riding with small kids

Stinky151

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Sep 28, 2017
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Okay everyone, I need some input and maybe a gear recommendation....


My nine year old is riding his own sled and learning this year, but my five year old likes to come with us too. He mostly rides with his mom in front of her, the same way she grew up riding. I have a super light helmet and even his own beacon, and she pretty much exclusively stays on trails. I have been heavily involved in motorcycle safety my whole life, and all my kids have ridden with me as they got bigger. I love that the little guy is so into it and its great getting him outside.


Here is my concern.... The trail she loves to ride (canyon creek in NW Montana) requires us to pass through two avalanche zones. We have avy gear and are training with it. she mentioned getting some kind of harness though, to keep him attached to her if there is a slide. I love the concept, but in all my years involved in a state level moto safety program, I would NEVER want my kiddo attached to me. I can totally see her point though. She has been riding her whole life, and isn't a crazy rider, and wont go off trail. Hopefully next year or the year after we will buy a ski doo expedition with a two up seat for the two of them, but my concern in an avalanche is still there.


Now keep in mind we watch the forecasts and avoid avalanche country whenever possible, but many trails here pass through chutes, and you cant control the skiers higher up on the hill. They both wear their own beacon and she has started carrying a probe and shovel now too. We want the kids in the habit of all gear all the time.


Is a harness a terrible idea until he is a little bigger and it isn't needed? does it make sense since he is small to keep him attached to her? And does anyone have a rig they recommend?


I know some will say not to ride with a kid so young, and I respect your opinions, but leaving him home isn't an option. Has anyone else ridden with a harness like this? In a worst case scenario that a slide over runs the trail, will it even keep them together? I appreciate everyones feedback.
 

turbolover

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I've seen the harnesses and even tried one once.....once.
By the time my son was 5 he could hold on to the mountain bar. I never worried about him from then on.
If he is wearing a beacon, great. If something should happen you would be able to locate him. I would worry about him being strapped to your wife and the trauma of them being slammed back and forth together if some thing should happen.
 

snoballssnoglory

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My first thought is that the likelihood that your wife gets into a situation where either just her or just him leave the snowmobile unexpectedly is higher than getting caught in a slide. Seen it several times. If you have them geared up proper than I believe that it’s a better option to keep them separate. Raised two kids on sleds from very young. Your doing the right thing getting them out at that age. Are there other areas that you can ride that don’t carry the danger? Maybe you decrease your risk if that’s available. We have one area where we have to pass a known slide area. We only went there a couple times when the kids were young. Good luck.


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turboless terry

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I'm all for getting them out. I take my 7 year old daughter with us unless it is cold. I will not go acrossed anything sketchy. Not worth it. I don't care how much training. I make her wear a beeper but will not put her in jeapordy. Go somewhere else. Not for me to decide but you will have to live with it if something happens.
 

Stinky151

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Sep 28, 2017
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Flathead Valley, Montana
It’s a groomed trail that is heavily used, there are just two marked avalanche areas you have to pass through. It’s probably the most popular spot in the area, and her dad always says he rode there for 30 years and never saw an avalanche. It seems the reputation from the area comes from people leaving the trail and high marking. We ride a lot of other areas, but it’s one she grew up riding and wants to take the kids. You end up at the summit house for the ski resort, plus it’s where the local association does all their family rides and such. I am a firm believer in proper gear all the time, which is why we have been waiting on beacons to go again this year (we went once with her grandpa and I hated not having them).

But the feedback one the harness is appreciated. I know I feel better with them not strapped together, and this just reinforced that feeling. We don’t go near the trail unless the avalanche conditions are green up to near the summit.


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Idcatman3

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We didn't use a harness with our oldest (7 now) but we do have one that we occasionally use with our 4 year old twins. It's easily removable, and we don't use it most of the time. It's very nice when they fall asleep on the trail. In the hilly stuff when they're good and awake, they hang on nicely without it. (They also have their own beacons.)

