Dynafit Safety Leash — Thong Style


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Sometimes you don’t want the weight or mechanical hassle of ski brakes. More, perhaps you need something that’ll keep a lost ski from rolling into a crevasse. In such cases, “leashes” or “safety straps” are the gear of choice.

Dynafit backcountry skiing binding with custom lightweight safety leash system.

Dynafit backcountry skiing binding with custom lightweight safety leash system.

European standards dictate that ski safety straps sold with ski bindings be complex and heavy contraptions that might have their place for making SURE you ski never comes off your foot. Such straps may be appropriate in certain situation, and to their credit they do usually include a slick quick-release system that would be handy if your strap is under tension and you need to get-out-now. But standard leashes are frequently overkill, and they’re so strong you may not completely loose your ski in an avalanche. More, most OEM leashes weigh in the neighborhood of several ounces — way too heavy for an add-on.

Hence, I’ve been using a DIY lightweight leash system for years. Here are the details. (Please note, this system is designed to let go in a high force situation such as an avalanche, so is not recommended for resort use where a runaway ski could be a safety hazard.)

Lanyards with clips, from Office Depot

Lanyards with clips, from Office Depot. On the right, 2-pack of item 74458 from Avery is the one we like.

Since I published this system years ago in my Dynafit FAQ, I’ve seen scores of people who’ve cobbled similar rigs using everything from carabiners to knots. Many such systems are too bulky and complicated. Some are too weak, others too strong (such as those using steel cable from telemark bindings.)

Key is using a clip that’s the correct strength. Best we’ve found is one we take off the Office Depot “Avery Neck Hanging Lanyards” 2-pack, item 74458. Or if you want something that will let go easier, but is somewhat weak, you can use the clip from Office Depot “Black Lanyards” 10-pack, item 754-521. The strength of these clips is quite different, so beware and use the stronger if in doubt. More, buy several pair and test the strength yourself. You may find this system seems too wimpy. If so, go to a stronger clip of the variety you can find in hardware stores.

Remove the clip from the lanyard, you don't need all the extra junk.

Remove the clip from the lanyard.

Dynafit binding leash system.

Tie a loop of lightweight cord under the boot tongue holder. You can also drill a hole in the toe of the boot and run a knotted cord up through that.

Backcountry skiing

Clip with cord. We girth hitch the cord so it stays in position on clip, a drop of epoxy on the hitch helps too.

Backcountry Skiing

You can attach the loop to Dynafit binding with two methods. As shown above, you can just drape the loop over the toe latch. This method is quick, but may come off too easily and can be lost while you're carrying skis.

Backcountry Skiing

Best method of attaching loop to binding is shown above, and is same as shown in Dynafit literature. You poke a loop through the hole in the binding toe lever, then pass the cord back through the loop, thus creating a girth hitch through the hole.

Variations: One problem with the rig described above is that working the clip with gloved hands can be tricky. Lanyard clips work better when they’ve got something solid to clip to, so we’ve tried riveting a small D-ring to the toe of the boot, or including a small metal ring on the boot loop. Another option is to use a larger and more easily operated clip, such can sometimes be found at hardware stores and have the advantage or disadvantage of being stronger.

Lastly, again, be aware that the small lanyard clips we show above are not particularly strong. Thus, do not use these at ski resorts or in situations where you absolutely can not loose a ski.

Comments

23 Responses to “Dynafit Safety Leash — Thong Style”

  1. Lynn October 14th, 2008 10:33 am

    Please no more use of the thong, I thought we “covered” this last spring.

  2. Halsted October 14th, 2008 11:40 am

    Oh come on, Lou post some more thong shots….. Aspen should be prime thong country!!

  3. Jonathan Shefftz October 14th, 2008 1:36 pm

    My system is very similar, but for better ease of handling with gloves, I use a “Hangman Snap Hook”:
    http://www.seattlefabrics.com/snap%20hooks.html
    I dremmel off the large plastic loop, then attach the hook to some 3mm accessory cord using a cable tie (with different strengths possible).
    For the boot attachment point, I use a plastic ski area ticket loop, although a stronger system could use a cable tie (with a little bit of duct tape to preven the loop from becoming smaller over time).

