Pros: Helps the weak put on their skates
Cons: If you use one people think you're weak
OK, ladies and kids may stay, but the real men must leave the building. Why? This is not a manly product gentlemen. Fine, you can stay, but I might poke some fun at you. Lets get to it, shall we.
▪ What is this thing for?
The answer in this seems self evident to me. A skate lace tightener is used to tighten skate laces.
▪ Why is there a tool for this?
Because skate laces need to be tight.
▪ Fine no more questions from me, you just make me feel small you horses rear
Oh, stop your whining. Here is the deal. Skates need to fit tightly. That is something that Ive written at least a dozen times in the past I bet. It is no less true now than it was the first time I typed it. Todays skate fitting technology aims to make skates fit as tightly as possible without discomfort. Still, there are times that you need this handy little tool to help with the job (if you arent a man).
▪ An Example
We did substantial things to skates in the shop I managed to make sure that skaters were able to perform at their peak. One evening at closing time a woman came in with her young hockey player, nearly frantic. I need to get an alignment! He has a tournament this weekend and he can hardly skate!
I wasnt too please by this since I was ready to go home. An alignment might take upwards of an hour. I informed her that it would be a $75 charge to make sure she was serious before getting too far along. She wasnt pleased by the price since she had paid less than that for the skates (had she but gotten them from us it was included in the price, sigh). Still she agreed as there was no other obvious solution to this problem. So being the good customer service oriented individual that I am I smiled and told her, Lets take a look and see. Ill stay late and get this done for you.
The other thing that kept me from crying was the fact that I knew the woman to be at least slightly loopy. She was very far out of the know of hockey. A few weeks before this fated day she had come in with a pair of skates that had never been sharpened but had rust on the blades. A formula that I had learned the hard way fit this situation perfectly: Unsharpened Skates + Rusty = My backside hurts from falling down because it isnt possible to skate on unsharpened skates
When I inquired about the fact that these skates had never been sharpened, she informed me that her son had played hockey on them for almost a year. Hmm, I bet she wondered why he skated like a two-year-old on a paid of roller skates with wheels that didnt actually turn.
Anyway, I was only mildly worried about the entire alignment problem when she came in that night. I figured that maybe she had the skates on the wrong kid, or the wrong feet. So I laced the kid up and had him stand on our high-tech square of simulated ice. As expected, he looked just fine.
What was happening on the ice? I asked.
He was bending his ankles and couldnt skate. She told me.
Do you lace your own skates, buddy? I asked the kid.
He shook his head. My mom did them for me this time.
AHA! I quickly deduced the answer. I pulled the kids skates off and had her lace them up. As she put the skates back on him, she informed me that dad was out of town and he usually did this sort of thing. The kid stood up and Viola! . . . he could hardly move without fear of a broken ankle. Problem identified - laces too loose.
▪ The Solution
Mom was astonished to see how bad her kid looked with her lace job. You need to get those laces a lot tighter or he wont be able to skate. She nodded, a worried look on her face. Thats as tight as I can get them though.
Already one of my alert (and wishing to go home as well) co-workers, Evan, was retrieving a lace tightener from the counter. I told her, You need to get a lace puller.
Do you sell those here? she asked. Evan was behind her with the lace tightener when I answered. Yeah but were all out until next Friday.
Evan was trying not to laugh as the poor woman was completely lost. I let her off the hook quickly with a smile and told her, Im just kidding, we have some. Its gonna set you back about $2 though. I hope thats OK.
Having just saved her $73 and an hour of her life, she didnt mind that I was giving her a hard time . . . at least I dont think she did.
▪ How it works
So how does this thing work? she asked as Evan handed it to her. The tightener is a rather non-descript piece of metal with a small hook at one end and a handle at the other. It isnt entirely unlike a hay-bailing hook, something that I must review at a later date. However the end of the lace tightener isnt sharp.
Since the kid still had his skates on, I demonstrated for her. You just hook the laces where they cross and pull with the handle here. Its very simple.
She gave it a try. It worked even for her.
▪ Final Thoughts
People without string fingers will certainly benefit from a lace puller. They work best with a pair of waxed laces which dont slide loose as easily as un-waxed laces do.
Players who have strong hands and are using a tightener, most likely need to get a new pair of skates. The odds are good that anyone using a tightener over about age 10 has narrow feet in a too wide boot. Most coaches make their players start putting on their own skates at about age 8.
Lacing someone elses skates is a difficult thing to do at first. With a little practice you dont need to use a lace tightener. Ive had a lot of practice and am a trained professional, so if I offended you it is because you are weak. Oh relax, Im just kidding.
Lace tighteners can also help with the break in of a new pair of skates that hasnt been heat molded. The first part of the break-in period is simply getting the skates to round out to the shape of your feet. Lacing them extra tight will be a requirement in this stage. Even a trained pro can have a hard time getting a top of the line boot tight enough for that.
A&R lace tighteners are durable and never break under ordinary use. They are small so A&R can make them durable and count on you to lose them instead. In most cases losing one is a sign from God that you need to move on and lace by hand. In other cases it is just plain annoying.
A&R and the half dozen other brands of lace tighteners are probably made by the same factory in Hong Kong. With the exception of the folding ones, they are nearly impossible to distinguish from one another as their construction is identical.
This review was in no way intended to be offensive to whimps, women and children. I only posted that title to see if you would read it. Actually I am now afraid of being beaten up by whimps, women and children.