“Do you have my leash?” 3-year-old F won’t start down the hill unless I show him two hands on the reigns.
It has been a year here in the Wasatch mountains of Salt Lake — a year of endless snow. Our Lucky Bums Ski Trainer is in its 5th year of service and second kid. I’ve tried all the others, and there is no contest.
What’s So Great about the Lucky Bums Harness?
It’s hard to put it into words. With our first child, it meant Daddy and I could have a “family ski day” where we didn’t spend the whole day on the magic carpet. Sure, learning to ski independently was really important, but our toddler got bored and wanted to ride the tram.
When #2 came around and #1 was an accomplished skier, there was NO WAY she was going to spend the day waiting for little brother. It has given us the freedom to adventure all over the mountain with our kids in a way that’s fun and challenging for everyone.
Ditch the Poles
The first bit of advice about using the Lucky Bums is ditch the poles. There’s a reason little kids don’t use poles — they get in the way of balance and learning how to control your body on skis.
Did you think I was talking about your kids’ poles? I was, but also yours. That’s right. You need two hands on the wheel, and as an added bonus, YOUR skiing will get better as you learn to use your body to control your skis. Even very experienced skiers can benefit from skiing without poles.
It’s a Backpack
Once the reigns are out and in use, the backpack comes in handy. I like to make F carry his own diaper and wipes, but we have also filled it with: fruit snacks, marshmallows, MnM’s, a lovey…
The handle comes in super handy too. If you’re in a bind and he’s tripping on his little boots, just grab on.
How do I Load the Chairlift?
One of the huge benefits of the harness is skiing the whole mountain, which means lift rides. Skiing with two kids who need help can be…daunting. Lucky for us we ski at Snowbird, and the lifties there are more than happy to give my older kid a boost.
The straps could pose a hazard, so when we are in line, I coil up the straps and stuff them in the pack — or when the pack is full of goodies, the hood of his jacket works great. Then I grab him and jump on.
How Do I Ski with the Lucky Bums?
Pizza, French fries. Well…wedging is an obvious safe method of transport downhill, and you should try it on a small hill to get the hang of it. Be sure to communicate regularly with your little one to check on whether those noises are happy or sad squeals.
When you get more comfortable and take things up a notch, I recommend learning how to parallel turn behind the leash. It’ll save your hips from exploding after a long day.
Over five years I’ve graduated from death-wedge to short-radius turns in bumps while F straight-lines everything.
Will It Teach My Kid to Ski?
In my experience, yes.
That’s a short answer. While it sure looks like F is bombing the hill, the leash has given him comfort at speed. Going on some more advanced terrain has provided an opportunity to learn to avoid obstacles and also watch other skiers turn, and kids learn by imitating.
While it isn’t a replacement for some good ski lessons in the learning area, it has made skiing exciting and fun for both of my kids. They had the opportunity to get used to the equipment, feel balance points, and just be outside enjoying something with us that we love.
I have one Lucky Bums Ski Trainer graduate and soon to be another. See, I’m pretty sure there is a point when a kid outweighs their equipment by enough to control it. When M was 4, we started our season without it and she hasn’t looked back. F is very reluctant to drop the harness, but I have a feeling that at 4 when next year starts, he’ll be a little ripper.
RELATED: The Skiing Toddler
Other Ski Trainers
Not every ski instructor loves the harness. Some argue it causes them to ski with their weight back. I haven’t seen that — all I have to do is tell the kids to pretend they’re using a steering wheel and that’s the end of that.
I tried the hooks that attach to the back of the skis by my ski poles. I found them cumbersome, and it required I ski so close to them that there was no room for error. The leash has a longer lead time for me to react to them falling or avoiding an obstacle.
The hula hoop method is ok for the bunny hill, but it shares the same problem as the hooks – not long enough to ski behind it. Also, it can be flimsy and awkward.
A half-day lesson here and there with a PSIA Certified ski instructor was an important complement to our ski days. It didn’t take many to get from the harness to the blues and some black runs because of how comfortable M was on her boards.
Where Can I Get It?
I haven’t received any promotional product, discounts, or cash for this post — I just love the product and this is a PSA for skiing parents. You can find one of these at their website, here. At around $40, less than half of a day pass at a resort, you can enjoy skiing with your whole clan while raising rippers.
The quality has been great, although after 5 solid seasons our zipper has blown out. It looks like they have changed the design away from a zipped pocket, so I’m probably not the only one. The new version looks awesome, still with all the great qualities that made us love it.
Having kids doesn’t mean you have to stop skiing — with this harness and some patience, it means you have a new ski buddy. Unless it’s a powder day….