The Snowboard Leash: Are Snowboard Leashes Necessary?

Every snowboarder has done at least one of these two things during their time on the slopes. Not snap their bindings in fully and simply fall out of them or at some point, taken a nasty fall that opened the bindings. Either way, the result is the same; all you can do is watch frustrated and helpless as your board slides down the slope. You are then forced to take the butt-slide of shame. Let’s just hope the rental deposit wasn’t too much or you remembered to tie on a snowboard leash.

Read on below to learn everything you need to know about snowboard leashes.

Girl sitting on bench with snowboard.

What is a Snowboard Leash Used For?

A snowboard leash is much like a surfboard leash. Surfer’s don’t have bindings so they need a long rubber cord strapped to their ankle to make sure when the surfer falls off the board their board doesn’t going flying. Take that concept and apply it to a snowboard with two varieties.

One small and one rather large. The small leash is simply a small piece of cord wrapped around the binding and the boot lace. The long (which you will hard-pressed to find still being used) version is more like a surf leash and will connect to the snowboard bindings and then wrap around the rider’s knee. This long-leash version has a habit of tangling on ski poles, trees, chair-lifts, etc.

The main leash still in general use is the small version. The small version’s idea is that if your bindings brake or you forget to strap in properly, your board won’t become a rocket flying down the slope with no one to stop it.

Are Snowboard Leashes Necessary?

The short answer? Not really.

The long answer requires a brief history lesson. In the late 1990s and 2000s when resorts were allowing snowboards on their mountain, the presidents and safety board members were worried about safety and liability.

The idea was that because snowboards didn’t have the brakes skis do, they need to have a back up to stop them from flying down the hill. On top of that early snowboards used modified ski bindings, which designed to open up during a fall or crash.

However, modern snowboard bindings are designed to stay closed no matter what. The modern bindings have four points of contact. If you were to break all four points of contact on your snowboard bindings, you will have bigger problems then your snowboard flying down the hill and smashing into someone.

Statistically it is nearly impossible to break all four traditional bindings. It is more liking to come off your board with step on bindings but more on that in a bit.

The best use-case for a snowboard leash is for total beginners, anyone venturing out deep into the backcountry, or someone using ancient snowboards or step on bindings.

Clipped in snowboard bindings

Do You Need a Leash with Step on Bindings?

Need is a strong word. If you own the snowboard then no, do whatever you think is best. It would still be wise to use a binding leash on step on bindings as they are far more likely to eject a rider in the event of a crash.

However, if you are renting a board with step in bindings, the vast majority of ski resorts and rental shops will require it.

Do All Ski Resorts Require a Snowboard Leash?

No, while it’s true that in the past ski resorts required a leash, most resorts have either scrapped the rule all together or it is no longer enforced in any meaningful sense of the word.

Why Do Some Ski Resorts Require a Leash?

While snowboarding seems synonymous with skiing and the snow today, the reality is that for a while only a handful of resorts allowed snowboarders on the slopes. These strict rules were reversed at different paces depending on the owners of the resort.

The path was no snowboards, to some snowboards and required leashes, to all snowboards no leashes or all snowboards and let’s just forget the leash rule exists.

The simple answer is some resorts are simply late to catch up. That being said, it would be insanely rare to receive an infraction by ski patrol for not using a snowboard leash.

What Are The Best Snowboard Leashes?

The best leash will depend on your skill level, where you plan on snowboarding and if the resort you are visiting requires it. That being said, check out these leashes for an idea of the market and available options.

Burton Powsurf Snowboard Leash

Burton Powsurf snowboard leash

This leash is more in-line with surfboard leashes but adds the extra protection of connecting to your leg instead of your boot’s laces. It doubles as a simple solution if your boots are straps instead of laces.

Dakine Snowboard Leash

Example of dakine snowboard leash

This is the more traditonal snowboard leash. It’s simple design and solid construction makes looping on and off a breeze.

Burton Cord Leash

Example of burton snowboard cord leash

How Do You Put a Leash on a Snowboard?

For a moment, imagine the next snowboard and ski weekend. All of your friends and family are coming with their skis and boards but the resort choosen requires leashes. Annoying but no matter, there’s a sale at the ski and ride shop. One quick shop later and you now realize you have no idea how to use a snowboard leash.

Whether you get the long or short leash the process is more or less the same. Attach the binding side of the leash to your front-foot binding with a girth hitch (see below). Next, attach the ring to your boot’s laces or the strap to your calf.

Get ready to hit the slopes because that’s all there is to it.

Are Snowboard Leashes Necessary?

Yes and no. For beginners, anyone using step on binding, or if the resort requires it, then yes. As a general rule if you know you’ll be falling often, or you don’t have four points of contact between you and your bindings, using a snowboard leash is a good idea.

For the more experienced snowboards or those using traditional bindings, it’s a personal choice but not required.

Snowboard Leash Laws

As mentioned above, some of the resorts in the world still have some kind of law on the books about snowboard leashes, or retention devices as they call it. Are they few and far between? Yes. Is it likely that I forget my lease and ski patrol fines me? No.

However, it can happen and if the ski patrol is having a bad day then in theory, yes you could get a fine for breaking one of the resorts laws regarding snowboard leashes. The fines range from resort to resort so always check the resort’s rules and regulations before heading up.

Final Thoughts on Using a Snowboard Leash

Using a snowboard leash is becoming a thing of the past. If you look at many ski slopes today, most people won’t know what a snowboard leash even is or will join the chorus of annoyed snowboarders pointing out some of the flaws in the system used with leashes. Most resorts have scrapped their laws on leashes use or simply don’t enforce them.

At the end of the day, the best course of action when snowboarding is to do what you believe is the safest option and use gear you are the most familiar with.

What are your thoughts on the snowboard leash? Comment down below.

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