20 Uses for a Ski Strap
Gear fails. It’s inevitable, but many of us avoid facing the facts until it’s too late, and we’re up a creek with a busted paddle.
Luckily, the humble ski strap—originally designed to keep your skis together when you’re moving them from point A to point B—has more uses than you might expect.
A marvel of simplicity, durability, and versatility, the ski strap is the backcountry equivalent of duct tape. In fact, it’s better than duct tape since it will even work in cold or wet conditions.Though it’s called a “Ski Strap,” don’t be fooled; the situations where a it can save your day are nearly limitless. The intended use of the strap is to lash your skis together while bootpacking uphill, but we scrolled through reviews from our customers and found some equally useful applications for ski straps as well as a few MacGyver-esque inventions.
Backcountry customer Richard P. is an avid backcountry splitboarder out of Australia. His love for ski straps cannot be underestimated. “They’re a bit like a backcountry WD40; there are a million and one uses, particularly when something breaks. Make sure you get a few different lengths, not just the long ones. You can always daisy-chain them together.” He has a few tips as well: “Side-hilling on steeps with no place on the pole to get a good grip? No problem, just tightly wrap a ski strap around your pole and you have an instant grip!” Richard also uses the straps to lash his crampons to the outside of his pack when out on mountaineering missions.
William H. has found that the ski strap functions perfectly as a chest strap on his backpack in the event of a buckle blowout.
Sledder Matthew P. affirms that a 24-inch ski strap can securely strap skis to his steed without worries. “Every other thing I’ve tried (bungees, snowboard ankle straps, zip ties) has broken, but these hold up amazingly. You can ratchet them down like crazy. I’m amazed that one has never broken.”
Former Backcountry.com athlete Andrew McLean even says, “I use a ski strap virtually every single time I go out skiing and often have 2-3 of them stashed in my pack and/or pockets. They obviously work well for keeping skis together, but also can be used for attaching blown skins to skis, emergency repairs, first aid splinting, and a million other uses.” Here Andrew shows the ski strap in action on a first ascent of Victoria Peak in Antarctica. It would be mere foolishness to attempt any sort of mission without this trusty strip of polyurethane.
Customer Henry C. discovered the ski strap functions marvelously as a temporary booster strap when he experienced a strap failure on his ski boot.
Backcountry.com athlete and explorer extraordinaire Neil Provo was forced to get creative on the river. After his oar busted in half, Neil lashed the broken shafts together with two of the longer ski straps so he wouldn’t be stuck up sh*t creek without a paddle … uh … oar!
Ronen S., an avid mountain biker out of San Francisco, secures his whip to the bike rack with ski straps. Check out Ronen’s profile for some neat photos of his inverted biking endeavors.
Reid P., a splitboarder out of the Pacific Northwest, showcases a fairly common use of the ski strap in the event of climbing skin failure. Should your skin glue fail to stick to your bases, this is a fail-proof method to reach the top. In some cases more than one strap will be needed so it’s always advisable to carry several in your pack.
Ski straps come in handy when bindings fail, too. Vermont-based skier Harrison G. experienced the dreaded tech binding failure when out in the Beast Coast backcountry this January. On his third run he noticed that a couple bolts in his heelpiece had sheared, so he applied a logical and fairly easy fix. Harrison was able to ski 90% of the way to the car before he was forced to finish the run in tour mode. Harrison proclaims, “I carry 4-5 of them with me when I go backcountry skiing. I’ve used five to hold a pair of stubborn skins onto my skis for one last lap. They can help lash stuff onto my pack, hold a boot cuff together when a buckle breaks, help make a rescue sled to haul a buddy out of the woods, and many other things.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched dismayed splitboarders discover a failure point in their backcountry bindings. If you are a splitboarder, stop reading right now and add four ski straps to your cart—you’ll thank me later. Reid P. discovered yet another use for a strap when the forward lean adjustment broke on his splitboard binding. “The ride was smooth and I hardly noticed a difference” Reid testifies.
Another reason to throw at least two (preferably more) ski straps in your pack: showing newer backcountry users the tricks and tips of efficient backcountry travel and survival. While yours truly demonstrates proper A-frame ski carry technique with the help of a ski strap (which makes bootpacking much more comfortable), my friend (who will remain nameless) demonstrates the far inferior H-frame configuration. You can rock a buddy’s world for about five bucks with the simple gift of a ski strap.
Our in-house videographer Pete O’Brien has kitted out his Greyhound, Uno, with a very stylish (and bright) collar. Pete says Uno’s neck is so skinny that most dog collars slip off, but not the highly adjustable (and dashing) ski strap!
If that’s not enough MacGyver action for you, here’s some additional inspiration:
- Twist the strap and wrap along the bridge of your foot for a makeshift crampon
- Use as a backcountry tourniquet
- Attach your skis to your bike for multisport days
- Lash your skis and poles together for easy transportation
- Control flyaway hair with a ponytail or a sexy elastic orange headband
- Fashion a rescue sled or makeshift toboggan with skis, trekking poles or a backpack frame
- Craft an emergency shelter with a lightweight tarp and poles or branches
Have a sweet gear hack or a great story about a ski strap saving the day? Leave it in the comments below!