I know if you’re like me, there’re times when you forget to pack your leash, especially when your stoke levels are through the roof.
Funny enough, my mind always forgets to complete the full circle of “do I have everything in need for surfing” checklist, and the surf leash is then left behind.
But it’s in these no-leash surfing sessions that I realize just how important or rather appreciate the straightforward concept of a surfboard leash.
More importantly, I learn how vital this nifty device is at allowing me to maintain comfort, even in big wave conditions, while granting me more surf and less swim time.
Of course, I understand surfboard leashes are a bone of contention in the non-competition world.
Some surfers, like me, swear by them, others hate them, and a majority of the crowded surf beaches require them.
But either way, we can all agree that leashes do serve several purposes.
On a very basic level, for a lazy surfer like me, having a board attached to a surf leash is important so that I never have to swim far to find a potential run-away surfboard after a wipeout.
This is important from a performance perspective because it allows for quick recovery of your board. The quicker you get back on your board, the quicker you get back out and get another wave.
It even makes more sense for me because I usually take my surfing in Florida reefs. The reefs here are often quite shallow, very sharp, and dangerous. Often, the only thing separating my flesh from the jagged and sharp reef is my board.
Ok, you now realize the value of a surfboard leash, but how do you grab the right one for your surfing needs?
In the guide below, I’ll share with you how to choose the best leash.
Plus, I’ve listed some of my favorite leashes that you may consider.
*However, keep in mind surfboard leashes aren’t a safety device! They were simply designed for convenience.
You’re in the ocean, and there’s no substitute for good swimming ability.
Table of Contents
The Best Surfboard Leashes For The Money
#1 BPS 'Storm' Premium Surfboard Leash - EDITOR'S CHOICE
I ordered the BPS Surfboard Leash and after a few trials, I can confidently use it for my deep-water surfing.
One thing that attracted me to the BPS was the choice of colors. I’m a color person, and honestly, I was stoked to find out that the leash was available in more than four designs. I chose the color black because it looks great on my board.
But aesthetics aside, I love the coiled design of the leash. It offers a tangle-free experience, and I don’t have to worry much about dragging my leash in the water.
The design makes even more sense for me because I usually paddle around on my board with my dog. She gets chaotic when there’s a coil over her body.
Construction-wise, BPS far exceeded my expectations. It’s well-built with exceptional quality and should do the job.
For the price, the leash was of better quality than I expected, and I’m thrilled with my purchase.
To give you an idea of how sturdy the surf leash is, I’m a serious paddler, doing distance and paddling in the more challenging conditions.
Yet, the leash doesn’t feel like it’s going to come off, even when swimming.
The Velcro and stainless steel swivels used here are so strong that you don’t have to worry about losing the leash or hitting other surfers. Plus, the coil is strong enough to keep the leash out of the way of your feet. It also remains soft enough that it doesn’t interfere with your balance when moving.
My only wish is that it came with a stainless steel clip or carabiner to attach to my standup paddleboard.
BPS also comes at a generous length of 10 feet, and this is handy for a longboarder like me.
While my previous board came with a leash, it was too short and didn’t allow me to lie flat on the board or cross-step to the nose.
BPS is different. With a 10 feet length, it offers more than enough length for the 11ft Wavestorm and is perfect for my 5’10” stature.
The ease of use on this surf leash also measures up quite well, and I’m pleased that it doesn’t drag through the duckweed or pull up on my board.
It also has a generous amount of Velcro on the low-profile ankle cuff, so it can be loose or tight around my ankle. I was worried the BPS wouldn’t fit my muscular legs.
The leash also feels super-comfortable, and I don’t notice even when I’m wearing one.
To make the surfing experience even more convenient, the manufacturer has included a small hidden pocket/ waterproof pouch on the leash.
It’s a handy accessory that gives me a nice way to store my important items. For example, I no longer have to hide my keys in the sand when hitting the surf.
#2 Ho Stevie! Premium Surf Leash - Most Reliable Surf Leash
My problem with most surfboard leashes is they tend to twist around when the cord isn’t aligned outback.
I usually try adjusting the cord underwater, but for the most part, I’m always hit by the next wave bomb before clearing the uncomfortable lump.
The Ho Stevie Premium Surf Leah is different!
It slides around my ankle, without this interior clumping. Perfect!
All I do is twist it back in place and I’m good to go.
But that’s not the only reason I went for the Ho Stevie.
This bad boy comes with a release tab that I can pull to remove the leash. How cool is that?
