Snowshoe Reviews

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2016 New Snowshoe Gear Reviews

2016 Review #1

PRODUCT REVIEW:
MSR Lightning™ Ascent Women's Snowshoes

The MSR Lightning Ascent has become a classic snowshoe for MSR. I’ve loved mine for years, and now they’ve made one especially for women. It keeps the same 360 degree traction (best out there) while allowing for a woman’s narrow gait. They have what is called the PosiLock™ AT binding which is basically 4 easy-to-use straps made of urethane that doesn’t freeze, so even in the coldest weather the straps pull and conform around boots, no matter their size. I’ve always appreciated this binding because it was so easy to use. The 3 straps on top give an extra strap for added security in crazy terrain. They’ve added a new tougher decking, and the televators are still standard. All around this shoe takes the classic Lightning Ascent model and upgrades it. It was still as easy to use as ever. I always use the televators when climbing hills – saves my legs. The bottom line is that this shoe is designed for the professional alpinist, but it’s easy to use and top of the line in all aspects, so for a snowshoe investment it gives you the best of everything you need.

MRSP:$289.95
  • Unrivaled Traction: 360° Traction frames deliver edge-to-edge grip, and split teeth of Torsion2™ crampons better distribute forces for more continuous contact.
  • Secure Attachment:Two-piece, independently conforming Women’s PosiLock AT bindings create secure, freeze-resistant attachment for smaller footwear.
  • All-Condition Adaptability:Modular Flotation tails available.
  • Uphill Efficiency: Ergo™ Televators reduce fatigue and increase traction on the steeps with an ergonomic design that engages with a flick of a pole grip.
  • Low-Profile: Narrow frames are ideal for women, those with a narrow gait, or anyone seeking the lightest snowshoe possible.

 

2016 Review #2

Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra PRODUCT REVIEW:
Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra

While a trail crampon is not a snowshoe, there are times when the trail is packed and a snowshoe is not needed; a time when the trail is slick and icy but solid. These are the times a trail crampon is ideal. In reviewing the new Trail Crampon Ultra by Hillsound we were not disappointed. This high-strength stainless steel crampon was easy to put on with a quick stretchy shoe encasing and one Velcro strap. The crampon stayed on well and in the words of the reviewer, "They worked great while trekking through ice, packed snow, mud and sleet. I was able to walk, run, and hike the winter trail with confidence. It was nice to have a simple velcro strap to secure the spikes in place. Along with the durable rubber harness ensured a perfect fit. No special buckles or confusing straps was a plus too. I have nothing but positive feedback concerning this item." The Velcro strap keeps the fit secure. No sliding around—on the shoe or the snow. The Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra is an investment that will pay off for many years of solid use.

MRSP:$69.95
  • Chains and Spike Material: Stainless steel
  • Spike Height: 1- 1.5cm / 2/5″- 1/2″ (longer spikes are on the rear traction plate)
  • Spike Number: 18
  • Harness Material: Elastomer
  • Weight: 370g (XS); 390g (S); 404g (M); 428 (L); 462 (XL)
  • 14.2 oz (Medium)

 

2015 Snowshoe Review #1

Tubb Men's Xpedition Snowshoe

PRODUCT REVIEW:
Tubbs: Men's XPEDITION Snowshoe

Review by Mike Scalora

I have found that all aluminum tube framed snowshoes provide similar traction and flotation. The Tubbs XPEDITION model is no exception. Flotation is almost entirely dependent on the total surface area so picking the correct size shoe for your body weight is paramount. This type of shoe tends to concentrate all of the crampon teeth in a small area under your boot. This is usually sufficient for most snow conditions on flat to moderately steep terrain. For steeper terrain this can be a problem so snowshoe designs which spread the teeth out further on the shoe perform better.

