Guide to buying a surfboard leash

Guide to buying a surfboard leash If you are buying a new surfboard then you need a surfboard leash. Unless you really like swimming, it is probably the most important piece of equipment next to your surfboard.

A little piece of surf leash history and a lost eye

Believe it or not surfboard leashes didn't exist back in the early days and when they first came on the scene they were referred to as “kook cords”. In other words, only for wimps. As people realized they help catch more waves they soon became the standard. However, the first surf leashes were made from surgical tubing which tended to snap back violently and that is actually how Jack O'Neill of O'Neill Wetsuits lost his eye, experimenting with a survival tubing leash. Then along came urethane and the world was saved. It held it's stretch better and is now the standard.


Surfboard Leashes come in several different types

They are categorized by the diameter of the cord and the length of the cord. The thinner the diameter, the weaker the surfboard leash, but the less drag. The thicker the diameter, the stronger the surfboard leash, the more drag. Sooooo, you get the point. Small wave surfboard leashes are thinner and big wave leashes are thicker.
But what about length. Well, a rule of thumb is to go with a leash as long or slightly longer than your board. Leashes are available in 6,7,8,9,10,12 feet to accommodate different board lengths. Then they are offered in diameter thickness styles such as 5mm, 7mm, 10mm. The thinner of the bunch are referred to as Comp leashes. Short for competition. While the slightly larger surfboard leashes are referred to as Regular Leashes. And the thickest is, you guessed it, Big Wave Leashes.

So when you pick your surfboard leash ask your self 2 main questions

  1. How long is my surfboard? If its a 7ft board I need a 7ft leash. If its a 7ft 6inch board I might go with a 8ft leash
  2. How big are the waves I will be using the surfboard? The bigger the waves the thicker the diameter you want. Comp Leashes for small waves, Regular Leashes for medium sized waves, Big Wave Leashes for Big Waves.

Shop our selection of Surfboard Leashes

Marc Miller fro Isle Surf and SUP

About the Author -is the founding partner of Isle Surf & SUP an online retailer of paddle boards & surfboards. He has been involved in board manufacturing, product development and website management for Isle since its inception in 2004. He also writes the Isle Surf & SUP Blog. An avid surfer and paddler for the past 2 decades when hes not in the office he can be found on foreign shores searching for waves and fun.