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No one wants to end up dropping their paddle into the water and seeing it float away or worse sink into the depths. Now some paddlers would say, “just hold on to your paddle” and there are no worries.
Unfortunately, the realities of kayaking are that at some point you’re likely to capsize and holding on to your paddle may not be so easy. At other times, you may just want your hands free and not have to worry about losing your paddle.
A paddle leash allows you the freedom and security to do other things with your hands rather than having to maintain a grip on the paddle at all times. A paddle leash is a line that is connected to your paddle with either a velcro strip or a cinch lock strap and attaches to either you or your kayak using a carabiner or clip.
So, for those of you interested in maintaining a secure connection with your only means for propelling your kayak, the paddle, we offer this guide to finding the best kayak paddle leash.
Reasons for a Kayak Paddle Leash
There are the purests or those who feel a paddle leash isn’t warranted or is overkill. This is probably all well and good, up until the moment you lose control of your paddle. Most paddles manufactured today float and we would strongly recommend not purchasing a paddle that does not. If your current paddle doesn’t float a paddle leash is a must.
Besides the potential for capsizing and losing your paddle there are other times you will want to be able to have your hands free, yet secure your paddle. Let's look at a few examples for reasons you’ll want to consider having a paddle leash:
- No matter how skilled or experienced a kayaker you are, things happen that are beyond your control when kayaking. Below the surface can be unseen obstructions (a fallen tree, rocks), an unexpected wave or swell, strong currents, other kayakers or watercraft or a low hanging tree limb, all of which holds the potential for flipping a kayak.
- Anglers are increasingly choosing to use kayaks as a means to access hot fishing spots. Being able to be hands free when the big one hits is essential. Additionally, a paddle leash can be used as a rod leash.
- Kayaks give you access to otherwise unreachable areas of nature, offering amazing views of the environment, landscapes and wildlife. Many kayakers take advantage of this unique opportunity, photographing the sights and scenery.
- If you’re out on the lake for some relaxation in the sun, a little cat nap or maybe to read a book, a paddle leash allows you simply let your paddle float alongside the kayak.
- If you are like a lot of kayakers, your four legged buddy comes with you when you go kayaking. Getting into and out of the kayak can require some assistance and you don’t want to have to hold your paddle while doing so. A paddle leash allows you to focus on your pal, if the need arises, and not worry about losing your paddle.
- Getting in and out of a kayak can be an adventure at times, especially if you have flipped and are trying to reenter your kayak. A leash gives you one less worry when your focus needs to be on getting in or out of the kayak.
- A quality kayak paddle is not cheap. Replacing a lost paddle is far more expensive than investing in a paddle leash.
- Even if you are not dissuaded by the thought of having to purchase a replacement paddle, it’s important to understand that you will greatly reduce your ability to propel your kayak without a paddle. Even if you are able to somehow retrieve your paddle, it’s going to come after experiencing some anxiety, exerting significant energy and likely ruining, at least a portion of your adventure.
The design and construction of paddle leashes has come a long way. The latest leashes utilize flexible cord systems, so they easily stretch and retract. In addition, they are lightweight, so as to not impede or restrict your ability to paddle.
There are a variety of reasons and benefits for having and using a paddle leash and we have only provided a few examples above. So, now that you have decided to save yourself some pain and aggravation, let us provide you with recommendations for the top paddle leashes for you to consider:
Best Kayak Paddle Leashes Reviews
1. YYST Orange Paddle Leash
The YYST Orange Paddle leash receives favorable customer ratings due to the high quality construction and durability. This product will stand up even under harsh salt-water conditions. The hook used to attach the leash to your kayak or personal flotation device is made from an anti-corroding thick aluminum and has a stainless steel wire gate with a wide opening that easily attaches to your kayak.
The woven nylon-wrapped cord is versatile, flexible and easily adjustable. It will provide a secure connection between you and your paddle, while being extremely comfortable and not inhibiting your ability to paddle. The bright orange color makes it easy to spot in the water. The leash cord is 36 inches long when contracted and will extend, when fully stretched, to 72 inches, making it ideal for any application.
The attachment to the paddle is a velcro adjustable loop with a maximum diameter of 2 inches. The leash is lightweight and not bulky, easily fitting into your pocket or backpack when transporting. YYST offers you the ability to choose from a variety of quantities when purchasing.
2. CK (Campingandkayaking) Paddle Leash
The CK paddle leash is made in the USA and provides a product that is easy use and requires minimal effort to attach and release. There is no hook and loop to fail with this product.
The 3 black gear leashes include, 1 leash for your paddle and 2 additional leashes for your fishing rods or other light gear. This gear pack provides a great deal of flexibility in uses. If you need a longer leash, you can simply loop the 2 additional leashes together to make one longer leash.
