How to choose a stand-up paddle (SUP) leash?

The leash tethers you to your stand-up paddle and lets you easily bring your board back to you if you fall off. It's an essential SUP safety item

How to choose stand-up paddle leash

The leash tethers you to your stand-up paddle (SUP) and lets you easily bring your board back to you if you fall off. Originally used by surfers to avoid losing their boards in the waves, it is an essential SUP safety item that must always be used. Because just a little bit of wind or current is enough for your SUP to get away from you after a fall. Here's how to choose your stand-up paddle leash based on your practice.

Straight leash for beginner touring

This type of straight leash generally comes with an inflatable stand-up paddle board. It must be long enough to allow you to move on the board without it getting in your way. That is why it is generally between 8 and 9′ long (measured in feet like for surfing, i.e. between 2.40 and 2.75m)

The small velcro fastener loops through the ring at the back of the board.

The big velcro fastener attaches around your right ankle if you are "regular" (right foot behind in surfing or skateboarding) or left ankle if you are "goofy" (left foot behind). To determine if you are regular or goofy, stand with your feet together and let yourself fall backwards slightly. The leg that moves back to stop you falling is your back leg, the one that you will position at the back if you surf or skate. You need to attach the leash to the bottom of this leg, even if your feet are positioned on either side of the carry handle of the SUP when you paddle. If you occasionally stand in the surfing position on the board to turn while raising the nose of the board, you will not step on the leash.

Important: this type of leash must not be used in waves larger than 50 cm.

leash touring stand up paddle

Spiral leash for touring and racing

For touring, it is important that the leash does not drag behind the SUP, to prevent it getting caught on branches and causing you to fall off. That's why it's best to use a spiral or "telephone" leash, which is shorter when it is not stretched out and will stay on the board throughout the session.

For stand-up paddle racing, where the aim is maximum speed, a spiral leash is also the leash of choice as it will not slow the board down.

This type of spiral leash has a larger velcro strap to attach it under the knee so that you can step back on the board without treading on it.

Please note: it is not recommended to use a spiral leash for SUP surfing because the repeated strain on it when you fall in the waves would end up stretching it out completely.

Straight leash for stand-up paddle surfing

In waves more than 50 cm, the leash must be designed for SUP surfing because the leash is under heavy strain when you fall in the waves and this could cause it to break. It is not very nice to then have to swim towards the beach through the breaking waves holding your paddle. And the unleashed board could hit and injure other surfers.

A SUP surfing leash is straight and strong. Its length must be chosen carefully because the board must be able to move away from the surfer when they fall, to avoid colliding with it. Like when surfing, you must choose a leash that is almost as long as the board.

There are two ways to attach the SUP surfing leash to your leg:~- at the ankle like the majority of surfers. This is also recommended when the waves are big because it is less uncomfortable to be pulled from the ankle. The paddle is less likely to get tangled up in the leash if it is attached at the ankle.~- under the knee like a longboarder so that you can move forwards and backwards on the board without stepping on the leash. But also to be able to pull on it harder to bring your board back to you and head off to the break faster (point where the waves are breaking). 

surf leash stand up paddle