How to choose a surfboard leash?

Finding out how to choose a surfboard leash is very important if you want to stay safe while surfing. The truth is that a good surfboard leash can indeed help you a lot if you want to ensure you don’t lose your board. Let’s face it, many people end up losing their surfboard nowadays if they don’t have something to keep it near them. That’s where the leg rope/surfboard leash comes into play, since it helps you ensure your surfboard is always near you no matter the situation. Who likes to swim back to the shore just to collect their board? Obviously no one, so buying the right surfboard leash can be quite the difference.

The first leg ropes and surfboard leashes were invented back in 1971. Since then, they have become a pivotal product to be used by surfboarders. It’s just an exciting item to buy and use, and the best part is that you can get some amazing results from investing in such an item. It’s not overly expensive either, so you are indeed getting some great results, which is what matters the most for this type of product.

Aren’t all surfboard leashes the same?

Obviously not all surfboards are the same size and thickness, they all have different features. As a result, you will need different types of leg ropes you can use to stay safe. As soon as you do that, things will be better and you will be a lot happier with results than what you might imagine. Of course, there are many different things you have to take into account when you identify how to choose a surfboard leash. Thankfully, the tips and tricks in this article will be able to help you with that.

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Surfboard leash length

It’s important to make sure that the length of the surfboard leash is suitable for your board. Some people like a longer leash, others want a shorter one, so this is a very important idea to keep in mind in a situation like this. Normally you want to have the surfboard leash the size of your surfboard, if not a little longer. As long as the leash is a tiny bit longer than the surfboard, you should be more than ok. However, it’s a good idea to buy multiple leg ropes like these, especially if you have more than one board. The more you know, the better, and in the end that’s the thing that you will enjoy the most. It will provide you with an incredible experience.

Surfboard Length Surfboard Leash Length
5.0 to 5.5 5.0
5.6 to 6.4 6.0
6.5 to 7.4 7.0
7.6 to 8.4 8.0
8.5 to 9.4 9.0
9.5 to 10.4 10.0
10.5 to 11+ 11.0 - 12.0

Finding the ideal thickness

The truth is that a thicker surfboard leash will offer you more resistance. That means if you are dealing with a large board or big waves, then a thicker leash will help you avoid any possible issues that might arise. The thicker leash will keep the board from shooting back when you eventually wipe out. In case you are an advanced surfer, then you can go for a thinner rope. But for the most part, thicker ropes tend to be preferred, since you get a much better experience and results. It’s one of the crucial things to keep in mind, and the outcome will be nothing short of incredible every time, if you do it adequately.

Wave Size Surfboard Thickness
Small Competition Thicknesses
Regular Wave Size or Beginner Surfer Regular Thicknesses
Large Wave Size Large Thicknesses

Surfing experience

Obviously, the amount of experience you bring to the table will also have an impact on how long or short the leash should be. Beginners always want a shorter leash because whenever they wipe out, the longer leash will not protect them against any possible problems and they might be hit by the board in some cases. Advanced surfers go with shorter leashes because that reduces the drag you deal with, and you are also obtaining a much better speed. These things matter, and if you apply them properly, your surfboarding experience can be a great one in the end.

There are some other things to keep in mind here too. A leash that’s too short will become uncomfortable. In some cases, it will encourage the board to rebound and you will end up taking the hit more often than not. That’s why it makes sense to get a surfboard leash based on your experience and what you find comfortable. Experimenting with multiple options will give you a really good idea of what you can expect, and in the end you will have no problem figuring out what works for you better than the other solutions.

Surfboard Leash Parts

The surfboard leash or leg rope is a combination of parts; We will going to analyse each one of them to understand how to choose a better surfboard leash based on our expectation.

Cuff type

It’s a good idea to have a double wrap-around Velcro cuff. The reason you want that is because you will have more security and strength to the leg. Plus, you feel safer knowing that the cuff will not end up getting damaged or it just goes away from your foot. Some of the better cuff options even have a key pocket that helps you keep keys or anything you may want. That’s obviously not mandatory, but it does help quite a bit, and it’s an important aspect to take into consideration. The more expensive options have watertight compartments, but the regular ones don’t have waterproofing, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Rail saver

The rail saver is created with the idea of bringing in a great and secure connection between you on the board. You also have less strain on the rail, which always ends up bringing a very good experience. With that being said, the higher quality surfboard leashes come with longer and wider fabric. Even if you fall off and the cord ends up taut, the rail will still end up retaining all of its property.

One thing to consider here is that even if the longer and wider rails can bring better protection, the downside is that you end up with more water drag. Which is why you need to choose either between dealing with more drag or having rail protection. It’s a personal aspect, every surfer has different things he is looking out for, so that’s definitely something to take into account as much as you can.


The cord is normally made out of high quality polyurethane. This is a material powerful enough to connect you to the board. At the same time, it’s versatile enough to not end up disturbing you in any way as you surf. That’s why most surfboard leashes are made out of this material, and many of them don’t really have any issue to begin with. You just have to know what you are getting into, and in the end that’s well worth the effort.


For a lot of surfers, the swivel is important because it adds that extra safety you would need. This is the part that allows the surfboard leash to twist and spin in order to avoid tangles. As a result, it’s one of the crucial parts of the surfboard leash, and every good leash needs to have it. Without it, this can be a true pain, and you want to avoid any issues that might arise.

Thankfully, most of the modern leashes have at least a single swivel. Some of them even provide you with a double swivel approach. This can sit between the cord and cuff or the cord and rail saver. It’s crucial for your surfboard leash to have a swivel, because you eliminate any type of danger, while also getting more comfort. Ideally you want to opt for the double swivel leash models if you want, if not the single swivel options will do just fine. Take that into consideration and in the end you will be incredibly happy with the results and benefits.

