How to Know Which SUP Leash to Use

How do I know which SUP leash to use?

Buying a SUP? Don’t forget to get a leash to go with it!  Leashes save lives.  They are an important safety device for paddling because they keep you connected to your board, outrigger or surfski. But how do you know which sup leash to use?

Here’s more info on the importance of always using a leash.

A variety of leash styles are available: coiled, straight and a hybrid of the two are the main types on the market.  It’s important to know which one to use, based on where and what you are paddling.


Picture of a coiled sup leash

Use the coiled leash for flat water paddling and times when you want the leash to stay out of your way or from dragging in the water, such as racing or touring, or on a surfski or outrigger.

Since the coiled leash acts like a spring and when you fall, the board can rebound back towards you quickly.  In flat water conditions, this can make it easier to recover the board, enabling you to remount faster.


Picture of a surf sup leash

The straight leash does not have the coil in it and will not rebound. That makes it appropriate for surfing, when the rebound effect could send the board rocketing back toward you once the wave has passed, resulting in injury. The straight leash will float behind the board and can get in the way when using it in any other conditions.


Picture of a hybrid sup leash

Hybrid leashes are straight leashes that include a small section of coil. They help keep the leash out of the way with a minimal amount of spring or rebound.

Quick Release or Break-Away

Picture of a quick release sup leash

This leash can be either straight or coiled but it’s primary feature is an attachment mechanism that allows the user to quickly detach the leash. For whitewater sup paddlers who use leashes, this is the preferred style, since it allows quick detachment in emergency situations where the leash could get snagged on a rock or tree limb, creating a dangerous situation. Shorter quick release leashes are also used by surfski and OC paddlers in order to prevent the leash from hindering remounts.


Leash length should be approximately the same length as your board.

Cuff Position

The cuff – the Velcro strap that goes around the paddler’s leg – comes in two lengths: A longer length meant to go around the calf just below the knee and a shorter strap that goes around the ankle. Wearing the leash cuff a on the calf keeps the leash off the board and out of the way.  Wearing it at the ankle reduces potential for injury in surfing scenarios.

Wear the cuff with spine – the stiff swivel section that attaches the leash to the cuff – pointed to the outside and make sure it’s snug.

Lisa is managing editor of and is an avid paddler of all the things - including sup, SurfSki, outrigger canoe and prone, though she especially enjoys paddle surfing and downwinding. She is a former journalist with more than 30 years experience in print and broadcast journalism and in government communications. She is a six-time Chattajack finisher, racing both sup and OC2. When not paddling, she is an outdoor instructor.



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