Complete Guide to Inflatable Snowshoes

What are Inflatable Snowshoes?

Inflatable snowshoes are a specialized type of portable snowshoe that inflate using a hand pump or CO2 cartridge. They are typically made from cordura fabric and a TPU bladder, and have metal crampons that are either fixed to the snowshoe or detachable.

Inflatable snowshoes are a recent innovation and relatively niche product within the snowshoe market. They differ from traditional snowshoes because they tend to be smaller, lighter, and require inflation prior to usage.

Inflatable snowshoes have a variety of practical uses such as an emergency survival item and for backcountry sports including skiing, snowboarding, and snow biking. They also have a purpose for military applications.

Yukon Airlift Inflatable Snowshoe from Yukon Charlies

Benefits and Disadvantages of Inflatable Snowshoes

The main benefits of inflatable snowshoes are that they extremely portable and lightweight. They can easily be stored in a car, backpack, or winter cabin to provide an efficient means of transportation through severe winter weather or deep snow.

The major disadvantages of inflatable snowshoes are that they are not as durable or intended to be used as frequently as other types of snowshoes. While designed to be puncture-resistant, there is a chance of puncture that can permanently damage them.

History of Inflatable Snowshoes: Airlite Snowshoes

Inflatable snowshoes were first invented by Rick Stafford, who designed and patented a winter survival item that could assist stranded snowmobilers and withstand temperatures as low as -30°. This product became the First place Winner of the 2012 Arctic Innovation Competition.

“One of the coolest survival gadgets that would even impress MacGyver.”

-CNN

This early innovation eventually turned into a company called Airlite Snowshoes and caught interest from the US and Canadian militaries. However, the company did not achieve long term commercial success and Airlite Snowshoes products have been discontinued.

Best Inflatable Snowshoes to buy

For those wondering which inflatable snowshoes are the best to buy, there are currently only a few available options on the market. First, we recommend that inflatable snowshoes be bought as a secondary pair of snowshoes.

The two primary makers of inflatable snowshoes are Yukon Charlies and Small Feet. Below is comparison chart showing the different products and features of the best inflatables snowshoes.

BrandModelPriceWeightMaterialLoad CapacityCrampons
Yukon CharliesYukon Airlift Inflatable Snowshoe$125.992.25 lbsCordura 1000225 lbsAluminum Fixed
Small FootUniversal€229,00 – €249,002.35 lbsCordura 1100210 lbs (M)
287 lbs (L)
Stainless Steel Detachable
Small FootRevolution€199,00 –
€219,00
2.625 lbsCordura 1100198 lbs (M)
287 lbs (L)
Stainless Steel Detachable
Small FootMusala€229,00 – €249,002.625 lbsCordura 110098 lbs (M)
287 lbs (L)
Stainless Steel Fixed
Inflatable Snowshoe Product Comparison Chart

Yukon Charlies Inflatable Snowshoes

Founded in 1996, Yukon Charlies is a Denver, Colorado-based company that primarily makes snowshoes for recreational trail-walking, backcountry terrain, and running/racing.

They are one of the few snowshoe manufacturers that offers commercially available inflatable snowshoes in North America and internationally, with the Yukon Airlift Inflatable Snowshoe.

Yukon Airlift Inflatable Snowshoe

The Airlift inflatable snowshoes are specifically designed for backcountry use. They are easily attached to the user’s feet using a Fast Fit pull binding harness and fit a variety of boot sizes.

Crampons are made from aluminum alloy and are fixed to the Airlift snowshoes. The Airlift set also includes a storage bag and hand pump.

Small Foot Inflatable Snowshoes

Small Foot is European based company that has achieved success out of Bulgaria. Founder Peter Dimitrov is an experienced snowboarder that also has experience as a professional sports clothes designer.

The company has released three models of inflatable snowshoes, including the Small Foot Universal, Small Foot Revolution, and Small Foot Musala. Small Foot products are NATO-certified and supplied to the UK Army, and the company has even created inflatable stretchers used by emergency rescue services.

Each of the inflatable snowshoes products comes with a set including items such as a pump, repair kit, emergency whistle, and mini bags to store the snowshoes. Although free shipping is offered to customers in the European Union, they do ship their products internationally.

SmALl Foot Universal

The Small Foot Universal was the first inflatable snowshoe product developed by Small Foot. The earliest concepts were prototyped in the early 2010s. This snowshoes comes in two sizes, Medium and Large, and can support a load capacity between 66 and 287 pounds.

The Universal inflatable snowshoes are best suited for recreational trail walking and terrain featuring rolling hills.

Small Foot Revolution

The next product released by Small Foot was the Revolution inflatable snowshoe. Small Foot started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to upgrade their initial product, resulting in improved features
such as an adjustable Heel Lift System. This innovation offers improved stability and control when climbing on different terrain including steep backcountry trails.

Small Foot Musala

Released in 2021, the Small Foot Musala inflatable snowshoes are the premium model from Small Foot. They are named after highest peak in the Balkans and are a successor to the Revolution. This design incorporateda a new strap system to secure the snowshoes to the users’ feet, and are a viable option for steep backcountry terrain.

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