Crescent Moon Race Snowshoes

Winter is a discouraging time for the long-distance runner when snowfall can force even the most dedicated miler indoors to jog in place on a treadmill. That was, at least, until modern race snowshoes freed us to lope through the powder and ice with our running shoes secured to lightweight yet durable frames designed to grip the slippery surface.

Forget your image of fur trappers strapped to tennis racquets and stumbling in the frozen hinterlands. Crescent Moon’s Gold 12 Race Snowshoes ($229) will have you running with very little learning curve. Simply lace up your favorite running flats (ideally encased with Crescent Moon’s warm and water resistant snow bootie, not included), center the foot in the binding, adjust the heel strap and then pull up on the large loop strap over your foot until its snug. The design “captures” your foot to eliminate any side-to-side sliding or stepping through the front of the shoe.

The Gold 12’s binding attaches the toe and the ball of your foot to a rocker for a natural stride. The tail of the snowshoe lifts with each step. Aluminum claws, called cramp-ons, are beneath the heel, ball and toe for traction. The latter cramp-on is unique to the Gold 12 and helps you to scale hills and manage traverses.

Jake Thamm, the company’s president, says the binding on the Gold 12 is a variation of the company’s lauded Single-Pull Loop binding, but constructed with the runner in mind. This means weight has been minimized, but without sacrificing comfort, performance or durability, an ethos that is applied to the whole snowshoe. The Gold 12 is also built to last, with its teardrop-shaped powder-coated aluminum frame welded by hand. The decking of the Gold 12 snowshoe is constructed of a lightweight material called TGS (“the good stuff,” as Thamm calls it). Thamm says that it is impervious, impermeable and has a freezing point of around -40° Fahrenheit.

Still a skeptic? Understand that snowshoeing is recognized as excellent cross training for runners, with less joint stress. The soft surface of the snow will challenge core-stabilizing muscles and the leg and hip muscles also must work harder. And for some, such as Thamm, the useful equipment isn’t just about training for the road, but for the burgeoning sport of snowshoe racing.