If there's one thing I've noticed about sports equipment, it's that it varies wildly between the U.S. and Europe. Things like Wildseile and Sporthocken don't seem like they'd ever fly here in the States, but are all the rage across the Atlantic.
Of course, not all equipment is that different. The same ISPO show that brought us Wildseile and Sporthocken also brought us inflatable snowshoes from AnyExit. And as it turns out, there's an American company that's working on a similar pair of air-shoes.
Well, if you consider the massive wild domain that is Alaska part of 'American, that is. Alaskan company Airlite makes what it calls "the original inflatable snowshoe" (take THAT AnyExit). Though they are designed more for emergencies than sport use (i.e. getting stranded in a snowstorm and having to hike out), Airlite indicates they're durable enough for multiple uses.
More of a safety raft to AnyExit's inner tube, Airlite's shoes provide long decking underneath your feet to give you some floating power on powder snow. The shape is similar to that of a traditional snowshoe.
The snowshoes have two valves: one for blowing up by mouth and one quick-valve for topping off with a CO2 inflator or bike pump to give them maximum firmness. Each shoe weighs 17 ounces and the puncture-resistant material is designed to prevent stranding you if you hit a rock or snag. And, of course, when they're not in use, they fold up and stow easily (unlike regular aluminum snowshoes).
Airlite is still developing the shoes, but plans to sell them for around $150 to $180 a pair once they're complete. Get more information at Airlitesnowshoe.com.
Via The Gear Caster