Best Surfboard Leashes

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
309 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best surfboard leashes

Last Updated November 2019

Whether you’re a professional with years of experience or just starting out, every surfer needs a leash to keep their board nearby. When catching big waves on the ocean or taking a leisurely outing on a stand-up paddleboard, a surfboard leash keeps you tethered in case you fall.

Surfboard leashes, also known as leg ropes, protect the user, other surfers, and the board. The tether keeps the board from getting too far away where it may cause damage to people or itself. Most importantly, the surf leash keeps you near your board, which is vital in the event that you are hurt or have simply lost the energy to swim.

Depending on the type of board and activity, a leash may be longer or shorter and may focus on durability or comfort. Leashes also vary in length from around 5 to 12 feet. Our detailed guide will help you find the one that fits your style, attitude, and needs.

There are surfers who want to play by their own rules and show off a certain style and attitude by going leash-less. This should only be done by advanced surfers with confidence and experience.

Key considerations

Length

As a general rule — and a good starting point — your leash should be at least as long as your board. You should not buy one that’s shorter than your board unless you’re an experienced surfer accustomed to shorter lengths. Most leashes run from 5 to 12 feet, which will cover shortboards, longboards, and stand-up paddleboards. However, if you are a beginner, you’ll want to make sure your leash isn’t overly long, as it may cast a larger radius when you lose it and will potentially disrupt other surfers.

Thickness

The thicker the leash, the more resistant it is likely to be against the elements. Thicker cords should also translate to increased longevity and durability, though other factors may influence this as well. For bigger waves and more adventurous outings, a thicker cord is recommended. For calmer excursions like paddleboarding, a thinner leash is fine.

Comfort

In most cases, the leash is going to wrap around skin, so you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable as you move and contort yourself on the water. Depending on your activity, the strap may pull more tightly against your ankle or become submerged regularly. Ankle straps should be made of neoprene, which will provide both strength and comfort. Pay particular attention to the edges, which may cause discomfort if they are not soft. Unfortunately, until you are out on the water, you’ll only have consumer reviews and the manufacturer’s word to go on. However, if you are using a wetsuit, comfort will not be as big of an issue.

DID YOU KNOW?

Leashes are useful for all boards and activities. Even when stand-up paddle boarding, it’s easy to kick your board away when falling, creating a large gap if you don’t have a leash.

Features

Colors

As with most things in the world of surfing, it’s not enough just to be protected — you want to look good, too. That’s why, like boards and traction pads and covers, leashes come in various colors. Most surf leashes have an element of black, usually at the strap ends, but allow for a colorful middle portion. Some leashes may be entirely one color to really stand out, though this is less common

Key pocket

Some brands, particularly those companies that deal exclusively with surf products, feature a small, snug key pocket on the inside of the ankle strap. The pouch is hidden, secure, and comfortable — and in more expensive models, it may even be waterproof. This is a useful feature if you’re renting a locker at the beach or if you drove to the beach and need to store your car key.

Detachable button

For advanced surfers, there will be situations where you may want or need to detach yourself from your board quickly. Some models feature a quick release button or a pull tab that will release the leash immediately.

Stainless steel swivels

Swivels are incorporated into the manufacturing of the leash to prevent coiling. They are implemented at the point of the ankle cuff and allow the leash to twist and turn independent of the surfer. If a leash coils or wraps too easily, it can become an annoyance at best and a safety issue at worst. This feature is a common one but will separate lower-end surf leashes from better ones. For recreational users, however, this may not be a major concern. Leashes may feature a single or double swivel, with the latter being more flexible.

DID YOU KNOW?

“Surf leash” is an official moniker for buying, selling, and marketing the item, but surfers seldom use the term. Instead, most surfers call them “kook cords.”

Accessories

A surfboard leash isn’t the only tool you need when you’re out on the water. Here are a few items to help you get the most of your time riding the waves.

Surfboard traction pad: Dakine Launch Surf Traction Pad
As an alternative to regularly waxing your board, a surfboard traction pad is affixed to the rear part of your board and lets your foot stay gripped. We love this option from Dakine, a company that specializes in surf gear.

Surf Travel Bags: PAMGEA Surfboard Sock Cover
It’s important to protect your board when you’re not using it. A cover or travel bag prevents it from dents and scratches and makes transport easy. PAMGEA offers a lightweight, durable cover for a decent price.

Dry bag: Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag
As their name suggests, dry bags protect the items inside from getting wet. This comes in handy when you’re on and around the water. This one from Earth Pak comes in various sizes and fits nicely at the front of a paddleboard.

Surfboard leash prices

Inexpensive

For under $10, you can find a decent surfboard leash with a variety of colors, but its features will likely end there.

Mid-range

If you plan on spending between $10 and $15, you can find popular surfboard leashes in different lengths, thickness, and colors. Some will feature single or double swivels.

Expensive

For $15 to $25, will find you high-end leashes that have brand or name recognition and come with a variety of features. The serious surfer will likely be interested in a leash from this price range.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some leashes may stretch after use. If you’re regularly hitting big waves and battling ocean waters, your leash may become longer.

Tips

  • Try out different lengths. Longer leashes may see the board disrupt other surfers and may be a hassle to retrieve, but with shorter ones, the board may bounce back and hit you. Longer leashes may provide you with more safety; shorter leashes can reduce drag.
  • Only wear the leash in the water. Attach the leash when entering the surf, and remove it as you’re exiting. It would be very easy to trip on the leash when it’s attached and you’re walking on land.
  • Examine your gear before every surf. It’s best to take stock of your leash (as well as your board and other gear) before heading out. Make sure the leash doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear.
  • Practice falling and surfacing. Learning how to fall can protect you. You’ll want to fall away from your board as you hit the water. If you cannot see the surface as you rise, put your hands over your head as you do in case the board is above you.

Other products we considered

If our initial selections don’t pique your interest, there are a few more options available. WOOWAVE offers a premium surf leash that focuses on comfort. Their durable leash also comes with a waterproof pouch, which can be used for phones or other items when snorkeling, for example. From Abahub comes this Premium Surf Leash, which is offered in five lengths and a variety of colors. Lastly, for aspiring serious surfers who want to use the very best, this high-quality Surf Leash model from Dakine is custom-made in partnership with professional surfer John John Florence. While pricey, it’s made from sustainable products and offers you peace of mind when surfing the biggest waves.

Leashes often need breaking in to keep from coiling. Hang your leash for a few days to straighten it out or pull and hold it taut for a quicker solution.

FAQ

Q. How hard is it for a leash to break?
A.
A surf leash is made to withstand powerful waves when surfing, but it is by no means indestructible. Many surfers have experienced leash breaks, and even with the best leash and proper care, it can happen to you. There is no set lifespan for leashes. It may be worth investing in more than one leash at a time just in case one breaks early on in the day.
 

Q. How should I store my surf leash?
A.
It’s best to store your leash with your surfboard, lest you lose it easily. Make sure your board and leash are dry before storing them, and when not in season, keep them in a cool, dry place. Depending on your preference, you may wrap the leash around the board when transporting it or remove it and store it in a dry bag.
 

Q. Which is better: an ankle or calf attachment for the leash?
A.
These are the two options for attaching the leash to your body. Ankle attachment is more popular, as it’s generally more comfortable and makes it easier to yank back your board after you’ve fallen. However, ankle attachments may cause coiling. The decision may come down to personal preference and surfing attitude.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ana
    Ana
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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