Dion Model 121 snowshoes review: light on your feet for running on snow

For racing and running across snow Dion Model 121 snowshoes are some of the best you can buy

Best snowshoes – Dion Model 121 snowshoes
(Image: © Berne Broudy)

Advnture Verdict

Made for racing and fast-and-light strolling, these fully customizable, made-in-the-USA snowshoes are light and efficient.

Pros

  • +

    Fully customizable

  • +

    Small

  • +

    Light and agile

Cons

  • -

    Good on hard-packed terrain, less so on soft stuff

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Dion Model 121 snowshoes: first impressions

Handcrafted in Vermont, Dion Model 121 snowshoes (available direct from Dion and NeviTrek (opens in new tab)) are for the discerning snowshoer who’s feeling the need for speed.

Specifications

• List price: $90 (US)
• Dimensions: Available in six sizes from 15.2cm x 35.6cm / 6in x 14in (for kids) to 25.4cm x 91.4cm / 10in x 36in
• Weight: 960g-1,100g / 2.13-2.43lb
• Frame Material: Anodized aluminum
• Deck Material: Plastic
• Traction: Aluminum teeth underfoot

The aircraft-grade aluminum frames are powder-coated for durability with sleeve-joined tubing, which makes them strong and streamlined. Heel cleats are Teflon hard-coated to keep ice and snow from sticking. Interlocking decking at the top and tail is reinforced with polyurethane scrape plates and double riveted for durability.

With the Dion Model 121s, you choose your binding and cleat, or buy them with no binding if you plan to bolt winter running shoes directly to the decks. If you’re a snowshoer who wants to be able to swap bindings, Dion’s 121 is designed for easy changes. Bindings attach with a flathead bolt.

Dion Model 121 snowshoes: in the snow

Dion Model 121

The Dion Model 121 snowshoes are designed to be light and flexible for running across snow (Image credit: Dion)

When I’m moving fast, whether racing or doing hot laps on the nearest snow-covered peak, I don’t want to be weighed down. Dion’s 121 snowshoes are robust enough to take a pounding, and light enough to help me hold race pace. Neoprene springs on the hinge point help the decking snap back without a lag.

I tested these shoes with Dion’s stainless steel ice cleat. It’s the heaviest of the brand’s binding options, but more durable, and it gave me superb traction. The cleat has teeth in all the right places: aggressive medium-height spikes at the toe, with smaller teeth under the ball of the foot, and two claws in the midfoot. The heel has a four-tooth claw, which makes wearing these on speedy day trips secure and confidence-inspiring.

Dion Model 121

Neoprene springs on the hinge point help the decking snap back without a lag (Image credit: Dion)

I tested Dion’s 121 with the easy-fit regular binding, which fits up to a size 12 running shoe. If you’ll wear this snowshoe with bulky winter hiking boots or you have big feet, opt for the easy-fit large binding. For any snowshoer who wants to get in and out of your shoes with max speed, opt for Dion’s velcro strap quick-fit binding, which comes in small and large.

Berne Broudy

Vermont-based writer, photographer and adventurer, Berne reports on hiking, biking, skiing, overlanding, travel, climbing and kayaking for category-leading publications in the U.S., Europe and beyond. In the field, she’s been asked to deliver a herd of llamas to a Bolivian mountaintop corral, had first fat-biking descents in Alaska, helped establish East Greenland’s first sport climbing and biked the length of Jordan. She’s worked to help brands clean up their materials and manufacturing, and has had guns pulled on her in at least three continents.