Transport Racks: Choosing the Right Rack for Your Vehicle

There are three main types of racks for transporting boards, kayaks, bikes and other sports gear, plus a couple of additional alternatives. This post will provide everything you need to know about all of your options.

Universal/Soft Rack Strapping Systems

These work by running the base straps through the four doorways of the car, then securing the board or boat with the other straps.

For these to work:

  • Your car must have four doorways. If it doesn't, the straps won't properly secure the gear. Running two straps through one set of doors will be too close together to be secure. For two-door vehicles, there are no alternatives similar to the strap system.
  • The doors should be traditional car doors. These strapping systems don't work with sliding doors or doors that open upwards.
  • It is best if the rooftop is bare, with no crossbars installed. However, some universal strapping systems can also be used to attach gear to crossbars.
  • The car must have a hard roof. These do not work for cars with a soft top or canvas roof.

Since they are considered universal, there are no guaranteed fit guides for universal strapping systems. They should work as long as your car has four traditional doorways.

Hard Racks

Hard transportation racks attach to existing crossbars on top of your vehicle. They hold your board, kayak, skis, bikes, and more to help you and your gear get to the lake, beach, or mountains.

For these to work:

  • Your car must have crossbars already installed on the roof. Crossbars consist of two long bars running from one side of the roof to the other. They may come installed by the factory, or you may have "after-market crossbars," which are bought and installed after purchase of the vehicle.
  • The rack must fit the vehicle's particular crossbars. There are different shapes, including round, square, and "aero," which is somewhat oval. Most hard racks will fit any factory-installed crossbars and will say so in the listing description. Some hard racks we sell have a fit guide to verify it will work for your vehicle's particular year, make, and model. 
  • The item being transported must fit the hard rack. Check any weight or width maximum on the listing specifications.

Trunk and Hitch Racks 

These are placed at the rear of the vehicle and are often used to transport bikes. 

For hitch racks to work:

  • The vehicle must have a hitch already installed on it.
  • You must check your vehicle's hitch size before purchase. StoreYourBoard offers two sizes of hitch racks: 1.25" and 2".

For trunk mounts to work:

  • Check the listing's specifications before purchase. Most are adjustable to fit different vehicle shapes. 

Specialty Mounts

This includes industrial-strength suction cups. These work by attaching the suction cup to any non-porous surface on the roof or rear of the vehicle. Metal, glass, and fiberglass will work for this option, but canvas and soft roof vehicles will not. 

Tie-Downs and Other Accessories

Tie-downs are straps used to attach boards, kayaks, or other gear to existing crossbars. They can work like universal strap systems if the vehicle has four doorways.