A New Way to Build Snowshoes
Boulder, Colorado-based Crescent Moon has handbuilt industry-leading snowshoes since 1997. Well-known for lightweight snowshoes crafted with sustainable materials and business practices, Crescent Moon has launched a new model that dramatically changes the way people think of traditional snowshoe construction. Called EVA All Foam, the new snowshoes use a patent pending design feature dual-density EVA soles to create a rocker-shaped platform.
First showcased at last year’s Winter Outdoor Retailer, the Eva was recognized with 7 Best/Gear of the Show awards — including Outside Magazine, Gear Junkie, and Men’s Journal. Most recently the Eva All-Foam has received a Men’s Journal “Gear of the Year” recognition and Forbes’ “Great Winter Sports Gifts” guide inclusion.
The snowshoes were inspired by the feel of high-cushion running shoes after co-founder Tamara Laug returned from a snowy trail run in Boulder, CO and wondered, “why can’t my snowshoes be this comfortable?” The idea for the Eva All-Foam Snowshoe was born, revolutionizing the snowshoe market.
Since financing complex product development processes can be expensive for small companies Jake Thamm, Crescent Moon’s founder, used a Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign to attract investors to fund EVA Foam’s first run production.
What was the inspiration behind the new EVA Foam design?
Tamara Laug, Crescent Moon’s co-founder and principal designer, has been a lifelong runner in addition to being a student of design and innovation. She began prototyping rocker shaped foam “stacks” to mimic the feel of her running shoes. We made a number of prototypes of different kinds of foam shoes with bindings from our regular line and tested the concept in spring, summer, snow, sand, desert and mountain conditions just to prove to ourselves the idea had merit.
Some of the prototypes were pretty crude, with golf cleats screwed into the foam for traction and regular crampons attached by way of rivets and other mechanical attachments to see what traction and ‘feel’ would be like. We ran on people’s lawn, over parking lots and on closed ski runs, up hiking trails in the spring that were more mud than snow, but anything to get the sensation of what a foam shoe could do. From the first elementary versions we believed we had something different enough to justify taking the next steps.
How did prototypes evolve into the final finished design?
We sent prototypes out to our testers across the country, and at the first snow, in fact, at the first man-made snow, we were on them. Our first experiences were great, but we immediately recognized we had to change a number of things.
The bindings we first designed were a stretchable rubber which allowed the foot to move side to side and sometimes up and down. We didn’t want that. We spec’d the new material to be inelastic and thicker to provide more support and stability. To improve traction we added texture and re-configured the “teeth” to be more aggressive and shed snow more readily.
Crescent Moon introduced the EVA Foam snowshoes at the Outdoor Retail show and Snowsports Industries America trade shows in February of 2017. How did the market respond?
From the moment we showed the new Eva All-Foam we recognized this snowshoe was different. And in a good way. At the ‘on-snow’ demo portion of the Outdoor Retailer trade show journalists, retailers and guests flocked to the booth. We could hear them off in the woods talking and yelling about how much fun they were having.
There was steep terrain for the technophiles to try the float, there was a hard packed track where racers and fitness types took it through the course, rolling terrain with both packed and unpacked snow and every person who tried them came back with a big smile and conspiratorial nod of the head.
By the time the trade shows ended Eva All-Foam was recognized with a number of awards and accolades that confirmed Tamara’s original idea about blowing a running shoe up to the size of a snowshoe and taking out all the “gear-ish-ness” of a traditional snowshoe.
After the initial reaction validated the concept and lead retailers to place orders, Thamm and his team turned their attention to building the first run. Thamm turned to Kickstarter to fund an initial production run. The crowdsourced funding campaign attracted 150 backers who pledged $30,793 to bring EVA Foam showshoes to the market.
Based on the innovative nature of Eva All-Foam, we thought it was a good fit for the culture of supporters and backers that make up the community of Kickstarter. Many of the successful projects we studied prior to making the decision to do a Kickstarter were similar to Eva All-Foam – a different spin on an old idea or in our case, an old product.
–Interview by SIA contributor and veteran industry business writer Louis Dzierzak.