  4. steve October 14th, 2008 1:57 pm

    Funny you should post this-I just took my skis in to have brakes added! I used a similar ski strap last year but ended up wanting brakes so I could take the skis to (or through) a resort. I emailed you about this topic but it may have been spam-trapped.

  5. Randonneee October 14th, 2008 2:36 pm

    My Dynafit leashes are the BD cable tele-leashes. I have one set of the older simple (small) silver metal clip-on, and one set of the newer BD expanding prong-tyoe tele leash. I use a 1 inch keyring around the lower boot-buckle catch to attach the leash to the boot on the lateral or outside aspect.

    The 1-inch keyring will bend open with reasonable force, so that is a safety feature. I have inadvertantly opened the ring when taking off the ski, so in my view it holds just enough, I want the system to break before I am injured.

    A benefit is that there is virtually no wear to this durable and lightweight system, and if it unhooks while skkiing is not cut by the ski edge. Also, it is easy to use with gloves. I use leashes on spring corn and glaciers.

  6. Lynn October 14th, 2008 3:41 pm

    Halstead, I think you are confusing Aspen with Mission Beach….

  7. Michael October 14th, 2008 3:42 pm

    I used a lanyard clip from an area ski pass landyard, but while in the backcountry, I fell on an icy slope and the clip bent, sending my ski a few hundred feet down. I switched to the clip from the BD tele leashes, but cut the cable off and hook it to a bit of rope like you have in the picture, relying on the rope to break in an emergency.

    One problem I have using the girth hitch as in the Dynafit literature is that the rope frays over time. Any hints on preventing this?

  8. Lou October 14th, 2008 3:49 pm

    Jonathan, we had some trouble with the plastic clips not being strong enough when cold, but I think they’re a viable option, everyone should just test in the field by yanking on it.

    Randonnee, that sounds like a good system.

    Michael, I’d just replace the cord every so often…

    All, the level of strength you want from this sort of system is very dependent on individual needs. As stated in the post, my method is not super strong, by intent. I hardly ever take a fall that releases a ski, so I’m not depending on the system very often, sometimes not for months.

  9. Randonnee October 14th, 2008 6:01 pm

    My old BD cable tele-leash is on the third Dynafit binding/ ski rig, I have used it 8 years. So far I needed it twice, it worked fine. I use leashes only on corn in spring/ summer. The keyring fails appropriately in my view, if I ever take a big crash I do not want the leashes to hold and cause me to be flailed by skis.

    My old Tri Step heels with brakes worked so poorly both in rotation and deployment of the brakes and I did not like the weight, so I used no brake or leash in powder for four seasons. The new FT 12 brake looks great, I look forward to using it.

  10. Marion VARNER October 15th, 2008 1:12 am

    Hi Lou,
    What could be the recommended strenght (resistance) of the leash system (cord + clip) in order to avoid any leg injury ? 5 kg, 10 kg, 15 kg ?
    Thank you very much for your blog, you help me to wait for the snow…
    Marion.

  11. Piotr October 15th, 2008 4:27 am

    Just out of curiosity: what kind of bindings are these? Low Tech Race? What makes me wonder is the base being machined alu (?) vs. pressed sheet metal (which I think is found in all models up to Vertical Race Ti).

  12. Lou October 15th, 2008 6:31 am

    It’s a Low Tech Race titanium…

    Marion, there is no real number for that, it’s just personal preference. Judging from the OEM strap systems and my experience with them over the years, the binding safety leash can be quite strong without resulting in leg injury from pulling on the leg and foot, though having the ski attached during a fall can result in other injury from the ski bashing various body parts. What we’re more concerned about is the leash staying on during an avalanche ride. We make the leash weaker for that reason. So it will break if we’re caught in an avalanche.

