Either people are getting a lot more serious about sledding, or there are a number of companies that are going to be out some money. Over the past few years, we've seen a growing number of sleds that approach, even exceed, skiing and snowboarding gear in terms of technology and price. The latest to come to our attention, the SnoSoot, offers a unique twist. It's a wearable that transforms you into a human snow-surfing machine.
Sleds like the Snolo Stealth-X, Zibock and Backyak make sledding more portable by folding up or breaking down on the trip up the hill. Instead of dragging a heavy sled by a rope, you can strap the sled to your back and hike up the mountain more easily.
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The SnoSoot offers an even more portable design that you actually wear, both going uphill and coming down. It looks a bit like a heavy-duty back protector, with a hunk of padded plastic secured to shoulder straps. There's also a waist harness that provides a snugger fit and more precise control for downhill sledding.
Warren Gibson thought of the idea for the SnoSoot when he was 12 years old. As he sat staring out the window on the drive to Oregon's Mt. Ashland Ski Area, he began contemplating an alternative to snowboarding that would be easier to learn and have less potential for injury. The seed for the SnoSoot was planted, and nearly a decade later in 2013, Gibson followed through, forming SnoSoot LLC to pursue the design. He has filed patents and worked to refine his idea in the two years since.
"The soot is constructed out of a polycarbonate plastic and machine grade ABS, both chosen for the unique properties they both offer," Gibson tells us. "The carbonate offers flex and is nearly unbreakable and will not shatter. The ABS is extremely tough material which works great for support rails and such. There are two rails with an extra sheet of Lexan that is bent over the rails from edge to edge and sealed giving added surface area for sliding."
Gibson is working on offering separate stomach (face first) and back (feet first) models. Both include padding on top for more comfortable performance, as well as strap-on arm brakes. The back version also includes a set of foot plates for steering and braking purposes. According to Gibson, the adult versions weigh between 8 and 10 lb (3.6 and 4.5 kg), depending upon size, with youth models coming in between 6 and 8 lb (2.7 and 3.6 kg).
The idea of riding a compact back plate down the mountain may not sound like the sledding you remember as a child, but it sure looks fun enough to get your inner child screaming and laughing. The videos that Gibson has made show that SnoSooting is plenty fast.
Gibson is currently offering both the face first and feet first SnoSoots on Indiegogo for discounted pricing. Youth versions are available at a US$109 pledge level and adult models at $135, about 45 percent off the regular prices of $199 and $249. Should everything go according to plan, deliveries will begin this month. Shipping is not included in the Indiegogo prices. Gibson tells us he is ready to begin manufacturing.
The SnoSoot can be seen in action in the video below.