The one we have is similar to this:
https://www.amazon.com/LOLBUY-Stren...01JK96SG6/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8



The exact one we have doesn't seem to exist on Amazon anymore...
 
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Pro-8250

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My boy started riding with me when he was three, but that was just here and on trails. I personally I would not do it. I won't say its right or wrong, just giving you what works for me. It sounds like you and your wife are very heads up and are doing an excellent job. Good luck!
 

Pro-8250

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It’s a groomed trail that is heavily used, there are just two marked avalanche areas you have to pass through. It’s probably the most popular spot in the area, and her dad always says he rode there for 30 years and never saw an avalanche. It seems the reputation from the area comes from people leaving the trail and high marking. We ride a lot of other areas, but it’s one she grew up riding and wants to take the kids. You end up at the summit house for the ski resort, plus it’s where the local association does all their family rides and such. I am a firm believer in proper gear all the time, which is why we have been waiting on beacons to go again this year (we went once with her grandpa and I hated not having them).

But the feedback one the harness is appreciated. I know I feel better with them not strapped together, and this just reinforced that feeling. We don’t go near the trail unless the avalanche conditions are green up to near the summit.


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As far as never saw an avalanche. As I always say, "never is a long time".
 

MNBlizzard

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Awesome! I can't wait for my kids to ride with me. I'd say keeping doing all you can to get them out riding. It sounds like you are taking many precautions and IMO opinion you likely have a bigger chance of getting hurt in a car accident on the way than anything happening on the sled if you are reasonable.

I like the idea of buddy bars before a harness...haven't tried them but am thinking this is the route I will go next season.



http://www.alternativeimpact.com/Buddy-bars_c37.htm
 

tuneman

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I ride with my 7yo and it's awesome. She just hangs on to the mountain strap, and sometimes doesn't hang on at all when on trail. She's not going anywhere between my arms, legs and handlebars. She stands with me when going off trail.

With that said, what's always at the top of my mind is that I never ever want my daughter to be my frontal crash airbag. So that means I take it slow, especially off trail. You never know what may be lurking under the snow to cause a sudden stop. That also means that I'd never strap her to me in case I'd unexpectedly roll off. Never had an issue though (knock on wood).
 

Jaynelson

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It sounds like you are a pretty reasonable and safety conscious person - so I would just trust your judgement. I can see pro's and con's to the harness. In some situations, there is potentially an additional risk of trauma (avy related or otherwise). But in other situations - having them together would make location faster/easier if they were involved in an avy. Tough call.

I don't think you have to base your decision purely on avalanche concerns - it is TOTALLY fine to consider general safety and comfort as well. If you are only going out on days of lower avy risk, and only have to pass through limited avy sections (not ride in it), you are well on the right path. We have to drive through avy run out zones to leave town in most directions, or to drive to the ski hill - you simply can't avoid ALL avy risk in the mountains in the winter unless you stay home. So if you have done all you reasonably can to avoid avy's - the question eventually boils down to if you want to go....or not.
 

Flatcat12

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I've seen the harnesses and even tried one once.....once.
By the time my son was 5 he could hold on to the mountain bar. I never worried about him from then on.
If he is wearing a beacon, great. If something should happen you would be able to locate him. I would worry about him being strapped to your wife and the trauma of them being slammed back and forth together if some thing should happen.

I agree. I worry more about having adult body weight come down on a 5 yo in an "oops I fell off my sled" situation if they are tethered. You seem very safety conscious, you know your family best, use your best judgment.

When you got married did your vows include, "in good times and bad" and "even if she rides a different brand than me?" :face-icon-small-hap Great job getting your whole family involved.
 

plumnuts

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we never used a strap and then my wife started using a very long strap she made that Velcro together (she wrapped it around her and child)... her thought was it helped keep the child in front of her... and with all but one grand kid... they ALL fall asleep...
 
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