by Skimum Richelle
A previous post of mine entitled, Seriously, I Need A Tool For Buckling My Ski Boots?, reviewed the Ski ToolTM device that helps you buckle your ski boots. In short, the tool worked well for a season or two, but then broke. I was able to repair it (with copious amounts of gaffers tape) to a point where I could use it again, but it has never quite been the same. Since publishing that first review, I was contacted by not one, but three other boot tool manufacturers and was offered a chance to review their devices.
I also want to quickly address an issue that some have raised in the comments section, questioning the need for such a tool at all. Some have suggested to me that I must have the wrong size boots or that I’m over-tightening them if I have to use a tool to tighten them. First, I can assure you that I have the proper boot size (fitted by a professional). Second, I do not over-tighten my boots. I buckle my boots once, for the day, and then leave them buckled until I am done skiing. I do not have any problems with pain, circulation, etc. What I do have a problem with is getting my boots buckled up tight enough initially. The small buckles on my boots just don’t provide enough leverage to close on those last couple notches. Call me weak, or soft handed…but I am confident that I have a good and proper boot fit. If anything, I find that many skiers (especially women) do not buckle their boots tight enough…which can make their skiing sloppy and less precise. For me, a boot tool makes all the difference to easily get that perfect fit!
On with the comparison…
This year I am reviewing four different lever models, the Ski ToolTM, the Buckletite, the BriXski, and the latest addition to the line-up, the E-Click®.
Ski Boot Tool Line-Up
Each tool was evaluated based on various design features and functionality.
How easy is it to hold? Does it slip in your hand? The best grip winner is the Buckletite tool. It fits in my hand well and doesn’t slide around. The Ski Tool also feels pretty good in your hand and has little wavy sides for your fingers to wrap around. My least favorite grip of the four were the BriXski and the E-Click. They both taper down quickly and are very smooth. They are not terrible, but my bare hand does tend to slip a bit when using them.
How well does the tool hold on the boot buckle? To be honest, I did not think any of these tools held particularly well to my buckles. They all tended to slip around…or even slip off the buckle as I was applying pressure to them. The E-Click tool with it’s extra large opening allowed the most slippage on the buckles. To be fair, if your boots have the new, larger buckles then it will probably fit a lot better. The good news is that I have a simple fix for all of these – add a little fabric based tape (gaffers tape, duct tape, medical tape) to the surfaces or edges that come in contact with buckle. Very effective! No more slip!
How well does the geometry of the tool work? How much strength and pressure is required by the user? All four tools actually do a good job here. After all, that is what they are designed to do. In terms of shear leverage power, the E-Click, with its longer (6.4 inch) arm, generates the greatest amount of lever power…requiring the least amount of effort.
Frankly, I never even thought about this until I started comparing these three tools in quick succession. I quickly realized, however, that the angle at which you attach the tool to the buckle is much different with the BriXski and the E-Clilck tools compared to the other two. The BriXski tool’s unique design allows you to slip the buckle into the little opening. The result is a much easier “angle of attack” to grab the buckle. This description may not make much sense, so I have included a couple photos (below) to illustrate the difference. Actually, my photos don’t even show the true angle differential (It is actually a bigger difference). In the end, does it really matter? Maybe not, but I did find it easier and quicker to attach the BriXski and the E-Click tool without having to contort my arm.
With all of that said, I did find a drawback to the BriXski and the E-Click tools, in that they don’t work on all ski boots buckles. While they seem to work on most of the new style buckles, they will not fit over some of the older (thicker style boot buckles. I found three different boots (in my attic) that the BriXski and E-Click tools did not work well with. The tool opening is just too small (or too big in the E-Click’s case) to accommodate the fatter (thicker) plastic buckles, including an old pair of kid’s boots.
There should be little or no flex in the tool. From the first time I ever used the Ski ToolTM it flexed just enough to make me nervous about it breaking (and ultimately it did). The Buckletite the BriXski and the E-Click tools, however feel much different and much more solid. I have a hard time detecting any flex in these other three at all. This increased rigidity helps efficiently transfer energy from your hand to the buckle, and gives you more confidence when applying significant torque.
For me, the SkiTool fails the durability test. Its soft and flexible plastic just does not hold up over time. In contrast, Buckletite levers are made out of PROLON, a tough 33% fiberglass-impregnated nylon and they are guaranteed for life. The BriXski lever is made out of a material called PA6 45, which is a high quality plastic reinforced with 45% glass. It appears to be very tough and have almost a metal-like quality. Both Buckletite and BriXski also have great warranties on their products. If they break, send them back and they will send you a new one. I’m not sure exactly what material the E-Click is made out of. My guess is that it is closer to the Buckletite’s PROLON material. Again, very tough.
Skimums Tool Comparison Ratings
It was a close race, but overall, our favorite boot tool was the Buckletite. It just feels comfortable in your hand and offers the best, most stable platform. The flair on both ends just gives your hands a little bit more control when applying pressure. The Buckletite should also work with virtually any ski boot buckle out there. If you have a boot with large (flat) buckles, we recommend trying the E-Click tool. The longer arm offers better leverage. The BriXski is also a great tool. It is compact and, like the E-Click, offers a better connection angle to the buckle. We suggest passing on the Ski ToolTM. The plastic that it is constructed out of is just not strong enough to handle the loads that you need.
Where to Purchase
Contact seller for special dealer and industry pricing as well as combined shipping for multiple unit orders.
Seller is based in Sweden and is currently working on setting up distribution in the USA. See seller website for updated purchasing options.
Seller is based in The Netherlands. At the time of this writing E-Click did not have distribution established yet in the USA. See seller website for updated purchasing options.