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Thread: Inflatable Snowshoe Survival Gear

  1. #1
    Member J2theD's Avatar
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    Default Inflatable Snowshoe Survival Gear

    A good family friend invented these years ago, and is soon going to begin marketing them. I was wondering what you guys thought of them as a survival tool as well as a recreational use. They are an inflatable snowshoe that weighs very little. They pack up nicely, and come with a manual air pump that can also use a little CO2 container to fill them up.

    I have personally worn them and was actually amazed at how effective they are. And they are super tough, my 140# dog could not pop the material biting on it no matter how hard he tried.

    Anyways, I was just looking for feedback/opinions on them.

    Thanks

    http://www.airlitesnowshoe.com/Home.php

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    Member KelvinG's Avatar
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    Looks like a very good idea.

    I use to play around in the back country and ALWAYS carried a pair of snowshoes. Most people have no idea how impossible it is walk out, even following your snow machine track.

    One general comment; By marketing this as a life safety item and targeting emergency responders, outdoors people, and the like you KNOW this will get used for by someone for self rescue. Iíd do back flips to make sure this item was bullet proof and had a significant life span.

    I can think of four areas of concern if I was making them.

    1. Storage life Ė How will they perform after bouncing around in the back of a snowmachine seat for 5 years? Heat / Thaw cycles, low humidity, crap being stuffed in on top of them, etc.
    2. How brittle does the plastic become at -30, etc?
    3. How puncture resistant are they, especially when itís really cold?
    4. Can a lawyer come up with the legalize to prevent a goofball from suing your ass off because he did something stupid?

    Iíd find some company that does life cycle testing and ship it off to them for analysis. (And probably get second and third opinions from lawyers! LOL)

    Just a few quick thoughts, Good luck!

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    Member J2theD's Avatar
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    I appreciate the input. I do know they have been out in -25 and were not brittle. I know they are very puncture resistent in general, but i am not sure in the cold. I am not sure the storage life either. That is a very interesting point. Like I said, I do appreciate your opinions and concerns.

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    I snowshoed my fat butt about 3 miles today in the nastiest crust conditions you ever saw and I was hoping that I had a portible inflatable helium balloon to take me home towards the end of my jaunt!!!!! Has this been invented yet???

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    Member akjw7's Avatar
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    you don't need to reveal any price point info, but know that cost is a factor...lots of us will spend $100 on something we intend to never use. much fewer will spend $300 or $500 (think of spot v. sat phone or PRB...I expect spot sales are exponentially higher to the general consumer)

    • life-cycle testing seems the obvious and most important thing
    • As a survival item - is it possible to produce them in blaze orange?(for one it's always good to have hi-viz survival items, but also - I get the sense that those white tubes are hard to keep track of walking around the snow...be nice if they contrasted I think)
    • What is the pump - just a small bicycle pump? (the kind that clip onto the bar are compact enough to carry I think - could strap it inside the cowling or something?)
    • what is the capacity to overfill and 'pop' them using the Co2 or the pump?
    • warranty - will they be lifetime guaranteed like sims waders (no hassle)?

    I routinely pack full size snow shoes around when hunting or out solo. But normally don't take them just riding. I would be a potential customer if they were dependable and the price was right.

    Let me know if you want them tested out in the interior There's a huge difference between 40 or 50 below and -25 (there's a reason Boeing was up here with the 787 dream liner!!) I'm sure others would volunteer to test for you as well! The otherwise nice flexible cables on my battery charger snapped right in two when I went to disconnect them after being outside on the truck overnight.

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    Member J2theD's Avatar
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    Question

    Thanks for your input.

    The snowshoe operated fine after 2 weeks in his deep freezer in the garage. He actually wanted to make them blaze orange, and is currently trying to figure
    Out a way, but when they mixed the dye with the material it was actually weaker. I think the bottoms of the snow shoe might be orange.

    At room temperature, a co2 container will almost fill one. The pump is about 5 inches and is a little hand pump that you can also put co2 containers in. When it's really cold you need to top the shoe off with the hand pump.

    Not sure about warranty yet, and I think price range will be between $100-200ish.

  7. #7
    Member akjw7's Avatar
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    sounds pretty cool - hard to imagine if it's durable enough (busting through alders etc), holds up to our extreme temps, and in that kind of price range that it wouldn't be a big hit!

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    Member KelvinG's Avatar
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    Another idea might be to field test a dozen or so of them.

    Find people who normally spend a fair amount of time outdoors, (like trappers on this forum) and offer them a set free. The condition being they needed to use them for a winter and report back. Provide a form listing the qualities you want critiqued with room for comments.

    That should get you some real live feedback and win forum brownie points!

