A surfboard leash is designed to keep you connected to your surfboard at all times. It should be a non-negotiable part of your surfing life. If you want to find the best surf leash for your ability level then this should help you make the right choice.
Ocean and Earth are a top brand when it comes to designing surf leashes.
This comes in multiple colours and length and has more flex than most leashes so will last you longer.
Do I Need A Surfboard Leash?
When checking out everyone’s surfboard, no one really pays any attention to the surfboard leash. This unassuming piece of equipment might seem simple, but its importance cannot be overstated.
The surfboard leash is your lifeline and protector. It’s most important role is safety. As long as you have the leash connected to your leg and your board, you have a floatation device – your surfboard! Whenever you fall off your surfboard your leash will help provide information on where the surface is. Some falls can mean you get washed around pretty hard by the waves, therefore once everything has calmed down your line will always lead up to the surface so you know which direction you want a swim too.
Another important role your leash plays is that when you do fall off, you then don’t have a long swim to the beach in order to collect your surfboard, which will have washed away in the surf. This is very helpful when learning to surf, as your ratio of waves to falls will depend on your ability level. It will also help with the safety of other surfers, as you are able to pull on your leash to help prevent your board hitting other people nearby.
I recently watched the video of the Parkinson brothers and noticed how Mitch was able to steal his brother Joel’s surfboard because he wasn’t wearing a leash. Expert surfers may choose not to wear a leash, possibly due to a reef that they are surfing on and therefore do not want to risk getting their leash tangled in the reef. However, from a safety perspective, everyone should be wearing a surfboard leash at all times.
Our Top Surfboard Leashes for 2022
Northcore 6mm Surfboard Leash 7FT
Northcore have a range of high quality surfboard leashes that will fit multiple different length surfboards. So make sure you browse the range to ensure you get the right length you need. This leash is designed for use in waves of around two to eight feet, so beginners and intermediate surfers will be able to utilise this leash without worry. It’s 6mm urethane cord has the benefit of being lightweight, but will stand up well to strong waves as it has a good deal of strength within the material.
It features double swivel stainless steel bearings and military grade velcro, therefore you can feel confident that a wipeout on waves will not see your leash breaking. Provided you look after it (maybe give it a rinse with some cold water after a surf) it will last you a long time. The padded cuff rail saver has an easy release system, so putting this on your board is an easy operation.
7mm Olaian Surfboard Leash
Olaian are a well known brand across Eurpoe, but possibly less so in the UK surf market. This leash has been designed for waves up to 8 feet and is very durable due to it’s 7mm thickness. This will allow you to be throwing your board around without the concerns over it breaking. The neoprene ankle cuff provides a good level of comfort and will feel soft on your ankle.
It comes with a rail saver, so you don’t need to worry about the rope section cutting into your board. This is really important if you want to protect your surfboard and make it last longer. The leash itself is easily assembled. Once you’ve installed it through the plug, you can reattach to the rail saver and you’re ready to go. Users of this surf leash have noted how robust the design is and with different colour options available it is a good value for money surf leash.
Wule-RYP 6ft Surfboard Leash
If you want the best surfboard leash you can find, this leash from Wule is hard to beat. It’s made from the same urethane cord used in most surfboard leashes and at 7mm thick it will be suitable for any surfer heading out in waves up to 8 feet. It has the double stainless steel swivels for good manoeuvrability and less tangle. It also has the neoprene cuff for that nice “on skin” feel.
A good surf leash will be something that you don’t notice, so this product works well as we found it high performing. All the usual perks are included, such as the rail saver and string fitting, with quick release for easy installation. You can also pick your colour with this option as there is a variety of models to choose from.
FCS All Round Essential Leash
FCS is probably one of the best-known brands on the market and you may have seen these on the beaches when surfing yourself. At 5.5 mm in thickness, this surfboard leash would be aimed at a more advanced surfer as it will give less drag in the water and be slightly more lightweight than the thicker leashes. It is also recommended that this surfboard leash be used on wave sizes of 0 to 4 feet, therefore if you are heading out to surf large waves and risk getting heavy barrels, ensure you meet the criteria of “advanced” surfer, as with everything related to surfboard leashes, safety is everything.
The in cuff silicone helps to prevent ankle twisting that can occur when you are getting on and off your board – especially if you didn’t choose to get off your board, but more so, fell off your board. It has all the essential features you would expect in that it has the double swivel and rail saver as standard.
Ocean & Earth Surf Leash
For seasoned surfers, like myself, Ocean and Earth are unmatched when it comes to producing the best surfboard leashes. I have gone through my fair share of surf leashes and found the Ocean and Earth range to last the longest.
This leash is available in a range of colour and length options. You can safely surf in waves of up to 6ft, so this makes them a great beginner surf leash, whilst also allowing better surfers to enjoy bigger waves and still have the security of not losing the surfboard on a heavy wipe-out.
The cord is made from urethane and is head wearing. The stainless steel swivels mean less tangled cord around your legs, so you aren’t distracted when trying to catch waves. The cord has a new Diamond Flex Mould, which offers greater flex, so there is less chance of it snapping on you.
