Outdoors

Zoa PL1 lets skiers bring their own rope tow to the backcountry

Zoa PL1 lets skiers bring thei...
The Zoa PL1 will soon be hitting Kickstarter
The Zoa PL1 will soon be hitting Kickstarter
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The Zoa PL1 will soon be hitting Kickstarter
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The Zoa PL1 will soon be hitting Kickstarter
The current version of the Zoa PL1 weighs 10. 5 lb (4.8 kg), and can easily be stuffed into a daypack
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The current version of the Zoa PL1 weighs 10. 5 lb (4.8 kg), and can easily be stuffed into a daypack
The Zoa PL1 getting put to the test
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The Zoa PL1 getting put to the test
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Rope tows certainly make life easier if you're skiing at a groomed, established hill, but what if you're more into backcountry skiing? Well, that's where the Zoa PL1 comes in, as it's a portable rope tow that you set up yourself.

Currently in functional preproduction form, the device is about the size of a shoebox, and it incorporates a series of motorized rollers, a quick-swappable lithium-ion battery, and a bar-style handle with a thumb throttle switch. The current version weighs 10. 5 lb (4.8 kg), and can easily be stuffed into a daypack.

Users initially carry an included 1,000-ft (305-m) roll of paracord up to the top of the hill using touring skis, a splitboard or snowshoes. They then securely loop one end of the cord around a tree, snow anchor or whatnot, after which they ski (or snowboard) back down the hill while unravelling the rest of the cord behind themselves.

Upon reaching the bottom of the run, they grasp the paracord at any point along its length, thread it through the PL1's rollers, grab onto the device's handle, then activate its motor by pressing the throttle. The PL1 will proceed to pull itself and the user up the hill – the throttle is used to control the tow speed. For particularly long and/or steep runs, an included steel lanyard can be used to clip the device to a harness instead of holding onto its handle.

The Zoa PL1 getting put to the test
The Zoa PL1 getting put to the test

And that's pretty much it. The setup stays in place until the day's skiing is over, at which point the cord and the PL1 are simply carried back out in the user's daypack.

"We haven't published the price yet, but it will be comparable to high-end electric skateboards or mountain bike forks," Zoa Engineering's Robert Button tells us. "The battery can get you up to 800 m [2,625 ft] of vertical on a charge, but that will vary based on your weight, the slope, and other conditions."

Plans call for the Zoa PL1 to be the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, which will launch later this month. Potential backers can register for updates via the company website.

Source: Zoa Engineering via GearJunkie

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5 comments
5 comments
TpPa
OK I am an EX skier of many years, and thousands of runs on regular ski hills. If I understand its total pull length of 2500+ feet, then I would never buy one, that equates to 1 or 2 runs max. If I understand right one has to bring down the unit & the rope as they ski, once again no thanks, that would be a pain while trying to ski, and dangerous if one got caught up in the rope if you wiped out ripping a limb or your head off. Then you have to really pay attention to when you have to stop or pull your arm out of it's socket if you over shoot it, hanging on to slippery paracord without wrapping it around you hand would be impossible. Maybe build a little sled under it for you could lower everything down the hill 1st, then you could ski free & without worries.
It is a very nice & useful toy, but needs a lot more work & thought before people should buy one.
Tp
Nobody
You would have to carry the power pack back down with you on every run and 10 pounds would be bulky and heavy. Falling on the boxy power pack could also cause injury. While paracord is very strong it would be useless as soon as the outer layer got stretched and worn away. Then there is the little problem of finding the paracord in the loose snow.
Expanded Viewpoint
Somebody either forgot to put it in the spiel, or it wasn't thought of at all, but how does the power head get back down to the bottom of the hill so it can haul someone back up again? If it had an automatic stop function built into it, like some powered hoists, you could send it back down the rope under its own power, but that would eat up a lot of what precious little battery power it has in it. Without any load on it, you could send it down rather quickly, if it had a high/low gearing in its transmission. And no mention is made of how fast this thing will move a 200 pound body up a slope! All of the bad points give it a Gong Show ending.
reader
Great idea! Assuming the batteries are hot swappable, just bring along some extras and leave them in the approach sled.
Peter Flynn
800m vert? That’s not much of a ski day. Especially with a 5kg brick in your backpack.
Surely it would be better to achor both ends, have a pulley at the top and run it as a standard looped rope tow?