For some reason, I had to hunt for this tab with my other leashes, and it was at times frustrating getting the surf leash off, especially in the tricky exits with the waves crashing against the rocks.
Ho Stevie fixes that, and I don’t have to struggle anymore to find the release tab under the water. Plus, the leash always comes right off when I want it to.
And as with most leashes on our list, Ho Stevie is one sturdy option.
I gave up on the expensive Dakine leashes that break all the time. I’ve used the Ho Stevie for several seasons now, and it’s yet to break.
Remember, my home beach is in Miami Beach, and we get some pretty heavy waves.
I put this little green beauty through its paces while getting flogged in punchy surf and it holds up like a champ.
I’ve also taken the leash to Orange County, California and the surf waves haven’t pulled or extended the leash so far.
It is sturdy, reliable, but more importantly, works on my board.
While remaining sturdy, Ho Stevie is a comfortable leg rope to use.
There’s enough padding on the neoprene ankle cuff and the width of the Velcro is amazing. For example, when jumping off a wave or falling, the surf leash doesn’t pull on my ankle, and the Velcro doesn’t dig in.
To continue, the thin leash is wonderful and comes just as shown in the picture. So, you get what you see. Mine is color green.
Fit-wise, I love the leash, and it’s comfortable around my ankle. I was worried because I’ve a larger leg, but the leash looks like it could fit any size.
The leashes’ length was also perfect for my 11 feet board.
#3 WOOWAVE Premium Leash - Most Unique Surf Leash
One thing I love with the Woowave is the packaging. It looks so cool and professional.
Other than that, it seems of very high quality. Just as good, if not better than the more expensive brand names like Volcom, Dakine, and Quicksilver.
I also like that it comes with a complimentary water-tight pouch. The hidden key pocket makes this surf leash quite useful because I don’t have to worry about leaving my car key on the sand.
Furthermore, the build quality and strength of the leash don’t disappoint. It can gobble up some of the larger waves without a problem.
The flexible and lightweight thermoplastic polyurethane cord doesn’t snap easily, while the premium TPU on the leash connects stand up to rough usage.
I’ve surfed in heavy triple overhead waves and never had a problem with the leash breaking, damaging, or coming undone at the Velcro.
Speaking of Velcro strap, Woowave has a unique “hook” compared to similar products.
The Velcro part of the ankle strap is a little different than the regular Velcro, but not a problem. It works fine if you apply a little pressure to ensure it’s secure when you put it in one.
Size-wise, many big wave surfers are pleased to find out that the leash is available in various sizes. So, you can always pick a size depending on your surfing and board’s needs. Whether it’s for a shortboard, longboard, fish, or something else, you’re already covered.
Personally, I ordered the 9 feet versions because I love doing flips and getting crazy on the board. I felt entirely safe and confident all the time with this surf leash.
And not only that; the leash is comfortable for my ankle because it utilizes a high-density neoprene on the padded ankle cuff.
I love that I no longer have to deal with irritation even after a long day in the water. Plus, the leash doesn’t dig in as other materials tend to do.
Of course, being one of the best surfboard leashes in the market, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to criticize.
Many surfers feel the “unique” Velcro system is challenging to use and doesn’t secure well.
However, most of them don’t take time to understand how Velcro works. It’s easy to handle the system, as all you need to do is put extra pressure on it when using it. Do it for at least five seconds, and your leash will be fine.
#4 Wave Tribe Eco Surfboard Leash – Best Surf Leash for the Eco-Conscious Surfers
I bought two of these for our overseas surf backups, in case one broke.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to use the second one, but I might swap it for the next trip.
The Wave Tribe is an excellent surfboard leash and has a solid construction.
Its triple Velcro construction hasn’t ripped or frayed, even when used on rough water.
The surf leash looks like it was made with care and to last through many waves.
It’s strong like a bull, no cap. See, I’ve previously had some bad luck with board leashes out here on the overhead waves.
The Wave Tribe is different as it seriously holds the line. When surfing on reed breaks, I need to know my board won’t take on the rocks along with me trying to save the scraps. I appreciate this product.
While remaining sturdy, the Wave Tribe doesn’t come undone. It’s nice, thin, and flexible so it doesn’t coil weirdly.
Still on the comfort, I would purchase these again because they seem like a true upgrade from the non-coiled ones that drag in the water.
It’s also one of the tinner leashes so I barely feel the Wave leash, yet, it’s solidly attached to my ankle.
It’s super comfy, stays on, and won’t dig into my ankle bone, even when pulled hard on bigger waves.
Another plus with this leash is that it’s super flexible.
