Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '07 Trends: Snowshoes

The snowshoe market got a lift this year -- as in, a few manufacturers added models with new heel lift mechanisms, but other than that, we found few pervasive trends in the category. Nevertheless, we did come across a few surprises at Outdoor Retaielr Winter Market 2007.
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We're almost wrapped up with our Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trends wraps, bringing you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories from Winter Market. No, each report does not name every company with new product and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned when it should have been. So if you're not mentioned, our brains were either too fogged out from the smog to think straight, you didn't return our calls or emails leaving us feeling really hurt, or we didn't think your product stood out sufficiently -- you pick one. With that in mind, here's our take on noteworthy trends and new products for snowshoes:

The snowshoe market got a lift this year -- as in, a few manufacturers added models with new heel lift mechanisms, but other than that, we found few pervasive trends in the category. Nevertheless, we did come across a few surprises…

We saw plenty of new snowshoes hit the market last year, including a new series from Tubbs. But Tubbs upped the ante this winter by overhauling its entire line, and this was partly in response to dealer requests. "They really were looking for design updates," Kathy Murphy of Tubbs told SNEWS®, so the company updated the graphics on all its shoes and launched the Mountain series and Couloir series (MSRP $239.99-$249.99), which are designed for people who want to travel in the backcountry. If retailers are looking for new stories to tell, they'll have plenty with these new shoes, which have new heel lift systems, gender-specific frames, a Revolution Response binding pivot system and improved teeth and crampons for traction.

Atlas added a new series, the 10+ (MSRP $199.99-$209.99), which has a basic design similar to the 10 series, but the 10+ shoes have heel-lift bars and more aggressive traction. We also liked improvements made to the 12 series binding, which now features a quick-release pull-loop. In addition, the binding straps are now coated with silicone, so they slide easily, and there's a roller in the heel buckle to reduce friction. Put this all together and you have a system that's super smooth.

Crescent Moon is joining the growing number of companies that are removing PVC from their products. (For more on PVC, see the "Shifting Formulas" article in the Winter 2007 issue of Gear Trends, p. 48). For its snowshoe decking, Crescent Moon has replaced PVC with Surlyn, a DuPont material that is deigned to be durable, resist abrasion and retain its shape in low temperatures. While Surlyn adds a bit of weight to the snowshoes, it's nothing that most consumers will even notice, said Crescent Moon President Jake Thamm. When we asked Thamm if the switch from PVC has proved costly for the company, he said, "Actually, our yield has gone up, and cost has not gone up." Hey, when you're doing the right thing, good things happen.

TSL is now bringing to the United States its Step-in Race snowshoe system, which looks pretty cool, but carries a lofty price. The system is comprised of a composite snowshoe with a step-in binding (MSRP $139) and TSL's own Nordic Race winter boot (MSRP $239). The 21-inch shoe has the familiar hourglass shape of its other composite decks, and the waterproof boot has a synthetic upper, integrated gaiter and a Vibram sole that incorporates the step-in mechanism.

MSR added a new snowshoe to its line, the Lightning Ascent 30 (MSRP $289.95). At 4 pounds, 4 ounces per pair, this burly shoe is designed for traveling in deep powder. The frame and deck are similar to those on previous Ascent models, but MSR tweaked the binding for this one, adding a third strap to the forefoot for added security.

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