DESIGNED FOR THE HILL – NOT THE LANDFILL
Sleds and snow tubes that fall apart after a few uses aren't good for anybody. So we designed a better snow tube.
A deflated snow tube doesn’t just ruin a day of winter fun. If it ends up in the landfill, that’s bad for the environment, too. And if the next cheap replacement ends up there too – and the next one, and the next one – that’s a lot of wasted material.
When we set out to design our own snow tube, we asked ourselves: Wouldn’t it be better to have just one snow tube instead – a snow tube that lasts and lasts? That comes out to be reused every season, instead of getting tossed and replaced?
The answer, of course, is yes. That’s why we made the Sonic Snow Tube.
When tubes fall apart, the culprit is the single, thin layer of vinyl tubing that is used in most consumer snow tubes. Cheaper, sure, but also much easier to puncture. We found that many of these thin tubes in the marketplace could barely last a couple of days on the sledding hill, let alone a season.
We went to several commercial tube parks to find out how to make tubes that last for dozens of sled runs a day, season after season after season. The answer is simple: it’s all about using the right materials, starting at the very bottom.
Instead of a single layer of PVC, our Sonic Snow Tubes feature an injection-molded semirigid polyethylene base. Not only does this bottom slide exceptionally well, it stands up to almost anything. Add a tough 600-denier polyester top cover and an inflatable inner tube made with heavy-duty rubber, and you get a snow tube that won’t have to be tossed and replaced for years and years.
We weren’t going to send Sonic Snow Tubes out to customers without making sure they last way longer than the alternatives. Tested against low temperatures and heavy usage, Sonic Snow Tubes kept on sliding.
Extreme cold is a problem for cheap tubes – freezing weakens the materials, and the snow tube deflates and ends up in the garbage. Not a problem for the Sonic. In our testing lab, we kept it at 40 degrees below zero for 24 hours and it didn’t crack or puncture, even under almost 30 pounds of direct pin-point pressure. In the field, we’ve sent the snow tubes to high-traffic events in the bitter cold of New England and the Midwest, and they come out with flying colors.
Overuse was another concern, because if the materials can’t stand up to ice, rocks, jumps and tumbles, they aren’t going to make it through many runs. But our Sonic Snow Tubes tubes take whatever we can throw at them. For example, we sent 80 sleds to Fenway Park for their Frozen Fenway event, where hundreds of people used them for more than three weeks to rocket down a man-made tubing hill. Not only did the sleds survive the heavy use, they barely had a scratch. In fact, they were in such good shape that many were donated to the Appalachian Mountain Club for use in their winter programs, or found more life in our Outdoor Discovery Programs.
Even time seems to have trouble taking a toll on the Sonic Snow Tube. Our customers measure the lifetimes of our Sonic Snow Tubes not in runs, or days, or seasons, but in years:
“We LOVE our L.L. Bean Sonic Snow Tubes … Our first one we have owned about ten years with no problem.”
“Our tubes are used extensively from December through April and some are now 4 years old yet still perform nicely. “
“We purchased our first tube 10 years ago and it's had tons and tons of use with five boys. And still going strong.”
“We have enjoyed a snow tube for five years. … We recently got another one, as ‘one is not enough.’”
Bottom line: We’d rather sell one tube that you can use year after year, instead of selling you a new tube every winter – especially since that would mean the old ones are ending up in the landfill. Sonic Snow Tubes last long enough to get passed down from sibling to sibling, relative to relative, snowstorm after wonderful snowstorm.
Or, you can just keep using them yourself. Luckily, no matter how old we get, we never get tired of the thrill we get from speeding down the hill on a tough, fast snow tube that we know isn’t going to deflate – no matter how many runs we take.
Why make it so tough? Because the best snow tube for you – and the planet – is the one you never have to throw away.