Ski-boot fitter invents tool to make buckling up a snap
A local ski-boot fitter of 10 years has developed a device to make the irksome chore of fastening those tough top two ski-boot buckles easier.
Bob Ets-Hokin’s “The Buckle-Up” is now available in area sporting goods stores for about three to five bucks, he said.
“In the past, I’ve had people come in who can’t buckle the top two buckles of their [four-buckle] boot,” Ets-Hokin said. “So I thought about developing a device that would be an extension to the buckle.”
“One night I woke up about 3 [o’clock] in the morning and said, `I’ve got the item!’ ” Ets-Hokin recalled. “I went and got a bottle opener, and of course I had to bend it and make the opening bigger, but it was the bottle opener that got me on the right track.”
Since that night two years ago, he has worked on developing a suitable prototype.
Ets-Hokin took the prototype for The Buckle-Up to Ski Country Imports of Englewood, Colo., a producer and distributor of ski-related gadgets. “They decided that they liked the item very much, but that they wanted to produce it for less,” he said.
“I was going to try to make it in this country, but it was just too expensive,” he said. “[Ski Country Imports] is producing it in Taiwan for considerably less money than I could produce it for in this country. They are now the producer of the item and the national distributor.”
Ets-Hokin admits the steel-made “The Buckle-Up” isn’t for everyone, or for every buckle for that matter.
“It works with a good 95 percent of the [four-buckle] boots out there,” he said. “And it’s not going to be for everybody, because not everybody needs it. But I know some racers use it because they buckle their boots really, really tight when they’re racing. And for other people who need it, they think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
Since The Buckle-Up hit the local retail market about two weeks ago, Ets-Hokin reports that 80 or so have sold where he works, at Aspen Sports on the Snowmass Village Mall.
“My patent attorney feels that The Buckle-Up is patentable,” Ets-Hokin said. “I’ve got a patent and trademark pending right now.”
“It’s a simple idea, and I’m not the first to have it as it turns out,” Ets-Hokin said. “There were eight developed years ago, but my patent attorney feels mine is original enough to get a patent.”
Ets-Hokin explained that earlier versions of The Buckle-Up were popular before the advent of rear-entry ski boots.
“When rear-entry boots came in, the item died, as would mine if they went back to rear entry boots tomorrow,” he said.
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It might require a little extra preparation, but there’s no need to be afraid of colder months when going out fishing.