It may look like a big slice of Swiss cheese, but the Fimbulvetr snowshoe is actually a high-end sporting good product from Norway. A series of high-tech components, including a thermoplastic elastomer body and an innovative binding hinge, create a snowshoe that is designed to be light, comfortable and easy to walk in – no matter how nasty the weather.
First there were bent branches. Then there were tubular aluminum frames. Now, plastics and composites are becoming more and more popular in snowshoe construction. Models like the Tubbs Flex and TSL Symbioz come with claims of freer, more comfortable strides.
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Fimbulvetr snowshoes use a very specific form of construction to offer more comfortable strides, along with other benefits. The designers selected DuPont Hytrel thermoplastic elastomer for its combination of strength, durability and flexibility. They cut that material into an asymmetrical shape, designed to mimic the foot, and punched a honeycomb pattern in it to cut weight while maintaining torsional strength and flotation. Judging from the photos, the frame also employs a drastically rockered profile, which seems like it could help prevent the tips and deck from sinking into the snow.
Fimbulvetr's innovation doesn't end with the frame. The signature feature of the new snowshoe is the patented all-direction hinge. The wave-shaped mechanism doesn't resemble the typical hinge at all, but appears more like a shock absorbing spring. Instead of locking you into an up-down ankle motion, Fimbulvetr's design allows you multi-directional foot movement.
On the snow, the all-direction hinge should have a similar impact to the TSL Symbioz's Hyperflex frame, allowing for freer movement and better grip when cutting across an incline. Traditional rigid snowshoes can feel as nimble as concrete boots at times, and a little extra motion should only improve dexterity. Fimbulvetr also claims the hinge increases the shoe's performance when descending hills.
As all that fancy thermoplastic-construction talk might have suggested, a pair of Fimbulvetrs will not come cheap. The company just started manufacturing its first batch, which are available for a pre-order price of US$500 for customers outside Europe and come in gray, red or black.
The video below provides a closer look at the snowshoe and all-direction hinge.