by David Dorn, 8/9/2014


Kite leashes are a safety device that keeps the kite connected to the rider. Kite leashes give the rider the option to release the bar without losing the kite. Kite leashes are an important part of a kite’s complete safety system. All powerful kites used in traction sports should come equipped with a safety leash. Kite leashes are recommended by all manufacturers of kiteboarding kites. Mandatory Kite leash use is considered as a community standard, and are one of the most important safety requirements of all  kiteboarding training systems.


Pros vs. Cons:

Advantages: The advantages of leashes are many; they improve kiteboarder safety by keeping the kite attached to the rider after they release the bar. This helps after accidentally unhooking from the chicken loop. And also for riders doing unhooked tricks. In addition when a kiteboarder has a problem with the gear, example: with  tangled lines, it allows them to release the bar, activate the trim loop quick release (QRTL),  and activate the kite’s maximum depower system, without losing the kite. This gives the rider the option to release the bar and use the QRTL, without creating a risk to other kiters and bystanders  by releasing the kite completely. After the bar and QRTL release the kite should fully depower, and give the rider the option to do a self-rescue. In some cases the rider can reset the safety system and continue riding (experts only). In the case of an emergency self-rescue the kite can be used and a transport device and life raft. A rider without a kite is more at risk without a way to return to shore, and is much less visible to rescue.

Disadvantages: Kite leashes can fail, by breaking or quick release failure. Inadequate or poorly maintained leashes are more prone to failure. Excessively long leashes may get tangled on the bar, or around the rider. Injury from the leash is possible, especially where sharp hooks are used. Thin leashes can get caught around hands and limbs. Leashes used incorrectly can be safety hazard, and may not function properly. Exact Leash use may vary for different manufacturer and models.


Design & function:

To improve the efficacy and function of kite leashes, they should be recent design, kept in good condition, checked (tested) often, they should be no longer than necessary, reasonably thick, and they should have the least amount of hardware (hooks, clips). They should be simple, and streamlined to avoid tangling.


Kiteboarding leashes are for public safety:

Any loose kite can cause injuries to people and property. Loose kites can cause serious injury and even death to bystanders. Kite leashes are required to protect public safety and reduce risk to the general community.


Manufacturers Specifications:

All major kiteboarding brands require the use of kiteboarding leashes/ All major brands supply kiteboarding leashes with their bars. Leashes are part of the overall safety system. Using the leash incorrectly can cause injury and death. To operate the leash correctly the rider should refer to the designers specifications, in the owner’s manuals, as well as check for updates with the distributor, or a certified kiteboarding instructor.


Quick Releases:

Kite leashes must incorporate a quick release device to allow the rider to release in an extreme emergency. The quick release must always be located at the rider’s end so that the rider can reach the quick release in an emergency. The quick release should be accessible and be able to be operated with either hand. The quick release should also be able to function whilst the leash is under load. It is recommended that leashes are located on the front of the harness to allow easy access, and visual confirmation. Leashes worn on the riders back, are more dangerous, and can cause injury and death, because they cannot always be accessed in an emergency. Back mounted “Handle pass leashes” should only be worn by advanced riders engaged in “handle-pass” maneuvers.


Correct Usage:

Kite leashes must be used correctly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Kite leashes must be appropriate to their purpose.

Kite leashes must be attached to the rider’s harness with a quick release device. Kite leashes must be attached to the correct part of the kite control system, to initiate a kite depower when activated. Kite leashes should not be misused. Kite leashes should be attached to the specific attachment point recommended by the manufacturers safety system design, according to their operational manual. In some cases several options may be available. The safest option should always be used unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise. Suicide and semi-suicide systems are not recommended for normal use. Leashes vary in design. Be sure to learn the correct function of your individual leash, Learn how to reset the leash quick release correctly. And learn the exact attachment points of the kite leash of the kite bar’s control system.


Care & maintenance:

Kite leashes should be replaced every 2-3 years. Every year with heavy use. New designs come out every 3 years. Leases older than 3 years should be considered obsolete and new versions and designs will be better. Newer leashes can usually be retrofitted to older kite bars (Check to confirm this with manufacturers).  Rinse leashes with water after use to remove sand and grit. Preferable use fresh water after use, and allow it to dry completely before putting away. Test the leash quick release before every session.


Common Problems:

Old kite leashes can fail; they can break and cause injury, homemade leashes are not recommended, Inverted leashes: (QR at the kite end) are extremely dangerous). Thin leashes can cause injuries. Possible injury from sharp hooks. Too much hardware: (carabineers, shackles, hooks) that may get tangled. Jammed Quick Releases, from sand/grit/salt, Incorrectly reset QR’s, and using incorrect location point on bar’s safety system.