Kahtoola: Traction Gear to Get You Where You Want to Go

According to company founder, Danny Giovale, Kahtoola isn’t a snowshoe company. Instead, they focus on, “the whole spectrum of traction,” getting people where they need to go no matter the terrain. Fitting that Kahtoola means “directly” in Tibetan.

“Snowshoes come into play when the snow gets deep, and we make great snowshoes, but we started with Kahtoola Traction System (KTS) technology, and traction is our core.”

Giovale, grandson of Gore founders and outdoor enthusiasts Bill and Vivienne Gore, realized the need for better snow traction systems after sliding down an iced-over gully in the Italian Dolomites. He initially wanted to buy some lightweight crampons to keep in his pack, but realized there was a gap in the market between step crampons and full strap-on crampons. So he created his own, as well as patented technology like the Leaf Spring Extension Bar and launched Kahtoola, from his home base of Flagstaff, Ariz., in 2001. The company’s break came when adventure racers used the crampons at Eco Challenge New Zealand.

Snowshoes first joined the product line in 2005 with the Flight System (a step-in system), a cleated overboot that clicked into the Flight Deck Snowshoe. Microspikes were introduced in 2007 and a streamlined size-run Flightdeck TS snowshoe in 2008.

Kahtoola’s current snowshoe revolution occurred in 2010 with the launch of MTN Series mountain snowshoes – an 8-point Trail Crampon with integrated Skyhook step-in binding system.  This step-in system creates a mountaineering snowshoe—one system, two pieces of gear. The flat packing snowdeck design straps conveniently to a pack when not in use.

“Depending where you’re headed, most of the time you can navigate packed or windblown snow in the trail crampon and then click into the snowdeck when you need it,” said Giovale. “We are all about making it as easy as possible to get outside and have fun.”

2010 also marked the release of Kahtoola’s first running and one-piece design snowshoe, the RNR 22.

“Running snowshoes need to be lightweight and have good foot feedback,” according to Giovale. “Having a live hinge, like in the RNR series, provides the necessary foot feedback and allows the shoes to become an extension of your body, much like skis.”

New for the 2011/2012 season, is the addition of adjustable width Wingspan Technology for snowshoes. A better fit improves feedback and provides enhanced performance for users of all foot widths.

Kahtoola offers a demo program through their dealers and has demos available at several snowshoe races throughout the winter.

For more information, visitwww.kahtoola.com.

About the author

Allison Pattillo