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
This set of two leashes is the perfect solution for lashing paddles, rods, and any other gear you don’t want to lose on the water. The construction is rock-solid, with heavy-duty clips, Velcro, and paracord attachments.
The inner stainless-steel core – combined with the UV protected exterior polyvinyl – ensures the leash won’t break down no matter how rough the conditions get. The coiled stainless-steel leash never loses its form and snaps back into its compact 2-foot form instantly.
At 6’ long when fully extended, the leash provides enough room to easily move your paddle or rod around your vessel without snags. A convenient removable clip is attached to paddle end, allowing you to quickly and easily swap the leash from one paddle or rod to another.
- Length: 6’ (extended), 2’ (retracted)
- Heavy-duty construction.
- Vinyl-coated coiled stainless steel extends and retracts effortlessly.
- Removable paddle end clip allows you to swap between paddles, rods and other gear.
This paddle leash 2-pack is tough, salt-water ready, and easy to spot on the water. The bright red color provides a sharp contrast against the water – allowing you to quickly retrieve any dropped paddle or rod from the surface.
The stretchy bungee leash easily extends out to maneuver the paddle in any direction. An adjustable loop allows you to easily attach the leash to paddles or fishing rods.
The rust-free clips utilize tough plastic and stainless steel, ensuring they don’t rust from use in and around saltwater.
Due to the versatile design, this leash works well for kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddleboarding. The clips also function well as a dock line for temporary use.
- Length: 36” when not stretched.
- The bright red color is easy to spot on the water’s surface.
- Versatile design works well for a variety of tasks.
- Rust-free clips are ideal for saltwater use.
These brightly colored orange paddle leashes are not only well-made and salt-water ready, but they’re also easy to spot on the water. The leash can easily be extended from 36” to 72”, enabling easy maneuvering of your paddle or fishing rod.
Available in packs of 4, 3, 2 and 1, you can easily get one to attach to your paddle, stake out pole, plus one for each rod.
The aluminum hook and stainless steel closure are sturdy and durable, easily holding up to hard use around salt-water. The leash itself is made from a stretchy and durable woven nylon-wrapped bungee cord.
- Length: 36” (unstretched), 72” (stretched)
- Available in packs of 4, 3, 2 and 1.
- The bright orange nylon leash is highly visible on the water.
- Aluminum and stainless steel clips are durable and saltwater ready.
Versatile, compact and endlessly functional, this leash works well for kayak paddles, fishing rods and lashing down gear to a canoe or SUP. The leash is ultra-light and compact, making it easy to roll up and stash in a backpack or pants pocket.
Measuring 44 inches when not stretched, the leash expands to an impressive 67 inches when fully stretched out. This allows you to effortlessly maneuver your paddle or rod without getting snagged.
A unique feature for this leash is the adjustable spring stopper. It acts as the tether for your paddle, which allows you to adjust the leash to your desired length.
The leash has a multitude of uses besides tethering your paddle. It works equally well as a bungee cable, kayak-well tie-down cable, or even tie for attaching several kayaks together while anchored.
- Length: 44” (unstretched), 67” (stretched)
- Adjustable end stopper allows you to set the leash to your desired length.
- The versatile leash has a multitude of uses.
- Durable and compact design.
This well-made leash works equally well for paddles or fishing rods. Its bright neon green color is super high contrast, making it easy to spot on the surface.
The leash itself is made from stretchy bungee sheathed in heavy-duty tubular webbing, making it effortless to stretch out during your paddle stroke. A quick-release buckle and Velcro make attaching to paddles or rods quick and easy.
The snap hook end is durable, high-quality, and even swivels. It’s easy to attach to your kayak, canoe, SUP or life vest.
The leash measures 32” when not stretched, and 48” when fully extended.
- Length: 32” (unstretched), 48” (stretched)
- Well-made, durable construction.
- High-viz green color is easy to spot.
- Quick-release buckle is easy to attach to paddles or rods.
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 kayak 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.