How to tie surfboards to roof racks

Updated November 21, 2016

Surfboards can be a cumbersome piece of equipment to haul around. Long boards can be 9 or more feet long, making it impractical for most makes and models of vehicles to be able to accommodate them internally. However, roof racks enable you to strap the board to the roof of your car safely and securely, allowing you to enjoy a day in the waves, no matter how small your vehicle may be.

Unroll the nylon cords. You will be using these to secure your board, one toward the front and the other toward the back.

Make sure that your board is clean. Sand that is leftover from previous sessions at the beach can damage the paint job on your vehicle. This can be done with a quick rinse of the hose or a quick wipe down with a soft cloth. If you have a board bag, place your board in it now. Board bags are nice because they reduce the chance of damage to the board from flying objects that uncovered boards may encounter on the car ride to the water. If you do not have a board bag, remove the leash (if you have one) from the board so it will not fly loose in the wind.

Balance your surfboard onto the roof racks. You'll want to lay it waxed side down, fin side up. For aerodynamic purposes, it is best to place the back of the board (the end with the fin) at the front of the vehicle. This will decrease the chances of the board catching the wind and flying upward.

Grasp the end of one nylon cord and wrap it around the surfboard and under the roof racks as close to the front of the roof racks as possible. Make sure that the metal tensioner is not touching the surfboard, and pull it as tight as you can without damaging your board.

Repeat step four, but only this time wrap the nylon cord as close to the back as you can. Again, make sure that the tensioner is not touching your board, or it will cause damage to the board in the form of dents and gouges that will affect the aerodynamics of your board, resulting in a less satisfying surf session.

Tie up and tuck in the loose ends of your cords so they are not flying loose in the wind. Double check the security of your board by trying to move it; if it slides, tighten the cords, if it doesn't move, you're ready to go.


If you need to carry multiple boards, remove the fins and stack them atop one another with a large blanket or towel between them. You may need a longer length of nylon cord. You can purchase special roof rack attachments made especially for surfboards. (See Resources)


Having a board attached to the roof may slightly decrease your fuel efficiency.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 nylon webbed cords at least 8 feet long with built-in tensioner
  • Hose (optional)
  • Soft towel (optional)
  • Board bag (optional)
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