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1/30/2014 9:57 PM
 

I am looking for any input I can get on what is new or what is holding up best in the snowshoe market.

I have used a borrowed set of older Atlas 25” and Black Diamond poles.  I am 6’0” 185” and rarely pack over 30lbs. These will be used for general back country travel.  Nothing exotic. 

What size do you think would be best?  What brands should I look at or avoid?  What features do you like or dislike? 

Budget $250-300 for shoes and poles.

Thanks in advance!


Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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1/31/2014 12:17 AM
 

I've had a set of the MSR Trek Evo's for a few years and I'm a fan. They were rentals for several years before I got them so durability seems to be solid.

A quick look on their sight puts them at $140 and the add on tails $30 at full retail. They call out load of 180lbs standard up to 250lbs with the additional tails.

I'm 6'1" 215lb and rarley feel the need for the tails (I lost one which doesn't help either!). If I were really getting out and breaking trail in deep snow the tails would be an advantage for sure.

As far as poles go if adjustable height isn't a requirement I'd hit up your local ski/ snowsports rental shop and pick up a pair of used poles. Most the guys I know that ski a lot all buy old rental poles. If you're resort skiing hard you're going to break them, no point in dropping $90+ on a pair that's effectivly a "consumable" piece of equipment. You might get lucky and one of the shop guys could have just bought new ones and is looking to get rid of his "old" ones.


"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
 
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1/31/2014 3:04 AM
 

 Same size here. Red Feather Hike 30 or 36. Workhorse. 6 years old and still going strong. 

I carry a pair of Atlas 25 when ski touring as "chore" shoes. 

 
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1/31/2014 10:39 AM
 

 I like the MSR Denali Evo Ascents, with the removeable tails.  Decent price, strong, good bindings, heel elevators, excellent traction on steep terrain and while traversing.  An added plus is that the tails can be used in other functions like deadman tent anchors, mini snow shovel, and tent pole snow base platform.

This model snow shoe can also be found at mil surplus stores for really good prices, brand new.  I found a brand new pair with tails last fall at a local surplus for only $99.00.


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1/31/2014 11:27 AM
 

How do the solid plastic "short ski" type snowshoes compare with the modern "net/trampoline" type? Positives or negatives?

From a practical real-world-use standpoint are aluminum poles still the best option? How are the level locks holding up compared to the old twist locks?

 


Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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1/31/2014 1:41 PM
 

strow wrote

How do the solid plastic "short ski" type snowshoes compare with the modern "net/trampoline" type? Positives or negatives?

From a practical real-world-use standpoint are aluminum poles still the best option? How are the level locks holding up compared to the old twist locks?

 

Haven't had a single problem with the plastic (MSR) type snowshoes.  Some complain about the "slapping" of the snowshoe decks during movement, but it hasn't been an issue for me.  My older MSRs, earlier Denalis, simply had the binding straps wear out....but that was after 10+ years of use.  I still have them, but just need to replace the binding straps.  When I found the new ones for sale at a great price, replacing the binding straps on the old ones was no longer a front-burner issue.

As far as poles go...the flick-lock style used by Black Diamond is the best of the bunch, IMO.  Much less likely to fail than the twist lock.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
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1/31/2014 3:15 PM
 

A couple of years ago I did a bunch of testing of different lengths of shoes under varying conditions. I tried as much as possible to switch shoes out on the same day to get apples to apples comparisons - 22", 25", 30", 36".

After all of that, I decided that 25" was the most useful size. There is no such thing as a snowshoe that will float you unless you're on spring snowpack or broken trail. Given the fact that you're going to be postholing in snowshoes, you want them big enough to offer an advantage over shoe-less but as small as possible to minimize the effort of moving them. 25" hit the sweet spot based on my testing.

For me, snowshoes are for working around camp when traveling via ski and also as primaries in the spring when you are alternately crossing thigh deep drifts and walking on bare dirt. For a while I was hot on snowshoes that slid better (minimal to no claw on the binding). Now I'm more in favor of clawed shoes. If I can't ski it, I'm more likely to need the traction that claws provide. Including claw plates under the heel for descents.

For snowshoes I usually don't use poles. For skiing and backpacking, I use the basic two piece BD flick lock poles.

