Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How to Make a Soft Rack Safe Enough for Highway Travel

How to Make a Soft Rack Safe Enough for Highway Travel

Securing Boards Safetly with a Soft Rack
One of our students approached me last weekend to carry her board to Deception Pass, as her soft rack didn't seem safe on the highway. When she arrived at my garage, I worked with her to make her soft rack a safe option for highway and long distance driving. Here's how we did it...  What is a Soft Rack?  


1. Place your board on your car with the leash plug over your windshield (tail first). Deck up or down doesn't matter. Though I generally go deck up for the nose rocker will allow me to open my hatchback.  

2.. Make sure you soft rack is secure and as tight as possible on car and rack.

3. Add two more car rack straps over the board on both ends placing them as wide as possible. Open all side doors and thread the straps through the car - with both loose ends inside the car. Thread the loose end through the buckle, then tighten as much as possible. I put my weight int to, not just a light pull. Then for safety tie a knot the loose strap ends in case the buckle loosens. *Many worry about denting their car roof. Generally this isn't a problem and if it is, the roof will bounce back most often. Note: I'm not a fan of the metal crank buckle straps, they can tighten too much damaging your board. I use these or similar. 

4. Thread a rack strap through your leash plug string (should be parachute cord or similar) then one end through a solid metal loop under the front end of your car (or through a metal front grill). Secure both ends by pulling lightly so as to not pull the tail of the board down too far. 

5. Do a shake test - Go to both ends of the board(s) and push, pull and shake them (be
Rack straps over soft rack straps and board
aggressive) to make sure they're tight.  If not make adjustments where necessary. Check your load 10-20 miles down the road to make sure all is good. Use all your weight to tighten straps as long as the board or car doesn't make funny sounds.


Loading Tips:
- If loading a few boards, before tightening, place insulation foam or rack pads between each board ends where they curve up to prevent the boards from spinning or sliding onto of each other.  Remove fins if loading 2-3 boards, they stack easier. 
- Tie extra strap ends around the bars securely (tight) as a backup in case your buckles or knots fail. 
- Twist straps before tightening to prevent whistling on the road. Concave decks and flat straps = super noisy. 

Safety Tip: Don't load more than 2-3 board for soft racks. 

Cost Saving Tip: If your car comes with a stock rack - just use that for your main rack. No need buy a brand name rack unless you need specific things such as a bicycle attachment, etc.  Pad the rack bars with insulation foam or rack pads.  


Interior view of secured straps

Any questions give me a holler: salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com / 206.465.7167
Check out our SUP classes - beginning to advanced instruction and PSUPA Certification.

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