If you have been looking up snowboarding videos online you might have found that some mention that you need to use a leash. However, when you actually speak to a snowboarder you may find that they are unfamiliar with the tool, making you wonder do you need a snowboard leash.
You do not necessarily need a snowboard leash. Truthfully, most snowboards will never need one. Only a select number of resorts make using a leash on your snowboard a requirement due to liability concerns. But from a practicality perspective, you’ll only need one in a few specific circumstances.
It’s not just a case of you must wear one or you are not safe, and there are a couple of situations where you will not have a choice. Keep reading as we take a truthful look into whether you need to use a snowboard leash or not.
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What Is A Snowboard Leash For?
A snowboard leash is a simple bit of equipment designed to keep your snowboard connected to your leg. It’s kind of like how a surfer will leash their board so they don’t lose it if they fall into the sea. The primary purpose of a snowboard leash is to keep it safely attached to your body.
This is because, unlike skis, snowboards don’t have a brake mechanism, so if your board started sliding down the hill without you there would be no way to stop it unless it hit something or just ran out of momentum. Needless to say, some people found this worrying. After all, snowboards aren’t light, and it could potentially be deadly if you were hit by one.
What Do Snowboard Leashes Look Like?
When searching for a snowboard leash you need to make sure that it is the type used to connect your snowboard to your leg and not the type used to keep a reign on children trying out snowboarding for the first time.
Most of the time the kind of snowboard leash you will want is made of 2 parts: the cord and the clip. The clip is how you will attach the leash to the board, and depending on the design there may be 2 clips. However, on the majority of leashes available there will only be one. The cord on the leash is usually either made with a strong braided nylon rope or wire within a plastic sheath.
Sometimes they will have a loop to help attach it to your board or leg and designs vary between brands. Leashes come at a variety of price points with unbranded leashes going for around $8 and branded ones selling for around $25. They come in a range of colors, styles, and sizes, so if you find yourself needing one you can get one to match your own style.
Where Do You Put The Leash On A Snowboard?
Your snowboard leash needs to be attached to both your leg and your board at the binding. It is important that it’s on your front binding as this will be where you have a foot attached to most of the time and it will keep the cord out of your way while skating or on a lift.
On The Binding
To attach your leash to the binding you will need to either loop it/clip it through one of the holes on the base plate or, if your binding doesn’t have any, loop it around the bottom strap. Try not to attach it to the back of your binding so it won’t get tangled up with your foot when taking your snowboard on or off.
Be sure to check your leash every so often for wear and tear as the location on the binding is an area that will be exposed to a lot of friction from both your boot and the snow. If you find that the cord is fraying it might be time to pick up a new leash or at the very least move it to a different spot.
On Your Body
How the other end is attached to your leg depends on how long the leash is. A shorter leash will be attached via a ring on your boot laces. Sometimes this will already be on your boot and other times it will come with your leash.
Either way, the ring needs to be looped around your laces like a keying. Make sure that the point you attach the leash to your boot is between your straps so you can easily attach it when strapped in.
Longer leashes will wrap around your leg, just beneath your knee. It will be more secure above your boot, but be sure to give it a tug test before going out as a loose strap can cause you all kinds of problems while riding.
If you are going to use a leash it is advisable that you make sure that it is attached to your board before you are on the hill, as it can be a fiddly process so you will probably need to take off your thick gloves/mittens. You should also be careful not to attach it to the loop on the back of your boot as this is designed to help you put your boot on and will not take the weight of a snowboard.
Why You Might Need A Snowboard Leash
You might be wondering, if a binding is so secure, why you need to own a snowboard leash. Well in the early 2000s, when snowboarding was really taking off, the bindings were made with quick release straps which had an unfortunate side effect of undoing themselves, causing all manner of issues when the snowboard ended up sliding away.
That said there are a couple of times where having one in your pocket will come in handy while on a snowboard trip.
