Mar 30 2011

Review: Doc Allen’s Versatool

After years of carrying all manner of compact – and not so compact – ratcheting screw drivers, Swiss Army knives, and multi-tools into the field, I serendipitously stumbled across what might be the perfect screwdriver set for individuals or groups who want a real screwdriver in the field but wince at having to schlep anymore dead weight around the hills than is absolutely necessary. Hailing from less-than-alpine Fort Worth, Texas, Doc Allen’s VersaTool® is the brainchild of a local orthodontist. What ghastly oral procedure he was engaged in when inspiration for the tool struck, I have no idea, but his elegant, efficacious design couldn’t serve the needs of the backcountry skier or boarder better.

From the socket forward the VersaTool looks and acts like any compact modular screwdriver. It is the design of the low-profile handle — a continuous tear dropped-shaped loop of stainless steel rod stock — that distances it from its competitors. Permanently attached to this handle is a free sliding and free spinning “adapter”. Attached to this adapter is a removable ¼” socket. Along one side of the handle are three discrete, snap-in torque positions. Depending where you position the adapter you can take advantage of three levels of rotational force — which is considerable in the high torque alignment. The shape of the bare-bones handle has the added benefit of providing positive grip for cold or gloved hands

In addition to the handle/adapter and socket, the VersaTool comes with a zippered pouch, eleven non-metric bits (including slotted screwdriverss, Phillips®, and hex bits) and an extender shaft/socket for accessing hard to reach screw heads — like those in many backcountry bindings. A metric set is available as an option. I’d be surprised if you didn’t customize your VersaTool kit by stripping the supplied bit kit down slightly while adding a few extra after-market bits including key skiing-oriented bits like #20 TORX® and true Pozidriv® heads. Even some ¼” wrench sockets will work with the VersaTool.

Compared to the relatively robust Black Diamond Binding Buddy the all steel VersaTool weighs in at a mere 2.3 ounces – versus 3.0 ounces. Considering too the way the VersaTool’s adapter’s can fold flat back onto, or more accurately into, itself I have found nothing to compare with the VersaTool’s favorable blend of quality, minimal bulk, versatility and raw cranking power. Even if Doc Allen’s VersaTool were offered at twice the price it would be a highly recommended addition to your emergency/repair kit. At $12.95 complete, however, it is a no-brainer if there ever was one. If you can’t find a VersaTool locally just give the Lone Star boys a shout and order direct.

Doc Allen’s Versatool®
$12.95 ($4.50 for the optional metric bit set)


© 2011