Free your Bind
Squampton Snowskates - Handmade hemp fun machines
One snowy day in 2013, Jon and Jesse had an epiphany: Bindings are for the birds! Hence was born Squampton Snowskates, an environmentally conscious company dedicated to handcrafting the finest snowskates using hemp and non-toxic manufacturing methods. Today, with a great line of products for different riding styles and snow conditions, it’s nothing but good clean fun!
Heads Lifestyle: Ok, so for our readers unfamiliar with the sport, what is snowskating?
Squampton Snowskates: Snowskating is a cross between skateboarding and snowboarding. It’s basically a skateboard with a single “ski” attached instead of wheels and it has no bindings. Snowskates come with weatherproof grip made of foam or plastic spikes to keep your feet from slipping and a safety leash to keep the board tethered to you in case of falls.
HL: How were you originally introduced to snowskating? Was it through snowboarding or skateboarding?
SS: We have more of a snowboard background. That being said, the beginning of snowskating for both of us was about going out to smoke weed. What better time to have a session? In those days, there was always one snowskate and a bunch of people. It’s so much better for the yard than a snowboard!
No bindings? No problem! You ride a snowskate like a traditional skateboard only on snow.
HL: How did Squampton Snowskates come to be?
SS: We were both snowskating a lot. One day, we let a friend try one of our boards and he was instantly sold, but he couldn’t find a snowskate to buy anywhere. A few months later, after some Internet research, he finally had a new snowskate in hand. He loved it, but we were not impressed. We figured we could do just as good if not better, so we built a press and taught ourselves to make snowskates.
Snowskating is a cross between skateboarding and snowboarding. It’s basically a skateboard with a single “ski” attached instead of wheels and it has no bindings.
HL: You are dedicated to manufacturing boards that are environmentally conscious. Tell us about this commitment?
SS: From the start, we were laminating cores from reclaimed pallets. It was a great idea, but unfortunately the final product was not up to our high standards. We knew we didn’t want to manufacture with toxic chemicals. We’ve both worked with some nasty stuff in the past. So we decided if it was up to us to choose what we were going to use, then we might as well start off right.
Squampton does everything within its means to make the manufacturing of their snowskates as eco-friendly as possible.
HL: What are the challenges compared to traditional, often toxic, manufacturing methods?
SS: The biggest challenge is that we haven’t been able to learn from others in our industry. There’s been a lot of trial and error. Because we have been left to our imaginations, we’ve come up with some kooky but ingenious ways of making things work. Our materials also cost more than if we were to use the industry standard.
HL: Is there currently a demand within the snowskate community for eco-friendly products? Do you believe by choosing an environmentally conscious approach, you can help raise awareness within the sport?
SS: The demand for eco-friendly products isn’t just in the snowskate community; it’s in every community. Our community may be small but support is big, and we believe that going green is the way of the future! It’s 2020 and if your company isn't trying to raise environmental awareness, then what are you even doing?
Hemp: easy to work with, no splinters and strong!
HL: Quality sources of hemp are notoriously difficult to secure. Where does the hemp for your boards come from?
SS: If we told you, we’d have to kill you.
Our community may be small but support is big, and we believe that going green is the way of the future!
HL: With the laws surrounding hemp production relaxing in Canada, do you hope to source local hemp in the near future?
SS: That would be amazing, but for the time being we aren’t holding our breath. Hemp can be used for so many amazing things; textiles unfortunately aren’t on the top of the list.
Snowskating is continuously progressing, with more riders, companies and resorts getting onboard each year. Photo: @imalexmof
HL: In addition to being eco-friendly, what are some of the other advantages to using hemp to build your boards?
SS: It’s so friendly to work with. It doesn't give you splinters and it’s strong!
Weed is and has been a big part of both our lives for a long time. It’s really shitty it has gotten such a bad rap.
HL: There is no shortage of weed references in your videos. How much of an influence does cannabis have on your riding and the long hours you spend in the shop handcrafting snowskates?
SS: Weed is and has been a big part of both our lives for a long time. It’s really shitty it has gotten such a bad rap. Hopefully the stigma will die out now that it’s been legalized. When you are just hanging out getting lifted with your best buddy, it doesn’t matter how long the hours are.
Weed and laughter make the long hours building boards in the shop go by easy.
HL: You make a range of different subs, from an 85cm BG to a 150cm Powder Eater. Can you tell us a little about these different options?
SS: The smaller boards—85cm BG (Baby Gangster) and 100cm OG (Original Gangster)—are both twin. They are more for groomed runs, backyards, parks and doing skateboard tricks. Then there is the 125cm Squamptonville Slugger, a directional all-mountain board. It’s good for groomers and small amounts of fresh snow, and is more stable at higher speeds than the smaller boards. Then there are the larger boards—133cm Hammer and 150cm PPE (Purple Powder Eater)—which are for when the snow gets deep, while still being able to carve if you encounter some icy spots.
HL: Describe a typical snowskater? Who should give snowskating a go?
SS: Everyone should give snowskating a try! It would be tough to say who a “typical” snowskater is. We’ve had skiers, skateboarders, and snowboarders. Girls and boys, young and old. At this point we are never surprised by who wants to try out a snowskate.
If a trick can be done on a skateboard, it can be done on a snowskate. Photo: @imalexmof
HL: What is the future of snowskating? Do you see the sport developing along the same path as snowboarding?
SS: We sure hope so! In the six years we’ve been doing this, we’ve seen a lot of progression in the sport. More riders, more companies, and more resorts getting onboard.
We put on an event at Whistler Blackcomb every year called the Squampton Gathering. It’s for snowskaters and bindingless riders, new and old.
HL: Do you hold events? Is there a Squampton Snowskate team?
SS: We put on an event at Whistler Blackcomb every year called the Squampton Gathering. It’s for snowskaters and bindingless riders, new and old. We came up with a few unorthodox games and races that keep it fun and interesting, so even a beginner can walk away with a win.
We have a small Squampton team but are always looking for more riders. If anyone is interested in joining the team, they should send us some footage of them riding to Samson@squamptonsnowskates.com and the reasons they want to be part of Team Squampton.
Jesse and Jon in the Squampton bunker.
HL: What’s next for Squampton Snowskates?
SS: Currently we are on the hunt for a bigger shop and looking to expand!
Listen on Spotify
Want to know what the Squampton boys listen to in the wee hours while bustin' out fresh snowskates? Listen to our custom Squampton-curated "Shop Mix" on Spotify.
Check out the Squampton Snowskates website here
And follow Squampton Snowskates on Instagram at: @squamptonsnowskates
Cover photo: @imalexmof