Leashes (or leg ropes) are an essential piece of kit for any surfer. Not only do they help prevent your board from being destroyed on the rocks, they also reduce the chance of other beach users being hit by a runaway board. Outdoria brings retailers and private sellers into one online space making it easy to find the right board leash for you.
Surfboard leashes or leg ropes have been popular among most surfers since the 1970s. On crowded beaches, a leash is an essential part of your surfing kit, ensuring that if you happen to fall off your board, it won’t stray too far.
Many other surf sport practitioners also use board leashes to keep their gear close at hand: body borders attach leashes to their wrist, while stand up paddleboarders and surf skiers also rely on the technology to further make their sport that much safer.
Board leashes are most commonly made from urethane which is strong and slightly elastic, helping absorb some of the shock experienced when the board pulls against you during a fall. At the base of the leash, close to where it connects to the board, a section of material called a 'rail saver' helps to protect the board's rails from abrasion from the leash cord.
The strap goes either around the rider's ankle or wrist (depending on their chosen discipline) and is usually made from neoprene like that used in wetsuits, making it comfortable to wear and nonabrasive. Heavy duty Velcro is used to fasten the leash around the ankle or wrist making it easy to put on and take off, while creating a strong connection that shouldn’t fail during a fall.
A good quality leg rope should feature dual swivel technology allowing both connection points – at the ankle, and at the rail saver – to rotate, stopping the line from becoming twisted and getting wrapped around your leg while moving around on the board.
The leash plug is the device that is installed into the board creating a solid connection point for the urethane cord to attach to. Plugs can wear out and come loose over time so a replacement is a good option is come cases.
Surf sport leashes come in an array of sizes and lengths specific, not only to the sport for which they are used but based on the length of the board that they are being used in conjunction with. Longboard leashes will typically be longer than those required for a fish board or short board.
While based on the same principles as surfboard and stand up paddleboard leashes, bodyboard leashes differ slightly in that they are usually much shorter, and coiled in a spring-like manner to allow the board to spring back during a fall. A body board is typically a lot lighter than a surfboard and so it can be desirable for the board to be quickly remounted after a fall without so much risk of it injuring the rider in the process.
There has been much debate since leashes first became popular among surfers as to how much safer they really make the sport. What it really boils down to is how and where you are surfing. Big wave surfers will often opt for foot straps rather than a leg rope as there is a greater chance that the board could become anchored beneath the waves holding the rider under for longer. However, if you are surfing smaller waves in close proximity to other riders and beach goers, it is essential that you wear a leg rope to ensure that your board doesn’t injure someone else if you fall.
At Outdoria, you’ll find a huge range of surf leashes, leash plugs and surf gear from outdoor stores and private sellers around Australia. Not only that, but if you head over to our editorial section, you’ll find more detailed information. Our Beginner's Guide to Surfing is a great place to start.