What is a Snowboard Leash?

Chance are you have no idea what a “leash” is, because your home mountain doesn’t require one. A snowboard leash is a little strappy thing that fastens to your binding, and then variously to your boot/laces or clips around your ankle. It allegedly prevents the snowboard from going rogue. Allegedly.

What is the point? It is so stupid.

Here in Michigan snowboard leashes are required by state law. Making matters worse, skiers are not required to leash their skis although I think ski-bladers are required to leash their frootboots.

WTF right?

For skis, those little binding doohickeys that kind of scrape the snow if they’ve been dismounted are enough of a “retention” device, apparently, according the the law. But if you really get jacked, you know those things don’t work half the time and even when they do work, you know that they don’t prevent your ski from rocketing a quarter mile down the mountain before it gets stuck in a mogul.

Think about how ridiculous this is! How many times have you ever seen a runaway snowboard? And compared to how many times every session you see some runaway skis?

I blame step-in bindings for this law. That and asshole old man lawmakers who probably made this law just to make it more inconvenient to go snowboarding back in the early days of the sport.  A few times as a kid I was actually ordered out of the lift line, and had to go inside to the pro shop and buy an overpriced leash or they wouldn’t let me back on the chair.

Well, jokes on you punks because I have a leash but I also know those patrollers and lifties aren’t really paying attention.  One end of my leash is fastened to my binding. And the other end? That’s also fastened to my binding.

If my board comes off my feet somehow, there’s no telling where it will go.

9 thoughts on “What is a Snowboard Leash?

  1. Keep in mind that in order for the board to come completely detached either the 8 screws in the base plates have to strip simultaneously, 4 screws holding the straps on need to break, or all 4 straps themselves need to break.

    Odds of any of those vs. a skier losing their balance and sending two pointy rockets in any direction?? Ill let you decide.

  2. Never used on in MI for 4 years, then yesterday, Mt. Holly tried to tell me I’d get kicked off the lift without one. Went to the shop and they were out but tried to sell me a pair of boot laces for 6 bucks. I told them if my board comes off, my feet will have to come off too. I told them they can refund my lift ticket if they won’t let me on. Nobody ever asked. I didn’t realize ski resorts had such a powerful lobby to get this ridiculous law passed as a money making scheme for the resort. How stupid is Mt. Holly for not even having enough leashes to sell.

    1. It is kind of stupid that they didn’t have enough leashes in-stock… To be honest I’m pretty sure it’s not a powerful lobby that got this law passed to “make money”. this is a really old law that says skis must have restraint devices (the “brakes” on the bindings are sufficient) and when updated/applied to snowboards 30 years ago it’s just always been interpreted as the need for an additional restraint device since our bindings don’t have those little doohickeys that dig in the snow. If you’re feeling singled out, I think Tele skis and ski blades also require leashes. :)

  3. I was told by a lift operator yesterday at Crystal Mountain that I needed a leash. Nobody ever told me this before. So i said, “Oh, okay!”, and went on like he had no idea what he was talking about. Again, next time up he tells me, “Sir, you really need to get a leash. It’s a state law. You can buy them in our gift shop.” I was really confused, a state law, really? So on the way up the lift i tried to google it. I basically came up with nothing and decided to go to rentals to ask if i can borrow one. They were cool and let me use one as long as i brought it back. ;)

    Today I decided to look deeper into this law. I searched the Michigan website, found nothing. Since this is the second time I have heard leashes are a state law, does anybody have an official link to the law? Even if you have the name of the bill or law, it would be helpful.

    1. The law is here, and as interpreted the “restraining device” mentioned in section F means leashes on snowboards.
      Ski bindings have “brakes” which meet this criteria. Basically the idea is/was to prevent runaway equipment. Obviously, it’s near impossible for someone’s board to come off, unless on purpose. The law goes back to the 1960s, I would think maybe the more modern interpretation arose during the step-in/clicker craze of the 1990s, but perhaps it was always interpreted to require a leash.

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