Snowshoeing is part of the trend dubbed, "human-powered snowsports." It is considered the fastest growing segment of winter recreation. According to the SnowSports Industries Association (SIA), over 3.9 million people went snowshoeing in the last year data was published from 2016.
According to the Outdoor Industry 2017 Outdoor Participation Report, snowshoeing has hovered at a participation rate of between 1.25% (2017) to 1.46% (2014) of all Americans between ages 6+. Considering that alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding were 3.1%, 1.6%, and 2.6% respectively in 2017, it is not as small as one might first envision. The new snowshoes developed by Crescent Moon Snowshoes may provide a significant technological improvement that will spur greater participation in snowshoeing.
Until recently, snowshoes have historically been made in pretty much the same manner for years, out of aluminum. In 2017 Crescent Moon made a radical change in its approach to manufacturing snowshoes with its creation of the first generation of EVA All Foam snowshoes.
My partner, Casey LeBrun caught up with Jake Thamm of Crescent Moon Snowshoes to talk about the new innovations they have made in the latest version of the EVA All Foam snowshoes and his plans going forward into 2019.
This past November, 2018 Marisa Nicholson presented the first Outdoor Retailers Innovation Awards. Crescent Moon was one of the inaugural winners. The award noted that the company's EVA foam snowshoes were,
"Arguably the biggest snowshoe innovation since the steel frame, these all-EVA foam snowshoes work like athletic shoes, bending and rolling naturally—with no pivoting hinge to stand in your way. Two layers of dual-density foam offer floaty support, and the lack of metal makes them blissfully silent on snowy trails. Comfortable for walking or running on relatively flat terrain, this entry-level pair is also fully recyclable when you’re done wearing them."
With predictions from the USDA that human-powered snowsports is poised to grow as one of the top five growth activities in the next several decades, the projected growth provides a significant opportunity for an innovator like Crescent Moon to lay the foundation to grow its sales. How can it take advantage of this opportunity? For one, it and other snowshoe manufacturers need to spend more effort on reaching the untapped market of those who want to get outside but don't and those who are really looking for affordable recreational outdoor activities.
Sarah Grant, Research Manager at Insites Consulting conducted research for ISPO last fall and unearthed some gems of insight. She found in part that the industry continues to use phrases that don't connect with outdoor novices. For example, she pointed out that many in the outdoors industry keep using communication that appeals to high performing mountain and outdoor athletes.
“Outdoor industry and novice speak completely different languages: It’s alienating!” Outdoor novices instead ask for family-friendly activities, on preferably flat ground and maybe try out an easy mountain bike, snowshoe or hiking tours at the next step. The study identified the following problems and solutions:
What is stopping the outdoor novices?
- Consideration phase: Too much overwhelming information. Difficult to make a choice. Big investment in time and energy. Feels expensive. Fear of the unknown like bad weather.
- Finding phase: Searching and finding novice content isn’t easy. Information is inaccessible.
- Planning phase: Tricky to prepare. Overwhelming choice in gear. Fear of crowded hotspots.
- Doing phase: Inaccessible. Expensive. Comfort gap is too big. Not used to rugged experience.
How can outdoor novices be activated?
- Consideration phase: Speak their language, redefine the stereotypes.
- Finding phase: Inform and manage expectations like fears, build comfort tolerance
- Planning phase: Preparation is key.
- Doing phase: Hold their hand and educate. Create reasons to exercise outdoors. Remind of benefits.
Crescent Moon is moving in the right direction with its innovative design that has lead to reviews which can appeal to the novice outsider. Take for example this one from Digital Trends.
"What really sets them apart from the rest of the pack, though, is their design. Most snowshoes are constructed with a rigid metal or composite plastic frame that doesn’t bend, and a hinged binding that pivots as you walk. Crescent Moon threw that paradigm out the window with these shoes and ditched the hinge entirely. Instead, the V2 models are designed with a pronounced upward curve in the deck, and a foam matrix that’s built to provide an optimal mix of rigidity and flexibility. It’s like they pulled the sole off of a running shoe designed for giants. They’re rigid enough that they don’t feel squishy, but also soft enough to bend and flex with every step. Walking in them feels like walking in your favorite sneakers."
With this appeal, one of the closing paragraphs creates a distinct image for the novice and recreational outdoors enthusiast who may want to try snowshoeing. Visions of Mt. Everest need not come to mind. Enjoy the simplicity and fun of snowshoeing.
"Crescent Moon’s Eva All-Foam V2 Snowshoe transforms the classic snowshoe into a winter walker you’re practically guaranteed to enjoy. Foam is a radical idea, but Crescent Moon pulls it off perfectly. The material cushions your feet when you walk, protects it from the cold, and flexes so you can walk with a natural gait. The snowshoes are also comfortable as hell, and only get better as you break them in. Just don’t expect to take them up Everest."
The also were reviewed in Outside Magazine.