The Tubbs XPEDITION snowshoes performed well in my tests but not quite as well as snowshoes using a hard plastic deck or steel band frame. The Tubbs XPEDITION feature that sets it apart from most other models is the crampon. They have a novel design unlike other shoes I’ve used. Putting on the shoes was the weakest part of the experience. The crampons have several straps that must be pulled tight each time and I found it difficult to do while wearing insulated gloves. The parts of the straps at the toe are fairly smooth, nylon webbing loops that were slippery with synthetic material gloves. Leather gloves or bare hands made it easier to grab the straps. The rubberized plastic heal strap was also difficult to grab with gloves and the clamping mechanism made it even harder to grab when the strap was fully extended. The process got a bit easier after I had done it several times but still a weak showing. Once properly tightened, the crampons did very well at keeping my boot securely attached. The pivot action was smooth and I didn’t feel any slop or twisting. The toe hole had plenty of clearance for my very large insulated boots. The crampons really shine at the end of the trip. The mechanism to release the straps and free your boots is one of the easiest and trouble free I have ever used.

The Tubbs XPEDITION have heel stands for steep uphill, and advanced feature not available on most aluminum tube frame snowshoes. This can make a big difference when going up long, steep hills by keeping your ankles in at a more natural angle. Heel stands are a nice feature if you frequently snowshoe in steep terrain areas. The Tubbs XPEDITION snowshoes are easily the best aluminum tube frame snowshoes I have ever tried. They have high-end features and solid construction so I would expect them to perform well and have a long life for most recreational snowshoers.

MRSP:$239.95
  • Cobra™ toe crampon: carbon steel
  • Weight/Pair: 4.5 lbs / 2.04 kg (25”)
  • Sizes Available: 25, 30, 36
  • Grappler heel cleat
  • SoftTec Decking – durable lightweight flotation
  • R2 Revolution response for natural foot articulation

 

2015 Snowshoe Review #2

Tubbs Women's Xpedition Snowshoe

PRODUCT REVIEW:
Tubbs: Women's XPEDITION Snowshoe

The women’s Xpedition snowshoe gets two thumbs up for being a well-rounded snowshoe. For me it proved easy to use. The binding was easy to get in and out of, which is one of the main things I look for; the heel lift was handy for climbing; and I had no problems with floatation or foot articulation—the research and development has been put to good use. I used the shoe on powder, on a packed trail, and climbing a steep mountain after helping a snowmobiler unwind his sled from a grove of trees. The only place I felt frustrated with the shoe was trying to climb back up the mountain. The climb was steep enough that I could only use the toe crampons, no heel traction, and it wasn’t enough. While other snowshoers climbed out more easily, I found it difficult to maintain purchase. All things considered, for general snowshoe use the Xpedition is going to be a fabulous choice. It’s well made and will give years of good snowshoeing. On the other hand, if you plan to do steep climbing or intense mountaineering, I would suggest purchasing a different snowshoe with deeper crampon, but for the average snowshoe adventures, the Xpedition will be more than enough shoe.

MRSP:$239.95
  • Weight/Pair: 4.4 lbs / 1.99 kg (25”)
  • Sizes Available: 21, 25
  • Pro Step Frame
  • Cobra toe crampon – Carbon steel
  • Grappler heel cleat
  • SoftTec Decking – durable lightweight flotation
  • R2 Revolution response for natural foot articulation

Atlas 12 Series Mountain Hiker Snowshoe

PRODUCT REVIEW:
Atlas 12 Series: Mountain Hiker

The 12 Series has both men’s and women’s snowshoes. The men’s is called the 12 Series, while the women’s is called the Elektra 12 Series. We tested the men’s snowshoe. In fact, I had 3 different men test the snowshoe. Feedback across the board is that the binding excels at ease of use and stability! Every tester loved how easy the binding was to get on and off. Which frankly, is one of the more important factors in choosing a snowshoe. Atlas is known for the quality of their products, and the 12 Series doesn’t depart from this. The spring-loaded suspension is a fun design idea that pushes the foot forward naturally into the next step. Added components, like the heel lift bar, make climbing much easier on the legs. We didn’t find any downside to this snowshoe at all.  In the words of Tony Reece, one of the testers, “I felt the experience was extra enjoyable thanks to the design of the snowshoes. The quick release bindings and the spring-back feature made it effortless in comparison to another pair I had used earlier.”  Warning: make sure you get a snowshoe that is appropriate for your weight. The 25” didn’t have quite enough surface area to hold up one of the testers in powder. Choose the right size shoe.

