We were recently contacted to try out a leash from a new to us company MetaLeash. Completely redesigned with several goals in mind...
- Made entirely in the USA
- Swap in quality parts that will not rust or break
- Factor in every aspect of safety
- Improve performance by being smaller and lighter
Salem contact me to share that they had started the company MetaLeash. Having had two friends tragically drown, they are determined to create a product that helps paddlers be more safe. Often times we get a leash and think we are doing all that needs to be done to keep our board or canoe or ski attached to us and we are immortal. But rarely do we put these leashes to the test. Many of them are all from the same parent production house and have different logos placed on them, and in turn have the same design flaws.
I admit myself to fall into this category. But coming from a surfing background I have certain come across some leashes that are superior to others. So as a paddler, I should know better!
MetaLeash has been around and developing their product for three years. The products are made in the USA, with main components coming from 3 different US manufacturers and final assembly in house. They have factored in using hardware made for climbing and hardware made for marine environments. they have factored in how in the water we have buoyant falls versus gravitational falls, etc. Realistically there is a lot that can go into the design of a leash. As Salem put it, "It's a pretty boring accessory until it fails, bangs incessantly, chafes or what have you." We could not agree more.
First thing we noticed when we opened it up was the bright colors which we opted for when given the choice for this review (they offer many options to customize). Our variations is neon orange cuffs/belt, red coil, with blue ties. Often times leashes are black, maybe some color to match the craft, but this one is hi-vis which as you have probably figured out, something we are big proponents of.
The second thing we noticed which was a HUGE departure from the leashes we normally see, was the belt and cuff are more like a dog collar. Tight woven, minimal height (1"), and get this, no velcro! That is right, instead of velcro, they have opted for a male/female squeeze buckle. The belt and cuff had some cool water drop design repeated along the length with the name "meta" repeated in an accenting yellow every 6 inches or so. Not obtrusive. The belt and cuff were stitched in very clean contrast stitching with an "x" in a square and two additional redundant horizontal seams. AND centered perfectly in the bands. Why do I mention this? Because you can tell this was not a mass-produced with zero care was taken in it. When the entire lifespan of the product can depend on this aspect it is nice to see. (Plus my wife is a seamstress so I know how important it is for strength and quality).
Other observations included that one can swap between the cuff and belt options we were shipped (when you purchase you can opt for either or both). So if we paddle SUP, we can use the metal buckle and clip onto the belt. And then when we want to paddle OC, surf ski or prone, we can un-clip and swap in the cuff which fits on the upper calf (ankle wear is not recommended by the manufacturer). We were able to adjust the sizing for either using collar like tensioners which tighten or loosen when you feed the material in our out. We like this versatility on the 'person' end of the leash. As for the other end, a leash string approach to loop into, slip under, through, or around the connecting point on the vessel and then the rest of the leash gets fed through.
Attaching the leash to my craft was straight forward. As was adjusting the buckles for the first time to fit my leg and waist. Un-clipping from the body takes a little getting used to. As usually you just find the tab on the velcro and rip it off. I have written an entire article on how important it is to quickly be able to put on and take your leash off for safety reasons. So this will require the same practice I do when I use a velcro leash. Not worse, or better. Just different. And since a buckle will likely last longer than velcro (which collects sand, debris) and won't run the risk of chaffing if not put on perfectly, I think this might be a more solid solution. Plus in the main purpose here, preventing a canoe or board from getting ripped away from you, this solution of a buckle strikes me as stronger.
Some other things I like are the weight of the MetaLeash is lighter than my normal leash by a few ounces. Considering people spend all sorts of money to have light craft for performance reasons, I can see scenarios where a paddler might opt to not put on a leash to be faster in a race environment or opt to have it and wonder "what it". Knowing this leash is lighter at only 4.5 ounces (half the weight of typical leashes according to their website) it might help someone shave a bit of weight and maybe nudge in front of that rival you have been battling. Or at least give you a mental edge. :)
Smaller is better. This leash is smaller than my normal leash but extends to just as long. This will be nice when I am trying to not have it distract me sitting on my outrigger canoe or surf-ski or standing on my paddleboard.
In theory this leash floats. While myself or my craft also float I am not sure when this would come in handy, but I wanted to list it since it can only be a good thing.
The only parts of the MetaLeash design I am not a big fan of, is where the cuff and belt meet the leash. The metal on metal joint can possibly rattle or make noise which might get annoying when I move my legs. That said, if anyone is concerned about this, the manufacturer suggested reaching out and they will craft a custom solution for you. Finally, the fact that there is a buckle might sit oddly on my body in some situations, like my ankle bone or shin if on my leg. But unless I am mid-race and it shifted, I figure I could very easily just slide it around to a more comfortable spot should it be bugging me. These issues are really pretty nit-picky.
This leash and its materials have been very thoughtfully crafted. Having a paddle friend lose their life played a big part in its conception and design. I commend MetaLeash for taking the initiative to help our community stay safe. They eliminated the stretching that occurs with typical leash materials, such as neoprene, velcro and nylon, which can result in sudden and even dangerous failure. And have introduced new methods to attaching and un-attaching to our craft with low-profile buckles. Not to mention given us some high contrast color options for visibility.
All good things some at a price. And the innovation and made is USA parts mean this leash is coming in higher in price than some of the other leashes I have bought before. But quality comes with that cost. As each seam, stitch, buckle and component are top notch. Plus, if a leash breaks, not only are you shelling out for another one, you are also paying to repair your paddle craft, and maybe your life. So certainly something to weigh. MetaLeash products start at $54.95.
So if you are looking for a stronger leash. A safer leash. A lighter leash. A more versatile leash for leg and waist. A 100% made in the USA product designed by a paddler. Or one with some thoughtful innovations and cool designs, this MetaLeash is totally worth a look. I imagine it would be a great gift for that padder friend of yours too who is always forgetting to bring a leash and asking to borrow one of yours!
- Lots of color combination options including bright colors
- Weighs less
- Won't chafe thanks to lack of velcro
- Longer lifespan
- Quick release
- Cost (starting at $54.95 - not a horrible price but more than the cheapie leashes)
- Metal connectors might make clinking noises in some situations.