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Stuff We Like: Thule Easy Fit Snow Chains

Stuff We Like: Thule Easy Fit Snow Chains

Get up the canyon or over the pass without freezing your fingers.
By Berne Broudy
posted: 12/08/2012

Here's the scenario: You're headed to ski Snowbird and there's an Interlodge. The canyon road is closed. Piles of snow are accumulating. The lifts are running, but you can only drive up the hill if you have chains. That means that you're under the car in a slushy parking lot, covered with dirt and salt and wet snow, trying to force links of freezing metal over your tires. No chains, no turns. 

No more. 

Thule just introduced Easy Fit Snow Chains, which literally snap on with a foot lever and self tighten as you drive. It's quick and clean to get them on and off—so much so that Thule just earned a Guiness Book record for most snow chains installed in a minute. It took the Thule team about nine seconds per chain. 

Don't expect it to go quite that fast at first. It took us about two minutes installing the Easy Fits at night, in a snowstorm, the first time. The directions to install and remove the chains are on the chain's briefcase-style tote that unfolds so you can use it as a knee pad. The quick start guide: hang a chain over your tire, the stiffened rim of the chain at the top. Press down on the lever in front of your hubcap with your foot, which locks the chain into place. Drive, and the chain self tightens. It is, in fact, as easy as it sounds. Need to see it to believe it?

Don't get these for your plow truck—they're light duty. But when you need to get your Prius, Subaru, or Saab up the hill, they'll do the trick. $450, thule.com.

reviews of Stuff We Like: Thule Easy Fit Snow Chains Write a comment
$450 buys good snow tires on most cars...AND that only buys you one set of chains, if you drive AWD you need $900 worth of chains. Even really pricey cars can get snow tires mounted for that. Also, in your scenario any Subaru (save the BRZ/FRS) with even the baldest tires would get up to the bird, since they are looking for chains OR 4wd...not both. I guess if you have a really expensive sportscar or a car with hugely expensive tires AND you only will need them once or twice a year AND you don't mind blowing a lot of extra money for convenience...then yeah, these are cool.
Snow tires don't count for chain control (at least here in Cali), so it doesn't matter if you can buy them for the same amount. Why would you put chains on all 4 tires on a 4WD/AWD? That is a bit of overkill, and wouldn't be necessary except for the most extreme conditions (they'd close the road if it was bad enough for that). If you had to use them 15 times, that would offset paying the chain guys to put a regular set on @$30 (sorry chain guys :)) I've opted for 4WD for my needs, but these look pretty slick, if you do need chains.
A lot of areas (Cali too) say 4WD/AWD and chains but I've NEVER seen them enforce both. I was at Tahoe last year in March when they got 5 feet/30 hours, and they let me through with AWD only....although signs said both chains and 4WD/AWD. If you feel more comfortable with chains on, Thule CB-12 chains only cost $85.....will roll up to 40 mph....and are durable. They are super easy to put on (you don't have to roll in). You can reliably put them on in 90 seconds each wheel.....quicker if you are a zen master. I would guess a normal person could put the advertised Easy Fit Thule chains on in 30 seconds. So....to save a couple minutes each time....you have to weigh whether that's worth the $365. I used to use CB-12s before I got AWD, and they worked great. I even got a set as back up for my AWD.....although, I've NEVER had to use them to get to the Bird/Alta, or anywhere else for that matter.
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