Do You Need An Ankle or Calf Leash For A Paddle Board?

One of the most important components of a stand up paddle board is the leash. It comes in two varieties – ankle or calf SUP leash.

Also read: How to transport stand up paddle board without roof rack

So, what kind of leash should I use for SUP? This is a very common question among SUP beginners. Today, we are going to look at it in detail.

Why is a paddle board leash important?

Ankle or Calf SUP Leash

The leash is actually a safety component because it keeps you attached to the stand up paddle board. If you fall in the water, it is possible for the board to float away if it is not attached to your leg by the leash.

Another reason why you need this leash is that it boosts your confidence on the water. Since it is for safety, it makes you feel safer and thus, you have peace of mind to learn how to SUP faster and easily.

Do not leave your paddle board at the mercy of the wind and the waves if you fall into the water. Rather, keep it attached to your leg. That way, you just have to worry about the stand up paddle, which by the way floats on water.

If you have been asking: Do I need a leash for SUP? The answer is yes. This is the one thing that will ensure you go back home with your board. It is not an option. You must have it.

Usually, paddle board leashes come as standard with the SUP board that you buy. However, if you have to buy one separately, click the button below, to see various varieties on


Types of paddle board leashes

When looking for a SUP leash, you will find that some come in straight design while others come in a coiled design.

Apart from that, some of the leashes are supposed to be cuffed to the ankle while others are for the waist, knee or calf.

The straight leash is mostly used for surfing. Thus, you are most likely going to find it on surfboards. The coiled leash on the other hand is shaped like a spring and it is found on solid or inflatable paddle boards.

1. Calf Cuff/Knee Leash

The knee or cuff leash is not too different from the ankle ones. In addition, they work in almost the same way so the only difference is where you wear them.

Some sources say that these leashes are best for open water stand up paddle boarding, but really, that is not an issue.

Whether you use this leash for paddle boarding in the river or in the open water, it is going to serve you just fine. The leash attachment is larger so that it can fit on the calf area of your leg.

2. Ankle leash

The ankle leashes are very common and they come with most boards. Like their counterparts the knee leashes, even these ones are very useful in open water stand up paddle boarding. The leash attachment is narrower because it is supposed to go to the ankle.

3. Quick-release leash

Today, we have the quick-release leashes that you can reach fast with your hand and release. It comes with a toggle release system that you can reach with your hand and detach yourself fast from the leash.

The most important thing about the SUP leash ankle or calf is that it comes with a quick release system. If the leash is snagged on debris in the water, you can reach it fast and release it.

It is recommended that you make a habit of wearing the leash on the same leg. That way, you know where to reach if you need to release it fast.

4. Waist leash

Ankle or Calf SUP Leash

In some cases, you might find the need to wear a waist leash. This kind of leash is used in whitewater stand up paddle boarding. It is also used when surfing or paddle boarding in serious waves.

This leash comes with a speed release mechanism, so you can reach and detach yourself fast in case of an emergency. The waist leash can either be coiled or straight.

If you are wearing your personal flotation device, you will need to wear this leash over it.

What kind of leash should I use for SUP?

Usually, when people ask this question, they want to know what they should choose between a straight and coiled leash.

Image of ankle or calf SUP leash

For sports SUP where every moment counts, you should get a coiled leash. The longer part of the coiled SUP leash stays out of the water and it creates zero to minimal drag.

For casual paddle boarding, the straight-line leash that drags in the water should not be a problem. It can be either a calf or ankle leash.

Conclusion for Ankle or Calf SUP Leash

What should you buy between the ankle or calf SUP leash, or even the waist leash? Well, it depends.

If you are taking part in an SUP race, you should go for the waist leash. You get to wear it on your personal flotation device and better yet, it comes with a fast release mechanism just in case you need to detach yourself fast.

For calm water and casual stand up paddle boarding, you should get the ankle or calf leash. Either is going to serve your needs very well. You just have to choose between coiled and straight leashes.

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