Snowshoes have been around for thousands of years, and trace their origins back to Central Asia where they were first believed to have been used by nomads for hunting and cross-country travel during the long winter months. Those early incarnations were mainly made of wood that was strung together with rope and animal hides. But despite their primitive design they served their purpose by allowing the wearer to travel more easily across snow.
In the centuries since, the humble snowshoe has evolved significantly, and today they are generally made from lightweight aluminum frames mixed with neoprene and nylon netting. Modern snowshoes also feature a pair of bindings that can be used to attach them to a variety of boot styles, as well as a set of cleats — or metal teeth — embedded on the underside for added traction. But a Colorado-based company called Crescent Moon is hoping to revolutionize snowshoe design once again, with an all-new model that replaces the traditional metal frame with one made entirely out of lightweight foam instead.
Crescent Moon’s latest product uses dual-density ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam — similar to that found in the soles of running shoes — to create a rocker-shaped design that is unlike any other snowshoe on the market today. Measuring 23 inches in length and 8 inches across, the snowshoes are nevertheless lightweight, flexible, and durable. The top of the shoe is said to be highly cushioned and quite comfortable — even on hard surfaces — while the bottom is made from a tough EVA composite that grips the surface like a snow tire thanks in part to a special material similar to that found in football cleats.
“It’s remarkably light, has no rotational hinge, is rocker shaped, and looks like the love child of an Adidas running shoe and a Blizzack snow tire,” says Crescent Moon president and co-founder Jake Thamm of his company’s latest product. He goes on to add, “This is the most innovative thing in snowshoes since the aluminum frame.”
In addition to its unique new approach to making snowshoes, Crescent Moon has also outfitted its latest model with a simple hook-and-loop strap system. Designed to make it easier than ever to pull the snowshoes on and off, the system has been built to be very simple and intuitive to use without adding much weight or bulk to the overall package. This has the added benefit of making it easier for beginners to get started snowshoeing as well.
“Our first prototypes were better than anything we expected and the most surprising thing we discovered was the traction — we felt like cats — climbing or descending anything in our path,” Thamm says. “This new snowshoe’s performance is like nothing we’ve ever experienced.”
While all of this sounds promising for those of us who enjoy outdoor winter sports, we’ll have to wait awhile longer to get our hands on these new snowshoes. They won’t make their public debut until the annual Outdoor Retailer Winter Market convention, which is held in Salt Lake City in January. Even after that, Crescent Moon says they aren’t scheduled to begin shipping until fall 2017, which means they won’t be available to purchase — or use — this winter at all. When they do go on sale next year, they’ll retail for a $149, making them a very affordable option for those wanting to try the sport.