The discussion began with a focus on sleds. Traditionally called Ahkios or Pulkas by the US military, the issue model dates from at least the 50s and is pretty big. Small unit operations call for a smaller model and the USMC is now using a model by Wilderness Engineering. The Marine Corps – Large Transport and Rescue Sled or MC-LTRS weighs about 32 lbs.
Kifaru also offers a sled called the Combat Expedition Sled which is 15 lbs as well as a smaller Combat Armadillo at 12 lbs.
Next, the group discussed skis. Granted, snow shoes are much easier to train troops to use but skis are much more useful for military operations than snow shoes. The increase in mobility is tremendous. And, because the skis will always have climbing skins, they won’t end up being all that fast in the down hill so they are more controllable than you might think. Additionally, little military skiing is downhill but rather as a means to transit from area to another.
Additionally, an interesting point that came out regarding the military’s mindset regarding NATO bindings. Modern commercial boots and bindings are way ahead of low leather boots. In fact, New plastic boots are very flexible. While the military procurement system might not purchase boots that fit every single foot type, there are things that can be done to help with fit including thermo molding of liners. The issue isn’t the boots, once you come to grips with using a single plastic, two-piece boot, but rather the bindings. New bindings like the NTN and Tech bindings are designed specifically for these new boots and are easy to get in and out of. The Dynafit patent for the Tech Binding has sunset so anyone can now make them.