Stab Magazine | What's A Comp Leash Actually Good For?

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What’s A Comp Leash Actually Good For?

Smaller surf conditions, impromptu dog walking, or a last minute BDSM toy, just to name a few.

hardware // Aug 30, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Most surfers do not compete in sanctioned events.

We compete for waves, ego, and oftentimes the opposite (or same) sex, but none of those prizes requires the stress of a 15-minute heat or the embarrassment of an ugly-colored lycra – they’re just perks of everyday surfing.

Considering how small a percentage of surfers concern themselves with judges and bullhorns, it’s curious that most major hardgoods companies offer a “comp leash” as their primary board-corralling option.

So what exactly is a “comp leash” and why should (or shouldn’t) you buy one?

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Stab‘s Jake Embrey wears two cords (both comps!) for maximum safety in smaller surf.

In our experience, and from everything we’ve been able to gather from a leash-intensive internet search, comp leashes are merely a thinner, lighter version of the “normal” surf leash.

They’re designed to create minimal drag, so that the “competitive” surfer will lose the least amount of speed while maintaining his or her ability to keep the board close after a fall.

For all intents and purposes, it is surfing’s “high performance” leash.

But as is true with most things “high performance”, the comp leash’s sleek design leaves little room for practical characteristics like strength and durability, which makes the comp leash more likely to stretch and ultimately break than it’s thicker, heavier cord equivalents.

Like a “team-lite” surfboard whose glass-job is lighter than Carissa Moore’s swear jar, the comp leash is not designed to last. Rather, its purpose is to provide the wearer with a short-term performance advantage in (typically) smaller surf, where the drag of a standard cord can feel like a noose around your surfing’s neck.

So assuming you’re part of the majority surfing class who refuses to don the singlet, does it even make sense to purchase this piece of leg floss?

We say yes.


If it weren’t for the comp leash, Kanoa never could have performed all those high speed claims after winning this year’s US Open. Photo: WSL

Comp leashes are fucking magical, if we’re being honest.

They’re incredibly light, they get in the way less often, and in my experience they’re really not that easy to snap (in underhead conditions).

Using a comp leash roughly four times a week, I’d be surprised if I broke more than three in a year.

And when most brands charge around $30 USD for their performance cords, that’s a burden I’m willing to bear in return for a year of weightless sliding.

Just remember to buy your comp leash shorter than usual (because it stretches), make sure to switch it for a thicker one when the waves get overhead, and always put apply it under your suit!

Here are a few of our favorite comp leashes, if you happen to be in the market:  

FCS Comp Essential: $32 USD

Pro-Lite Super Comp: $24 USD

Creatures Comp 6: $29 USD


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