Kahtoola Inc.‘s new FLIGHTsystem — an innovative overboot-snowshoe package that costs $334 — was made for wintertime runners and outdoorsy types who need to go fast and light through the snow.
The two-part product is comprised of the $149 FLIGHTboot and the $185 FLIGHTdeck. Add your trail-running shoes or lightweight hiking boots — which slip inside the FLIGHTboot shell — and you’re ready to go.
After fitting your shoe inside, the FLIGHTboot seals closed with Velcro and a ratcheting buckle. A large opening lets you lace up your running shoes inside. The result is a warm, solid pseudoboot with tremendous grip that’s light and flexible enough for wintertime running.
On packed winter trails, FLIGHTsystem users wear just the overboot, which has ten aggressive cleats protruding from each sole. Off the trail, the FLIGHTboot clips quickly to the FLIGHTdeck snowshoe via hooked cleats on each foot that snap onto a metal base. No straps or buckles are required.
I tested the FLIGHTsystem with a pair of lightweight Teva trail-running shoes slipped inside, jogging on packed trails with just the boot and later tromping through deep snow while clipped into the FLIGHTdeck snowshoes.
Running was smooth and efficient with the FLIGHTboot, and since my own well-worn shoes were inside the fit was near perfect. They are a bit bulky and heavy, but considering the added warmth and traction these are justifiable trade offs.
The FLIGHTboot is overkill for city running, where the large cleats and toasty shell are too much for snowy sidewalks. But they excel in the wilderness, with enough warmth and traction even for moderate mountaineering.
Click into the FLIGHTdeck and you can step into deeper snow off the trail, where 8 × 23 inches of surface area keeps you from post-holing. However, the FLIGHTdecks are designed more for speed than floatation. My 190-pound frame plus a loaded backpack was enough weight to sink the snowshoes a few inches into the powder.
Clipping into the FLIGHTdecks was a two-second process. But getting the snowshoes off was difficult on the model I tested, as the small cable pulls were hard to grip.
One other issue: The size XXL FLIGHTboots I tested are made to accommodate shoes sizes up to a men’s 14. However, my size 12s barely fit inside this model. (Once fitted inside the FLIGHTboot all was good.)
For its niche demographic of wintertime runners and snow speed freaks, Kahtoola (www.kahtoola.com) has concocted a great and original product with its FLIGHTsystem. All flaws are minor. For the right person, in the right terrain, all benefits are huge.