MRSP:$289.95
  • Spring-loaded suspension
  • MTN 28” – 4lbs 6 oz.
  • Wrapp Pro Bindings
  • Heel lift bar
  • Duratek Decking
  • Stainless Steel Crampons

Tubbs Mountainer Snowshoe

PRODUCT REVIEW:
Tubbs: Mountaineer Snowshoe

In a nutshell, these may be my favorite Tubbs snowshoes to date. Tubbs really has the binding system down with an easy in and out process that involves no more than a couple pulls on the webbing. The binding is always the most important part of a snowshoe for me, because it’s the interface between the snowshoer and the equipment. The complexity of the binding system can make you love or hate a snowshoe. With this shoe the three strap system was supremely easy. The only down side was that the straps flopped around a lot after the shoe had been tightened, but that didn’t inhibit the performance of the snowshoe. I loved the gnarly crampons – they are big and deep and kept contact everywhere I went. The snowshoe is light to carry around, easy to get on and off, travels well in the backcountry and on icy terrain. I’d feel good recommending this to anyone. It’s a nice, versatile shoe with some serious bite.

MRSP:$259.95
  • Pro-step frame: for improved ergonomics and flotation
  • ActiveLift™ – heel lift
  • Anaconda™/Python™ Crampon System
  • Soft Tec decking – light weight floatation
  • Available in women’s size: 21”, 25” and 30” and in men’s sizes 25” 30” and 36”

MTN Series Snowshoes from Kahtoola PRODUCT REVIEW:
Kahtoola MTN Snowshoe

Unlike all the other snowshoe companies Kahtoola focuses on one snowshoe design. They have one shoe with a design they stand behind and the company focuses on the brilliance of it. The design is made to adapt – and that’s what I like best about this snowshoe. As the snowshoe season opens the question is often “Do I need snowshoes or will shoe spikes be enough on the trail?” With Kahtoola’s MTN snowshoe you’ve got both at your disposal in one shoe. Here’s how it works – you put your booted foot into the snowshoe binding just as you would on any snowshoe, but if a snowshoe proves excessive there is a quick pull by the ball of the foot that releases the foot, binding and all, from the snowshoe so you can traipse up the trail with just the comfort of the 8 point crampon. I found this useful when I need to stop on the trail and make boot adjustments as well. Instead of having to take my foot out of the snowshoe I just released the boot and crampon, made the boot adjustments to my socks as needed, then clicked back in. I like the idea of being able to carry 1 snowshoe instead of a pair of snowshoes and a separate pair of shoe spikes. The Kahtoola snowshoe comes in a 24” for smaller, lighter snowshoers as well as for front country trails, and a 28” backcountry explore model. Positives include adaptability, secure binding, light, user-friendly shoe. Negatives – when put to harsh backcountry use the decking did not hold up over rocky river crossings and backcountry abuse. This is not a huge surprise as snowshoes are not designed for extended rough rocky use, but I thought I would mention it as a side note.
MRSP:$279 – 24” $289 – 28”
  • MTN 24” – 3 lbs 15 oz.
  • MTN 28” – 4lbs 6 oz.
  • Adjustable wingspan
  • Videos on Kahtoola website to give users information on adjustments and use
  • Skyhook® Step-In technology

Lightning Ascent Snowshoe PRODUCT REVIEW:
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

This snowshoe is one of my favorite snowshoes. The binding is easy to get on an off and it stays snug the entire trip. I also like that it's easy to use with gloves. The maximum traction provided by the teeth that cover the entire rim of the snowshoe is also helpful on slick terrain. Having bite when you need it lends great comfort. This snowshoe is designed for steep and challenging terrain and as such, the 2008 design added a strap to the binding as a safety measure (just in case you're in the backcountry and one of the other straps breaks- from my experience this is unlikely). Love this snowshoe. I use it on all terrain.
MRSP:$259.95
  • For challenging terrain
  • Different sizes of the snowshoe carry different weight capacities
  • Weight of the shoes vary by the size you buy
  • Super light with maximum traction

