Best Surf Leash of 2023: Top Picks for Premium, Budget, and Overall

Daniel Lofaso

A surf leash should provide durability, comfort, and functionality, allowing you to spend more time catching waves and less time worrying about your equipment. 

The key factors to consider when purchasing a surf leash include its length, thickness, and attachment features such as the swivel and cuff. The ideal leash length should be roughly equal to the length of your surfboard, while a thicker leash offers greater strength and durability, suitable for larger waves and rougher surf conditions.

Over the years our team has purchased (or tested if you want to be fancy) a variety of surf leashes to identify the ones that meet the highest standards of reliability, comfort, and performance. 

In this article, I’ll help you make an informed decision and find the perfect leash to elevate your surfing experience.

Why trust our leash recommendations?

In short, because we surf. A lot. Incidentally, we are always wearing a leash. We’ve tried the different technologies, bought tried and true brands and some cheapo off-brands, have snapped leashes, have borrowed friends leashes, and have gotten injured by having the wrong leash.

Our team is comprised of surfers with varying levels of experience who have spent significant time in the water, putting leashes to the test in various conditions- weak and mushy to heavy and powerful. 

To guarantee the quality of our recommendations, we have thoroughly examined the following aspects of each leash:

  • Durability: We have assessed the leashes under various conditions to ensure they can withstand the wear and tear of regular use.
  • Comfort: We have considered the fit and feel of each leash on the ankle, paying special attention to the cuff and rail saver.
  • Strength: Our team examined the leash's strength by evaluating the material and construction, ensuring it can handle the forces exerted during heavy conditions where leash integrity is of upmost importance.

While our recommendations are based on thorough research and testing, we always encourage you to consider your personal preferences and needs in order to find the best surf leash for you.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide reliable and useful information to help you make an informed decision, so you can safely enjoy your time in the water.

SwellSpy Leashes Tested

Best Surf Leashes Overview

Our pick for

Best all-around leash

FCS 6' Competition Classic Surfboard Leash

We definitely recommend the FCS Comp Classic Surf Leash for its durability, comfort, and reliability.


High-quality construction

Comfortable ankle cuff

Easy snap closure


Limited size options

Limited color options

Not suitable for big waves

After using the FCS 6' Competition Classic Surfboard Leash, we were impressed with how well it held up during our surf sessions. Its high-quality construction, although slightly dated compared to the newer FCS leashes, is a no-frills, ideal for everyday conditions, surfing. The leash's well-crafted ankle cuff also provided both comfort and stability.

One drawback we noted was the limited size options available with the FCS 6' Competition Classic Surfboard Leash. With only a 6' length available, it may not be suitable for surfers with longer boards or those riding bigger waves. Additionally, the solid color design options of black and blue may be too simplistic for some who prefer a more eye-catching appearance on their surf leash.

All in all, we believe the FCS Comp Classic Surf Leash is the best overall leash for most surfers, particularly those who value a durable and reliable leash that offers comfort and convenience. However, for those who require longer leashes or desire more vibrant designs, this may not be the ideal choice.

Our pick for

Best everyday leash

Dakine Kainui Team 6' Surf Leash

The Dakine Kainui Team 6' Surf Leash is perfect for those in search of a high-quality leash with durability and comfort in mind and who want something a step up from a comp leash.


Ideal for up to a couple feet overhead waves

Made with 1/4" (6.5MM) top-quality urethane Dura-Cord for maximum strength

Comfortable cuff


Hook & loop closure might wear out over time

Opti-Flex leash ends could be too stiff for some users

May not be suitable for heavy conditions

Alongside FCS, Dakine is one of the most well-known brands in leashes and surf accessories. The 1/4" urethane Dura-Cord provided excellent strength, ensuring that our board stayed securely attached to us after even the most intense beatdowns.

The 1.5" molded neoprene ankle cuff was incredibly comfortable, making it easy to forget we were even wearing a leash. The leash is designed for use in up to a couple feet overhead conditions, which made it the perfect companion during our sessions in moderate-sized surf.

The only drawback we noticed was the Posi-Lock hook & loop closure, which, although secure, might wear out over time. Also, the Opti-Flex leash ends felt a bit stiff for some of our team members, making it somewhat less comfortable to use during longer sessions.

Overall, the Dakine Kainui Team 6' Surf Leash is an excellent investment for surfers looking for a high-quality, comfortable, and strong leash. Its performance in moderate-sized waves is top-notch, making it an easy recommendation for those in search of a reliable surf leash.

