Usually when retractable leashes are mentioned, I think of out-of-control dogs at the end of what I refer to as “dismemberment wires”, their owners several yards away struggling to keep a grip on the whole situation. I know I’m not alone in thinking this, which is why I was more than intrigued to test drive the new VARIO Tape Leash from Flexi. VARIO’s tagline is “The New Generation” and its impressive list of features and accessories promises a whole different retractable leash experience. So, we got our hands on a pair of leashes and took ’em for spin to see just how different this 2014 Red Dot Design Award winning leash could be. Check out our review below!

[Disclosure: We were sent two sets of VARIO Tape Leashes from Flexi for review. All view and opinions are our own.]

Review: Flexi VARIO Tape Leash

First, remember that “dismemberment wire” I referred to earlier? Well, the VARIO doesn’t have that. Instead of your usual cording, this German-engineered leash sports a flat tape style, making it less likely to get tangled and/or cut a finger off. So, that’s already a major improvement in my book. The good things don’t stop there, though. Right off the bat, I could tell we were working with a truly well-made product. Everything about the VARIO screams ingenuity; some major time, research, and development went into creating this product and it shows. Before we even got to the end of our block, my husband proclaimed, and I quote, “This is the best leash I’ve ever used. Seriously. I’m never going to use another leash. You can quote me in your review.” So, there you go.

Review: Flexi VARIO Tape Leash

What really makes the VARIO a standout in the world of retractable leashes are the accessories and customizable features. Most retractable leashes have a one-size-fits-all approach, offering little in the way of customization — or comfort. The VARIO offers some serious ergonomic improvements. This thing just feels good in your hand. The breaking system is intuitive and seems to offer more (and faster) control than other retractable leashes on the market. But the accessories! The accessories are where it’s at.

Review: Flexi VARIO Tape Leash

Using a multi-belt linking system, you can swap out the leash style in seconds. Want to walk two small dogs on one leash? Attach the Duo Belt. Walking at night? The LED Flash Belt will help keep you visible. Have a dog prone to sudden stopping (or who’s easily distracted)? The Soft Stop Belt helps avoid jolting and/or injury to the dog’s neck and throat.

Review: Flexi VARIO Tape Leash

But what if you don’t want a bunch of different belts yet still want to be as visible as possible? Well, the VARIO has an LED lighting system that you can attach to the outside that features super bright clear LEDs on the front and flashing red LEDs on the back, so you’ll be visible from any direction. We tried it out at dusk, when visibility for just about everyone (motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians) is at its lowest and, well, people could actually see us. Safety for the win! Plus, it’s kind of awesome to feel like a walking discotheque, ya know?

Review: Flexi VARIO Tape Leash

Review: Flexi VARIO Tape Leash

We also tried out the Multi Box, which attaches in a super genius way and can hold waste bags or treats or whatever else you want to put in there.

I have to admit that my initial skepticism was pretty much blasted away after trying out the VARIO for a while. It’s just so well made and perfectly designed and comfortable — I’ve been convinced!

Review: Flexi VARIO Tape Leash

Learn more about the VARIO Tape Leash on the Flexi site. Check local stores for availability in your area or purchase one online (it’s available in 5 sizes and 6 colors).