Whether you're an experienced surfer who knows how to do a bottom turn or a beginner still trying to get the hang of standing up on your board at the right time, you need a leash to keep your surfboard from getting lost in the waves and from hitting other surfers when you fall. However, since there are so many different types, lengths, and thickness levels, it can be a bit daunting to pick the exact one you need.
That's why we did the research for you and came up with a list of the 10 best surfboard leashes out there. Topping it is Abahub's premium surfboard leash, which features a corrosion-resistant double swivel, a thick, padded cuff, a key pouch, and a quick-release feature. Check out the rest of our list and give our buyer's guide a read too, so you know what to look out for the perfect leash to use on your next surf.
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When it comes to choosing a surfboard leash, you want to consider a few important points. Look over the guide below to find out which listed specifications you should focus on.
Most surfboard leashes have cords made of polyurethane, which is water-resistant, durable, and able to withstand harsh environments. In general, the thicker the leash is, the more strength it has. There are two types of leashes: competition and regular.
Leash type is based on how thick a leash is. Though leash lengths are usually measured in feet and inches, many surf shops list the thickness in millimeters. A thick leash has more resistance, which comes in handy when surfing big waves. More resistance will help keep your surfboard from shooting back at you during a wipeout.
However, thick leashes create more drag since there’s more material pulling through the water. A thinner leash is okay for smaller waves.
Competition leashes usually measure about 4.7 millimeters (0.19 inches) thick and have a thin design that significantly lessens drag in competitive surfing situations.
For a board that’s less than seven feet long, a competition leash will do. They aren’t prone to tangling and don’t tend to coil around your legs. For semi-pros and pros, a reduction in drag and a non-tangling cord will go a long way, especially in a competition.
These types of leashes are designed for surfing on smaller waves and maximizing performance. However, if you won’t be competing but are surfing in bigger waves and a little bit of drag won’t be detrimental, you may want to consider getting a thicker leash.
Special pro leashes have a thin design that usually measures about 6.4 millimeters (0.25 inches) thick. They’re made to provide professionals with safety while still keeping drag at a minimum. Pro leashes are recommended for surfboards with a much bigger volume since waves will move them with more force.
Regular leases, which are the most common type, usually measure around eight millimeters (0.3 inches) thick. Though they create more drag in the water than competition leashes, they are much more durable. Since a bit of extra drag won’t be detrimental to a beginner or intermediate surfer, a thicker surfboard leash shouldn’t be a problem.
The thickness of regular leashes makes them extra safe because they aren’t prone to snapping, which will come in handy when you have to bail and jump off your board.
Beginners and big-wave surfers will benefit from thick surfboard leashes since they are much less likely to break even with frequent falling and the strength of bigger waves.
Longboard leashes are thick and usually longer than regular and competition leashes. They’re designed to allow you to walk up and down your board. They also allow you to step over your board and do tricks, such as a noseride, without accidentally tripping on your leash.
Big wave leashes are extra-thick, with some measuring up to 10 millimeters (0.39 inches) thick. They are the most durable option.
They’re designed for gun surfboards, which are specially shaped to catch and ride the largest waves. Because of this, they also tend to come with extra safety features such as a quick-release system.
Surfboard leashes come in a range of different lengths, from five to 12 feet. You should base the length of the leash on the size of your board and your surfing experience.
Generally, you want your surfboard leash to be at least the same length as your board. It’s okay to have around two inches of excess cord, but you don’t want to overdo it. For example, if your board is five feet and six inches long, you want to go for a leash that’s at least five feet and six inches long but no longer than five feet and eight inches.
If the length of your board falls between board sizes, round up the length of the leash to the next closest size. Keep in mind, though, that the longer a rope is, the farther your board can move away from you.
Surfboard leashes should ideally be stored by hanging them so that the actual leash stays straight and doesn't get curled up. A curled leash can lead to all sorts of problems in the water!
It’s also crucial to base your leash length on your level of surfing experience. Beginners are prone to falling, especially in the first stages of learning how to catch waves and stand on the board.
So, a longer leash will create a safe distance between them and the board when newbies fall in the water. Especially when waves are strong, the momentum of a surfboard tossed by the waves can hit you hard.
Keep in mind that increasing a leash’s bail radius (the distance range that your board can be away from you) can pose a threat to other surfers. Your board could end up hitting others! So make sure not to get one that’s too long, especially if you will be surfing in a crowded place.
Advanced surfers, however, may opt for a leash that’s on the shorter side to reduce drag and enhance speed.
Though a shorter leash can feel uncomfortable and cause a board to rebound towards you during falls, experienced surfers know how to deal with this possibility. Only advanced and big wave surfers should opt for a leash on the shorter side.
Surfboard leashes generally have two different attachment types. An ankle attachment is the most common. The low point of attachment is the most comfortable, especially when you paddle on your stomach. An ankle attachment has a greater chance of getting tangled, but it’s easier to pull and get back to your board.
Calf or knee attachments are best for longboards or stand-up paddlers. These higher attachment points are less prone to tangles and drag since there’s less leash in the water. This makes it easier for you to walk your board without tripping over the cord. However, they are less comfortable and don’t make it as easy to pull your board back.
Since surfing is a dangerous sport, you should prioritize your safety by considering security features. No matter the attachment point, surfboard leash cuffs should be secure.
The cuff of a leash is usually made of Velcro and is wrapped around your ankle, calf, or knee. A cuff with a double wrap-around feature offers more security than one that only wraps around once. Many cuffs even have an additional handy pocket for car keys!
A swivel is a feature between the cuff and cord of your surfboard leash. It reduces the strain on your cord by preventing the rope from getting tangled and twisted, even when your cuff spins and twists in the water. A leash that has a swivel on both sides is more secure.