With a comfortable neoprene leg strap and rail saver, it really is one of the best surf leashes
iBoard 7mm Surfboard Leash
Let’s get this out the way early – 7mm in thickness means a surf leash that is good for all surfers and suitable for waves up to 8 feet! You can be fairly certain that you will not be swimming ashore to collect your board as this will not snap easily.
This leash has a little ace up it’s sleeve, which I will detail in a minute. It has the rail saver design and the double stainless steel rotation head. Unless you’ve not had these before, it’s so helpful to not get tangled up when moving around in the water. The neoprene ankle strap is soft on your skin but also features a hidden gem.
If you’ve nowhere to store your keys while at the beach, then it has the added benefit of a key pocket. Now although it’s not waterproof it does mean your house key can be put somewhere safe and not left on the beach. This is budget surfboard leash that offers good performance given the low cost.
FCS Freedom 6.0 Leash
Another leash from FCS, however this one features their revolutionary new cord which is aimed at being more lightweight but providing higher levels of strength than previous models. Where this leash differs from others is that instead of the usual surfboard leash design that features urethane, it uses a high-tensile braided nylon material which means the leash has less chance of over stretching and reduced tangle.
The cuff system is very comfortable and provide and nice snug fit that resists movement. This is definitely a new spin on an essential purchase. It is also likely to spark new conversation while in the water as your fellow surfers are going to want your feedback on the new design….are you a sheep or a shepherd?
Two Bare Feet Surfboard Leash
I’d argue that this is your budget option surf leash, however there isn’t really much compromise in design. It has a deluxe padded neoprene ankle strap that velcro’s down on the ankle well to reduce movement. It comes in three different lengths so can suit a board from 6-8 feet. This leash has the double swivel design so your risk on tangling up in the cord is reduced. It also features your rail saver to help protect your board while out on the waves.
Suitable for waves up to 8 feet, this leash will serve all levels of surfer well. If you are looking for a cheap surf leash then you will be hard pressed to finder a better surf leash than this one.
FCS Regular Essential 9’ x 7mm
Having reviewed the all round essential (see point 5), I mentioned that at 5.5mm that leash was more suited to a high level surfer. Well, if you’re looking for an FCS option that is more robust then this product provides that. At 7mm thick and a polyurethane cord, you can feel secure that this leash isn’t going to break easily and will stand up well to the wipeouts.
This is there more day to day range that offers high performance in a range of surf conditions. You can go out on those large messy days and get battered by the sea, this leash will keep you in contact with your board. It has the double swivel design and soft touch neoprene ankle strap to keep you secure.
What length Surfboard Leash do I need?
The best advice to follow, when choosing your surfboard leash length, is to ensure you pick a leash that is at least as long as your board. Where necessary, round up to ensure that your leash is going to be long enough. So in a worked example, if you surf a 6’6” surfboard, you would be wise to choose a 7’ leash.
The reason for this is that when you fall off the board, you want enough space between yourself and the surfboard. If you had a longboard attached to a short leash, when you fall off, the board is going to recoil back towards you too quickly. This increases the risk of injury and something that is easily avoided by choosing the right leash length.
What should I look for in a Surfboard Leash?
Surfing conditions can vary greatly. I should know, I live in the UK where I have to pray at night for good waves. Some days you get a gentle swell and the next moment you get powerful waves.
The best surfboard leash is like your trusted friend that adapts to different conditions. As you might have already guessed; thicker, stronger leashes are ideal for bigger waves as they have the strength needed to handle the force of the water. Lighter/thinner leashes work well for smaller waves, giving you the flexibility to perform manoeuvres.
As with most things within the surfing world, you get what you pay for. If you manage to find a really cheap surfboard leash, the chances are there is a reason why it is coming in at a budget price. A cheap leash Is more likely to break when put under strain.
There are different types of leash on the market, some of these might include competition style leashes. Unless you are a high-level surfer I would avoid these. A competition leash is much thinner and more lightweight to help reduce drag, which would be important to a high-level surfer. However, for beginner and intermediate surfers you are going to need a thicker style leash (7mm) as you will be falling off more frequently and therefore putting more strain on the leash. If you do not choose a thicker style, you may find that the lease does not last as long as you would like.
The other thing to consider when choosing your leash is the swivel mechanism. I’ve previously bought cheap and didn’t consider the impact this would have. A single swivel leash will get tangled up more frequently, so ensure you look for the double swivel so that there is greater manoeuvrability.
How do I attach a Surfboard Leash?
Your leash will come with a heavy duty string fitting, a velcro rail saver and the leash it’s self. To install your leash, the first thing you need to do is take the string off the rail saver and thread it through the leash plug. Make sure the string is not too long and doesn’t press down on the board once fitted, as this could cause damage to your board over time. You can help avoid this with the use of your rail saver. The purpose of this is to protect the edge and tail of your board by making sure the string isn’t cutting in when the leash is tight.
Once you feel it is assembled correctly, pull the leash tight and check that the string isn’t going to pull or cut into your board….if not you are good to go!
If you haven’t already make sure you have got yourself a leash for your next surfing adventure. Never forget to attach that surfboard leash as we don’t want to hear any horror stories. The surfboard leash is an essential piece of equipment that ensures your safety, protects others, and keeps the ocean environment pristine. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced surfer, a surfboard leash should always be worn.