6 Best Kids Ski Harnesses for Teaching on the Slopes
Teaching kids to ski or snowboard is no easy feat. That’s why several tools have been invented over time to help parents and instructors out. In this post, we review the best kids ski harnesses and discuss some of the most frequently asked questions about using them.
So, what exactly is a ski harness? It’s a device that is worn around a young child’s torso, like a vest, that is typically equipped with a handle. If you’ve ever been rock climbing or ziplining, you may be familiar with the look and feel of a harness already. A ski harness is simply one that has been specifically designed for youngsters that are first learning how to ski or snowboard.
Kids Ski Harnesses: Product Overview
Why You Should Use a Ski Harness (Properly)
Ski harnesses can help you to safely teach your child the fundamentals of skiing or snowboarding. They help you control their speed, teach them how to turn, and guide them down the mountain. Many parents and ski instructors criticize ski harnesses, not because they’re a bad tool, but because most people don’t know how to use the leashes correctly.
However, the leashes are the main draw for many parents teaching kids for the first time. They give you peace of mind and some semblance of control on the slopes. By staying connected to them with the leash, you worry less about your kid straight lining down or losing control and can focus on teaching them the proper technique.
Among the most useful features of the best kids ski harnesses is the built-in handle. You can easily pick up your kid after they have fallen or hold onto them on the chairlift without hassle. For more tips on how to effectively use a ski harness and leash for teaching your kid, be sure to read our guide below.
Best Kids Ski and Snowboard Harnesses
Known for its smart design, the Lil’ Ripper Gripper harness is perfect for youngsters first learning how to ski or board. Built with nylon webbing, the harness is durable and water resistant. One of the best features is the retractable leashes that allow you to reign your kids in as much (or as little) as you need.
They’re attached with metal D-rings that are sewn at the hips for skiers and in the center front and back for snowboarders. For safety, the leashes can be stored in pockets that are located on the sides of the harness. This is important to prevent any loose material from dangling and getting caught while riding the chairlift.
The handle on the back of the harness between the shoulders is also very helpful to help you grab your kids while riding the lift or traversing on a flat trail. Lastly, the Lil’ Ripper Gripped includes its own version of an edgie wedgie, or ski tip connector, to help kids practice slowing down or stopping by the snowplow, or pizza, method.
Built with quality, comfort, and safety top of mind, the MDXONE is a great training harness, especially for young snowboarders. Its long, retractable leash helps you control the speed of your child as you cruise down the slopes. These are attached to foot long bungee cords so that as you adjust the leash length, there is less of a jarring effect on your kid.
This harness has a built in backpack but it’s designed slightly differently than the others. Y-shaped straps are attached to the bottom of the backpack and tuck under your child’s legs. This makes the harness more sturdy for beginners.
The straps can also be removed so that your kid can simply have a stylish pack to wear on the slopes when they no longer need the harness. Elastic pouches along the pack can stow away the straps when not in use. Lastly, the reinforced handle at the top helps you to pick up or pull along your kid with ease.
At a Glance
- Leash Length: 8 ft.
- Retractable Leashes: No
- Built-In Backpack: Yes
- Weight: 1 lb.
- Construction is durable, but lightweight, making it comfortable for kids
- Versatile design allows harness to be for skiing and snowboarding
- Mini backpack is perfect for storing the leashes and other valuables
For a stress-free day on the slopes with the kids, check out the Lucky Bums Ski Trainer harness. Designed with sturdy nylon webbing, this harness can be used for both aspiring skiers and snowboarders. The Grip n’ Guide handle is also an invaluable tool located on the back of the harness.
Using this handle, you can easily lift your child up after a fall or onto the chairlift. If you’re looking for just a harness with a handle, without the leashes, you can purchase the Lucky Bums Training Harness for a lower price.
The leashes attach at their hips to help you guide them as they learn the proper stance, balance, and basic turning. When not in use, the leashes can be stowed away in a mini backpack that is attached to the harness. Be sure to do this before loading onto the chairlift. The pack is also great for storing small mittens and snacks.
The Launch Pad Ski and Snowboard Harness utilizes a simple design that is easy to use for parents teaching their kids to ski or board. Shock absorbing leashes that are attached by a bungee rope help you control your little shredder’s speed. These are also removable so that you can simply use the harness and handle combo on terrain your kid can handle on their own.
Similar to the Lucky Bums, the Launch Pad harness has a mini pack attached to the harness. Here you can store the leashes while riding the chairlift, as well as any other small items you need on the slopes.
Weighing in at about one pound, this harness is lightweight and comfortable for kids to wear. There’s also an easy lift handle located on the back of the harness for you to easily lift up your child when needed.
With its simple and easy to use design, the Odoland Kids Ski and Snowboard Training Harness is great for parents on a budget. The harness is adjustable at both the shoulders and hips to help you get the perfect fit for your child.
Using the detachable leashes, you can help teach your kid how to steer and turn on their skis or board. A handle is attached to the harness to help you lift up or hang onto your kid when needed on the slopes.
