At the Winter 2005 Outdoor Retailer show we began to report about a product from a small company called Shoeboard. In 2006 they refined their snowshoe-ski system reducing its weight substantially. Our curiosity remained piqued. After all, we were eagerly looking forward to having a product that would let us easily snowshoe up a hill and then ski back down. While you cannot ski or snowboard down a hill as gracefully you will be far better off than someone descending on snowshoes. While we were interested we hoped for more refinements that would improve the overall aesthetics of the design which would in turn reduce the overall weight even more. Now at the 2007 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market our expressed hopes in 2006 seem to be about to be realized.
Shoeboard has continued to work on their designs and made significant changes to the snowshoe as well as creating an entirely new product. The new snowshoe-ski hybrid, to be called the Allride 2, will weigh no more than 2.5 pounds per foot and sports a much cleaner and lighter design than its 2006 predecessor. The Allride 2 features the same fold-out wing design that lets you convert from a snowshoe with front and heel cleats with expanded wings or collapsed wings to the ski mode. In ski mode you remove the cleats and can attach (or leave off) the climbing skin. This gives you a great deal of flexibility. You could take the Allride 2 on a trip and leave the cleats at home instead opting to only bring the climbing skin. If you find you need extra floatation you can expand the wings. When I tested the predecessor model I found I sank very little in deep snow with the wings collapsed. I am far from the lightest among our staff. The Allride 2 will have an MSRP of $249, available early fall.
The product though that has really caught our eye is the new Pocket Ski. The Pocket Ski has the same basic dimensions as the Allride 2 but does not posses the wings. It is meant to be used as an approach ski by snowboarders, but we suspect it will make an excellent snowshoe touring device where terrain is not too steep or cruddy. The Pocket Ski has a basic binding with hill riser. Like the Allride 2 the Pocket Ski comes with a detachable climbing skin. Optional cleats will be available that could also serve as climbing crampons should that prove necessary. The Pocket Ski will weigh 2.0 pounds per foot. The MSRP for the Pocket Ski will be $169., available early fall.
Although we were not able to test these latest products we have high hopes especially for the Pocket Ski. Under the right circumstances the Pocket Ski could let you travel with an agility and speed that has not been readily attainable with most snowshoes. I found in my short demo of the predecessor snowshoe that I could practically glide, and this was without poles, across deep flat snow. That was a far nicer experience, more akin to skating, than clomping through with snowshoes.