The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Sherpa Aluminum Snowshoes

1972

A pair of Sherpa snowshoes in their natural habitat

A pair of Sherpa snowshoes in their natural habitat     Photo: Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com

After wooden snowshoes proved heavy and insufficient for winter mountaineering in Washington’s Cascades due to poor traction, Gene and Bill Prater developed an oval-shaped, aluminum-framed snowshoe with a neoprene deck and steel hinge rod binding. They released Sherpa snowshoes in 1972 to wide acclaim. Unfortunately, several years of high-turnover management and ineffective marketing plagued the company, which folded in 2002. Sherpa snowshoes are still traded secondhand, and widely regarded as some of the highest-quality snowshoes ever designed.

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