First, it has enough in size to fit a 6-year-old kid up to an adult make.
Secondly, it arrives with double stainless-steel swivels.
This way, it allows me to maneuver effortlessly and not get stuck during rapid action.
I also got a big love for this leash because it’s the only product I could find that was recycled.
Yes, it’s designed or has minimal environmental impacts to add to the overall shopping experience.
Almost all the components are built from recycled plastic bottles.
But no need to push on the panic button, because it doesn’t mean the rope or anything else is less sturdy than its competitors.
It’s super comfortable and solid.
Plus, it arrives with “Superman Velcro”, a technology on the neoprene ankle cuff that guarantees a tight and secure connection.
The Velcro keeps you attached to the leash firmly, and I don’t have to put extra effort into getting your potential run-away surfboard in open water.
And as with most of the best surfboard leashes in the market, the leg rope comes with a useful little key pocket.
My only quibble with the key pocket is it doesn’t fit the bigger/new car keys. It bulges and the ankle straps aren’t flush.
But otherwise, everything about this leg leash is super awesome.
#5 FCS Freedom Surfboard Leash - Premium Pick
If you don’t mind spending a handsome amount on a surfboard leash, the FCS is one of the best surfboard leg ropes that must be included in your surf gear collection.
Personally, I bought it because it looked stronger than normal and tangle-free.
And I’m glad I made the decision.
It doesn’t tangle as most leashes do, and it doesn’t seem like I’m going to replace it anytime soon.
One of FCS’s selling points is the revolutionary cord, which isn’t only lighter but stronger.
It’s made of the high-tensile over-braided nylon yarn, and I love it because it doesn’t stretch, even when I take a drink. This reduces the chances of tangling and dragging drastically.
The leash is comfortable to use and feels premium to wear. I wasn’t surprised by the price.
For example, it arrives with Silicone Grip Pint on the zero distraction ankle cuff to reduce slipping around the ankle.
There’s also a 3mm neoprene padding that feels comfortable and light to use.
Finally, you get a low-profile molded Velcro for extra stability and reliability.
Simply put, this bad boy feels much more like a competition (Comp leash) style leash. It’s easier to manage and the padded cuff is some of the best quality I’ve come across with a plastic pull ring.
Furthermore, FCS Freedom Leash takes performance to new levels.
This is because it has been designed in collaboration with some of the notable individuals in the world of extreme sports.
The leash delivers in terms of lightness, ease of use, and reliability.
I’ve used it in some pretty dark conditions, and it holds up pretty well. It seems like it’s going to last for quite a long time.
It’s also easy to take on and off, with a molded pull tab allowing for an ergonomic quick release.
Overall, the FCS Freedom Leash will give you all the “freedom” you need in the water.
It may be a bit expensive, but it’s worth every coin.
The leash is nice, easy to use, and reliable.
#6 Abahub Premium Surfboard Leash – Best Surf Leashes for the Money
Our final pick, Abahub Leash is a musty buy.
Don’t let the price fool you.
It’s as good as Dakine and I can’t recommend this enough. It provides an excellent alternative to higher-priced products.
And the good thing is it delivers on all fronts.
For example, it’s very comfortable around the padded ankle cuff and you can tell it’s made from high-quality materials.
In fact, if it wasn’t branded, you would think it’s one of those high-end surf leashes.
It’s also durable, and even after handling the 6-8 feet wipeouts, it didn’t break.
The material from which it’s made isn’t arbitrary.
You get a multi-layered Velcro, which is useful in preventing loops in your blade from cutting through my precious surfboard.
Meanwhile, the 7mm chord is also super sturdy. It looks like it’ll hold up to many abuses.
The double wrap-around Velcro ankle cuff offers extra muscle and safety for your wave riding leisure, while the premium neoprene ankle leash allows me to paddle for hours without any irritation or blistering.
I also got this thin leash for the double swivel, and it hasn’t twisted or tangled so far.
One more thing we like is this thick leash comes with a key pocket within the ankle strap.
It’s a cool add-on that comes in handy for storing small items. And the best part is the pocket closes immediately after you strap up the Velcro closure. Perfect!
Best Surfboard Leashes Buying Guide
If you’re still undecided on what surfboard leash to choose, our helpful guide below will allow you to make an informed decision when buying surfboard leashes.
I’ll share the critical factors to consider when selecting the right leash.
But first, it would be prudent to understand the basics of a surfboard leash.
Parts of a Surfboard Leash
A surfboard has four main parts, and they are:
The cuff is the Velcro attachment strapping around your ankle to secure the leash to your body.
