I did a long hike approach snowshoe (7.2 miles round trip) over the weekend to the base of North Hancock, including 16 water crossings. We still have snow on the ground, but I figured that doing the crossings wearing my Inov-8 trail runners, merino wool liners, and gore-tex socks would be an excellent approximation of the water temperature conditions that I can expect when hiking across Scotland in 6 weeks. My trail runners performed brilliantly during the water crossings, shedding water immediately, and my feet stayed relatively warm as long as I kept moving.
Surprisingly, I also discovered that wearing trail runners with snowshoes, particularly for Spring Thaw conditions, dramatically lessens the amount of fatigue experienced on a long snowshoe carrying full winter gear.
It makes perfect sense. If you switch out a heavy pair of plastic mountaineering boots or leather hikers for trail runners, you have to drag along a lot less weight with each step. But I was completely astonished at the level of energy I had after the approach hike into the peak, and when we got back to the trail head and my car. What a difference a lighter pair of shoes makes! I'm going to have to try this more next winter.
But before you conclude that wearing trail runners for snowshoeing is a good idea, keep in mind that I only did this because I had to do a lot of water crossings that would soaked a pair of boots, and that temperatures were in the 70's F, so I wasn't too concerned about hypothermia. I also brought along a second pair of boots as backup and extra socks.
Still the possibilities of using trail runners with snowshoes is intriguing. Have any of you taken this further than me in true winter conditions. With an overboot, perhaps?