Snowshoe Reviews

See the main "Got Gear" page for general information on poles, hydration systems and eyewear.


MSR Deploy TR-3 Snowshoe Poles PRODUCT REVIEW:
MSR Deploy TR-3 Snowshoe Poles

I’ve worked with many an adjustable pole over the years. The ones that screw together often collapse, the ones that have flip clasps are secure—they have been the favorite to date, but now we have something even newer. The next step in adjustable pole is this one—hand easily adjustable pole that has a simple trigger release by the hand grip. This trigger release allows you to quickly change the length of your pole at any time. I started a traverse across a steep mountain side and it took only seconds to shorten the uphill pole with one hand while I was on the move. The three-section Deploy™ TR-3 pole is defined by this Trigger Release and it has a SureLock™ System that means your pole will lock into place without slipping out. Another plus of the easy adjustability is that is collapses into a third the size of a usual pole (3 part) so it was easy to pack. I strapped them easily to my backpack when I didn’t need them. They took up much less space in my car on the ride to the trailhead, and when I’m storing them at home they aren’t a long gangly pole, rather a compact piece that takes up very little room. They come standard with an MSR Snow Basket. MSR Powder Basket sold separately. Note: these poles are actually a backcountry pole, so while I’m testing them primarily for snowshoeing they are also strong enough to ski with. They are made of 7000 series aircraft-grade aluminum and they are super light. I tested them in-bounds at a ski resort and they performed just fine, although I would recommend getting the Powder Basket if you want to use them for skiing. An investment in this pole would pay off across the board for all your backcountry activities.

  • Trigger Release One-Handed Adjustment: Glove-friendly, one-handed adjustment system provides the fastest, easiest response for matching pole length to terrain.
  • SureLock™ System: Freeze-resistant, positive-locking mechanism delivers the confidence of no-slip performance in all conditions.
  • Ultralight Strength: Shafts are built of light, strong and reliable 7000-series aerospace-grade aluminum.
  • Breakaway Winter Strap: Designed for glove-friendly adjustments and will force-release if pole gets lodged during a fall.
  • Effortless Swing: Designed for glove-friendly adjustments and will force-release if pole gets lodged during a fall.
  • Ergonomic Grip: Comfortable grip features a catch for raising AT and snowshoe heel lifts.


Black Diamond Razor Carbon Poles PRODUCT REVIEW:
Black Diamond Razor Carbon Poles

I've used these poles for a few months now and I have to say that my favorite things about them are the exact things they are touted for. I have used adjustable poles before so I have experiential comparison and the Flick Lock rocks! Screw-together poles have never held in my experience. Super easy, even with gloves on, to adjust. Easy to shorten in order to throw on my pack or in my trunk. The shaft grip allows me to quickly take a shorter grab-stance when needed, and the wrist straps are durab. Grips are ergonomically shaped, comfy and strong. A light, thin pole.
  • "Zero slip" Flip lock
  • Engineered grips and straps
  • Carbon fiber shafts = light weight


Armadillo LT Gaiter

The Armadillo LT gaiter is a super durable, clean, and well designed gaiter. It is easy to fit, zip and wear. During the test the gaiters did not slip or need adjusting. The strap is adjustable, so you can get your exact fit to your boot, and my legs, socks and feet were dry the entire time. For the money-- these are a steal: affordable and technically savvy. I also like the denier nylon protection around the bottom of the gator. I have torn many a pant leg with crampons, and I appreciate a good gaiter that protects my pants and doesn’t get torn itself. I don’t have anything negative to say about the gaiter. There is a plastic clip at the top that could be stepped on and broken potentially, but every other aspect of the gaiter is extremely durable. Great fit, technically sound, easy to use and they look good. I’d invest in these.
  • Bottom: Tough protection from crampon punctures
  • Top: Flexia three-layer fabric = four-way stretch and protection from the elements
  • Features: Waterproof zipper/boot-lace hook/updated instep strap/Lifetime warranty
  • Colors: Black with orange
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

Black Diamond Gaiters PRODUCT REVIEW:
Black Diamond Apex Gaiter

I have had experience with many an inferior gaiter, so I am very pleased to be able to present this gaiter to you. The ways this one out shines the others include 1. Strength! This puppy is tough, water proof, and will go the distance. 2. Easy to use, secure buckle at the top, reinforced snap and tough Velcro - Solid attachment. 3. Easy to use. The first time you use these you take time to adjust the strap to your boot and become familiar with the fit, but once it's set it is quick and easy to put on. This gaiter is made with superior materials and you won't spend a lot of time messing with it while putting it on or wearing it. Just what you need in a gaiter.
  • 3-layer Gortex®
  • Welded hardshell upper
  • High-density, neoprene-coated nylon instep strap
  • Welded double-layer 600d abrasion guard
  • Hook-and-loop front closure/Velcro

Hydration Systems

High Sierra Moray 22L Tech Series PRODUCT REVIEW:
High Sierra Moray 22L Tech Series