Lightning Axis Snowshoe PRODUCT REVIEW:
MSR Lightning Axis Snowshoes

MSR’s snowshoe line is one of my favorite. I love the Lightning snowshoe because of the easy SpeedLock™ binding and the 360-degree traction. That being said, in my opinion MSR designers wasted a lot of time and energy  trying to come up with a swanky new binding system when they came out with the Axis addition this year (allows for adjusting the pivot of the toes in case you are a bit duck footed). Again, I love the design (original binding, construction and traction) of the Lightning snowshoe, but the Axis binding is difficult to use and frankly not worth the extra effort of watching the starter video to figure out how to use it in order to get started. Once the binding is set to a specific set of boots, you need not adjust it further, but I personally use different boots depending upon different conditions.
Tester George Coleman loved the shoe. “When I set the MSR Axis snowshoe on the ground, the bindings made me feel I’d need an engineering degree to figure them out. Luckily, I brought the product brochure and after reading the instructions and playing with the bindings for about 15 minutes, I got them adjusted and attached. Once doing so, it really is easier than your first impression makes it seem. Right away I noticed that the binding holds your foot on a slight angle, allowing you to walk normally and keeping the snowshoes parallel. The 360 degree crampons give incredible confidence on varying terrain and snow type. I was a bit unsure of the flotation capability since the shoe looks smaller than others I’ve used, but getting off trail I was impressed. At first I was dubious about the Ergo Televator. This feature lifts your heel to help keep your foot level on steep terrain. Looking at it, I seriously thought it might be a gimmick, so first chance I had I tackled a very steep ascent. At the base, I used my ski pole to lift the bar under my heel (no bending down necessary) and I was blown away at how stable my footing was during the climb. The televator took a lot of pressure off my calves and ankles allowing me to climb with much more assurance. There’s plenty of traction whether on the trail or off, the crampons on toe, ball of foot, heel and on the sides of the frame really bite in. Crossing logs and other obstacles was easy, due in part to the 3-strap binding system that holds your foot securely in place and the frame shape that has no elongated tail. A real “do anything” snowshoe, the MSR Axis is a confidence inspiring snowshoe that will go anywhere!

MRSP:$239.95 – $269.95
  • Aircraft grade aluminum
  • Ergo Televators
  • Axis Gait Efficiency – adjust toe-in toe-out
  • Modular floatation tails available to extend surface area when going backcountry or hitting more powder.
  • Men’s and women’s models
  • Sized: 22”, 25”, 30” Right and left foot specific

Crescent Moon Gold Series Snowshoes PRODUCT REVIEW:
Crescent Moon Gold Series – Gold 9

Crescent Moon is best known for its award winning binding the SPL (Single Pull Loop) binding.  It is an easy, foot-encapsulating binding rated to 70 below zero so it stays pliable in very cold weather. The binding is sometimes referred to as the “Foot Glove”. The Gold 9 comes complete with this easy to use binding and the severe tear-drop shape indicative of Crescent Moon designs. This tear-drop design allows for an erganomic striding gait. Tester George Coleman reports, “I started my day wearing the Crescent Moon Backcountry Series 9 snowshoe. The bindings were fairly easy to figure out and at 20 degrees, it was a plus to get my gloves on quickly and begin. Going up or down mild slopes was a breeze, the more traditional design provides good flotation off trail and the tapered tail makes it easier to walk with a natural gait and not clank the frames together. As I started into some increasingly difficult backcountry terrain though, I noticed on the steeper descents that the Crescent Moon tends to slide quite a bit even with a crampon under the heel. The only crampons were toe and heel, having another under the ball of the foot would have helped. The bindings that were sufficient on fairly level or mild slope didn’t do a very good job keeping my boot in the center of the shoe as I traversed a steep slope. The elongated tail made turning more difficult than anticipated and stepping over fallen logs they tended to get hung up. All in all, I would say the Crescent Moon Backcountry snowshoe is good for someone who is looking to get out for some winter exercise on fairly level to mild sloping terrain whether on or off trail.”
MRSP:$249.00
  • 3-claw stainless steel traction
  • New reinforced TGS decking
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 27” x 9” 3.9 lbs.
  • Up to 195 lbs.