Looks as though Bulgarian company Any Exit is not the only one to see a market for the inflatable snowshoe. Alaskan company Airlite Snowshoes claims to have created the original inflatable snowshoe, patented in the US.
Originally designed for snowmobilers to use in emergency situations where they become stranded, the Airlite inflatable snowshoes can be useful to anyone who may be confronted at some point with a hike through deep snow.
The snowshoes include two valves, one quick inflation/deflation valve and one standard tire valve. The snowshoes can be blown up first by mouth, then given a quick shot from a CO2 canister or hand pump to make them firm enough for optimum travel.
Weighing just 17 oz each, these full size snowshoes are tough, puncture resistant and can be repeatedly used. Once deflated, simply roll up or fold the flexible material and throw them in your pocket or pack.
The flexible decking features a pad underfoot with raised buttons for added traction. An extra strap on traction device adds a stainless steel toe crampon to your inflatable snowshoes in case you find yourself crossing some hilly or icy terrain
The Airlite Snowshoe inventor, Rick Stafford, is currently finalizing production, packaging and distribution details but estimates his inflatable snowshoes will sell for around $150-$180. Keep checking the Airlite website for availability updates.
(Thanks to goldmizer for the tip)