The Moray 22L hydration pack is made for bike packing, adventure racing and longer backcountry excursions, so we decided to try it as a snowshoe pack. The AIRFLOW™ back panel system was appealing as the airflow frame and straps made the pack feel light, no bogging down and hanging off your back. Instead of using the stash straps for helmets, I used them for holding my jacket as I removed layers—it worked great. I loved the soft, fleece-lined pocket at the top of the pack, which I kept my eyewear in. The big compartments in the body of the pack proved large enough to hold lunch, layers, and all the must-haves (sunscreen, mole skin, etc.). I was very pleased with the packing space. The pack isn’t big and bulky, in fact it looks and feels smaller and lighter than most backcountry packs, but it has a great carrying capacity. I also liked the zipper pockets on the waist belt; these provided an easy access to a GPS or trail snacks. The insulated hose and wide mouth, easy-open reservoir are BPA free and antimicrobial, but I found that despite the insulation sleeve, my water froze every time. This was my only complaint about the pack. I was snowshoeing in below-freezing temps, but I blew out the straw to keep the water in the body of the bladder and even that didn’t help. If you buy this pack, throw in a bottle of water and save the reservoir for warmer days and summer hikes. Which brings me to another point—this pack would be a great investment for year-round use, for a variety of sports. It’s made with a Duralite water resistant coating, which is ideal for snowshoeing; it’s lightweight; it has enough packable space, but rides lightly. Overall, I am very pleased with the pack, but thirsty, as my water is frozen.
  • Materials: Mini-Hexagon Ripstop: 300-250 denier Duralite/water resistant
  • Dimensions: 10.00” x 9.00” x 20.50”
  • Weight: 1.98 lbs.

Camelbak 2011 Octane LR PRODUCT REVIEW:
Camelbak 2011 Octane LR

Handhelds and fanny pack hydration systems are my preference on long trail runs as I've never liked anything strapped over my shoulders due to the fatigue it causes. The Octaine LR hydration system by Camelback was nice surprise. I took off up the mountain with my hands free and hardly noticed any water weight as it distributes perfectly around my waist and center of gravity. The waist belt keeps the shoulder straps from being noticed at all. During my run I spot a bull elk and his harem. With free hands to run, I quickly ascend the zig zagging trail and I'm able to stop and take photos or drink on the run without a hitch from the easy to access nipple. Descending the mountain trail I felt no loose bouncing and it was as if I was running without anything at all around my waist, back or shoulders. I highly recommend the Octatane camelback for its comfortable design and bladder position near the body's natural center of gravity. It is easy to wear for running and snowshoeing. Troy Marsh, Ultra Runner, 16 years (Review for Note from The Octane LR is ideal for lightweight easy hydration, but the pack does not give enough space for a prolonged day nor does it give room for packing away extra layers of clothing. Ideal for fast, and light trail excursions. Less ideal for excursions that will require more packing.
  • 70 oz. hydration capacity
  • 549 CU Inches space capacity
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Quick Link System (hose removes quickly and easily)
  • Quick-seal cap
  • Patented Big Bite Valve
  • Easy to clean wide mouth opening

Camelbak 2011 Octane LR Ante Backpack and Hydration System Tycoon Backpack and Hydration System PRODUCT REVIEW:
Tycoon (Mens) Ante (Womens)
Backpack and Hydration System

I've reviewed and used many packs and hydration systems before. The smaller, lighter hydration systems are great if you're into short snowshoe routes or trail running, but for the type of snowshoeing I do—half to full day hikes where I am unlayering and carrying lunch—this pack is IDEAL. I love it. First, both packs feature Camelbaks great easy-hold system on the hydration bladder so they are easy to fill and quick to seal. The quick release drinking tube is one of the best improvements in hydration systems in the last few years—makes it easy to put on an insulated tube or switch out one that is not. The quick lock drinking hose also makes it easy to unhook the hose while filling the bladder. The system is smooth and easy to prep for the trail. Two side pockets—one fleece lined, keeps sunglasses easily accessible and safe. But maybe most important, the pack has been built for easy, comfortable carry, hauling, and gives you everything you really need on a snowshoe trek. Let me explain:
1. The pack compartment is large enough to carry lunch, gloves, layers….heck you just have room to haul stuff, but the pack is small enough it's not cumbersome.
2. A padded waist belt and shoulder straps allow you to put the weight of the pack on your hips, adjust it like a regular backpack and carry everything almost effortlessly.
3. The drinking tube runs through the right shoulder strap so not only can you insulate it, but it is then protected by an insulated shoulder strap as well.
4. The straps on the outside of the pack have been designed to carry skis, snowboards, and snowshoes. I strapped two pairs of adult snowshoes and an XL coat onto the back on the Tycoon and it lashed them on tight for an easy carry. I'm more than impressed and give these packs 5-stars for ideal snowshoe usability.
MRSP:Tycoon $89.00
Ante $89.99
  • 100 oz. reservoir
  • Weight: Just over 2 lbs
  • Ante has an S-curved women's harness
  • 2 Year Limited Manufacturer's Warranty
  • Quick disconnecting tube with Bite Valve shut-off switch
  • Water Resistant Pack
  • Frameless – Tycoon: 1125 cubic inches; Ante: 1000 cubic inches
  • Reservoir features: Quick Link system, ¼ turn easy open/close cap, easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening



Native eyewear is known for making a top-notch eyewear product at the highest level of performance. One of the things I really like about the Endura (New in 2011) is the Mastoid temple grips. The old gripper sleeves used to slide off the glasses when I'd take them off, where the new grips are built into the glasses. A definate improvement. I had my tester use these on far more than just snowshoeing, in fact she used them during the summer as well to mountainbike, road bike, road and trail run, hike and play sand volleyball. Here are her thoughts on the glasses. "After demoing Native's Endura sunglasses I must say, I'm impressed. They fit great and felt very comfortable on my small face. They never threated to tip out of position, much less fall off, even on bumpy terrain. The venting system worked very well -- they steamed only under extreme conditions after being taken off and put back on. The glasses look great in competitive as well as non-athletic settings -- it's always nice to know your glasses can cross into all aspects of living. The two lens options allowed me to choose the perfect level of shading, and switching them out was easy after a couple of practices.
  • Interchangeable Lens system
  • Fits small to medium profile
  • Rhyno-Tuff® Air Frames—extremely light weight
  • Venting system—a must
  • Cam-action hinges
  • Mastoid Temple Grip™