Review: Lil’ Ripper Gripper

My lil’ skier turns four (four!?) this March, and while I’ve had this product in hand for over a year, last year skiing just wasn’t in the cards! But this year, we are ready and have already been to the hill a few times.

My first time taking my daughter skiing I forgot the ‘Lil Ripper Gripper ski harness back at the house! At first I was kicking myself as I rode the magic carpet at Mt. Norquay, but then I figured, hey, I can do without. An hour of back-breaking labour later after skiing down the bunny hill with my hands under Maya’s armpits, we had completed a few runs, my body was done and I was really wishing I’d had this harness with me!

Here we go! Lil' Ripper Gripper in action.
Here we go! Lil’ Ripper Gripper in action.

I rarely post reviews after just one use, but I was seriously impressed with this product when we used it yesterday up at Nakiska. Let’s just say, some people have great ideas and poor execution, while others hit the nail on the head. The Lil’ Ripper Gripper ($84 CAD) is one of those ‘hit the nail’ products! It is thoughtfully designed, practical and hassle-free (once it’s on). Product inventor, Duncan, who hails from nearby Calgary, developed the harness when he saw what was available on the market when he was teaching his kids to ski. Concerned about safety due to dangling leashes on other harnesses on the market – and the lack of harnesses for lil’ rippers – Duncan designed a harness that has retractable leashes and one that can be used by both skiers and snowboarders.

Lil' Ripper Gripper leashes retracted and clipped into the back of the harness.
Lil’ Ripper Gripper leashes retracted and clipped into the back of the harness.

I may do some ski lessons with an instructor in the future, but for now I’m content to use the Lil’ Ripper Gripper to gently teach and give Maya a feel for skiing. Here’s how it went down for me on our first try.

Gold Stars

  • Once you learn how to clip the harness together it’s super fast and easy to get it on your kid.
  • The retractable leashes are very easy and reliable to use. Once retracted you can slot them back into clips at the back of the harness. For the magic carpet we let them dangle from time to time just to the sides and we were not concerned about safety or them getting in the way. In fact, this made things faster because we could simply slide off the magic carpet, grab the handles and go! Once we start using the chairlift, though, I’ll be really happy to have a slot to clip the handles into.
  • I was shocked at how great Maya was at skiing on her own after holding her up on our first go! Turns out, she leaned into me way more knowing I was supporting her. But, once free from my arms and safely at the end of the leashes, she held her own just fine and even learned to transfer her weight a bit as I gently pulled on one leash at a time.
  • The Lil’ Ripper Gripper comes with a Tip Gripper that helps your kid go “pizza” style without their tips overlapping. The Tip Gripper has enough length between the two clips that Maya could “french fry” when we wanted her to scootch forward towards the magic carpet again.
  • I can’t wait to try this out on a longer run that allows more time to get used to the motion.

→ See the ‘Lil Ripper Gripper in action on Instagram here! 

The Tip Gripper in place.
The Tip Gripper in place.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

  • Try it on your kid at home and let them get used to the process of putting it on. Have fun with it! We played “Santa and the Reindeer” and she loved it.
  • At first, the clip system can be a tad overwhelming. Be sure to try it on your kid and get to know how it all works before you get to the hill. I also recommend putting it on over their snowsuit and making sure the straps are long enough before you do it at the hill (if you’re trying it over their play clothes it won’t be as tight).
  • In a bathroom emergency (important to consider at this age), you can simply unclip the crotch-straps (assuming your kid isn’t wearing bibbed pants). Otherwise, you’ve got to remove the whole system.
  • There is no back-up if you let go of the leashes. I recommend a warm, but thin pair of mittens so that you can grip them firmly.
  • Some of you may think this product is a touch too expensive, but it’s well worth the investment if you want to have some hassle free time at the hill with your new little skier. Plus, it’s been created independently by people working hard to make your life easier. These ‘mom and pops’ ventures that do things well are totally worth supporting!

Check it out at, on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to Duncan at Lil’ Ripper Gripper for sending this product along for review! 

Author: Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications. She has a forthcoming travel memoir (Fall 2022), to published by Rocky Mountain Books.

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