A rail saver is a piece of fabric that protects the rail of your surfboard when the leash is strained. Without it, your leash could destroy your board rail by ripping through it when the waves put too much pressure on your leash. The lengthier and wider a rail saver is, the more it protects your surfboard. However, a larger size contributes to more drag.
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Premium Surfboard Leash｜7 ft.
A Double Swivel Leash With Corrosion-Resistance
Competition Essential Leash｜6 ft.
A Comfy Cuff With a Silicone Grip to Prevent Ankle Twisting
Surf Leash｜7 ft.
An Eco-Friendly Leash for the Environmentally Conscious Surfer
Surfboard Knee/Calf Leash｜8 ft.
A High Attachment Point for More Mobility
Surfboard Leash ｜7 ft.
Surf Without Blistering or Chafing
Olaian Longboard Surf Leash
A Longboard Leash With a Self-Adjusting Rail Saver
.400 XXL Big Wave with Quick Release
A Thick Cord and Extra Wraps for Security
Superior Comp Leash
A Smaller Competition Leash for Shortboards
Knee/calf Stewart Leash｜10 ft.
Reduce Drag and Enhance Your Performance
Longboard Calf Surf Leash
A Longboard Leash With a Calf Cuff
Abahub's surfboard leash features a double swivel made of stainless steel, so it's resistant to corrosion by seawater. Its two-inch ankle cuff is padded and durable. It has a convenient key pocket as well as a triple-wrap rail saver with a quick-release feature.
Reviewers loved the padding on the Velcro cuff, saying it feels comfortable as they surf. Surfers said that the cuff stays attached securely. They also liked the double swivel and the key pouch features.
Designed to be light yet durable enough to be used on waves up to four feet, this competition leash by FCS features an extended overmold that strengthens the leash and prevents it from tangling. It also has an inner silicone grip in the cuff that prevents twisted ankles.
It's designed to suit the shape of your ankle, and the Velcro closure is molded for extra durability. The cuff features a quick-release tab too. Overall, surfers said that this leash is lightweight and strong. They also loved that it's comfortable around the ankle.
Wave Tribe's surfboard leash's cord is made of strong recycled plastic. It's also got a rail saver and a string to attach your leash to your board. The double swivel prevents the cord from getting tangled, too.
Surfers loved that this leash is made of post-consumer material, making it a great match for eco-friendly boards. They appreciated that this leash is strong and has a hidden key pouch. Reviewers also liked the comfortable ankle cuff.
XM's surfboard leash has a strap that can be wrapped around your knee or calf. Its high attachment point allows you to freely move up and down your board without the leash making you trip. It comes in lengths ranging from eight to 12 feet.
It's made for use with medium to large surfboards, and it has a double swivel and a thick strap with a key pocket. The leash also has a detachable rail saver. Surfers liked the high attachment point of the strap, too.
Woowave's surfboard leash is designed to keep your ankle free from irritation while you're in the water. The comfortable padded ankle cuff will prevent chafing and blistering. Besides a key pocket, this leash is also equipped with a triple-wrap rail saver with a quick-release function.
Some reviewers had issues with the Velcro strap getting loose easily, but one surfer recommended applying pressure on it. Many other reviewers were happy with this leash, saying it's durable and fits well. They also said that it's comfortable, and many liked the selection of bright colors.
Decathlon's nine-foot surfboard leash is extra-long since it's designed for longboards. Its ankle cuff is made of strong and comfortable neoprene material. The leash is also equipped with a self-adjusting rail saver.
A few reviewers complained about the confusing description of the leash, as both ankle and knees are mentioned in the specifications of the cuff. The manufacturer clarified that it's a knee strap. However, many others were happy with the quality of the longboard leash.
This leash by Stay Covered is 10 millimeters thick, making it ideal for surfing on big waves. Its single swivel is made of nickel-plated brass, while its marine-grade Velcro strap has a width of two inches.
The ankle cuff has a double wrap-around feature and is equipped with neoprene padding for better comfort. The leash also comes with a rail saver with a triple-wrap Velcro strap, giving you more security.
FX Surf's competition leash is designed for shortboards as it's five feet long and 5.5 millimeters thick. Its sizing gives it minimal drag, while its non-slip ankle cuff features include marine-grade padding.
The double swivel is made of stainless steel, which works to prevent tangling. The rail saver also features a thin design to keep drag at an all-time low. This leash is designed for use on waves up to three feet high.
XM's surfboard leash is 10 feet long and 5.59 millimeters thick. These measurements make this competitive leash lightweight and reduce drag for enhanced performance. It's best for smaller waves.
Its cuff is designed to be attached to your knee or calf and is equipped with a Velcro closure. Plus, its double swivel is designed to reduce tangling, while the rail saver is detachable.
Dakine's longboard leash is nine feet and six inches long, giving you enough room to do a nose ride! It has a high attachment point thanks to its calf cuff, which will keep the cord out of the way as you move up and down your board.
The cuff also features secure hook-and-loop closure, while the ends of the leash are equipped with strengthening material that allows for flexibility. The swivels are also durable, made of marine-rade stainless steel.
Looking for more high-quality gear that helps you enjoy your time on the water? Check out these items to bring on your next surfing trip!
No. 1: Abahub｜Premium Surfboard Leash｜7 ft.
No. 2: FCS｜Competition Essential Leash｜6 ft.
No. 3: Wave Tribe｜Surf Leash｜7 ft.
No. 4: XM｜Surfboard Knee/Calf Leash｜8 ft.
No. 5: Woowave｜Surfboard Leash ｜7 ft.
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