Ski Schooling [Do’s and Don’t of Ski Harnesses]

Each kid is different. Hense each skier is different and what works with one, might not with another. Well, today we are talking all about using a ski harness when skiing with your little ones. If you’d like to see a previous review of the Lucky Bum ski harness, you can find it here: Ski Harnesses For Good or Bad???

What is a ski harness?


There are a variety of brands and styles. But for the most park there is a harness, chest buckle or vest that fits over the torso of your child, and long “leashes” or “reigns” that allow you to control their speed as they ski down the hill.

We use the Lucky Bum ski harness. It has adjustable shoulder straps and buckles securely around their torso. A small bag on back stows the reigns when you are not using them. There is also a nifty handle on back useful for quick pick-ups, getting on the lift, or skiing with them between your legs.

When should I use one?

Ski Harnesses are great for kids ages 2-4 that have not yet learned to stop, control their speed, or turn. And while I generally promote the rule “no going up lifts or on bigger runs until you learn to stop,” the harness has been invaluable to us as we balance skiing with three kids. Our youngest 1. wants to stay with the big kids and 2. is too young for me to reasonable expect her to stop on her own. (Soon though 🙂 )

Lil' Ripper gripper: Retractable leashes sit on the child's hips.

Lil’ Ripper gripper: Retractable leashes sit on the child’s hips.

When should I NOT use one?

Here are my general guidelines. I would not use a ski harness if your kids is constantly being pulled into the “backseat” by the harness. I would not use one for a prolonged time if my kid is over the age of five. By then I reason that their legs are strong enough, and bodies coordinated enough to learn to stop and turn by themselves. This doesn’t mean that they can, but they need to learn without Mom and Dad doing all the work for them. I would not use one if the parent or handler is not a strong, experienced skier. If you cannot control your own speed on any terrain, how can you hope to do it with a thirty pound weight pulling you down the hill?

Below is an instructional video of us using the ski harness as well as teaching our two-year-old to make parallel turns using the ski harness:

Do and Don’t!

Do tie the reigns together at the end. They are easier to manage this way.

Don’t allow yourself or your child to go very fast, no matter how stable they look in the moment. A pile up can happen in the blink of an eye when you are following at such a close range.

Do operate the reigns in separate hands. Pull on one reign or the other to help facilitate weight shift and hence turning. (See video.)

Don’t use the reigns on crowded portions of a run. It is easy to get tangled with other skiers.

Do use the nifty handle on back for easy on/off the lift.

Ones that have leashes that pull from the hips rather than the torso are preferable.

Ones that have leashes that pull from the hips rather than the torso are preferable.

Don’t assume the harness is safe to hold the full weight of your child hanging from it. Get a climbing harness for that.

Do bring the child back between your legs during steep portions of the run. Their weight can we very difficult to hold back, no matter how strong your wedge is or how experienced you are at skiing.

Don’t assume this will be easy, and hop on the lift unaware. I find skiing with my two-year-old and the harness is much more physically taxing than skiing a full day of bumps or powder. 🙂

Do make large turns across the hill on steep hills to help control both your speed.

Don’t leave the straps out of the bag or dangling when getting on a lift. Securely stow them so that you they don’t become hooked on the chair by accident.

teaching kids to ski with ski harness

8 comments on “Ski Schooling [Do’s and Don’t of Ski Harnesses]
  1. We use a harness that has straps that velcro around the kids boots and then the’leash’ hooks on. At the end of the leash is bungee. You can help your child steer. There is no abrupt stopping. And best of all it doesn’t affect their center of mass like the traditional harnesses do. We were able to teach gliding without a wedge and to make parallel turns and hockey stops just by subtle pulls on the leash. Invaluable, especially for mileage.

  2. Pingback: Five positions for teaching your young kids to ski... - the kid project

  3. The best solution out there is the harness with retractable leashes. Much safer on the lifts and more functional on the hill. Its called the Lil’ Ripper Gripper.

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