Unlike some of the other options, the leashes are not elasticized, which means you’ll have to be careful with how hard you tug on them to help guide your child. However, they’re built from high quality nylon material and should be able to endure the winter weather in multiple seasons of use. For the price, the Odoland harness is a great value.
The Little Llama harness is simple to use and has some great features. Not only are the leashes detachable, but this is also the only harness on the list with a detachable pack. This means you can simply use the harness and handle without the extra bulk of a pack.
On the other hand, if your kid likes having their own pack to store their favorite snacks or extra garments, then they can continue to use it, even if they’ve outgrown the training leashes. The leashes themselves are bright so it’s easy to see and control them as you ride down the trail.
The only downside of these leashes is that they’re not elastic and thus have less give than some of the other options on the list. Overall though, the Little Llama harness is a great choice for parents and kids alike.
More Kids Ski Harnesses
Kids Ski Harness Buying Guide
How to Properly Use a Kids Ski Harness
As mentioned above, kids ski harnesses often get a bad rap because of improper use. A ski harness can either be a great tool or a severe handicap based upon how you use it. If you use the leashes to fully control your child’s movements on the hill, they’ll learn to rely on the harness, which slows the learning process.
This should go without saying, but ski harnesses should only be used by adults that are proficient at skiing or boarding themselves. The leashes are meant to serve as a guide and safety net, not a speed control device or stopping mechanism. If you keep the leashes tight at all times, it’s difficult for your child to learn proper skiing technique and balance.
Here are some tips on how to properly use a kids ski harness:
- Start on a gentle bunny hill to get the feel of the harness and leashes
- The leashes should always be slack; avoid creating tension
- Encourage your child to hold themselves up, turn, and stop without your help
- Keep the leashes short to start, especially on more crowded days
- Gently tug on the right or left leash to nudge them to turn
- Lengthen the leashes as you and your child become more confident
- Stow the leashes away once your kid can comfortably ski down a trail on their own
What to Look for in a Kids Ski Harness
The best kids ski harnesses have a few key features that make teaching a breeze for parents. All of the choices on this list have most of these features.
- Easy Lift Handle: The harness should have a handle attached for you to be able to easily pick up your child. This makes riding the chairlift less stressful and reduces the strain on your back since you don’t have to reach down as far to guide your youngster down the hill.
- Leash Attachment Point: If you intend to use leashes, make sure they attach at the hips and not at the center of the torso. Pulling from the center back encourages children to lean backwards, which is not a good habit. Gently tugging from the sides promotes more natural movements used in skiing.
- Elastic Leashes: Some harness leashes use bungee rope or some other form of elasticity to make “steering” more fluid and less jarring for your kid. Elasticized leashes help your movements feel more like gentle nudges, rather than strong jerks, to guide your child in the right direction down the hill.
- Backpack or Leash Pouch: Many harnesses have a built-in backpack that can serve multiple purposes. It can be used to stow away the leashes when not in use or to store other valuables, such as snacks or hand warmers. Some may only have a pouch that is designed specifically for leash storage, which is still helpful to prevent any loose materials from getting caught on the chairlift.
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Kids Ski Harnesses: FAQs
What age are kids ski harnesses for?
Ski harnesses are primarily used for children ages 2 - 8 years old. They’re best for toddlers but can also be used for slightly older kids that are tentative and first learning how to ski or board. Exceptions may include individuals with disabilities. The goal is to teach them the fundamentals, using the harness as a guide and safety net, so that they eventually feel confident turning and stopping independently.
Does a ski harness have to have leashes?
No, a ski harness does not have to be used with leashes. The harness on its own is quite valuable because of the built-in handle. You can leave the leashes at home or stow them away in the backpack if you don’t need them.
When should you avoid a ski trainer harness?
Ski harnesses should not be used with leashes once your child is comfortable riding down a trail on their own. This means they can stop, turn, and navigate down the slope without your help. Even when you’re using the harness and leashes, only take your kids down terrain within their ability. Ski harnesses should also only be used for young children and not adults.
Do ski schools use ski harnesses?
Ski schools often use ski harnesses, or vests with handles, without any leashes. Kids learn better by practicing without any extra support, and ski instructors are professionals that are confident teaching even the youngest and newest of shredders. Plus, with only one or two instructors managing several kids at a time, it would be impossible to manage multiple leashes at once for group sessions.
What are the best tools to teach a toddler how to ski?
In this post, we review the best kids ski harnesses, but there are a few other tools that can help you teach a toddler to ski. The most popular is a ski tip connector, or edgie wedgie, which connects a kid’s ski tips to help them practice the essential wedge, or pizza, stopping motion. Another option that is similar in function to the harness is the Snowcraft Copilot Ski Trainer. This tool also has leashes, but rather than attaching to a harness, they attach to your child’s ski boots.
A ski harness can be a parent’s best friend on the slopes. The Lil’ Ripper Gripper dominates the market for aspiring skiers, while the MDXONE is the go-to for future snowboard shredders. Even the best of ski harnesses can be a hindrance if the leashes are used incorrectly.
Be sure to read up on how to properly use leashes on a ski harness to provide the best training possible to your young one. Regardless, the ski harness itself is a great asset because of the easy lift handle and is recommended for all parents to use with young children first learning.