Security System: Why, even after three decades, the Voilé strap remains the most relevant tool in any kit

Never leave home without one… or seven straps.

In the mid ’80s, Mark “Wally” Wariakois devised a simple ski strap for one of the reasons that it’s most commonly used in a pinch today—to secure climbing skins to skis.

At the time, Voilé, the company Wariakois founded in Salt Lake City, Utah, was developing their rubber Snake Skin, and plastic ladder-lock buckles weren’t adequately securing the glueless climbing skins to skis. Inspired by a belt buckle’s closure, Wariakois fitted a rubber strap with a metal-toothed clasp, and the strong, adjustable solution solved his dilemma. But its application didn’t end there. 

Charlie Sturgis, an early owner of Park City, Utah’s White Pine Touring, started using Wariakois’s invention as a ski strap and loved it. Then boot-maker Merrell, while working to increase the stiffness of their telemark offerings, incorporated into their leather, lace-up Super Comp a plastic cuff and a toe tightened by pink, nine-inch Voilé straps. And thus, the simple rubber strap’s legacy in solving wide-ranging problems was born. 

Today, the straps are ubiquitous among committed bc travelers. Heli operations use them to tether poles to skis while in flight; most guides carry a half dozen in their repair kit; and any tale of a mountain-bound epic involving broken bindings, buckles, skins or sleds usually incorporates some sort of ski-strap fix. The reason is as simple as the straps themselves—they’re cheap and easily packable, and the stretchy rubber holds nearly anything tightly and securely.

Those uses go beyond skiing, too. They’re my preferred “bungees” when tying things like lumber to my car’s roof racks. When a bolt disappeared from my aging lawnmower’s handle, two straps fastened it together long enough to outlive the engine. On last year’s Backcountry Basecamp Tour, when a tie rod snapped in our tour trailer’s suspension, a few straps held the loose ends while the rig limped to a mechanic. Voilé straps are duct tape’s reusable, stronger cousin with an applicability only as endless as imagination.

To capitalize on those transcendent uses, Voilé launched a dedicated website,, last year and sales have doubled. The straps are now sold in seven lengths from 12 to 25 inches with aluminum and nylon buckles, plus two, one-inch-wide XL offerings. They’re available with custom logos and in five colors, too. And if that might seem a bit flashy for such a simple tool, consider that duct tape, once available only in plain gray, is now sold in more than a dozen Disney-themed patterns. 

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