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Everything You Need to Know About Surfboard Racks

Surfboards can be a serious investment for any dedicated surfer. With boards running into a couple of hundred dollars for market ready surfboards to thousands of dollars for highly specialized and one-off creations, having something to safely store it in your home or transport it from point A to point B will always be a wise idea.

What is a Surfboard Rack?

A surfboard rack is anything that you can use to store your surfboard. It comes in all shapes, materials, and sizes all designed to keep your surfboards safe and secure. There are two general surfboard rack configurations: racks which let you store surfboards horizontally and those that let you display them vertically. The choice of which to use generally boils down to personal preference and your storage requirements.

surf adventure Ready for adventure with Creatures straps and board-bags.

Why is a Surf Rack Important?

  • Frees up space – a longboard measuring 10 feet is something that takes some serious space. And without a surfboard rack, this presents some problems in terms of storage. Take for example surfboard roof racks for your vehicle - they are not only a convenient way of transporting your surfboards but also frees some space for some more important cargo and passengers.
  • Safety – another benefit of having surfboard racks is that it keeps your surfboard and the people around it safe. Just imagine a surfboard just pushed against a wall. It could easily slip with the slightest vibration or someone accidentally brushing against it and boards are fragile, so protect your investment.
  • Keeps everything organized – got more than one surfboard in your quiver? Then surf racks are a must have. Rather than storing each one in the first available space, under your bed or in the corner, a surfboard rack is a convenient way of keeping everything in one location.
  • Convenience – a surf rack makes access to your surfboards easy. This does not only go for your house but also when traveling. A car equipped with a surfboard rack makes it easy for you to transport multiple boards. It also keeps the interior of your car clean, protecting it against sand, wax, and seawater.

What Does the Surfboard Rack do?

Storage - a surf rack’s main purpose is to keep your surfboards safe and organized by storing them in one place. It helps you save space by stacking them neatly and using as little space as possible. Surfboard racks come in different configurations: stand up, vertical, wall-mounted, and even ceiling mounted racks.

Transportation – Roof racks fixed to the roof of a vehicle are a great idea for occasional surfers looking for a convenient way of transporting their surfboards. These can be a permanent fixture or you can opt for a temporary soft roof rack solution. The temporary soft roof racks are a simple solution for those who don't have fixed roof racks on their vehicle as these soft racks can be easily installed and removed as needed. To ensure your boards are securely fastened, make sure to use high-quality surfboard straps for roof racks as well.

Display – aside from storing your surfboards, surfboard racks let you showcase your surfboards like wonderful art pieces. Multiple rack configurations (wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, standalone) give you the option of displaying your racks based on the amount of space available or your personal taste.

What to Look for When Choosing Each Type of Surf Rack

After determining which specific type of surfboard rack you need the next step is to select the best rack. There are a few factors that you should look out for when making the choice:

Quality of Materials

Surf racks keep your surfboards organized and secure. How long they keep your boards safe depends on how they are built, and the quality of the materials used. You must be sure that your racks are able to support the weight of the surfboards.

Mounting Points

This is critical especially for wall and ceiling mounted racks. One thing you should check is the number of attachment points. This will determine how securely attached the racks are to the wall or the ceiling. After all, improperly mounted surfboards are accidents waiting to happen.


The padding is located where the surfboard comes in direct contact with the rack. Check closely for the type and quality of padding used. Padding should run the entire surface area where your surfboard rests. This is to avoid scratching the surfboard when storing and unloading your board.

Roof racks on vehicles, in general, come with little or no padding. This is why some surf brands, like Curve, offer surfboard roof rack pads that you can wrap around the roof rack bars, or a tray, for added protection.

Types of Surfboard Racks

Basically there are two types of surfboard racks, those for outdoor (transportation) and indoor use. When it comes to the type of indoor surfboard rack to use, room space rules. Sure, you would like to get a nasty looking rack to showcase your surfboards, but if there’s not enough room to let people appreciate the beauty of each piece then this could be detrimental to the whole experience.

Horizontal versus Vertical Free-Standing Racks

These are standalone rack systems that you can easily move around the room. They allow you to store surfboards either vertically or horizontally. Vertical free-standing racks are more suited for storing shortboards. Their shorter length minimizes the chances of the surfboard reaching the ceiling. Horizontal free-standing racks sit on the ground and let you stack surfboards of multiple shapes and lengths more securely since the horizontal orientation gives better stability. Unlike wall-mounted racks which are permanently installed, freestanding surfboard racks could also be moved around the room.

free standing surfboard rack Ghost Racks free standing surfboard rack

Wall Mounted Racks

Wall mounted racks as the name implies allows you to store/display surfboards on your walls.

The mounts are attached to the walls and can store one or multiple surfboards. The single surfboard wall mounted racks can allow you to easily showcase your board like the piece of art it is. Multi board wall mounts, on the other hand, will stack the surfboards on top of one another and are not as much of a showcase as the single board mounts.

wall mounted surfboard racks Ghost Racks wall-mounted horizontal rack

Ceiling-Hung Racks

The best option when you’re trying to save some floor space while giving you a unique way of displaying your surfboard. The downside is that storing and getting access to the board can be challenging. There are also certain limits on how much surfboards you can store up there.

ceiling mounted surfboard racks Ghost Racks ceiling hung racks

Car Mounted Racks

These racks are designed for transporting and temporarily storing surfboards on a vehicle. Car mounted racks either come as a hard rack which is usually permanently attached to a car rail or a soft rack which is a temporarily tied down to the car, securely attaching to the roof. These soft racks are a great solution for those who do not have permanently fixed roof rails and the fact they can be easily installed and removed make them a perfect solution to transport one to multiple surfboards on the roof.

