Stand up paddling is an activity nearly everyone will enjoy.  Recent survey’s conducted showed the popularity of SUP growing at a tremendous rate.  Stand up paddle boarding was listed as the #1 sport in terms of new participants in 2015.   With all of the newcomers, some paddlers might think having a board and a paddle is all you really need to go out on the water.  Some thought and consideration to SUP safety must be a priority.

Safety for your Stand up Paddle Board Adventures

US Coast Guard classifies stand up paddle boards as vessels, which requires all participants to wear an approved PFD at all times.  In addition, the National Center for Cold Water Safety defines cold water at 77 degrees Fahrenheit or below, so proper water immersion gear is also necessary for many areas.

SUP Alta Lake
Two SUP paddlers enjoy and early spring float.

The SUP leash is overlooked in paddle board safety.  Things may change quickly, even on flat water.  Cold water, strong currents and even wind can separate a paddler from their board very quickly.  Therefore, a SUP leash may be referred to as a life-line while in an emergency situation on the water.

Smart SUP paddler’s will minimize and often eliminate most of their risk by choosing to use a SUP leash.   Furthermore specific SUP activities require different leashes.  Let’s take a look at some of the major differences in SUP leashes.



Best SUP leashes for surf will be at least 1 foot longer than the paddle board.  Look for a medium thickness, six (6) millimeters or thicker straight leash.  The straight variety will not tangle as easily as the coiled version and will allow the board to move away from your body without ricocheting back.  SUP surfers tend to use a calf style leash, helping to keep their feet free to cross step along the board.


Placid lake paddlers like to use a calf style coiled leash.  Most coiled variety will keep the leash from dragging in the water and be free from tangle around the foot area.
Coiled leashes do have their downside and have been known to ricochet back at the paddler in a fall.  Good practice will have paddlers fall with their feet towards the SUP and use their hands to protect their face and head in case of a ricochet.

River/ Whitewater

Special attention must be given to SUP leash selection for rivers.  An ideal leash for river SUP will be a coiled leash equipped with a quick release.  Paddlers should attach it around the waist or PFD to keep it from dangling in the water and potentially catching or snagging on the bottom.

The Float Shack offers both a coiled and coiled quick release leash for your SUP rental.  Most of all, your safety is our main concern therefore, we will choose the correct leash for your chosen float area and be sure to demonstrate the correct use and emergency release each and every time you choose to float with us.

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