starboard 2024 inflatable sup paddle boards

4 common ways of how to attach your SUP leash

Your SUP leash is probably the most important piece of equipment, after your board and paddle of course, for a fun and safe paddle boarding experience. Depending on your country and local area, laws may require wearing/having on board a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD), but the leash is arguably a better life saving piece of equipment as it keeps you attached to a giant floating device, that being your board. Some white water applications may require a different style of leash (or no leash), so judge the conditions for your skills and local laws.

So once we’ve chosen the right SUP leash, we need to know how to attach it correctly and securely. In the video above we’ve shown you 4 common ways of how to attach your stand up paddle board leash to your board.

For this video, we’ve used the 10′ Vamo Coiled SUP leash, with ankle attachment, our most popular style of leash.

Method 1

This method is a convenient way to attach your leash, especially relevant to inflatable SUPs as you make use of the large d-ring which allows you to connect the rail saver* section (velcro part at board end of leash) directly to the board without the need for using the pigtail string. This is a quick and easy way to attach your SUP leash. (Our preferred method for inflatables.)

Method 2

This is a more traditional method of attaching your leash. Hard SUPs usually have a sunken leash plug where you attach the pigtail string, This string then gives you a larger loop to attach the velcro’d rail saver securely to the board. On inflatables it is not so important but on regular SUPs with leash plugs, the pigtail string can sometimes pull very tight making removal of the string tricky. Which brings us to Method 3.

Method 3

This method of connecting your SUP leash takes advantage of the pigtail string (for hard SUPs or inflatables) but short of pulling it all the way through, you keep both ends up and open in a loop and thread the rail saver through. This keeps the string just as secure but looser to the leash plug or d-ring for easy connecting and disconnecting. More for hard SUPs with sunken leash plugs, it also frees up the string against the leash plug edges and avoids the string wearing out in one place over time. As shown in the video, this method also covers the pigtail string knot under the velcro, preventing it from untying by itself by accident. (Our preferred method for hard SUPs.)

Method 4

This method of attaching your leash is a combination of method 2 and some leashes that may not have a velcro rail saver. Some leashes have a sewn in pigtail string or fixed/closed rail saver strap, like the lightweight Starboard leash available with many of their inflatable boards. Overall, this style of leash is not common but it means you need to thread the whole leash through the pigtail string to create the loop for secure leash attachment. As you can see with the coiled leash, it’s a bit of a pain to pull it all the way through. Straight leashes are easier to install this way.

Attaching the leash to your ankle

This is pretty straight forward. Open the velcro cuff, slide around ankle, close velcro firmly. Job done. Happy safe paddling! And don’t forget to adhere to your local rules and regulations about safe and responsible paddle boarding.

*It is called the rail saver as older style surf boards made of foam were quite soft. The flat velcro section stopped the leash cord or pigtail string cutting into the board when pulled hard by a large wave. The flat rail saver section lays flat against the board when under load and does not cut through board. It connects the string from the leash plug to the stretchy leash cord. It also provides a handy point in which to connect or disconnect a leash.

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.