I ran with my slingshots on the snow, but to be honest with you, they are too annoying to pump up, rig up, and launch...after doing this with my PeterLynn ARCs - which is really easy. Therefore, I can't go out with the LEIs. I had to pump up the bladders at home and carry the kite spars pumped up in my car, then had to re-pump up the bladders (since they cooled) and the main one in sub-10 degree F weather where my hands were cold, the valve plastic was difficult to squeeze and the pump nozzle would not stay in the valve since both pieces were really hard and had no grip. Plus with the 15-18mph winds, my hands were dealing with windchills below zero which was rough. I rarely crash my kite hard so I had no worries about crashing a bladder, but:
- launching an inflato is not as easy solo on the grass
- landing an inflato without getting a tangled mess afterward is not easy on grass (and not as safe)
- the whole setup was annoying
- my ARCs handle the gusty on-land winds better
For the ARC foils, I roll it out, put some snow on the trailing edge, unzip the fill zipper, hook up the lines and launch it (its full of air in a couple minutes). When I'm done, I unzip the 12 inch zipper on the back and roll it up without waiting for air to come out. No bridles, no hassles. I can also fly the kite backwards to relaunch, or simply back it down to the ground to rest.
I'm in Chicago, so its different, but I'm sure anyone in a cold area would agree (Canada, etc). If I lived in Utah or Colorado when the "winter" is 45 degrees, sunny, and there's 4 feet of snow on the ground, I would feel differently about this, but try that LEI setup when the windchill is -20 or -40 below. Its not fun!
However, I recognize the importance of saving $$$. So if you don't have a foil, go it with your LEI first and see for yourself. If you have the money, and enough frustration to convinve yourself to buy a foil, do it. The foil will last for many years since they are very durable. Either way, have fun kiting and who really cares. If you have a kite....any kite...get out there and have fun instead of playing Veg-tendo.