Should you have a calf or ankle leash?

The truth is that every person likes their own type of feature. Some like ankle ropes because it’s easier and more comfortable to use such a unit. The leash won’t disturb you, and you still get to be connected to the board, so that alone is a very important aspect to keep in mind. However, if the cuff is low on the leg, then you can end up with some tangling. That’s especially true when you deal with large waves.

On the other hand, the calf option is great because it’s higher and you will have less drag and fewer tangles too. However, the problem here is that you will end up with discomfort. So it all comes down to figuring out what place is ideal based on your own requirements. Since no two surfers are the same, the truth is that you can be quite happy with the results and experience as long as you identify which one of the two systems is working for you properly.

Should you go for the coiled or straight leashes?

That depends on you. The coiled leashes are better for bodyboarders and paddleboarders. That compact coil is designed to deliver less drag in the water, which in turn gives you faster paddling. You also have an easier time avoiding any coil issues that can sometimes lead to tripping. So the more you focus on this, the better the results you can get. If you perform stand up paddlesurfing or any other similar types of surfing, then it makes sense to have this type of feature. For a regular surfer, it’s more of a per-user basis.

Is there any surfboard leash maintenance needed?

The truth is that you don’t need a lot of maintenance for the surfboard leash. You should consider washing the leash with the surfboard to eliminate all the saltwater from it. That’s why it makes sense to use clean water for the cleaning process just to be safe. You also need to ensure that the Velcro strap is closed when you are using it.

We also recommend you to wash away any sand that might accumulate within the surfboard leash. It doesn’t happen all the time, but you will find yourself dealing with such problems from time to time. So yes, removing the sand does make sense, and it will help more than you might imagine.

Are there different types of surfboard leashes?

Yes, and there’s a reason for that. Most surfboard leashes are designed from the ground up for a very specific purpose or event. That’s why you can find pro leashes and competition leashes, but also regular, big wave and longboard leashes. It all comes down to the board type, where you want to use the board and the type of waves you are dealing with. These surfboard leashes will vary in size, thickness and they tend to be more focused either on control and safety. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to study every option and see which is the right one for you. Not only will you prevent any problems, but it’s easier to stay away from any hassle that might arise.

Does it really make sense to buy a surfboard leash?

Yes, because the surfboard leash will help you prevent situations when you swim back to the beach so you can get your board. You can avoid swimming back every time you bail, so it’s totally worth it. On top of that, this helps increase the recovery time since you always have the board to come back to, and in the end it can be worth the investment.

In addition, the board is protected, it won’t wash up on the rocks or receive damage from any obstructions, which is good. And yes, you can protect other surfers, since they won’t have to deal with a loose board generating issues.


We recommend you to use this ultimate guide if you want to ensure that you pick the best surfboard leash on the market for you. It does take a bit of time to find the right product, since there are so many different things to keep in mind. But with the right trial and error, you will be able to make it work every time. Just use that to your own advantage, buy the best surfboard leash you can afford, and results will be great!


What surfboard leash should i buy?

The surfboard leash that you should buy depends on the length of your surfboard; generally, if you have a 6ft surfboard, you should buy a 6ft leash. It's essential to get the right size to avoid damaging the board in case of a wipeout.

What size surfboard leash should i get?

Surfboard leash goes along with the surfboard length; if you have a 6feet, you need a 6 feet leash.

How to attach surfboard leash?

Attach the string to the leash plug and make sure that the cord is not touching the rail; after that, attach the surfboard leash rail saver to the surfboard. Finally, when you're about to go in the water, attach the cuff to your ankle!

When was the surfboard leash invented?

The surfboard leash was invited in 1971 by Pat O'Neil and introduced in the world of surfing in the 1971 Mailbu International Competition. Fun fact he was disqualified from the competition because of him wearing the leash.

Who invented the surf leash?

The surfboard leash was invented by Pat O'Neill (son of Jack O'Neill, the inventor of the famous O'Neill wetsuit). The sad fact is that one prototype used it's what caused Pat to lose his eye.

Where to buy surfboard leash?

Check out the collection of surfboard leashes, models and surf is an Australian online surf shop and provide tons of leashes.

Which foot does a surfboard leash go on?

The surfboard leash goes on your back foot. If you have a goofy stand, it will go on your left foot, otherwise on your right.

When should I replace my surf leash?

The industry recommendation is to replace your leash every six months! This number matches the warranty of almost the leash sold by any surf shop too! The reality is that a surfboard leash life span depends on the material and the usage. Six months is a fair time usage.

Do I need a surfboard leash?

You don't need a surfboard leash, nevertheless having one prevents the surfboard from being swept away by waves and hitting other surfers.

Can you surf without a leash?

Yes, you can surf without a surfboard leash; nevertheless, it's not recommended because you could hurt somebody else if your surfboard is swept away by a wave.

How long do i need my surfboard leash?

The basic rule is to use a leash that is no longer than your surfboard! The surfboard leash ranges start from 5ft until 12ft and if your board is in-between sizes you can use a size bigger. As an example if you have a 6.6 board, you could use a 7 feet leash.

How thick do I need my Surfboard Leash?

The rule of thumbs states that the bigger the waves, the thicker the leash needs to avoid breakage. The thickness can vary from 5 to 9mm. Usually, the 5-6mm are considered competition leash, and they provide less drag; nevertheless, the probability of snapping it when the waves become bigger is very high! If you don't want to get it wrong, we recommend using a Regular Leash that thickness varies from 7 to 9 mm; these are perfect for beginner surfers.