ETA: My favorite snowshoes are still the Sherpa Snowclaws (original aluminum shoe with laced hypalon decks). But with the kind of bindings they were making towards the very end with claws.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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1/31/2014 5:52 PM
 
I'm new to this forum, but I would like to add to this thread. I use 36" Tubbs that I bought in the early 90"s. I use them about 10 outings per year, and like them because I've never tried another style or brand. So don't have another reference. I'm 6 foot tall and weigh 230. I add to that 35 pounds of pack and clothes. I have a friend that uses short MSR's with extensions and he really likes them. He is 5'9' about 150. My friend took a set of X-Country Ski bindings and riveted them to his snow shoes. I really like this idea and I'm going to try it, I don't have a picture. So he can just poke his release and change to skis before I get started with mine. Be interested to see if it will be stable enough for the longer shoes. I will let you know.
 
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1/31/2014 6:24 PM
 

Despite my bigger than Evan size I am also running 25" shoes, in my case Atlas.  My first pair of DB Flicklocks lasted about 6 years before snapping and they had plenty of opportunities over the years. I like the ability adjust length for snow conditions and the more compact size for during the summer when they are on the pack.

 

 

 

 

'


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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1/31/2014 8:05 PM
 

It's looking like Atlas or MSR 25" shoes with BD flick/lever locks.

Thank you all for the input!

 


Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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2/1/2014 10:42 AM
 

I am doubting you have one local, but used gear stores are a great place to pick up like brand new snow shoes. That is how Evan and I were able to source so many different size shoes in a single season for the large part.  At some point I intend to pick a spare pare of 25s.  Incidentally, you are also welcome to use one of Evan's pairs of 25s and see how you like them in actuality. Alpendrms will also have his along so you can do some comparison of the two styles before spending cash. I think Evan has 3 sets of 25s and a 21 pair for the family if memory serves.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/1/2014 6:37 PM
 

 Very sound advice from Evan and Scott. I have had winters where I have put over 600 miles on snowshoes and mostly was running a 22" 'shoe, but I was also at about 175 lbs. Recently I have been really happy with the MSR Lightning Flash snowshoe. They are very light for there size, but you do need the optional instep strap if your are sidehilling much.

http://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/snowshoes/trek/lightning-flash/product

 
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2/1/2014 8:09 PM
 

My new pair of Faber Sommets arrived this week. I obviously can’t give a long term report yet, but I like them a whole lot so far. They’re light (just over 3.5lb for the 26″) and while only time will tell, they look to be durable. That decking is not flimsy! Anyhow, give ’em some thought if you haven’t made your purchase yet.

Faber Sommet

Faber Sommet crampons

Faber Sommet tail

 

 
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2/2/2014 6:06 AM
 

Ed T wrote

 I have put over 600 miles on snowshoes and mostly was running a 22" 'shoe, but I was also at about 175 lbs.

http://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/snowshoes/trek/lightning-flash/product

25s are fine as chore or camp shoes. 30-36 will allow you to enjoy and travel in comfort over long distances with a load. If your base weight is 185 + 15 (boots and clothes) +30 (pack) that is light enough to get more then adequate support and float ..... Weight & terrain should determine your shoe size.  

 

 
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2/2/2014 9:19 AM
 

 A couple things to remember with snowshoes. If you are using a modern type 'shoe, most of them have a solid or mostly solid deck so thay have more floatation per squae inch than a traditional laced 'shoe. But that also means that unless you are traveling on rather flat terrain you have to lift up both the weight of the snowshoe and what ever snow is on the deck.

A number of years ago, Sherpa, the company that invented the modern aluminum snowshoe did a comprehensive study. What it showd was that anything much bigger than a 25" snowshoe actually expened more energy on anything other than flat terrain.

Like Evan stated, in powder, you are going to sink regardless of snowshoe size, what a snowshoe provides is a leval solid platform to support you as you take your next step. On crusted snow, surface area makes a difference, but you will always find conditions where the 'shoe breaks through.

In my own experience, a big snowshoe can be downright dangerous a steep solid crust. You may find yourself skiing, perhaps backwards because the deck has a lot more area than the shnoeshoe crampon. Something like the MSR's with a serated edge is better but still not imune from sliding. Sherpa made a binding called the Tucker binding with a real crampon on the binding. Some of the more mountaineering style snowshoe have similar grippers today, but the long crampons are no atvantage on all but steep icy conditions.

