I’ve been asked about this a million times. How to install those nice little D-ring leash attachment points some thoughtful boot makers might include on their shells, but are often in odd locations or downright missing? In the ancient and storied tradition of WildSnow dot com ski touring modposts, here we go:
The D-rings are somewhat difficult to source. I found quite a few options out of China, but they all had shipping dates in the three-week range. I found one option that shipped immediately. Here’s a link to the ‘Zon.
What about fasteners? In my strength testing, I found a threaded “chicago-screw” otherwise known as a “screw-rivet” to be plenty strong. In my opinion, it’s a better option than a compression rivet as the threaded type rivet is easily replaced if damaged in a fall (and easier to install).
But what length? In the case of Scarpa F1 LTs victimized for this blog post (they come with a D-ring, but I didn’t like the stock location on the upper part of the shell), the shell thickness where I installed the ring is 2.3 millimetres, while the shortest chicago-screw I could find has a female section of 5 mm. The D-ring tab is about 1.5 mm thick. Thus, the female barrel protruded from the shell about a millimetre. Solution: a tiny washer on the female barrel, to shorten the effective length. Here’s a link to a screw kit.
Another, likely better option than the regular chicago-screws linked above, are the Kydex type chicago-screws, used for belts, pistol holsters and the like. These appear to be stronger than the normal chicago-screw, and they’re shorter, thus more closely matching the often thinner shell dimension of ski touring boots, as opposed to alpine ski boots. They also have screw driver slots on both ends. (I ended up using the Kydex type fasteners for the install described here).
Another safety note: Attaching the ski leash to the boot toe exerts a lot of leverage on your foot when the leash is employed. Consequently, it’s unwise to use this location for a super-strength “un-fused” leash. If you desire a bomber strength leash, use the type that loops around or otherwise attaches above the ankle joint, to avoid a twisted or broken ankle. More, note that leashes and avalanches don’t mix well. Consider using ski brakes if you play the avalanche game.
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.