easy can this mode of transport actually be?

yellow and brown surfboard strapped on top of the card

Can a surfboard fit in a car?

Surfboards can be transported to the beach with a car. Whether the board is stored inside the car or on the vehicle’s roof will depend on the size of the board in comparison to the storage capacity of the vehicle. If you want to transport the surfboard inside the car, you might have to plan ahead to clear items and fold down the seats. Storing the board on the car’s roof is especially useful when there is limited space in the car.

This article takes a detailed look into transporting surfboards with a vehicle. We explore strapping your surfboard to a car, driving with a surfboard, and other important considerations for safe and efficient travel.

Can a Surfboard Fit in a Car?

Surfboards can fit in a car. But in many cases, you may have to adjust the fittings in the car to make space for the board.

For pickup trucks, there’s already space in the back of the vehicle. All you have to do is fasten the board to ensure it does not fall off while you drive.

But for cars and smaller SUVs, you have to fold the seats to make space for the surfboard.

In cases where the surfboard is longer than the car, folding the seats may not be enough. You will have to strap the board to the roof if you intend to get it to the beach.

When storing or strapping a surfboard to your car, you should ensure it is placed correctly and safely. Using anything outside of proper placement will leave you and other drivers at risk.

How to Carry a Surfboard on the Roof of Your Car

old surfboard strapped in a car on the beach

Before you transport a surfboard your car’s roof, you will need the following: two fastening straps, a roof rack, and roof rack protection. Once you have these items, you can follow these steps:

  1. Place the foam protectors on the roof rack.
  2. Place your surfboard on the protectors with its nose face down.
  3. Center the weight of the board properly on the rack.
  4. Secure the board. Start by strapping the front of the board. Pull the strap over the board across your car, then pass it underneath the roof rack.
  5. Repeat this process with the other strap, and then join both ends tightly.
  6. If there is any excess strap, strap it on the roof rack or fold it into the car.

While transporting your surfboard on the roof of your car can be convenient, it can also be a bit bothersome.

Finding a compatible roof rack for your vehicle can be challenging and add costs. You will also spend a decent amount of time dismantle and assemble the frame when you need it.

How to Strap a Surfboard to a Car Without a Roof Rack

red surfing board on top of a jeep

If you cannot afford a roof rack or your car does not have one, you can use a soft roof rack to transport your surfboard.

The soft roof rack comes with fastening straps with different functions. Some straps secure the roof rack on your car, some go through the car, and others fasten the surfboard to the roof rack. 

To attach a soft roof rack to your car:

  1. Place the foam pieces on the car’s roof.
  2. Pass the strap through your car windows and tighten it.
  3. Place the surfboard on the roof rack with its nose face down.
  4. Place the remaining straps over the surfboard and tighten them.
  5. Center the surfboards and ensure the roof rack and boards are properly secured.

Using a soft roof rack is reliable, and you can cover a lot of distance with it. Among all the methods of transporting surfboards, this is by far the best when it comes to time and cost.

A soft roof rack is quick and easy to dismantle and assemble. Some soft roof racks can hold a total of 3 surfboards, while some can hold a total of 6 surfboards.

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

You should not drive excessively fast when transporting surfboards on your car’s roof. Some roof racks, including soft foam racks, can only support speeds within specific ranges.

Beyond those ranges, their safety and effectiveness are not guaranteed.

The maximum speed to travel with a surfboard on your roof is 70 mph as stated by some roof rack manufacturers.

Traveling over this limit can break your roof rack. When this happens, the surfboard may get loose or damaged. These events can put other drivers in danger.

As you drive, the surfboards create a lift force on the roof rack. The faster you go, the stronger this force is. When you go over the speed limit, you will create enough force to break the rack.

Is It Bad to Leave a Surfboard in a Car?

man leaving his surfboard inside his car

You should not leave your surfboard in a car for long period of time.

Your car’s interior is like a greenhouse. The temperature will continue to rise with your surfboard inside it. On a hot day (over 80°F), the interior of the car can become as hot as 155°F within 30 minutes.

This rapid temperature rise can damage your surfboard.

Heat weakens the surfboard materials, shortens their lifespan, and leaves them prone to damage. The effects might not be immediate but will create severe damage over time.

How to Properly Transport Your Surfboard on or in Your Car

red and orange surfboards on top of the car without straps

It is not enough to simply place your surfboard in a car or strap it to your roof. You must do everything to ensure that the board, passengers, and other drivers on the road are safe.

Follow these tips to ensure that you transport your surfboard properly:

  • Keep the surfboard away from the windows, the sunroof, and the side of the car.
  • When the board is inside the car, do not let it close to the windshield.
  • Do not place the board inside your car without a board bag or a similar form of protection.
  • Do not buy cheap or knockoff straps.
  • When stacking multiple boards on the roof, start with the largest. Follow the size order until you get to the smallest surfboard.
  • Ensure the boards are well-aligned to keep them from shifting while you are driving.

Can You Travel With a Surfboard?

car on a road with 2 surfboards on it

You can travel with your surfboard, but they can become damaged during travel. The good news is this can be avoided or lessened with a bit of patience and time when packing.

Here are some tips to help you when traveling with your surfboards to avoid unnecessary damages: 

  • Check the airline policy on surfboards and make you understand the guidelines.
  • Remove the old wax and fins of your surfboard and keep them somewhere safe.
  • To hold the surfboard in place, cut a slit into pipe insulation, then fix the rails of your surfboard into the slits. The board can also be held with tape.
  • For extra protection, apply a bubble wrap layer on your board’s deck and seal with tape.
  • For even more protection, squeeze your surfboard into a sock. The sock will be used for day-to-day transport when you reach your destination.
  • Stack your boards properly in the board bag, starting with the largest board at the bottom. Place the board in the bag with the waxed side face up, and repeat the process for the smaller surfboards.
  • Strap your surfboards properly. Some board bags come with straps. If yours do not have any, you may use roof rack straps or leashes.
  • For an extra layer of protection, place wetsuits, towels, or clothes in the board bag as padding. Whatever you use, make sure it is evenly distributed. 
  • After packing, weigh your luggage to confirm it is in line with the weight restrictions of the airline.
  • For surfboards with glass on fins, you may pad with polystyrene or foam. You may also wrap the fins with towels, clothes, and wetsuits for extra protection.

Final Thoughts

A surfboard can fit in a car depending on the type of car you have and the amount of preparation you are willing to put in. When your car is significantly longer than your surfboard, it should fit easily.

You may just have to fold some seats to provide space. But if your surfboard is longer than the vehicle, you may have to strap the board to the roof instead.

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