  9. #9
    Member J2theD's Avatar
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    I believe he is going to do an order of 20 or so just for that. Demos and trial runs.

    They are made with the same material as rafts, but thicker. '

    Again, I appreciate the feedback!

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    This concept is nothing new... was done with rubber some 30 years ago. Actually, one designer instead of using inflatable part of tire materials made and excellent round, cupped, and webbed version out of the tire sidewalls leaving about 1"-2" of tread for the contour.

    100% None of the inflatable stuff ever worked very well - particularly lesser expensive, simple designs... slippery and unpredictable for majority of conditions, terrible to being a joke on climbs or side-hills, unreliable as in not durable, and nearly ridiculous to repair on the go.

    I made some sets for tidal mud out of much sturdier design... these actually proved useful to some degree.

    The Cold resistance can be a factor with many materials, yet I believe this is likely the least of problems and issues mentioned above trump 'frigid conditions' if they even make it under foot for any difficult going. This looks to be a poly-film of welded construction... this means good air retention qualities plus pretty darned good in the cold --- nevertheless 'flat' lousy devoid of sturdy supporting base fabrics or armored with coated base cloths for the shoe and foot binding.

    Love the inventive nature of creating new solutions... but I'll be first to say gimmicky for a best case scenario at present. Of course, I say this without one on foot and open my door for a couple test sets. However at present, I'll heavily wager these are not an emergency option when the chips are down in Alaska. Preparing ahead of time with proven Snowshoes is the way to go.

    Not meaning to sound too negative... but really, really!

  11. #11
    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    ... at present, I'll heavily wager these are not an emergency option when the chips are down in Alaska. Preparing ahead of time with proven Snowshoes is the way to go.
    I don't know Brian. I think something like this would be a great emergency option. Do you, or for that matter, do many people carry full sized snowshoes all the time? Why not? I know that I don't regularly carry full sized hard frame snowshoes on my sled because they are just too big and bulky to easily strap on the machine where they won't be in the way.

    In my opinion, safety gear is most effective when it's convenient to carry. I don't take a wall tent, wood burning stove, or sleeping bag, and pad on any of my recreational sledding trips, either. But, I do carry a compact foil type "sleeping bag", a rope, and a tarp along with my other safety/survival gear. I could make a survival shelter and be warm if I had to. Would it be a bombshelter? No. But there's just not enough room on a snowmachine to carry full sized versions of most items as safety gear. In fact, if I were to plan for every contingency, or only use full size gear, I would have to pull a heavily loaded sled whenever I went riding.

    While "preparing ahead of time" sounds like good advice at first blush, size, weight, and convenience all play a roll too. So, as long as they're fairly durable and not prohibitively expensive, I'd try these inflatable snowshoes. Heck, even if they're only good for one use, or just a few miles, I'd rather have a set stashed in my survival bag than have nothing at all - which is what I carry now.
    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska
    ... you canít tell stories about the adventures you wished you had done!

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    We tried to have the bottom layer bright hunter orange for signaling purposes, but the Mom & Pop shop making our prototypes could not get the orange material to satisfactorily weld to itself or the opaque. We have a larger company in mind with the ability to weld the material with pigment in it. Keep in mind, pigment is nothing more than an impurity added to the material that can change the materials characteristics. We will produce them as is for now and if they become as popular as it looks as though they will, we will test the use of color again at that time. Maybe even learn to RF weld, buy the equipment, and make them in Alaska.
    This material is NOT a plastic, it is Deerfield urethane, it has been tested to -40 Deg. It does not get brittle in the cold. This material is the same, only 30 mil instead of 8 mill, as the inner air bladder in my cata-rafts. they have been stored for over 12 years outside, freeze-thaw, freeze-thaw, etc, etc,,.... No adverse affects.
    They have two air valves installed. One quick inflate/deflate valve, (blow up by mouth to almost full), and one tire (shrader) type valve. I blow them up then give a quick shot or two with the Co2.
    They are very firm at 8.5 PSI. I have not been able to overinflate these shoes, given a little common sense when inflating, I don't blow them up and then try and put an entire 25 gram Co2 cart. into it.
    There will be a guarantee just not sure of the details yet. I am a snowmachiner and an avid Alaska outdoorsman. I know the cold weather risks here and my product must work when it is needed, someoneís life could depend on it.
    We have developed a traction device that can easily be strapped to the snowshoe when needed for those crusty inclines.
    Check out the airlite snowshoe website again for updates.

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    Great idea and don't let anyone put you off. For the blaze orange bit and better punture resistance, perhaps consider a slip on cover in orange made out of hypalon (Zodiak material). Or even the whole thing made out of hypalon.

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