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Every backcountry skier knows to never leave home without proper safety equipment: beacon, shovel and probe. This winter, whether you’re on skis, splitboard, or snowshoes, add a ski strap or two to your list of essential gear. Here are six uses for this lightweight piece of equipment, and why we always carry a few in our packs when we head out.
1. Fix a broken….anything.
With the strength of duct tape but superior adjustability and reusability, ski straps (sometimes called Voile straps) are one of the most versatile tools in your repair kit. Broken or frozen ski boot buckle? Ski strap. Snapped ski pole? Ski strap. Malfunctioning snowshoe binding? Ski strap. Janky sternum strap? You guessed it. Temporarily reattach your malfunctioning gear to get safely out of the backcountry.
2. Make a splint.
3. Reattach climbing skins.
Frozen or saturated glue on your climbing skins can ruin a ski day in an instant. If your skins refuse to stick to the base of your skis, hold them in place with a few rubberized straps to carry on. We’ve used this technique to bail us out of a rainy, 100-percent-humidity day skinning up a glacier in British Columbia.
4. Carry your skis.
Bootpacks, scrambles, or technical sections may require you to carry your skis instead of wear them. Employ the compression/ski carry straps on your pack and connect the tips with a strap to create an A-frame. Now you have a secure, convenient attachment setup to carry your skis securely so you can focus on your footing.
5. Set up a shelter.
Even fully extended, a single ski pole makes for a squat support for a tarp shelter. Fasten two ski or trekking poles together for a secure, sufficiently-tall center pole, then stake or weight the corners to make a simple pyramid-style tent.
6. Holding your skis together, duh.
Oh, yeah—you can also use ski straps for their intended use when you throw your skis back in the car at the end of the day.