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Leash it or Lose it - Why You Need a SUP Leash

Do You Need a SUP Leash?


One very re-occurring question we are asked is whether a sup leash is needed when stand up paddle boarding.  

For those that are not sure - a SUP leash is a simple cord that attaches to the tail of your board, and then connects to your ankle via a comfortable ankle strap. If you fall off your stand up paddle board, your leash makes sure the board can not drift away from you. Without a leash, your board is at the mercy of the wind and waves if you fall off. A leash is a great safety device that ensures that all your stand up paddle board sessions are safe and fun for yourself and anyone else who might use your stand up paddle board.

Stand Up Paddle Boarder Wearing a SUP Leash and Falling into the Water

Do I need to wear a paddle board leash in surf conditions?  

Yes. 100%. For sure. Affirmative. Without doubt. Get the point?

In surf, a SUP leash is not just for your safety, it’s also for the safety of those around you.  If you are not attached to your board, and you take a wipe out, your board is gone. Not slowly either. Next stop the beach - and that’s if you’re lucky.  Currents in surf zones are heavy and unpredictable.  That path to  the beach is also likely full of other surfers and swimmers.  An 11'  paddle board being propelled by a wave can hit someone with enough force to seriously hurt, or even kill them. Not to mention, now you are bobbing around in the surf without a board and having to rely on your swimming skills and endurance.  Don't be "that guy (or girl)" that surfs without a leash - it’s bad etiquette, as well just outright dangerous for everyone involved.


Stand Up Paddle Boarder Wearing a SUP Leash

Do I Need A SUP Leash In Calm Conditions?

More often the questions related to leashes come to us from people who will be stand up paddle boarding in flat (non surf) or calmer waters.  Often the question is quickly followed up with "I am a good swimmer", "what can go wrong" and other attempts to justify not using one.  Even an innocuous fall in flat water can see your stand up paddle board kick away from you. By the time you surface, your board can easily be 30 feet away from you. Then you will be left holding your paddle, and swimming somewhat one handed - and that is a best case scenario. What if you are hurt in your fall and can't swim? A fun paddle can quickly turn into an emergency situation.  

Sadly, over the the past few years as stand up paddle boarding has gained popularity, we’ve seen several deaths in the sport that could have very easily prevented if the rider was using a leash and able to retrieve their board. The stand up paddle board you are on is likely the world’s largest personal floatation device and it just makes sense to make sure you have it near you if you hit the water.

Stand Up Paddle Boarder Wearing a SUP Leash in Calm Water


Should I Use a Regular Ankle Leash or a Coil Leash?

Choosing the best sup leash for you comes down to comfort and performance, as well as the conditions you are paddling in

Generally, those riding surf will prefer a traditional, or straight SUP leash like the Cruiser SUP Straight Deluxe SUP leash. A straight leash allows your feet the most freedom of movement, and does not have the tendency to tangle up like a coil leash. This is key in surf as there tends to be more falling off your stand up paddle board than in flat water.  SUP leash choice also comes down to personal preference, and I tend to prefer a the Cruiser SUP Straight Deluxe SUP Leash in both flat water and surf.

Cruiser SUP Straight Deluxe SUP Leash


A Coil SUP Leash, like the Cruiser SUP Deluxe Flat Water Coil Leash is often the chosen leash of those paddling in flat water. As the cord is “coiled” (similar to a telephone cord if you are old enough to remember those), it does not drag in the water behind your board. This minimises the drag in the water, but also since the cord is a little thinner, the leash is lighter in weight as well.

Cruiser SUP Deluxe Flat Water Coil SUP Leash


So How Does a SUP Leash Help?

With the leash on your ankle, the board can't get more than the length of your leash away from you (usually between 9' and 11').  No panic swimming, no watching the board get away from you leaving you stranded in the middle of the lake hoping for someone to help or hoping you can make it back to shore.  Don't risk losing your board, or your life -  it is worth spending the $24.95 with board purchase to make sure you are safe on the water.  Like wearing a seat belt, you may not need it most of the time, but you will be very glad it is there when you do need it. Plus, you’ll get the super cool leash cuff tan line that will instantly identify you to other SUP'ers as one of their kind (and a smart one at that!)

Stand Up Paddle Boarder Wearing a SUP Leash in Calm Water


How Do I Attach My Stand Up Paddle Board Leash?

The only thing more important than using a SUP leash is knowing how to attach a paddle board leash properly.  All Cruiser SUP Stand Up Paddle Boards are equipped with a leash insert to allow for the fast and safe installation of your SUP Leash.

Step 1- Thread the SUP Leash string through the leash insert.

Installing a SUP Leash


Step 2- Run the SUP Leash string back through the string guide toward the tail.


Installing a SUP Leash


Step 3 - Secure the SUP Leash String into the Velcro.


Installing a SUP Leash


Installing a SUP Leash


Step 4 - Secure the Leash to your ankle. Now you are ready to go stand up paddle boarding safely!


Installing a SUP Leash to Ankle


SUP Leashes - More Than An Accessory

Installing and wearing your SUP Leash is a great way to ensure that all your stand up paddle board adventures are about fun on the water.  They are simple to install, and will give you peace of mind that your stand up paddle board is going to stay with you if you happen to take an unexpected spill.  

Check out our great SUP Leash selection and grab one for your next ride. Have questions or comments about SUP Leashes and Safety? Comment below or email us at info@cruisersup.com 



1 comment

  • Steve McBride

    Very helpful. When I received my board, I just Velcroed in on the board and hit the water. Now the leash is attached correctly. Safety first! I paddle a lake in Memphis,Tn.

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