starboard 2024 inflatable sup paddle boards

Calf or ankle? Coiled or straight? Which style of SUP leash is right for you

The SUP leash is a crucial part of your stand up paddle boarding set up. When purchasing your SUP leash, there are a few things to consider. You’ll want to think about the style of SUP paddling you’ll be doing, where you will be paddling and a few personal preferences to remember – for comfort or safety. Basically, there are currently 4 standard leash combinations available and we sell 3 of those in our SUP leashes section. We carry leashes by Dakine and Vamo.

Read why using a SUP leash is so important here.

So to the options you have. Attachment points are usually either around your ankle or around your calf (just below the knee). You can get either attachment point in a coiled or straight leash version.

That said, to be 100% clear, because it is a matter of safety, calf and ankle leash attachment points are not the only options. For heavy white water river use, it is advised to use a waist leash and release system. This ensures you are able to reach your release mechanism in case of an emergency. We do not currently stock the waist systems.

Calf Dakine SUP LeashSo, why would you choose calf over ankle, straight over coiled and vice versa…?

The calf attachment point is favoured by surfers who like to walk the board as they ride the wave. It keeps the leash away from their feet and avoids tangling. It has carried over into other SUP areas as, for some, the calf is easier to reach than your ankle! Just kidding, no really. Around the calf can me more comfortable for some when you are just cruising around the flats. For racers, it helps keep the leash out of the water to minimise drag. Some find the calf attachment leash can be tough on their knee joint in bigger wipeouts or uncomfortable pulling on their calf muscle.

The release of a calf leash is easier as it is closer to hand.

The ankle attachment point is usually the preferred option of most wave paddlers. It seems to be the most comfortable when getting pulled by a wave and/or it is easier to pull the board back to you as you have more leg to kick back to tug the board back. It doesn’t pull against your knee funny or your calf muscle but it can give your ankle an almighty tweak when it really tugs. For flat water paddlers, it really is a matter of comfort and routine. When I paddle flats, the leash is always around my ankle.

However, the nature of it being down on your ankle, can make it hard to release if you need to.

Stand up paddle leash tucked awayNow, do you go straight or go wild and get the curly coiled leash?

Choosing between a straight or coiled leash usually involves the style of paddling you normally do. In the surf you want the board away from you. A straight leash at least as long as the board so that you are safe as you get pounded by waves. For racing, a coiled leash keeps it out of the water and minimises drag and keeps it close so you can quickly rejoin the race. A coiled leash is also great for general flat water paddling as it stops a lot of tangles around your feet and other items. A straight leash is more traditional and therefore many are more comfortable with a straight SUP leash.

As you can see in the photo above, I’ve got my straight, ankle attachment surf leash tucked into my shorts as I paddle the river. It doesn’t snag logs or weed and doesn’t slow me down!

View all the leashes we have in stock in our SUP leashes section.

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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.