Soft Racks are sold in pairs and generally come in 2 sizes: single and double. Single soft racks, like the Creatures Wrap Rax - Single can hold up to 3 shortboards, while a double soft rack like the Curve Lockdown Surfboard Soft Racks can hold up to 6 shortboards, or 3 longboards.

Surfboard Roof Rack Pads are made specifically to go over a vehicles permanent roof rails and offer added padding to protect your boards. These can be found in a variety of styles to match the design of the roof rails as square, round or oval (aka: aero) and they are also sold in two sizes, based off the length. These Aero Roof Rack Pads come in single (18.5") or double (28") width and are made specifically for oval/aerodynamic bars, while the Round Roof Rack Pads are designed for rectangular or circular roof bars.

Bike, Moped Mounted Racks

No car, no problem, there’s a surfboard bike rack for that. These are highly personalized racks which allow you to safely transport surfboards by using bike or moped rack extensions. Check out the popular bicycle racks by Moved by Bikes.

surfboard bike racks Ready to search for some waves with the Moved by Bikes surfboard racks

What to check when buying car surfboard racks

If there’s one good reason for buying a surfboard rack for your car, it’s because surfboards are just too big and cumbersome to store inside your typical car. Necessity being the mother of all inventions, surfboard racks just had to be invented.

Height clearance

It’s not so much about having your surfboard rack installed too high but more about it fitting into any garage or covered parking lot you frequently visit. The total height clearance required by your surf rack along with your surfboards largely depends on how the rack is installed.

Surfboard racks are attached on certain points on your car such as rails or crossbars. Although this might not pose too much of a problem since a surf rack usually only adds a few inches or feet to the total height of the car, knowing the exact measurement can save you from the trouble of damaging your surfboards later.

Lest we forget, you should also factor in the fin since boards are generally placed upside down with the fins sticking up. The fins should be considered when determining the actual height clearance.

Surfboard Straps

Surfboard straps are used to properly secure the board(s) to the vehicle’s roof rack. Things you should consider when buying surfboard straps or tie downs include the length, width, and material used for the buckle.

If you plan to strap multiple boards to your roof rack, then you should consider longer straps. It is also worth considering tie downs with neoprene buckle housing to provide extra protection to your board(s) and vehicle.

For extra security, you can consider lockable surfboard straps which include a lockable buckle to prevent any opportunistic theft. The tie downs from KanuLock are lockable and the straps are reinforced with stainless steel cables that are resistant to cutting. These offer the ultimate security and provide reassurance when storing boards on your roof when you are away from your vehicle for extended periods (eg: overnight or shopping).

lockable roof rack straps Lockable KanuLocks tiedown strap

Build Quality

Price is usually a good indicator of a quality surfboard rack. This is because of the price of materials used in building a quality surf rack. Installed on the roof, surfboard racks are constantly exposed to the elements and a poorly built rack will surely show its true colors.


Surf racks and surfboards have an effect on how air flows through your car. Just like a surfboard slicing through water, a well-designed surfboard rack produces little wind resistance, hence, is quieter. This may not be a problem for short trips and at slow speeds, but when you hit the highway this can get pretty annoying. This is where a hard rack trumps a soft rack.

A hard rack offers more stability during high speeds and is less likely to vibrate. ‘Aero’ bars or those designed for better aerodynamics bring additional noise protection compared to standard square bars albeit, at an additional price.


Another important factor to consider when buying a surfboard rack for your car is its compatibility with your vehicle model. Hard racks require rails or bars for installation so be sure to check the manufacturer for compatible car models. Soft roof racks, on the other hand, are flexible and can be installed for almost any type of car. These are a great alternative to hard racks and easier on the budget.


Specialized racks give you the option of carrying multiple surfboards or other equipment such as a kayak for example. It all depends on what you are planning to bring along. When shopping for a surfboard rack keep in mind the number of surfboards you plan to carry and other special purposes it should serve.


You wouldn’t leave your valuables unprotected inside your car and you shouldn’t keep your surfboards unsecured either. Hard racks offer some degree of protection by securing your boards with a locking feature. Be sure to check for this option when shopping for a surf rack.

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The Final Say - Surfboard Rack

Surfboards are not exactly the easiest to transport nor store. They are big, chunky and take a lot of physical space. Surfboard racks are designed to solve your storage and handling needs. They keep your boards stored, organized, and safe during travels. If done well, surfboard racks can also be an excellent way of displaying your surfboards and even enjoying them outside of the water.

While surfboard racks are a fantastic solution for storage and display, don't forget to check out our selection of surfboard bags which offer essential protection for your precious boards during transportation and storage.

surfboard racks Boards are strapped on and ready to go get some waves!