Once upon a time leashes were required in all resorts. However, now there are only a handful resorts where it is required for you to wear a leash at all times. This is mostly implemented to help cover themselves in the event of accidents and cover liability issues.
The consequences of getting caught without one include not being allowed on to lifts and even your pass being revoked. Seeing as the price of a leash is insignificant to that of buying a lift pass, especially if you buy a season pass, it is well worth buying one to save you the hassle.
Try not to get too annoyed at a lift operator forcing you to wear a leash while snowboarding as they are just doing their job, so make sure to check ahead on the resort’s website or even ask on message boards if you will need a leash as resort shops are sure to have a higher price for something they know you need to have on the mountain.
Backcountry snowboarding is a lot of fun. You get to ride fresh lines and not have to worry about other people. However, it does have the risk of losing your gear as you’re in the middle of nowhere with knee deep snow. That’s why using a leash while you are out snowboarding in an unmarked area can be a godsend. Even some skiers will use a leash in these circumstances.
Experienced snowboarders will find it beneficial to wear one in these cases too.After all, you are more likely to lose your board forever in ungroomed areas due to deep snow, unexpected drops, or tree wells. A leash is also perfect to save you from walking down a hill to retrieve your snowboard as it will always be attached to your leg.
Beginners And Children
If you are just starting to learn how to snowboard it is a smart idea to use a leash. There are a lot of new things to learn and knowing that your board is always attached to you can be a confidence booster, especially if the board ends up dangling off of one foot on a chair lift.
Beginners are also way more likely to accidentally let their snowboard slip away from themselves due to inexperience, or perhaps not realizing the danger that a 5+ pound plank of wood hurtling down a groomed slope can pose.
In the same vein, children should use a leash when they are out snowboarding. For most kids a snowboard is a heavy, cumbersome bit of kit that they can easily drop or lose their grip of. A leash is a great way to prevent kids from losing their boards and causing a later issue. They are also a great way to identify their board so it can save you a headache later.
Step-On Snowboard Bindings
A newer type of binding that has been gaining some popularity recently is the step-on binding from Burton. This binding works by stepping into it and doesn’t have any straps to secure your foot, like a ski binding. This has made it very appealing to snowboarders as it saves them the time it usually takes to do up their straps.
Because they don’t have the security of a strap, your board could come off if you take a hard fall or move in a weird way, causing it to slide off without you intending it. Most rental shops that supply this type of binding make it a requirement that you wear a leash as they don’t want any damage to happen to their board or for you to lose it on a lift.
If you end up using this type of binding it can be very helpful to have a leash just in case, but just make sure that your leash is designed to be looped through the base plate and not the straps as you may find yourself unable to attach it to your board.
Do You Need A Snowboard Leash?
The truth is the majority of snowboarders won’t ever need a leash. This is mostly due to the fact that the reason they were ever created rarely happens anymore. After all, you are far more likely to see a runaway ski than ever see a runaway snowboard.
Even in the cases where it is required by the resort, you will often find that most snowboarders just have the leash on for show rather than to actually do anything so that they can get up the hill and enjoy their day shredding.
Many snowboarders also find that a leash can often end up more of a hindrance than a help, and depending on the size it can end up getting tangled and being a hazard during your ride, not to mention the hassle it can be to make sure it is attached to your boot and then undo it if it needs adjusting.
It can also come down to your own personal preference whether you use a snowboarding leash. Some people like having the extra security of having a leash attached to their legs, especially seeing as many snowboarding companies endorse them. But on the whole, the average snowboarder will be fairly safe without it as long as they practice some common sense and make sure they have secure bindings.
Truthfully,for the average snowboarder, you will not need nor probably ever see a snowboard leash. You just need to be mindful of resort policies and whether or not you will be allowed to use the lifts. Justbe mindful of the benefits using a leash can pose in certain situations, such as for beginners, child snowboarders, or if you are using a board that doesn’t have straps on its binding.