Bill Bollinger of B&D Ski Gear told me a while ago he had a leash system he liked. He’s brought his design to market and sent me a pair for feedback and blogin’. (Note, this system adapts to other bindings as well.)
Above shows the whole system. According to Bill, “A few years ago I started working on leashes that utilized shock cord and coiled cords. My goal was to have a cord that would stretch enough to where I wouldn’t have to remove it when I removed my boots from bindings to clear ice, etc. In the last few years I used a shock cord that had 200% stretch. These worked but had too much tension when extended. I tried several coiled cords…but was never able to find material that fit my needs perfectly until this summer when I came across some coiled cord at Outdoor Retailer.”
The system works like this:
1. Coiled cord stretches without much force, but returns to coiled shape to hug boot and binding. Added benefit is the stretching cord absorbs some of the force in a fall that would otherwise break a deliberately weak cord attachment.
2. Loop in toe unit is created by sleeving a cable tie with vinyl tubing, then threading this through the toe unit as shown in photo below. The tubing protects the cable tie from sharp edges, and makes it easier to clip.
3. Snap hook can be quickly opened with thick gloves.
When I first installed the toe loop it appeared to obstruct operation of the touring lock. In practice you can feel a bit of resistance when you operate the lock, but it seems to work fine. Plastic in the area indicated by arrow could be clearanced a milliliter or two and this would be a total non issue.
I like Bill’s system as a simple solution you’ll be able to get without a day of shopping to cobble your own. Main benefit in my view is you can step out of your skis and have plenty of slack. It’s a bit heavy (46 grams each, as the coils are steel cable). I’m certain that during harsh bushwhacks you’d find the coil leash catching on branches and twigs, as I’ve even had my shorter leash system do on occasion. Most people don’t ski in heavy brush, so minor issue.
One of the best things about this is Bill figured out how to make a “fuse” that will break under a given amount of force. This is done by choosing between two different sizes of cable ties to create the toe loop. According to Bill, the thinner tie he provides broke at 50 pounds of force, while the thicker broke at 70. With the shock absorbing feature as well as length of the coil, I’d imagine using the weaker tie would work fine for most people skiing soft snow outside of resorts. At the resort you’d want to use the thicker tie for insurance, as hurting or killing someone with your runaway ski would be rather crass.
Caveat about cable ties: If you use them, buy high quality ones from an auto parts store or electrical supply. The discount store variety might be good for bundling wires behind your desk, but I’ve seen them break like cotton thread. Also, once you’ve installed a cable tie be sure to test by yarding on it a bit.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.