Monday, January 2, 2012

Snowshoe review

Snowshoes have been designed to distribute the weight of the person over a larger area so your feet do not sink to deeply into the snow and float higher in the snowpack (flotation) when snowshoeing.

Snowshoes today have come a long way from the traditional hardwood frame with leather laces.These days modern snowshoes are manufactured using lightweight and strong materials and are designed to fit and adjust easily to any shoe size with an articulated binding allowing more maneuverability over undulating terrain when out snowshoeing. You will find each of the major manufacturers MSR, Tubbs, TSL & Redfeather offer a vast range of snowshoes on offer for all sorts of applications and snow conditions.

Snowshoes on test:

MSR EVO

MSR provide really good quality snowshoes at a comparable price we tried the Evo, which is an all terrain snowshoe that has a compact design with great traction on all slopes tested. Binding: The design of the binding is now much better than previous models, which used to be time consuming to put on or off. They have simplified the design and replaced the fiddly buckles with a clip system that it easy to adjust in snowy cold conditions. Base: The base is simplistic and durable that has good flotation. No problem with build up of snow. Heal raiser: Basic yet totally functional metal arm that locks into position to make it easier when on steeper terrain. Traction: Excellent traction on all gradients with front toe points and side rail grips.

Rating: 8/10

TSL Snowshoes

Being based in the Haute Savoie we have tested 3 TSL models as they are manufactured locally. TSL manufacture a vast range of snowshoes from childrens and beginners to expert all mountain.

TSL Tech 25

The TSL Tech 25 is a more advanced snowshoe for all mountain use. When tested we thought it was a little cumbersome and weighty because of the metal frame. The Tech 25 has a metal frame, plastic mounted binding and vinyl fabric base. Binding: Good sturdy durable binging that is easily adjustable. The buckles fasten up and tighten easily even with gloves on. Base: Vinyl fabric base stretched and attached to the metal base, this gives good flotation in deep powder although I found it got clogged up easily with snow this meant keep stopping to clear the base. Heal raiser: Easy to operate metal bar. Traction: Excellent traction on all gradients with front toe points and side rail grips.

Rating: 6/10

TSL 305 Escape

A basic snowshoe, which is easy to use and inexpensive to buy. Base: Plastic molded base, which is durable and lightweight, which gives reasonable flotation. No problem with snow build up. Heal raiser: Metal bar that swings over to raise the heal, easy to operate even in snow. Traction: The 305 uses spiked toe points for grip when ascending with additional metal points on the base, which doesn’t give quite as much grip as the Tech 25 but is still adequate.A basic snowshoe, which is easy to use and inexpensive to buy. Binding: The 305 uses a binding that appears on many of the TSL snowshoes, it is a really good design that adjusts easily for different shoe sizes and the straps and buckles fasten easily even with gloves.

Rating: 9/10

TSL 325 Escape Easy

This is a very similar snowshoe as the 305 with subtly differences with the binding & heal raiser. Binding: The 325 Easy uses a binding that appears on many of the TSL snowshoes, it is a really good design that adjusts easily for different shoe sizes the straps are fabric webbing with buckles similar to those used on rucksacks, there are a little more difficult to initially set up and tighten on the move. Base: Plastic molded base, which is durable and lightweight, which gives reasonable flotation. No problem with snow build up. Heal raiser: This is one aspect that in my view is poor, the heal raiser is molded plastic anddoesn’t feel as robust andthe metal bar versions it is also more fiddly to operate when out in the snow. Traction: As the 305 the 325 uses spiked toe points for grip when ascending with additional metal points on the base, which doesn’t give quite as much grip as the Tech 25 but is still adequate.

Rating: 7/10

Tubbs Flex

A simplistic design that is good value for money. Binding: Very simple to use idea but a bit tricky to get a good tight fit on the boot especially on the heal. The front of the binding adjusts so you can slide your foot in and then there is a ratchet clip that allows you to tighten. The heal strap seems a little insecure in comparison to the front. Base: The base is simplistic and durable that has good flotation. No problem with build up of snow. Heal raiser: Metal bar which is easy to use even in deep snow. Traction: The Tubbs Flex uses spiked toe points for grip when ascending with additional metal points on the base, which works reasonably well.

Rating: 7/10

Redfeather Hike 22

A nice looking snowshoe that looks similar to the TSL Tech 25. As with the Tech 25 it’s a little bit weighty. Binding: Similar system of that of the Tubbs Flex but not as good. Tricky to set up with the use of webbing and the heal strap doesn’t feel secure. Base: Vinyl fabric base stretched and attached to the metal base, this gives good flotation in deep powder although as with the Tech 25 there was a problem with snow clogging which became a pain after a while. Heal raiser: No heal raiser, which was a disadvantage on the ups. Traction: As with most of the other snowshoes tested the Hike 22 uses spiked toe points for grip when ascending with additional metal points on the base which works reasonably well.

Rating: 6/10

If you have any information on any different makes & models of snowshoes that you have tried & tested please let us know we would be glad to publish further reviews. Email any information to sara@montblanctreks.com or post a comment below.

Need to now more about snowshoeing? Check out our 'Snowshoe Information' page.


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