How to Choose a Surf Leash

Surf leashes have become important accessories for surfing. They protect the surfer and nearby surfers from danger and keep surfboards from drifting away. For those interested in surfing, it may be intimidating shopping for your first surf leash. There are many aspects to think about such as surfboard length, skill level, and leash thickness. In this guide, you'll learn how to pick the perfect surf leash and properly attach it to your board.

Important Factors

There are four main consider when choosing a new surf leash. The following will help you make an informed decision:

  • Length: Choosing the right length for your surf leash is vital. A leash that is too long can add extra drag and hold you back from catching good waves. Likewise, a leash that is too short can potentially cause serious injury. A shorter leash means the surfer is tethered closer to the board. During a nasty wipeout, the surfer and board can easily cross paths at a high speed, sometimes knocking the surfer unconscious. In general, it's best to find a surf leash that is equal or slightly longer than the length of your board.

  • Thickness: The thickness of your leash depends heavily on the environment you'll most likely be surfing in. For example, if you'll encounter large waves, a thick leash will be durable enough to withstand the powerful waves. On the other hand, a thin leash will cause less drag and is better for competition surfing so more waves can be caught. You can also use a thin leash in areas with smaller waves too.

    The size of the board can also influence the thickness. Thin leashes are great for small boards whereas thick leashes are better suited for bigger, heavier boards. For comparison, a standard leash tends to have a thickness of a quarter of an inch. Anything bigger or smaller than a quarter of an inch is typically defined as 'thicker' and 'thinner.'

  • Skill level: Skill level greatly affects what type of leash to buy. A beginner should always use a surf leash that is longer than the board to accommodate potential falls. A longer leash means the board is farther away and the chances of getting hit by your board during a nasty fall are decreased.

    In addition, beginners should use a thicker leash. A thicker leash is stronger and will survive rough waves, wipeouts, and countless surfing sessions. In contrast, strong, experienced surfers should be fine with a thin, shorter leash.

  • Additional features: Once you have the right length and thickness, you can look for additional features to make a basic leash extraordinary. Double swivels are better than a singular swivel. Swivels are the 'joints' of a surf leash. Usually, a swivel between the rail saver and cord, and between the cord and ankle strap are ideal. They allow the leash to move in every direction so that entanglement is reduced. A comfortable, well-stitched ankle strap is important as well. The last thing you want is an uncomfortable ankle strap irritating your skin while surfing.

Attaching the Surf Leash

It only takes a few easy steps to attach your surf leash to your board. First, you must familiarize yourself with certain parts of your leash. These parts will be instrumental when attaching the leash to your board. The first part is the leash plug. The leash plug is located at the end of your board. It's circular and has a bar running through it. You'll tie your leash string to this bar. The second important part is the leash string located at the end of the rail saver. Now that you're familiar with the right parts, you can begin attaching your surf leash.

  • Most leash strings are already tied into a loop with a knot at the end. If not, hold the ends of the string together and tie it into a knot at the very end to form a loop.
  • Starting from one side of the leash plug, thread the loop under the bar and through the other side. Grab the looped end of your string and pull the knotted end through the loop. Pull tight to form a simple knot. Your looped leash string is now secured to your leash plug.
  • Pull your leash string towards the closest edge of your board. Does excess string hang over the edge? If so, undo your leash string from the leash plug and retie a shorter knot and therefore, a shorter loop. The goal is to not have excess string over the edge of your board or else when you wipeout, the stress applied to your surf leash could harshly tug the excess leash string against the edge of your board, causing cracking and further damage over time.
  • Once your leash string is tied to the leash plug and is the right length, undo the Velcro™ on your rail saver and guide one end of the rail saver through the loop of the leash string and secure the Velcro™ over it.
  • Your leash string loop is now attached to your rail saver and you can start using your surf leash!

Your Ideal Surf Leash

Finding the perfect surf leash doesn't have to be intimidating. A quick assessment of your skill level and the types of waves you'll be surfing can help you find a surf leash that's perfect for you. You can always switch up your leash style for a thinner, shorter one once you became more experienced too. With your properly secured leash, you'll be ready to hit the water and ride some righteous waves.

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