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Crescent Moon Gold 10 Review
Cons: Heavy, limited icy snow traction
Bottom line: An all-around snowshoe that tilts its preferences to the wild and deep environments.
Weight (per pair): 5.1 lbs
Frame material: 6063 aluminum
Manufacturer: Crescent Moon
Each product we review often has at least one close competitor within the review selection. In the case of the Crescent Moon Gold 10, it is best compared to the Louis Garneau Blizzard II. They are similar in overall size, with similar targeted markets. Each is an all-around snowshoe, with a size and feature set that leans toward serving those that get off-trail into softer snow some of the time. They don't grip as well as the techier products, but they stride nicely and float in the fresh. The Blizzard has a slightly better binding, and is lighter, earning it higher overall scores. For this reason, we grant the Louis Garneau our Top Pick Award for Deep Snow Performance. For users in this category that prefer an American made product, the Moon Gold 10 shoots to the top of the list.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Crescent Moon is a relative newcomer to the snowshoe game. While they've been making snowshoes in Colorado since 1997, it is only in recent years that they've fully entered the national market. As a fully US company, from design to manufacturing, they appeal to consumers in a different way than others.
In our review, a review for which the product selection largely focused on the all-around, the Gold 10 is among the larger snowshoes we tested. There are much larger snowshoes available, including Crescent Moon's super-sized Expedition 17 model, but among the all-around types, the Gold 10 is among the largest. It is best compared to our Top Pick Louis Garneau Blizzard II. These two are roughly the same size, with the Crescent Moon coming in with 256 OGL measured square inches of flotation. The shape puts the bulk of that surface area under the user's center of gravity, leaving the tails and tips narrower for better stride ergonomics. In short, the Crescent Moon tops our charts, tied with the Blizzard, for flotation. You won't find a better floating snow shoe that is also suitable for packed trails.
In order to achieve a great deal of surface area at a reasonable weight, Crescent Moon has equipped the Gold 10 snowshoes with minimal metal spiking, limited only to the binding/crampon area. The result is poorer-than-average traction on the firmest of snow conditions. Similarly, the Fimbulvetr Hikr and Top Pick Louis Garneau Blizzard II have suboptimal crampon traction.
For snowshoes this large, the highly tapered shape makes for a stride and ergonomic experience that isn't as cumbersome as you might think. The tapered tail nestles next to the somewhat narrowed tip with each step, allowing almost a standard gait without stepping on yourself. It isn't nearly as smooth and natural as the springy step and super compact size of the Top Pick TSL Symbioz Elite, but the shock absorbing strapped deck/binding interface allows for a little cushion. As they are shoes designed for deep snow on mellow terrain, as evidenced by the minimal crampon and the larger size, the strapped deck/binding interface is the most comfortable. This allows for some spring in your step. Hinged interfaces, like those on the Editors' Choice MSR Lightning Ascent, are more precise in technical terrain, but this isn't what the Gold 10 is optimized for.
The wide straps of the Gold 10 spread the force of retention over even the softest of winter footwear. As long as you use even slightly insulated shoes, which you'll want for winter use anyway, the straps won't cut or compress your foot or boots. The tension in the bindings is maintained by mechanical buckles. This, or the evenly squeezing Boa system of the Tubbs Flex Vrt, makes for the most comfortable binding arrangement. Stretchy rubbery straps, like those on the Best Buy MSR Evo or Atlas Aspect, are slightly more secure, but make for a constricting fit when snugged enough for truly effective foot retention.
Ease of Use
With one handed on and off, the bindings of the Moon Gold 10 are among the easiest to us. We are 100 percent confident they will not ice up for you, and even the clumsiest of our testers were able to figure them out immediately. The Boa system is also quite easy to use, especially when learning, but we fear the Boa mechanism and cables can become iced up. The pin-in-hole, rubber strapped bindings like on the MSR Lightning Ascent are even easier to use, while the soft nylon straps and plastic ladder-lock buckles of the Fimbulvetr Hikr are far more finicky, and way more prone to icing up.
We had no problems, as long as we stuck to gentler terrain, with the binding of the Gold 10. With the other design attributes taken into account, like the minimal cramponing and the strapped binding/deck interface, it is clear these aren't designed for technical terrain. In that case, the binding is as secure as is necessary. For the wild and steep, the rubber-strap bindings like on the MSR Evo, MSR Lightning Ascent, and Atlas Aspect shoes we tested are significantly more secure.
These are excellent snowshoes for classic snowshoe application. For the forests, trails, and open meadows of the US Mountain West, the Gold 10 is perfect. If you will venture onto the windswept and hard snow above treeline, and the sometimes icy conditions of the US Northeast, something with more crampon bite and rigid hinged bindings is a better choice.
The suggested retail price of the Moon Gold 10 is near the median of our entire test. It is above average, but below that of the most technical products in our test. For an American-made product that has inspired durability confidence in our testing team, it is certainly not a bad value.
We like the Crescent Moon Gold. The harness is careful, innovative, and simple. The size and walking ergonomics are optimized for most soft snow applications. The small company inspires consumers that value that sort of thing.
— Jediah Porter
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