When you spend a lot of hard earned cash on stand up paddle boards or surfboards you want to know that your investment is not going to be stolen from the roof of your car when you are parked up checking the surf. Lockable roof racks have been on the market for many years now, but lockable roof rack straps are the next logical step in protecting your equipment from theft.
Here at SUPGlobal HQ we have just come back from a three week trip around Ireland to search out waves. I knew that I was going to be leaving the van with the boards on the roof as we toured about the place so I wanted the extra piece of mind that locking straps give. I can't imagine anything worse than having cranking surf, but no boards to surf on! I did a bit of research and talked to a few people and they were all saying that the strap or tie down system from Stick Protection Technology (SPT) was well worth checking out. We got our hands on a set of the 4 metre long straps/tie downs which I would advise if you have more than one surf board/SUP board/windsurfer etc.
The SPT system works by having a lockable cleat on the straps, the straps themselves have two hardened stainless steel cables running through the entire length of the strap, one on each side. What this means is that when you have strapped your boards onto the roof, and have locked the cleat, you would need a set of bolt cutters to get the boards off, not a quick job for you average opportunist thief. The straps are covered in fabric so that the cables don't scratch or mark your boards or your rack and the buckle/cleat is covered in a rubberised cover to make sure this does not mark your car or boards. The system comes with two keys for the integral locks on the buckle/cleat It is a well thought out and well constructed system, but how did it work in practice?
I spent three weeks getting boards on and off the roof rack on an almost daily basis, first off the SPT system does not take any longer to put on or take off than a regular roof rack strap/tie down. The first few times I used it I struggled to get the locks to work, until I realised that the cleat has to be fully engaged on the strap before it will lock (which does make sense). All you need to do is pull on the buckle to ensure it is tight onto the strap to get this to work, once you have done that locking and unlocking is easy. After three weeks of being out in rain, sunshine and wind the straps still look brand new, they held up really well. The tail end of the straps that you tie off to prevent them flapping around are more rigid than non locking straps (due to the two steel cables in them), but after I tied them off they did not come loose.
In conclusion I would recommend these straps to anyone who puts sports equipment on a roof rack and wants some piece of mind about it still being on the roof rack after you have left it parked for a while. Although nothing will stop the most determined thief, this system is as good as it gets as a deterrent.
SPT Stick Protection Technology website
Thanks to Gregory Davis at http://kanulock.de/ for sending the straps