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There are certain things in life that just bug me. Shoot, I’ll be honest, there are A LOT of them…far too many to list!
As shocking as it may seem, ski harnesses have always been one of those things. That is until now.
Well, it seems like 90% of the people that I see using them out on the slopes are using them incorrectly. It’s like the skiing version of the teenager “walking” the dog who is really just pulling him on his skateboard, but the kid is the dog taking the parents for a ride. Not a good foundation for a lifetime of ski habits!
If you’ve been anywhere near the slopes in the last 10 years, you have to know what I’m talking about. So for the last 6 seasons of skiing with our kids, we’ve avoided them like the plague, until now….and I’m kicking myself for it. Because like most things that bug me, there are only certain things about ski harnesses that drive me crazy, and now I know personally that if you use them right, they can be great.
When to use a harness:
We think that harnesses (with the leash) should really only be used by small kids who can already balance and just need a little redirection (ideally under 4, but for sure not over 5). Yes, they need to figure out their balance first, so check out our #1 way to teach a toddler to balance on skis. They are great for picking kids up and helping them got on the lift, so the harness alone can be a great addition to any day. Harness leashes are great TOOLS for times when you’re having difficulty getting your child to turn and they just need a little help figuring that out (all it takes is a little tug to turn them). Also, in our case, using a harness has helped level the playing field since we’re constantly outnumbered by our three kids. They all want to ski together, but with such a HUGE skill range this is a good cheater way to all get a run in together (however, we only do that for one run a day so that our youngest actually has to LEARN to ski, instead of just taking off down the hill after his maniac brother).
When NOT to use a harness:
Don’t use the leashes on their very first day of skiing – this will prevent them from trying to learn how to stop and turn on their own. Also, if your leashes are tight the whole time, your child is depending on it too much; it’s time to take it down a notch either in speed, terrain, or both. Don’t repeatedly use a harness for your child to go on terrain that their not ready for. We’re all about a run or two for some togetherness time, but if you’re relying on it the whole day, it’s not helping your child. Don’t use one if you’re not a strong skier. It’s amazing how much it will make your legs burn to ski in a wedge behind a 30 pound kid whose only goal is to go down. Also, if there comes a point when you realize that your child is leaning into their harness or otherwise not balancing well, it’s time to put it away for a while and get back to basics.
What we tried
The LaunchPad Harness. This was created by the same company that makes the Hookease that we talked about here (and still think that after the edgie-wedgie, Hookease is the best ski training tool we’ve seen around).
What we loved:
It easily fit Jimmy (19 months) and Chloe (4) without any problems.
It has a handle to easily pick them up when they fall, or grab onto them when they need a little push.
The leashes have elastic bungees so you’re not yanking your kid around – it’s a gentle pull. LaunchPad is the only company I’ve seen with this amazing feature.
It really is easy to direct the way that they go.
Leashes store easily in the backpack.
Yes, lots of good things about it, and honestly, there wasn’t anything about the design that we didn’t like. Just be careful to use it correctly or that’s where you’ll create some bad skiing habits for you and your child.