Have you ever left your snowshoes home because they were too bulky to carry, only to regret it mid hike when you were postholing to your thighs in deep snow? Stories of stranded snowmobilers mired in the woods after they ran out of gas inspired Alaskan oil field worker Rick Stafford to create Airlite inflatable snowshoes. Made from the same bladder material used inside inflatable rafts, these puncture proof snowshoes are 36" long and about 16" wide, big enough to support around 200-pounds. In your pack, each deflated shoe rolls up to the size of a tallboy. The shoes inflate with a hand-held bike pump or with a compressed air cartridge via a schraeder valve, the valve used in most bike tubes.
Airlites were developed as a survival tool for sled heads, but they'll work just as well for snowboarders or shoulder season hikers. In January, Airlite will sell an attachable underfoot claw to give these shoes some traction on inclines. For now, they're best for the flats in an emergency. Available now, $168, airlitesnowshoe.com