Gearheads take note! We strolled the Outdoor Retailer trade show last weekend to get a peek at the newest winter goods for 2014/2015. Between base layers, outer layers, mid layers, accessories and all the tools to get you on the trail, we left feeling more excited about winter than we have been all season. Overall, expect to see snowshoes integrate more color, more performance and easier-to-secure, glove-friendly bindings next season. In the meantime, here’s a preview of what you’ll find in outdoor shops this fall.
Faber Snowshoes’ proprietary Wing Traction Decking is an alternative twist on traditional snowshoe design, which enables the decking to be used as traction, thus cutting down on overall weight. It’s the premise for Faber’s new minimalist Racing snowshoe ($180) – a performance snowshoe that includes a sparse binding system and an additional crampon – and the new women’s shoe, the White Lander ($119).
The latter is built with a narrower waist and smaller frame tubing and ratchet system to accommodate petite female features. Amid Faber’s modern design, the company will continue to make their classic wooden snowshoes for off-trail use, which maintain the traditional aesthetics of original snowshoes for the adventure purist.
Yukon Charlie’s Winter Systems has always focused on value-driven snowshoes, making it an affordable entry point for newcomers. For the most part, you’ll find the same tried-and-true features in Yukon Charlie’s snowshoes next season, with subtle differences in colors, shapes and small changes throughout their snowshoes. Their Sherpa Series, a basic entry-level line, remains largely unchanged, priced from $79 while still maintaining reliable performance. The Advanced Series (from $89), a mid-level shoe, will feature additional women’s-specific shapes that are narrower and tapered to allow for a more natural stride. Across both men’s and women’s models, the series will also see the addition of a heel lift for better leverage on steeper slopes and more aggressive crampons for increased traction. More aggressive snowshoers will see a new polyurethane nylon weave on the Performance Series (from $99) that lightens up the deck, and new decking clamps add additional traction around the frame.
While most snowshoe companies have stuck with a traditional ratchet binding system, Louis Garneau continues to integrate the Boa lacing systems into its line of mid- and performance-level snowshoes. The quick and easy-to-secure dial closure is featured in the backcountry-performing Yeti snowshoe ($250), which features dual Boa lacing on the top of the foot and around the heel, helping to reduce the deck weight by 30 percent. If price is an issue, the Blizzard ($190), available in a men’s and women’s model, pulls nearly all the same award-winning features of the Yeti into a shoe with only one Boa lace on the top of the foot.
Louis Garneau’s new Black Everest snowshoe ($185) is an off-trail shoe that integrates more traction into a polymer molded deck. Featuring split crampons at the toe, the Black Everest is designed to adapt to uneven terrain, while proprietary Edge Decking on the nose of the snowshoe efficiently slices through the snow and reduces resistance with every step.
Made in Boulder, Colo., Crescent Moon Snowshoes has long prided itself on individually made snowshoes and simplified technologies. Their Single Pull Loop binding features a fixed rotation pivot, which enables more maneuverability and follows the stride of your heel, preventing you from flinging snow with each step. Perhaps most interesting about Crescent Moon, though, is what you WON’T find in their snowshoes.
The company emphasizes the need for crampons under the foot – versus around the frame – as that’s where traction is needed most. You’ll find this on the Gold Series 9 snowshoe ($259), an all-terrain, go-anywhere shoe. It’s aesthetically less rugged than most backcountry/off-trail snowshoes, but because the crampons are strategically located directly under the toes, they’re quicker to engage with the snow, which means you won’t need (or find) the addition of a heel lift mechanism on any of their snowshoes. With a lifetime warranty on all their snowshoes, Crescent Moon is confident its durability and performance will outlive the rigors of off-piste hiking.
Numerous snowshoe companies are using a hydro design technology to print fun and creative graphics on kids’ snowshoes in an effort to inspire a younger generation of snowshoers. From polka dots to monsters and skulls, you’ll find both Louis Garneau ($60-70) and Yukon Charlie’s (from $45) using this idea, upping the ‘cool’ factor of snowshoeing. Yukon Charlie’s kids’ line will be sold as kits, which include snowshoes, poles and a matching carrying bag for all the equipment.
Stay tuned for more updates on my Outdoor Retailer experiences.