Whether you’re an experienced kayak angler, or just looking for a relaxing cruise on the water, a good kayak leash can save you from major headaches.
No one wants to lose their paddle – especially a nice carbon fiber or fiberglass one. A simple kayak paddle leash ensures your paddle stays put no matter what happens on the water.
Gone are the days of noisy, clunky, telephone-cord style leashes impeding your paddling. Newer leashes are non-invasive and ultra-light – you’ll hardly notice them at all.
I’ll break down some of the best kayak leashes available, how to pick the best one for your needs, as well as proper paddle leash attachment and usage.
Quick Answer: 5 Best Paddle Leashes
Why do you need a kayak paddle leash?
While it might not be the first thing you think of when considering kayaking gear – a paddle leash is vital – every kayaker should have one.
Capsizes happen. No matter how experienced you are, your kayak is still prone to flipping. Whether it’s a rouge swell, a hidden rock, or a collision with another watercraft, flipping your kayak can easily lead to lost paddles and gear. Make sure your paddle doesn’t end up washed up ashore for some lucky passerby to find!
If you’re a kayak angler, then you know things can get a bit hairy when you’re trying to land a big fish. You can easily lose control of your paddle in the heat of the moment. Keeping it safely tethered to your kayak makes good sense. Most paddle leashes also double as rod leashes, enabling you to securely tie down your rods.
Newer kayak leashes utilize stretchy bungee and webbing, which easily stretch and retract as you move. They’re also ultra-light, so your stroke won’t be impeded or become snagged in any way.
Lastly, a good paddle ain’t cheap! Replacing a lost paddle costs far more than a cheap paddle leash – this makes a paddle leash a great investment!
Top 5 Kayak Paddle Leashes
How to pick the right paddle leash?
There are a ton of different paddle leashes out there, some better than others. Picking the ideal one for you and your watercraft can seem like a confusing task. I’ll break down what you need to know to pick the ideal leash and keep your paddles secure.
Types of Paddle Leashes
There are quite a few different leash models out there, but the most common are coiled leashes, bungee leashes, and straight cable leashes.
Coiled leashes are typically made from coiled stainless steel covered in some type of plastic or vinyl coating. This leash style has the advantage of extending and contracting as you maneuver your paddle around your kayak or canoe. This ensures it won’t snag on anything, and won’t drag in the water slowing you down.
The downside of this leash style is that it can only stretch out so far. Due to the stainless-steel core, once you’ve extended the leash fully, there’s no more room to stretch out.
Bungee leashes are typically made from an internal bungee cord wrapped in heavy-duty nylon webbing. These leashes stretch out effortlessly, enabling you to manipulate your kayak or canoe paddle without any resistance. They’re also ultra-light, so you usually won’t notice their presence at all.
They don’t fully retract in the same manner as coiled leash paddles do. This means they can drag in the water if you’re not careful.
Straight cable leashes are exactly what they sound like. They’re typically made from durable elastic nylon, much like a typical bungee cord. These leashes will usually have an adjustable end stopper, allowing you to set the cable to your desired length.
These leashes are highly versatile and double as kayak well tie-downs, tethers for tying watercraft together, and even makeshift temporary dock lines.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a paddle leash is its length.
This is particularly important if you’re a bigger or taller paddler, or have a wider kayak, canoe or SUP. It’s also key if you’re a kayak angler and plan to use the leash to secure your rods.
The last thing you want is your paddle leash snagging and preventing you from paddling or fishing freely! Opting for a longer leash is the way to go if you want maximum freedom and versatility.
The downsides of a longer leash are that it can drag in the water causing resistance and can potentially snag on branches, gear, or debris.
One of the major advantages of paddle leashes is their versatility. You can easily tether the end to a wide variety of gear including paddles, oars, rods, stake-out poles, and landing nets.
Look for an adjustable Velcro closure if you want a leash with maximum versatility. These are easy to attach to items of differing diameter. Carabiner or clip style closures work equally well, but they require some type of loop already in place to clip on to.
How to attach a kayak paddle leash?
Where to attach your paddle leash is a topic of debate among kayakers.
Some recommend attaching the leash directly to the kayak deck by clipping it onto a padeye, deck rigging, carry handles, or seat straps.
Others believe it’s best to clip directly to your body, either to your life jacket or directly to your wrist. This reduces the risk of entanglement and insures that your paddle always remains with you in case you capsize and become separated from your kayak.
Proper Use of a Kayak Paddle Leash
Proper use of kayak paddle leash really depends on the situation, paddling environment, and personal preference.
Paddle leashes generally aren’t recommended for whitewater kayaking. The risk of entanglement, snags, and even suffocation are too high in fast-moving water.
Many sea kayakers never go out without one. Ensuring your paddle won’t get lost is paramount when your miles from dry land. This is especially important when your paddling in low light conditions – trying to retrieve a black carbon paddle at night is like finding a needle in a haystack!
The same goes for kayak anglers. Many anglers like the convenience of dropping a paddle in the water when a big fish blows up their lure.
One thing to keep in mind when using a kayak paddle leash – there is a risk of entanglement. Keeping a sharp knife handy is smart idea whenever using a leash.
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.