What to Look for in a SUP Storage System?

Table of contents

Front Bungee SystemRear Storage SystemStainless Steel D-Rings vs Fabric Tethers

The cargo tie-down system always gets overlooked when people are choosing a paddle board. But it’s an important aspect of the board as you might need a place to secure your stuff like a water bottle or dry bag. And as time goes, it’s very likely you’ll want to bring more stuff with you like sandals, food, your phone, snacks, and anything else you’ll need to enjoy a day out on the water. 

As you go out more, you’ll soon realize the importance of the cargo tie-down system on your board. So you should really pay more attention to it before you purchase your board. 

Front Bungee System

Most inflatable paddle boards will feature a front bungee system for you to secure your stuff as it’s the most convenient location on the board to do so. You can easily reach your stuff from a kneeling position or sitting cross-legged. And you won’t have to worry about stepping on your gear as you’ll probably never need to put your feet on this location while you paddle. Most boards feature one of the three basic configurations:

The X

The X is a class and practical setup. It consists of a crossover that creates an X with the bungee cord. This configuration works well for most paddlers because it holds what is under it from differnet angles and doesn’t take up too much space on the board. 

The Double X

The double X has an extra row of D-rings and creates a double crossover. It gives paddlers more cargo space at the front of the board. You’ll find this configuration practical when you are going on overnight adventures or long-distance tours. But the extra X might feel redundant for all-around paddling, or even leisurely touring as you probably won’t need that much space for storage.

Straight

Some paddleboard manufacturers use two or three straight cords on the board that are parallel to each other for cargo storage. This configuration is rather rare and gives the board a different look and feel. It requires you to use a different approach to scure your gear because the straight cords only exert hold in one direction.

All three configuration will work fine for all-around paddling and casual touring. And most straight bungee systems can be converted into an X or double X system by simpling replacing the cord.

Rear Storage System

Some boards will feature a bungee system at the rear. This design concept might look practical in certain circumstances, with a load at the front of the board and a load at the rear. But it brings some limitations in real-world use.

While it makes some sense to try balancing a heavy load between the front and rear of the boards, having bungee cords or gear at the tail can get in your way when you need to move to the back of the board like when you need to take a pivot turn. You are very likely to get tripped by the bungee cord or your gear.

Also, it’s harder to reach the gear at the back of the board because you need to rorate your body around, which can make you lose balance.

If your SUP trip requires extra cargo space, then a board with rear bungee tie-down system will suit you quite well. Since it comes with some major drawbacks, it’s not commonly used as a front bungee system. You will see a rare cargo tie-down system mostly on larger touring, river expedition and fishing boards in which it serves a specific functional purpose. It’s not necessary for all-around board and paddlers who will not be bringing anything with them on the water.

Stainless Steel D-Rings VS fabric tethers

D-rings on inflatables are usually made of stainless steel and secured to the board with a PVC loop. There are also fabric tether loops instead of stainless steel D-rings on a number of boards.

The biggest advantages of stainless steel D-rings are longevity and durability. The D-rings on the board will outlast the board itself most of the time for most paddlers.

There are mainly two reasons for a board to feature fabric tethers. The first is for safety concerns. Fabric tethers are softer, so paddlers are less likely to get hurt if they accidentally step on it, compared to a stainles steel ring. Second, they allow some flexibility in the angle used to secure cargo. Stainless steel D-rings are made with a 45 degree pivot, whereas a fabric tether allows you to pull it in more directions depending on what you want to tie down.

The first issue won’t be a problem if the board is well designed and the D-rings are placed away from the standing zone. The stainless steel D-rings become a problem for paddlers only when they are positioned near the center of the board. But with fabric tethers they becomes less of a problem because fabric tethers will just flatten when a paddler stands on it by accident.

Bungee systems are supposed to be placed with adequate clearance from the paddler if they fall, shift stance, or are required to take a knee. You don’t want to step or trip on a poorly placed D-ring or bungee cords that you don’t need on the board.

The biggest problem with fabric tethers is that they will wear out much more faster than stainless steel D-rings. They can also get dirty very easily. 

Conclusion
When you look into a board's cargo tie-down system, it's important to figure out if the tie down points are practical to use or will be a drag that will get in your way when you paddle. 

Generally, you'll never go wrong with a well-spaced set of four tie-down points. But if you are going on long tours or other SUP trips that require extra cargo space, you can also consider the double X setup or even rear cargo system.

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