Leashes are pretty important. They do a few handy things. First, you’re not swimming into the beach every time you fall on a set wave. Your precious surfboard isn’t getting bashed against the rocks, either. And perhaps the best thing they do — unless you’re a strange, selfish person — is they protect other surfers from your wayward knife as it bounces through a crowded lineup. Oh, there are surely a few redeemable things about surfing without a leash, like the strange feeling of freedom one gets and learning how to surf without simply doing flyaway airs with no sense of where your board is going. But for the most part, leashes are a good thing. Since it’s always leash season, here are six of our favorites.
1. Wave Tribe ECO Surfboard Leash: $29.95 – $35.95
If you’re looking for a solid brand made for and by real surfers who care about the environment, look no further than Wave Tribe. While it’s not one of the heavy hitters in the surfing industry (yet) the folks over at Wave Tribe make gear that they use themselves, so they make it the best it can be. They have some of the best board bags on the market that last seemingly forever and protect your surfboards better than pretty much anything else on the market, and the leashes are built with the same mindset. Want more? They’ll replace your leash for free if it breaks within a year, no questions asked. We’ve chosen their longboard leash for inclusion here because, well, it’s a dang-good longboard leash. With double swivel technology, this thing’s not getting jammed up. The whole thing is made of recycled materials, and it’s just as strong — if not stronger — than any other leash. Same goes for the velcro. It’s not coming undone. These leashes have been thoroughly tested at places like Maverick’s and Teahupoo. And of course, they’ve got the handy little key stash pocket. Buy here
2. Ocean & Earth Premium One-XT: 36.99
Ocean & Earth is known for making a leash you can trust. You know that awful feeling when you’re underwater and you suddenly feel a little ting and all the tension goes out of your leash? Probably won’t happen. Especially the Premium model. With a seven millimeter cord diameter and an innovative rail saver system, the Premium One XT eliminates the need for end joins, which are the weakest point of regular leashes. The dual anchor swivels are made from marine-grade, stainless, anti-corrosive material, and they use something called controlled stretch urethane. That means the larger the wave, the more stretch you’re getting, which, of course, means you’re safer from the dreaded snap-back. Buy here.
3. FCS Competition Essential Leash: $29.99 – $34.95
FCS’s Comp leash series are great for the surfer who doesn’t surf the biggest waves on a day-to-day basis. They’re made not so much for strength, but to be light, super comfortable, and relatively durable. Don’t use this one if you’re surfing waves over, say, 6-feet regularly. Buy here.
4. Dakine Kainui Team Surfboard Leash:$29.95
Dakine’s been in the biz for a long time now. They’ve been making leashes since 1979, and since then, they’ve done their fair share of product development. The Kainui team leash is one of their most tried and tested, and the eight-foot version is made for those days when you need a little more length. Made from quarter-inch (6.5mm) urethane Dura-Cord, the chances of it breaking are slim, and the neoprene cuff molds to your ankle. Buy here.
5. Channel Islands Surfboards Super Comp: $27.00
Channel Islands has a unique technology they use in their leashes called Hex-Cord. It makes for an ultra-thin leash that maintains the strength of far thicker leashes. After a lot of years of team testing, they found that it stretches less and kinks less than the traditional cylindrical leash. With a precision swivel and quick-dry neoprene, the CI Super Comp is a fantastic everyday leash for the surfer who doesn’t want to feel like they’re dragging a length of bull kelp behind them. Buy here.
6. RYD Layback
The founders of RYD Brand have two decades of gear-making experience. Their entire goal is to make great gear, and make great gear they do. All of their leashes are built are designed with an ergonomic quick-release cuff, a double swivel mechanism and marine-grade stainless steel, as well as a triple wrap tail saver so you can be confident that your leash isn’t going to damage your board. Buy here.