The cord is textured and is not slippery. The woven construction allows the bungee to stretch but is not a loose elasticity. The cord will elongate up to 20 inches providing sufficient ability to paddle while keeping it from restricting your movements.
This product is lightweight and durable with a stainless steel gate that will stand up even in salt-water.
3. Premier Kayak Gripper Paddle Leash
The Premier Kayak Gripper Paddle Leash is a straightforward design utilizing a shock cord. This leash is designed for those paddlers who would rather not use a coiled, bungee style leash. If you are one of those paddlers that prefers a looser leash the Premier is one you should check out.
The leash has a super strong, durable and lightweight design and a generous 4 feet of shock cord that suits all paddling styles. The materials used are corrosion resistant and this product is made in the USA with a lifetime warranty.
The paddle strap has a gripper insert that prevents the strap from sliding up or down the paddle shaft. The strap stretches to fit all paddles.
The shock cord and nylon fasteners were specifically designed to withstand harsh conditions including saltwater. The leash is versatile enough to be used with fishing rods or other lightweight gear.
4. Boncas Paddle Leash
The Boncas paddle leash has received favorable customer reviews for it’s gripping gear leash with an innovative gel grip. This product is made from sturdy materials that are durable enough to withstand harsh conditions.
The Boncas leash is made of a high quality woven, anti-tearing nylon. The cord attachment is a D-shaped carabiner made of aluminum alloy that is rust and corrosion proof when in saltwater. The paddle connection is made with an innovative anti-slipping gel grip design that keeps it from moving up or down on the paddle.
The cord is elastic and is able to elongate to almost twice it’s length. Unstretched the leash is 35 inches long and when stretched the bungee section extends to 55 inches. Boncas offers this product in a 3 or 5 pack option. For an extra long leash, 2 leashes can be looped together to make one.
5. Adjustable Kayak Safety Paddle Leash
As the name implies this paddle leash is extremely adjustable providing the optimal gear to allow you to paddle without obstruction. With very favorable customer reviews this package offers 2 identical bright red leashes with adjustable loops. When retracted the internal bungee of the leash measures 36 inches.
The leash clip is made from a hard, solid and durable plastic with a stainless steel wire gate. The materials used in constructing this product allows it to stand up in harsh conditions, including saltwater.
The paddle connection is an adjustable velcro loop for easy use when attaching or releasing the leash. The unique design allows you to remove the loop, which is attached to a second clip and gate. This option allows you a variety of applications for connecting to other gear, another kayak or as a dock tie down on shore.
Choosing a Kayak Paddle Leash: Buyers Guide
There is a wide variety and selection of kayak paddle leashes on the market, making choosing one a bit of a challenge. The following are a few features to consider in finding the best kayak paddle leash for you:
Type of Leash
There are three types of kayak paddle leashes and choosing one comes down to your personal preferences and intended uses:
- Coiled: A coiled leash extends and retracts as you go through your paddle motion, thus avoiding restricting your movement. The leash won’t hang in the water avoiding any drag or resistance.
- Bungee: This leash has an internal bungee that is wrapped in nylon material. The advantage is this leash stretches and retracts avoiding resistance and is very lightweight. Unlike the coiled leash the bungee can potentially drag in the water under certain circumstances.
- Straight: This style is made using a straight shock cord for paddlers who prefer a looser leash. For individuals who aren’t concerned with drag, want to avoid any resistance or interference and want a highly versatile product, you may find this the best option for a leash.
The length of your paddle leash is an important consideration for the following issues:
- Taller or larger individuals or if you have a wide kayak necessitates having a longer leash.
- Anglers who will use the leash to secure fishing rods will need to factor in length to avoid snagging or restricting your movements.
- Longer leashes provide the greatest versatility and freedom.
- Shorter leashes, especially coiled and bungee products, help to avoid resistance and dragging in the water.
- Shorter leashes are especially important if you are kayaking in areas that potentially have obstructions (tree branches, plant growth) or in the case of whitewater kayaking when you want to avoid any resistance.
If you plan to use your leash for multiple purposes (fishing rods, other gear, dock tie) versatility should be factored into the decision. An adjustable velcro closure provides flexibility to fit a variety of attachment points. A leash with a loop connector can be used on larger connection points and provides the option to loop two leashes together for one longer leash.
No matter your skill level or experience the reality is that at some point you’re going to lose control of your paddle or the circumstances will be such that you want to have your hands free without having to worry about securing your paddle.
Don’t let the great adventure of kayaking be spoiled by losing control of your paddle. An extra level of security, knowing your paddle won’t get away from you is well worth the relatively minimal cost of a paddle leash.
Let us know in the comments section what leash you choose. Happy paddling.
For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, please visit the following articles.
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.