Our pick for

Best premium leash

FCS Freedom Helix All Around Leash

A super high performance leash that raises the bar in terms of strength, weight, and versatility with minimal downsides.


Eco-friendly bio-resin construction

Lightest ankle cuff tested

Works in waves 0-8’


Limited size options

Most expensive product tested

Cord material can give rug burn

With the advancement of new technologies in surf accessories we traditionally get products that are lighter, stronger, and more durable but include a bit of a price hike. While some surfers love having the latest and greatest products, others may enjoy the budget-friendly old-school products.

The FCS Freedom Helix is definitely in the cutting edge category with its material usage and design characteristics. What we liked most about this leash was most certainly the cuff. It is the thinnest, least bulky, and most comfortable cuff any of us had ever used. For a leash to truly feel like it doesn’t exist this is about as close as you can get.

The other highlight of this leash is that it allows you to use it in smaller conditions or when the waves get a little bigger; 0-8’ according to FCS. 

The only real con other than the nearly $60 pricetag is the cord material itself. Our testers mentioned that if they were taking some sets on the head that holding on to the cord to prevent getting pulled back was a no-no. The material of this leash cord is textured, which FCS says is to prevent drag but it will rug burn your hands. 

Our pick for

Best budget leash

Abahub Premium Surfboard Leash

The Abahub Premium Surfboard Leash offers durability and comfort, making it a great choice for surfers looking for an affordable yet reliable leash.


Durable and tangle-free design

Comfortable, anti-slip ankle cuff

Protective features for safety


Stiffness may be uncomfortable for some

Possible difficulty with heavier boards

Potential durability concerns in heavy surf

If just want the most economical leash available, the Abahub Premium Surfboard Leash is a solid option for those in need of a new leash. The 6mm TPU cord offers strength and durability, while the double anti-corrosive steel swivels keep the leash spinning smoothly to avoid tangles. It's designed for small to medium waves, so keep that in mind when assessing its suitability for your needs.

The soft neoprene ankle cuff is comfortable to wear and reduces chafing, and its double wrap-around Velcro ensures a secure fit. We also appreciate the quick-release pull tab, allowing for easy detachment if needed. The triple-wrap rail saver protects your board edge without adding drag, and the hidden key pocket is a nice, practical touch.

While the Abahub leash generally performs well, we noticed that the cord is somewhat stiffer than other leashes we've tried, which could be uncomfortable for some surfers. Additionally, it may struggle with heavier boards, and a few users reported durability issues in heavy surf conditions.

Our pick for

Best SUP leash

SYMPL Premium Surfboard Leash

The SYMPL Premium Surfboard Leash offers a strong and comfortable surfing experience, with some drawbacks in larger waves, making it our top choice for SUP surfers


Comfortable neoprene padded ankle cuff with quick release

Stainless steel double-swivels for tangle-free surfing

Available in various sizes for different board types


May not be strong enough for larger waves

Some users reported leash breakage

Not as high-quality as some competitor brands

We recently tried out the SYMPL Premium Surfboard Leash and found it to be a good, not great, option for most surfing conditions. The neoprene padded ankle cuff provides comfort and a secure fit, making it easy to surf for long periods without irritation. The quick release feature is also convenient, especially if you find yourself in a tricky situation.

One of the standout features of this leash is the stainless steel double-swivels which help prevent tangles and keep you free to move with ease. We also appreciated the variety of sizes available, catering to different board types such as shortboards, longboards, and SUP paddle boards.

However, during our time using the SYMPL Premium Surfboard Leash, some of our users reported that the leash stretched quite a bit in more demanding conditions, and a few reviews online mentioned leash breakage. Additionally, while the overall quality is satisfactory for the price, it might not compare to some more established surf leash brands.

In summary, we found the SYMPL Premium Surfboard Leash is a good option for SUP surfers who want a comfortable and tangle-free experience in moderate conditions. However, those who frequently surf in larger waves may want to consider a more robust leash to avoid potential breakages.

Our pick for

Best longboard leash

Dakine Longboard Ankle 9'6" Leash

The Dakine Longboard Ankle 9'6" Leash is a reliable and comfortable option for longboarders looking for durability and flexibility in the surf.


