Skis, snowboards, snowshoes, and sleds are the go-to gear for many snow lovers, but they are not the only ways to get out and play on the mountain. For a different experience—or simply to avoid crowded ski lifts—here’s some unconventional snow equipment to try on your next winter adventure.
Glide down the slopes on a pair of mini ski skates that can be stowed inside a backpack. They may not be ubiquitous yet, but this nontraditional sport is catching on with expert skiers and beginners alike. You can attach Snowfeet to winter shoes or snowboard boots and traverse ski runs, hiking and cross-country trails like Teacup or Trillium, and even your own backyard (if the metro area happens to get measurable snow this year). Because of their small size, Snowfeet can be less clunky and easier to maneuver than typical skis, but they aren’t made for ungroomed terrain, steep slopes, or deep powder.
Winter sports daredevils and speed demons, take note. This Swiss-made inflatable sled goes pretty fast, so wear your helmet in case of a spill. It’s well-suited for families looking for an alternative way to play in the snow. The Airboard snow bodyboard made its debut stateside in 2004—at Hoodoo in Oregon’s Central Cascades—and has since taken off at other resorts around the country. It’s easy to steer, just by shifting your weight, and can be used on any snow-covered hill. Hoodoo offers full mountain access to Airboarders, but if you’re looking for somewhere more affordable or closer to home, we suggest trying it out at the Snow Bunny Sno Park.
Most mountain bike trails close for winter, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to going off road. The makers of these bike-like devices retrofitted with skis instead of wheels say they have an “easy learning curve.” Rent one at Hoodoo and see for yourself. If you’d like to purchase your own and try it out, ski bike manufacturers include SnoGo, Tngnt, SkiByk, Lenz, and more. (Note that Hood resorts don’t allow them, but Hoodoo does.)
The creators behind Snowfeet also invented the Assled (its name really says it all). Similar to Snowfeet, the lightweight sled is meant to be portable; it folds up like a yoga mat and fits inside a backpack. Sledders can sit down and fasten it to their body before sliding down hills. Give it a try at one of Mount Hood’s many sledding spots, such as Little John Sno Park.