It’s not everyday that I get to write about snowshoes. Though talking about running and racing snowshoes is something that I love to do.
I love running in snowshoes. I love walking in snowshoes.
I love snowshoeing. Period.
When Dion Snowshoes, a premier performance running and racing snowshoe company, offered Kids Trail Running an opportunity to review a pair of Model 121s, we couldn’t wait for snow!
Made in beautiful Vermont, Dion’s Model 121s are the smallest and most narrow running/racing snowshoes on the market. Though small, light, and easily maneuverable, Dion Snowshoe’s Model 121 are built for legal entry into snowshoe races by the USSSA, but without sacrificing float, durability, or function.
By the way, if you haven’t tried snowshoe racing, why not? Seriously. It’s super fun and a natural extension of trail and ultra running. It’s not too late to give it a try this winter. You can learn more about snowshoe races over at US Snowshoe Association’s website; Dion has been the title sponsor of U.S. National Snowshoe Championship events since 2011.
Dion: Serious Snowshoes, for Serious Youth Athletes
My teen, a not so shabby long-distance trail runner, who happens to hold a world trail running title, couldn’t wait to try out Dion’s 121s. As a serious youth athlete, the idea of strapping on running and racing snowshoes to mix up her winter training was a huge plus. Snowshoes make workouts and outside time during the colder months fun and playful. The only hitch? Waiting for or seeking out snow.
After a big Nor’easter, my teen slipped into some waterproof trail running shoes, put on a headlamp, and strapped on the Dions for an evening trail adventure.
She ran. She kicked like she was doing dynamic butt-kick warm-ups (’cause it’s really, really fun to flick snow everywhere, especially on everyone around or behind you). She jogged. She walked. She flicked and kicked snow. She ran some more.
She was instantly hooked on snowshoe running. In Dion Snowshoes.
The fun, play, and training didn’t stop with that evening run. She has loved running on the Dion Snowshoes this winter, when the snow has allowed for snowshoeing.
Dion Snowshoes Model 121 Racing Frame Snowshoes
- Hand crafted, aircraft grade aluminum with powdercoated finish
- Heel cleat with Teflon Hardcoat
- Neoprene springs on hinge to handle tension and articulation
- Lightweight, abrasion resistant decking
- 7″ x 21″ w/ 1/2″ tubing
- 1lb -10 oz/pair (frame)
- White w/Neon Orange
- Made in USA
- Retails: Frame ($130.00 USD); Secure Fit Binding ($55.00)
Testing Dion Running and Racing Snowshoes on Vermont’s Kingdom Trails
“These snowshoes are the coolest. They are lit!” That’s according to my 13 year old runner. Dion’s 121 racing frame isn’t your average teen or child snowshoe. While they surely can be used for leisurely strolls through the woods or on trails, they are engineered with athletes and fitness enthusiasts in mind. They are designed for rugged and repeated use. They are for pushing limits.
With four kids and a love of snowshoes, I’ve amassed plenty of snowshoes over the years and I’ve strapped on lots of different snowshoe brands and models onto little feet. For kids who just want to stomp around in the snow wearing winter boots, there are many snowshoe options on the market at inexpensive price points. But those snowshoes are a different beast than Dion’s racing frames.
Our test snowshoes featured Dion’s Secure-Fit Bindings. Dion offers two types of bindings: the Secure-Fit and the Quick-Fit. The Secure-Fit require a little bit of effort initially to set the custom adjustment for your shoe/boot size, but once adjusted they seem to stay that way, which offers peace of mind for racing and more efficient training. A huge plus with the bindings is that Dion offers replacement straps and various strap sizing options, so you can maximize your mileage over the years of ownership.
Dion’s racing frames and lightweight bindings are suited to running shoes vs. bulky winter boots, even though there is some room for adjustment. My teen would have been hard pressed to fit a standard snow boot with a big rand into the binding. This isn’t a failing of the binding or the design. This is simply a reflection of what these snowshoes are made for: serious running, training, and snowshoeing.
Though competitively priced, Dion’s snowshoes are built to last. Not only does Dion warranty against defects in material or workmanship, the company also offers an exclusive ‘buy and try’ guarantee with each snowshoe purchase. This guarantee gives you the chance to return your snowshoes within 10 days for a refund if the snowshoes aren’t the best racing snowshoes you’ve ever purchased. Is that type of guarantee awesome or what?
The Teen’s Perspective:
“The Dion’s are extremely durable and lightweight. They are extremely easy to run in. They aren’t clunky. I now love running in the winter even more than before I strapped on the Dion’s. You feel like you’re running with only your running shoes. I only have one issue and that’s that the fastening system. I tested the Secure-Fit Bindings, which uses straps [standard webbing and Ladder-Lock type system], so it’s harder and slower to put them on, but once they’re on, they’re on. Otherwise they are perfect. I would totally recommend these snowshoes for other teen athletes for winter training. I recommend running shoes with these snowshoes, not boots. They are made for real, serious running.”
You can find more info about Dion Running Snowshoes over at Dion: here.