High-quality urethane Dura-Cord for maximum strength

2" molded neoprene ankle cuff for comfort

Opti-Flex leash ends for increased durability


May not be suitable for very large waves

Slightly more expensive than some alternatives

Limited color options

While the majority of our testers stick to shortboards, most of us have a longboard in the quiver. We checked out the Dakine Longboard Ankle 9'6" Leash during some average surf sessions, and we were quite impressed with its performance. The 1/4" (6.5MM) urethane Dura-Cord felt strong and reliable when connected to the board, and we didn't have any concerns about it breaking, even when pulling some more aggressive maneuvers.

The 2" (50MM) molded neoprene ankle cuff was comfortable to wear throughout our entire session, avoiding any chafing or irritation on the skin. We also appreciated the Posi-Lock hook & loop closure, which made it easy to secure and remove when needed.

One aspect that stood out most was the Opti-Flex leash ends, giving us confidence in the leash's durability and longevity. Even in slightly more powerful waves, the leash remained in excellent condition and didn't show any signs of wear or tear.

On the downside, we believe this leash might not be ideal for big wave surfers or those surfing in more extreme conditions. The cost is also slightly higher than some other surf leashes, but we feel the quality justifies the price as it is a longboard leash and thus has more materials.

Our picks for

Honorable Mention Leashes

Leash Buyer's Guide

Consider these features carefully to find the best surf leash for your needs. With the right leash, you'll spend less time untangling and more time enjoying the waves.


When choosing the best surf leash, the first thing to consider is the length. Make sure the leash matches the length of your surfboard. A general rule of thumb is that the leash should be at least as long as your surfboard is tall. Here are some examples:

  • Shortboard (under 6') - Use a 6' leash
  • Longboard (9' - 12') - Use a leash between 9' and 12'


Another essential factor to consider is the thickness of the leash. Thicker leashes will generally last longer and be more durable. However, they can add a bit of extra weight to your setup. There are three common thickness options:

  • Standard (7mm) - These are suitable for most surf conditions and provide a good balance of durability and weight.
  • Comp (6mm) - A lighter option, perfect for smaller waves and competitive surfing.
  • Big Wave (8mm) - If you're surfing in larger waves or heavy conditions, a thicker leash will provide added security.

Swivel Type

A good surf leash will also have swivels to prevent tangling. There are two basic types of swivels:

  • Single Swivel - These leashes have one swivel, usually located near your ankle. They reduce the likelihood of leash tangling but may not be as effective as double swivels.
  • Double Swivel - These leashes have swivels at both ends, significantly cutting down on tangles and making the leash more comfortable to wear.

Cuff Type

The cuff is the part that attaches to your ankle. There are two primary cuff styles:

  • Ankle Strap - This is the most common cuff type and typically has a comfortable, adjustable neoprene strap.
  • Calf Strap - Preferred by some longboarders as it allows for more freedom of movement and reduces tangling when walking on the board.

Surfboard Leash FAQ

When it comes to choosing the right surfboard leash, there are a few commonly asked questions which we will address in this section.

What size surfboard leash do I need?

The length of your surfboard leash should generally correspond to the length of your surfboard. For example, if you have a 6-foot surfboard, you should look for a 6-foot leash. A general rule of thumb is to add 1-foot extra to your surfboard's length, which will ensure that the leash doesn't limit your movement while still keeping your board close.

How to tie a surf leash?

Attaching your surf leash to your surfboard is a simple process. To begin, locate the leash plug on your surfboard and thread the leash string or cord through it. Next, create a loop with the string/cord and pull the rail saver (the padded section of the leash) through the loop. Finally, pull the rail saver tight, ensuring it is snug against the leash plug.

How thick of a leash should I get?

Thickness of a surfboard leash depends on factors like your surfing ability and the size of the waves you'll be riding. Here's a simple guide:

  • 1/4 inch (6.35mm): Suitable for small waves and light conditions
  • 5/16 inch (7.94mm): Ideal for medium-sized waves and intermediate surfers
  • 3/8 inch (9.53mm): Designed for larger waves and experienced surfers

Remember that thicker leashes offer greater strength and durability, but they can also create more drag in the water.

When should I replace my existing leash?

Leashes certainly don’t last forever, and considering how important they are for safety, should be replaced once they start to get too old. Some signs that you may want replace your leash are:

  • Your existing leash is stretched way beyond its original length
  • The leash feels floppy off the cuff instead of taut and secure 
  • If you’ve used it consistently over the course of a year

In conclusion, it's essential to choose the correct sized and thickness of a surfboard leash to ensure both safety and comfort while you ride those waves. By following the guidelines above, you should be well on your way to making the right choice for your surfing needs.

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