In most cases, the ankle cuffs arrive with a hidden key pocket but don’t try stashing you push-start fob in there.
It’s the leash itself.
The long, usually urethane cord attaching the leash to the cuff.
Detachable Rail Saver & Leah Rope
This section attaches the leash to the rope and is usually made of a strong fabric.
The detachable rail saver gets tugged on your surfboard tail when a wave is pulling it.
Its thickness ensures that it doesn’t slice through the delicate tail of the surfboard.
The swivel is like a joint, attaching to the chord of the cuff.
A stainless steel swivel is designed to give the leash and your ankle an entirely free range of motion while preventing the leash from getting tangled from certain movements.
Different Kinds of Surfboard Leashes and their Thickness
Surfboard leg ropes are broadly categorized into four types.
1) Competition leash (Comp leash)
2) Pro leash
3) Regular-all around leash
4) Longboard leash
5) Big wave leash
The comp leashes are designed for smaller waves and high-performance surfing.
They’re generally thin, usually at around 5mm thick, and this is necessary because when performing big turns in the air, the leash creates less drag.
Pro leashes provide talented shortboard surfers with a leash that doesn’t compromise their safety.
For the same performance reasons of why a competition leash is made thin, a pro leash is as well.
However, the chord of a pro leash can be up to 6mm, and this is important for offering a bit more reliability when surfing the big waves.
Regular/ All-around Surfboard Leashes
The regular leg ropes can handle pretty much any range of waves, other than XL and above.
They come with a solid 7mm thickness and will handle the chunky waves and accommodate most surfing styles.
Longboard (calf) Leash
Longboards generally require a longer leash to allow you to maneuver up and down the board.
A calf leash also lets you cross-step to a noseride, without tripping up on your leash.
Big Wave Leashes
They’re available in 8mm thickness and have the sturdiest construction of any other leash.
Alongside the thickness, the big wave leashes also have certain characteristics that no other surf leashes have such as quick release safety measures for more safety and reliability.
Tips to Consider when Choosing the Best Surfboard Leash
How do you select the best leash? What are the factors to consider?
Below, we try to make it easier by giving you simple tips on the selection process.
Surf Leash Length
Sizing a surfboard leash is quite simple.
You never want your leash to be shorter than your surfboard, and as a rule of thumb, use a leash that is equal, or slightly longer than your surfboard. The longest leash or shortest isn’t the best.
For example, if your board measures 7 ft, you would indeed require a 7 ft leash.
Thickness as we’ve seen depends on the wave conditions you’re surfing on.
For example, the thicker leashes can tolerate the more chunky and rough waves, without breaking.
In the small surf, thinner surf leashes are enough.
But thinner leashes aren’t strong and tend to break. On the other hand, the stronger or thicker leashes are strong but create more drag on the water.
Calf/Knee or Ankle Leash
Ankle leashes are popular because they offer more comfort and make it easier for beginner surfers to retrieve their surfboards.
One of their downsides is they tend to get tangled easily.
On the other hand, the calf or knee leashes are suitable for longboards.
Their point of attachment, which is at the upper part of the leg, decreases the chance of tangling, especially when walking on the surfboard.
On the flip side, they feel less comfortable.
Coiled or Straight Leash
Coiled leashes are generally common with paddle boarders and bodyboarders.
The compact coil, in particular, offers less drag in the water, thus promoting faster paddling and reducing the chances of coiling and tripping.
On the other hand, straight leashes are the option for stand-up paddling surfing.
Best Surfboard Leashes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Do I need a Surf Leash?
A: Yes, having a surf leash is necessary for many reasons.
One, it saves you the inconvenience of retrieving a run-away surfboard.
Secondly, a leash protects your surfboard from hitting obstacles or other surfers.
Q: What is the best length for a surfboard leash?
A: Usually, the rule of thumb when selecting the right length is that the size of the leash should equal the size of the board.
It can be slightly larger, though.
Q: How long do surfboard leashes last?
A: The longevity of a surfboard leash depends on many factors such as the materials used in construction and the care given to the board.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best surfboard leash is the BPS ‘Storm’ Premium Surfboard Leash.
It’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but it comes with a solid construction, too.
The leash will stand up to constantly hit by the waves, and won’t slip from your leg or even break.
Plus, it’s easy to use, and comfortable. It doesn’t dig into my ankle as other leashes do and I even don’t notice I’m wearing it.
Overall, it’s a nice purchase, and it will exceed your expectations.