Is it a Cross-Country Ski or a Gliding Snowshoe?


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2820 Mexico Rd.
Milton, PA 17847

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The evolution of Trackers Skishoes


Engineering to meet a need

Tom Gibson, experienced skier, mechanical engineer, and inventorThe idea for the Tracker skishoe came from the fertile mind of Tom Gibson, an experienced skier, mechanical engineer, and inventor. He works as a consulting engineer specializing in machine design and green building, and he publishes Progressive Engineer, an online magazine.


Many times, while cross-country skiing, Gibson would encounter deep powder and crusty snow as well as narrow, steep trails. With cross-country skis, he would either have to snowplow and edge with all the strength he could muster or take his skis off and walk. In the East, where Gibson lives, freezing rain and sleet often coat a dump of snow, making for treacherous conditions. And when Gibson skied in two feet of fresh powder, he found himself slogging through it in a gait more like walking through a swamp than kick-and-gliding. There had to be a better way. After several years of development, testing many prototypes on myriad snow surfaces, and finetuning designs, the Trackers Skishoes resulted.


Tom Gibson demonstrates skishoes
Tom Gibson demonstrates skishoes
with snowshoe bindings
Quasi Xtreme Innovations, the name of the company that produces Trackers, reflects Gibson’s approach to recreational sports. As an avid mountain biker, he has pioneered a bike that has a fat tire on the front for negotiating rocky trails. He also likes to drop down steep descents and chutes. As a downhill skier, he liked to tackle moguls and, after years of trying, he finally learned how to do it before had to give it up because of knee problems (he still sneaks an occasional mogul run if they’re soft enough). Gibson was also a scuba diver and pilot. The common denominator in all this: these are all activities that have some degree of fear and risk involved in them, and they may look scary to some. But you wouldn’t label them as extreme, and in fact, they’re quite safe if you take the time to learn and practice proper techniques and judgment. Backcountry skiing falls into this category, as anyone who has tackled steep slopes can attest.


Yet another angle enters into the development of Trackers. Gibson also has expertise in green building and sustainability. He is an environmentalist, and Trackers promote human-powered recreation. They are also made of recycled plastic, in particular high-density polyethylene (HDPE, or number 2), readily available from milk jugs and other household containers (this explains their color; if you mix plastic bottles of various colors together and recycle them, you’ll get darker, mottled colors). Skishoes were designed to be easy to disassemble so they can be recycled. And they’re assembled in central Pennsylvania from parts made locally, minimizing transportation costs. SUNCOM Industries, a nonprofit human services agency in Northumberland, PA that helps people with developmental and physical disabilities improve the quality of their lives, assembles skishoes.