If you have got or are thinking about getting your feet wet with paddle boarding, a leash is essential for the security of your equipment and your safety. A decision that important involves serious evaluation of the different stand-up paddle board leashes (SUPs) to make sure you get the style that is right for you. From length of the leash to design to a breakaway or attached leash, these are all decisions to make when buying a SUP leash.
Top 10 Best SUP Leash for the Money 2016 - 2017
Why You Should Use A SUP Leash
All paddle boarders need a leash regardless of whether they go in the river or a lake or the ocean. However, not all paddle boarders need the same type of leash. Using a SUP leash ensures that your board will stay close to you even if you fall or get knocked off of your board. If you do not have a leash and you come across a breeze or current, your board can easily get far away from you. You could become exhausted chasing your board and then be in a life-threatening situation.
There is a special consideration that river paddle boarders need to be aware of. If they use a leash that is not quick-release, they risk drowning in the case of a strong current or your board getting stuck between rocks or other debris. A river paddle boarders leash should be worn above the waist so that if you fall off, it can be easily released.
Another important reason for using an SUP leash is because your paddle board can have a lot of extra gear on it. This is especially true when paddling to arrive at a destination. You will likely have necessary materials to stay safe and healthy when doing a multi-day paddling trip and a leash can keep your board with you so that the gear does not slip away.
If you paddle in cool water, a leash is also very important to prevent you from getting hyperthermic while retrieving your board. Having the leash on will allow you to quickly get back on the board.
What Are The Parts Of An SUP Leash?
An SUP leash has three different parts. There is the part that keeps the leash string on the board. This is known as the rail saver. You can tell a quality leash from how the rail saver attaches to the board. A better quality leash has extra velcro to minimize the chance of the leash falling off in a bad fall. The second part of the leash is a long cord that can stretch without breaking. This part of the leash is made of urethane. The final part of the leash is the cuff. This is the part that attaches to either your calf or your ankle.
How Long Should The Leash Be?
In general, an SUP leash should be approximately one foot longer than your paddle board. The reason for this is that in the event of a recoil your board will snap back and hit you if the leash is too short. SUP leashes are not the same as surfing leashes. A surfing leash is normally too short and not thick enough for paddle boarders.
When you put your paddle board on the top or back of a car, it is important to make sure that the leash is wound tight so that it does not become loose when driving.
Calf vs Ankled Style SUP Leash
Wearing a SUP either on your calf or your ankle is partially a matter of preference. Wearing the leash around your ankle means that the leash needs to be thinner. A thicker leash is only possible if it is worn around the calf. Depending on your riding style, a calf leash or an ankle leash can get more in the way. Some slight disadvantages of wearing a calf leash are that it can pull your leg harder in a fall and it can leave a thick tan line on one leg. The slight disadvantages of an ankle leash are that it is thinner and can feel like it drags your leg in the water.
You may be wondering which leg you should put the leash on. The leash should go on your dominant foot, the one that is closest to the tail. If this is your right foot then it is known as regular-footed where if it is your left foot then it is known as goofy-footed.
As mentioned above, people who paddle board in the river should wear their leash at their waist so it is easier to release.
Coiled vs Straight Style SUP Leash
There are two different styles for the cord of the leash. The first is a straight leash and the other is a coiled leash. Unlike ankle or calf placement, the design of leash that should be used depends on the environment in which you will be paddle boarding.
Straight leashes are a great choice for beginners. They are easy to use and serve the purpose of keeping you close to the board and the board close to you. A straight leash can get stuck in seaweed or other non-aquatic garbage. If you are interested in racing paddle boards then a straight leash is not the best choice as it can create extra friction with the water. This friction will limit your speed.
Coiled leashes solve the problem of friction and the cord getting caught in the water. Coiled leashes can be used in calm water with no waves. Coiled springs should not be used in waves. The reason for this is in the event of falling off, the board will continue moving forward until the coil is at full extension. Once the coil is fully stretched, it will snap back to its original form. This can cause the board or coil to hit you directly in the face and cause severe injury.
How To Attach The Leash To Your SUP
A leash is only as good as how it is attached to the board. The first step is to make sure that the right type of cord is used. When leashes were first produced, they used a material that had a tendency to snap and cause injury. Once you are sure that the leash is the right material, you should tie a simple knot to keep the cord together. The leash should be attached to the paddleboard with a double-loop knot. This maximizes strength and makes it easy to take the leash off of the board. The final part of setting-up the leash is to attach it to your calf or ankle. If you choose to attach the leash to your ankle and are wearing a wetsuit, the leash can be attached inside the wetsuit. This allows your wetsuit to drain AND keeps the leash in one position on your ankle.
While the leash is an essential part of safety when paddle boarding, there is another important part that should be considered a requirement for new or amateur paddle boarders. That is to always use a coach or more experienced friend when learning. The expert can give you tips and tricks on not only paddle boarding, but on using the leash in an ideal manner.
While some have debated that leashes lead to injuries, they have prevented far more tragedies than they have caused and should be used the same as a bike helmet. That is, they should be used every time you paddleboard.