The last few years has seen an explosion in backcountry snowboarding technology: greatly improved splitboards, Merino baselayers, ABS technology... the list goes on. One thing area that gets revisited time and time again is how to access it, and now that fuel-burning helis and sleds are becoming unfashionable it's all about muscle power.
Now there's a new system promising a lighter and more portable solution: Inflatable Snowshoes.
Last year we tested (and loved) the MTN Approach system - essentially foldable snowblades with permenant skins attached to the bases. Now there's a new system promising a lighter and more portable solution: Inflatable Snowshoes.
To be precise, the company involved is called Small Foot, a Bulgarian-based operation who seem to be launching with this product.
It does exactly what it says on the tin: it's essentially a crampon with an inflatable outer ring to give you grip underfoot and float in pow. We can't really see where this would go wrong in theory, though the obvious first problem would be the likelihood of getting a puncture in some remote backcountry spot.
They also come with a portable hand pump for getting them inflated, plus funny little backpacks for your highbacks to store them in. Or you could put them in your backpack, whatever.
They're almost three times lighter than the MTN Approach skis
It is light - clocking in at around 500 grams per foot it's almost three times lighter than the MTN Approach skis - but in all honesty it doesn't look all that rigid or stable. Plus, like regular snowshoes, the posture you have to adopt when hiking with them puts more strain on your back, making a snowboard feel even heavier.
Still, we'd like to give them a go, and if we do we'll let you good people know what we thought straight away on here!