Review: Thule K Summit Chains

By STEPHEN KRCMAR

A running joke about mountain weather: “If you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes and it will change.” But you can be prepared for any winter storm that blows in with a product like Thule’s K Summit chains.

Thule claims that the external, zero-clearance snow chain fits perfectly on the outside of a wheel and tire so it won’t interfere with vehicle components (braking, ABS, steering, suspension). Further, the claim is that it “installs in a matter of minutes” without the need to permanently install anything to the rim. After installation, the K-Summit chains — which cost a pretty $450 — are purported to automatically self tension as you drive.

In my test, the above claims were true. I used the snow chains for much of last winter driving to and from Mammoth Mountain on many of the storm days during a 480-inch season.

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Thule K Summit chains

Some days, there was just a bit of snow on the ground. Other days there was several inches to plow through. Occasionally, I got caught in heavy snow and whiteout conditions and the chains performed admirably.


Thule promo video on K Summit chain installation

But for most of the year, no matter what Mammoth could throw my way, the K-Summits were superlative. Unlike inexpensive auto-store chains, the pricey Thule chains fit well — none of that annoying “thwack, thwack, thwack” sound. And I could cruise at a comfortable speed.

Further, the ease of installation meant I used them more — they were so easy to throw on, I always erred on the side of putting them on, which was a safe move. That’s something I can’t say about other chains I’ve owned.

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Thule K Summit chains have a ratcheting mechanism to ease installation

All said and done, they take just a few minutes to install and less time to remove. But the initial install will take longer. That’s why I’m writing this now. If you’re getting chains this winter, regardless of the model, buy them now and learn how to install and remove while it’s still relatively warm and dry outside. And if you have the money, definitely consider the K-Summit. (www.thuleracks.com)

—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Posted by tan - 11/22/2010 10:08 PM

Nice passat. Have you tried the Spikes Spider Sport? I have them on my 08 Passat wagon, though I get a lot of funny comments about the mounting hubs.

Posted by Nathaniel - 12/22/2010 11:06 PM

Are these still working well for you?

Posted by Roger Shann - 01/04/2011 10:11 AM

Glad to see a positive review of the Thule K Summit. From what I gather about the spikes spider sport the hubs are a pain to remove if you have a flat.

Posted by Bogdan Florin - 01/09/2012 09:37 AM

Unfortunatly the situation is lot as advertised. if you travel on mountain roads it broke, the plastic is very poor and one of the device used for Setup it boken in my hand at -5 degree. I dream one year for this chains and after 2 days and 40 km working with them on road …. in the mountains … not Off Road … but on ROAD !!! it looks like past their life. very trully sincerely dispointed. if you travel on strong ice .. the plastic parts are ugly scratched … if you travel on small rocks road .. it will broke the metal traverse bar who keep the chains at distance one to another. one word: HUGE DISAPOINMENT ! it looks nice, but it is for small things purely on snow … not mountains road in any way !

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