    If you ski in avalanche terrain and rarely fall, systems such as ours can work well. It also works good for racing if you do want to use a leash (most racers don’t). If you fall more frequently or ski at resorts, stick with the OEM leash, or better , use mechanical ski brakes.

  13. harpo October 15th, 2008 8:02 am

    I am with Randonee on this. My key ring has broken when it should. Randonee, could you go into more detail on how you attach the key ring to your boot? I tie the key ring to a cord tied around the base of the tongue, as in Lou’s pictures.

  14. Lou October 15th, 2008 8:33 am

    Randonee, email me a photo of your attachments system and I’ll publish in this blog post, so we can show some alternate methods in the same place. I’ve experimented with key rings as “fuses” for other applications and they work pretty well. They come in different sizes and thicknesses, so easy to fine tune.

  15. Randonnee October 15th, 2008 9:11 am

    If there is avalanche potential, I use no leash or use ski brakes. I do not want any anchor potential that could drag me down or slow my escape even by a fraction of a second, or contribute to a lower extremity fracture/ injury.

    I tend to like simple fixes since drilling or other modifications may cause another problem in my view. So I just work the keyring around the buckle bail catch that is riveted to the boot shell, there is just enough room. The cable tele leash loop is then girth-hitched to the Dynafit toe. The clip then is easily attached to the keyring. There are possible variations with drilling or adding loops to the ski or boot, but that adds more complexity in my view that can fail or cause a problem. Even if the keyring opens, I have been able to bend it with my hands back into a loop that can be used.

    I just asked my nine year-old daughter if she can figure how to put a photo online- we did get a WIldsnow favorite Canon A720 recently. Sorry, the first time I went to college computers took up part of a room and used punch cards, and we developed film and printed photos… : )}.

  16. Marco October 15th, 2008 9:19 am

    Hi Lou,

    Sorry for thread drift, but are using the Low Tech Race heal as well? The lateral release is so low on the heal that I find it necessary to keep the toe locked while skiing. Just curious if you do the same or swapped out for another heal with adjustable lateral release.

  17. Marzini October 19th, 2008 2:19 pm

    Yeah Randonnee,

    Please put your best daughter on that— I wanna see your leash set-up too!

  18. Lou October 19th, 2008 5:00 pm

    Randonneee, you don’t need to do anything fancy, just get her to email me the photo and I’ll display.

  19. Lou October 19th, 2008 5:02 pm

    Marco, I’m using the regular TLT heel with an aluminum top plate. I actually don’t have a problem skiing the race heel, but don’t like that it has no for/aft adjustment and thus is tricky to mount. They’re cool though. We usually mount ‘em up on something for 24 Hours of Sunlight.

  20. Doug G. December 13th, 2009 6:15 pm

    Hey Lou, I just scored a cherry pair of older TLTs- the ones in your photo with the Scarpa Lazers (blue metal tops with groovy half moon cut outs). The base-plate on the toe is plastic-which may fail this spring while using ski crampons.
    Any ideas on where to get a pair of the aluminum toe base places?

    *Also, the binders didn’t come with brakes and I’m contemplating buying a pair off RandoSteve (Romeo)- do the older TLT brakes really suck as bad as I’ve heard they do?
    -I’m open to just rigging up a break-away leash system.

    Thanks- I’m jealous-looks like the Elks are getting hammered-up here in Grand Lake we’re finally getting some coverage. RMNP soon!

  21. Lou December 13th, 2009 7:29 pm

    Hi Doug, just use an aftermarket crampon such as B&D. And yes, the TLT brakes are really not that great, mainly because they’re hard to install and the screws tend to strip. Once installed they do work.

  22. Ben Collett August 17th, 2010 7:41 am

    Hey Lou,

    This has been my preferred leash set up, but I just bought some Dynafit Zeus boots which have no tongue around which to tie some cord. Do you have any suggestions on how to re-work this system for an overlap boot?

    Thanks

  23. Lou August 17th, 2010 8:09 am

    Ben, some folks tie a loop of cord around a buckle strap. I prefer to drill a hole somewhere in the lower end of the overlap and place a loop through that, then seal with silicone.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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