Stand up paddle board leashes | Which one’s right for you?

The growth of stand up paddle boarding over recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal. But such sporadic growth also leaves room for safety mishaps. Stand up paddle boards have seen their fair share of controversy. BA or no BA? Ankle leash? Calf leash or Waist leash? Quick release or regular Velcro? With so many questions and misinformation circulating around the use of leashes and TYPES of leashes when stand up paddle boarding, we thought it was time to set the record straight.

Before we start, why is it important to understand the difference between stand up paddle board leashes?

Although it might sound like we’re banging the drum of the safety police, this is really quite important. If you end up in the water wearing the wrong leash on any moving water i.e. flowing rivers, tidal rivers or in tidal races, this can cause the leash to become snagged or caught on obstacles and for you to become entangled or trapped. This can then make it difficult to release yourself. In these conditions a quick release belt system is the best option and could be essential if you are in danger.

So, stand up paddle board leashes… which one is best?

Well the first thing to note, is there is no one size fits all here. The environment where you are paddling is the biggest indicator as to what type of leash you should use.

Before we delve into the different types of leash, there’s also the consideration for straight or coiled leash lengths.

  1. Coiled. The length of the leash will be coiled – much like a spring. You would use a coiled leash lengths for more general SUP use.
  2. Straight. Easy to spot, the straight leash is just one continuous length. You would use a straight leash only for surfing.

Now we’ve looked at the difference between coiled and straight, let’s delve into the nitty gritty. Ankle, calf or waist?

  1. Ankle Leash – Suitable environments for use: Lakes, canals, sea / coastal bays, surf and slow moving deepwater rivers, where there is NO risk of snagging or entrapment. These are the most common leash, they often comes with your board if you buy a package. They are easy to wear and to fit. Always attach them to the same leg each time you paddle, that way you will always know where to release them if needed.
  2. Calf Cuff/Knee Leash – Suitable environments for use: Lakes, canals, sea / coastal bays, surf and slow moving deepwater rivers where there is NO risk of snagging or entrapment. These are similar to an ankle leash but the cuff attachment is slightly larger and fits just below your knee. Some people may prefer this type of leash for ease of attachment but the environments in which they should be used are similar.
  3. Quick release belt system – Any moving/flowing water including, rivers, tidal rivers and estuaries, tidal races, white water rivers where there is a risk of snagging or entrapment. It can be easily reached if you come off your board and are caught or held by the force of the water. When fitted and used correctly it releases you from your board and leash attachments freeing you from any dangerous entanglement. If wearing a buoyancy aid we highly recommend wearing the quick release belt system on top of your buoyancy aid. You can attach the cuff from a curly leash, which would normally attach to your ankle or calf, to the waist belt too.

Confused? The diagram below might help too!

SUP Leashes explained (2021)

Looking for more information on staying safe while SUP’ing? Follow our safety checklist here.

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