 

 
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2/2/2014 9:26 AM
 

30-36 will allow you to enjoy and travel in comfort over long distances with a load. If your base weight is 185 + 15 (boots and clothes) +30 (pack) that is light enough to get more then adequate support and float

I think 30″ x 8″ is a pretty good size for a general purpose snowshoe. A little more than you need climbing icy trails, but not so big so as to be really awkward; not optimal for powder, but enough to get you some float.

Weight & terrain should determine your shoe size. 

The injection-molded MSRs are great for packed trails anywhere and for icy climbs, but I find them way too short for powder and for wet snow. And powder and wet snow are where wood frame snowshoes still superior, in my opinion.

 
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2/2/2014 11:53 AM
 

mountaintrek wrote

25s are fine as chore or camp shoes. 30-36 will allow you to enjoy and travel in comfort over long distances with a load. If your base weight is 185 + 15 (boots and clothes) +30 (pack) that is light enough to get more then adequate support and float ..... Weight & terrain should determine your shoe size.  

 

I know this is what the books and buying guides say. It makes logical sense, and it is what I would have said until I got serious about testing different lengths. Ground truth, I have yet to find the conditions under which a 36" will float me and a 25" won't. This has been true in the Cascades where snow actually sets up pretty well due to moisture content, and is even more true in the Rockies. Second point, snowshoes *never* float me other than on spring snowpack. I'm postholing regardless, the only difference is how much work I have to do to push the shoes. For reference, I'm usually around 250lbs combined body and pack weight.

This morning, I figured I'd re-test again and the results were typical. I was in about a foot of fresh that was layered on top of another foot of one month consolidated. All completely cross country. Not on any packed surfaces other than where it was nature packed.

I started out on 36" shoes. I made it about 100 yards and decided that for a couple of very good reasons I probably just wasn't strong enough for backcountry snow travel on this particular day. I went ahead and switched out for the 25" shoes for the 100 yards back to the rig for completeness:

All of a sudden, it was like I was a new man! Same conditions, same day, the 25" shoes were exponentially easier to move in. I went on ahead and spent another hour and a half going out to some elk rubs and other sign I'd seen earlier this winter. I wasn't sinking in any more in the 25" shoes than I had been in the 36" shoes. It was a LOT in both cases, but there was a night and day difference in my ability to travel:

The 36" shoes have a very minimal claw and It was kind of nice in nothing but deep snow to be able to "slide" the shoe without a crampon catching. However, when I hit a somewhat icy sun packed hillside on the smaller shoes that do have a crampon, I was very glad to have it.

My observations may only apply to the Cascades and Rockies. Don't know because I haven't traveled in the winter backcountry anywhere else.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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2/2/2014 1:55 PM
 

 

Switching from 36s" to 25s" you will absolutely feel like a new man ...  

My working weight is about the same. Being tail heavy with an awkward load I find that the longer tail on the 36s allows me to move and balance better . Floatation and balance being the key.  While the 25s are easier to move around etc... they do not offer the same support  as the 36s. Flat frozen terrain with "moderate" inclines.....          

 
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2/2/2014 2:00 PM
 

mountaintrek wrote

 

Switching from 36s" to 25s" you will absolutely feel like a new man ...  

My working weight is about the same. Being tail heavy with an awkward load I find that the longer tail on the 36s allows me to move and balance better . Floatation and balance being the key.  While the 25s are easier to move around etc... they do not offer the same support  as the 36s. Flat frozen terrain with "moderate" inclines.....          

Just goes to show how huge of a role environment plays in backcountry travel. It's really the only actor involved. You've *always* got to be paying attention and learning. Drop into a new drainage you've never been in? The rules probably just changed a little bit. Go into a long familiar area at a different time of year? The rules just changed a lot.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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2/2/2014 3:02 PM
 

 I've only ever used crappy budget wood, tubbs and MSRs. I really wanted a pair of MSR Evo Ascents, I liked the tapered rear section and since a good portion of my snowshoe use involves an anual trek up Mt. Hood I liked the ascenders. since I'm under 200lbs fully loaded I've never really needed the tails. My preference was also toward the bindings with fewer straps, the MSR lightnings with only one or two straps was appealing to me.

but alas, a 2-pack of MSR denali classics showed up on ebay for $100, so for $50 and a birthday present out of the way for my brother I can live with no ascender and the wider tail.

 
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