Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CRESCENT MOON® SNOWSHOES, KAHTOOLA® MICROspikes®, SOLE CUSTOM FOOTBEDS



OUTDOOR RETAILER GEAR REVIEW:

















Kahtoola





Words/Tradeshow Images Judith Ecochard
Product Image SOLE from Website



Like taxes and death, we count on two other occurrences…thought these 'happenings' are amusing…

One-the onslaught of ‘lose the weight, get in shape…’ headlines gracing the covers of Spring print magazines, particularly those aimed at the ladies…

Two- east coast dwellers, usually above the Mason-Dixon line, and many Europeans we know--- complaining about all the snow that inevitably dumps in February…usually when air travel is scheduled.

Which got us thinking about one of the easiest, and inexpensive ways to stay in shape in colder climes…and by easy, we mean barely tougher to master than walking.





And that is snowshoe-ing…a great way to get outdoors, get the HR going without a lift ticket, inexpensive as the gear lasts -AND is recycle friendly to a large degree-and is practically all ages suitable.















CRESCENT MOON is owned by a friendly duo out of Colorado that is passionate about making their snowshoes perfect, believing that “the right equipment can make the difference between a lifetime of great outdoor experiences or a one time outing.t”

This year, the company focused on making binding changes…on snowshoes that are left/right and men’s/women’s specific.

The anatomical shapes that fit uniquely mean Crescent Moon’s “captures your foot in all directions…collects your foot from side to side…and front to back.”

Right off-- when we tried a pair…we noticed how easy it was to get on the snowshoe…and the unique teardrop shape like the shape of our foot (wide at the ball, narrow at the heel) allowed for a natural gait. Meaning idiot proof…no wipeouts and no residual aches.

This model we tried, part of the Gold Women’s series, like all CM frames, are made from 6063 aircraft grade aluminum that is TIG welded, (strong). Also the lightweight, abrasion resistant decking is PVC free.
























THE DETAILS FOR COLDPLAY

Easy use cam-locking buckles on the outside on the wrap around bindings like the ones on snowboards, a Single Pull Loop Binding System with an equal tension molded polyurethane, plus a harness for better comfort and support in all directions --- and straps that won’t freeze or stretch out (a big deal), a stomp pad behind the binding for shock absorption, and one time adjustments to the foot---

---are other highlights.

Ice surfaces are grabbed with three, teeth gnashing, lightweight metal crampons (aluminum cleats) --- including a special toe claw, the last piece of equipment to leave the snow…a good thing for challenging hiking and climbing jaunts.

We also saw how well the CM snowshoes picked up with our foot (fixed rotation), meaning they followed our foot, unlike some other brands that require us to lift our legs really high to move forward. This makes going off-piste trooping around, in varied conditions a lot easier.

But even urban dwellers cruising through a level city park will appreciate.

Women can rejoice…as the ladies specific designs (two new ones) that we saw have pull side tabs for easy release, and an exaggerated tearshop shape for strides (ours!) that are closer together…and are a natural motion that prevents hip flexor irritation. (A problem with un
i-sexed size gym equipment we use too).


ADDED PLUS: Made in Boulder, Colorado…with sustainable eco practices in place…(recycle 90% of back office & manufacturing materials).

And…

Special kids and tweener sizes that will get the kids off the couch!!!!

A Gold 12 Running Shoe Snowshoe…with a lightweight ‘R’ binding design allows for cruising with running shoes/neoprene overbooties.


INFO: Prices range $239- and up for Adults. CRESCENT MOON SNOWSHOES

KAHTOOLA®
























KAHTOOLA ("directly" in Tibet) gives grips via it’s lightweight MICROspikes® ($59.95) that should be required gear for every senior citizen we know-and covered by Medicaid…that’s how easy to attach these slip on your shoes/boots traction gizmos are. Sure beats slipping on the ice and slushy snow and fracturing something.
























What’s new are the eight point trail crampon- with eight hardened steel cleats, including the Skyhook® cleat grip for the uni-sex MTN Step-In Snowshoes that we only had a nano
second to check out at OR.






The Skyhook® Trail Crampon that integrates with the Skyhook® Step-In binding is durable…with metal front posts that “integrate into injection molded side supports and treaded footbed” for lateral side to side stability and a comfy secure fit.

The Step-In is really helpful--- so whether we need the whole kit or just the crampon (with the lightweight aircraft aluminum frame snowshoe strapped on our backpack) …























DETAILS:

Comes in two models: MTN 24 (3lbs, 14oz MSRP $279) and the longer MTN 28 (MSRP $289).

PLUS: A lightweight (2lbs, 9oz) Racer Snowshoe designed for runners ($239) with an active hinge with flex band for control and responsiveness…and a curved tail for less drag and a more natural stride.



SOLE CUSTOM FOOTBEDS

Heat molded footbeds provide a supportive orthopedic base layer for a custom feel that we think ranked right up there with the insanely priced orthotics we got a few years back.

SOLE Custom Footbeds are an affordable solution to replace the clone-able inserts that come with all our footwear…and comes in different styles too. We tried the Thin Sport ($44.95) version.











Easy to customize, we pre-heated the oven to 200 degrees and trimmed the pair we got to fit our hiking boots, using the worn out insole as a guide. After 'baking' the Sole’s for 2 minutes we put the footbeds into our shoes, bending our knees for a secure fit. Then we stood up, shoulder wide for two minutes as the molding process got going…

And violà ---our left and right foot got support unique to each. And one can re-heat and remold up to fives times…should one’s needs or feet change.

SOLE Custom Footbeds are sold online on its site… and in many stores….

ADDED PLUS ---moisture wicking, some footbeds have anti-bacterial silver lining and made all are partially from recycled content.

INFO: SOLE