Snowshoes' brands

3:28 p.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
(Guest)

Hi,

I am confused about which pair of snowshoes to buy. I will be using them on hikes as well as casual use. The two i am looking at are Redfeather Snowbirds and Tubbs Adventure 21 Womens. I think the Redfeathers are either unisex or mens. Does it matter? Thanks for the help.

Mary

4:01 p.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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Hi Mary,

If you haven't read it already, check out our article "How to Choose Snowshoes" at http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/snowshoes.html
That will give you a good starting point on snowshoes.

Both models you mention are considered recreational (or entry level) snowshoes and would be sufficient if you’ll only be doing casual hikes and walks. Recreational models are also the least expensive.

But if you think you’ll be doing regular hiking, especially with any steepness, you should get hiking models (http://www.trailspace.com/gear/snowshoes/hiking/), which have better traction and are built for more rugged terrain. Hiking snowshoes also will cover the majority of snowshoe terrain for day hikers who aren’t going into the backcountry. Without knowing the details of how you plan to use your snowshoes, I suggest you consider hiking models since they’ll be more versatile. You can always use hiking snowshoes on easy terrain, but you’d probably be frustrated using rec models in more serious day hiking terrain.

For women, I recommend women’s models over unisex/men’s models whenever possible. They’re lighter, fit women’s footwear better, and are shaped for women’s strides and gaits. Ultimately buy what fits you and your needs best though. If you have the opportunity to rent or demo models first you may want to consider that.

Feel free to give us more details about how and where you’d like to use your snowshoes and maybe we can offer some more, less general, help.

Women’s Hiking Snowshoes: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/snowshoes/hiking/womens/

Women's Recreational Snowshoes:
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/snowshoes/recreational/womens/

7:59 p.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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Mary,
One other thing to watch for - as Alicia says, consider what you intend to use the snowshoes for, and rent before you buy. In addition, sometimes you will see racing snowshoes being pushed as for women, since they are smaller, lighter, and shaped for a running stride. But the smaller size also means less flotation. That's ok if you are on prepared or packed trails, like racers use. But if you get out in the "freshies", especially in powder country (like the Colorado, Wyoming, Utah Rockies), you will sink deeply in and spend a lot of time thrashing around. New England (where Alicia is) and out here in the Sierra, plus the Cascades, all tend to get heavier, denser snow, which you won't sink so deeply in.

Personally I prefer Atlas snowshoes, and find that the people who go on Barb's and my snowshoe ecology hikes have a lot less problem with their bindings than the Tubbs (which owns Atlas these days, both of which are owned by a larger conglomerate) or Redfeather. All the major brands make entry level recreational snowshoes. I find that people who use these on the hikes often have problems (partly because they are often well-used rentals, subjected to heavy abuse, but partly because as "entry" says, they are intended for occasional light use and are not as durable). Sometimes the problems with the entry level shoes even show up with brand-new ones, where the next level up have much fewer problems if reasonable care is taken of them.

11:30 a.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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I rented a pair of Tubbs one year, had problems with the bindings, and bought a pair by Atlas. I've not had problems with the Atlas bindings. I never spent the time to figure out what the difference was in binding design, but the Atlas have been great shoes.

3:56 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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Two of my four (yes, four) pairs of snowshoes are by Atlas and I've been pleased with their quality and their bindings.

Two years ago I was deciding between Tubbs and Atlas for running snowshoes and chose the Atlas Dual-Tracs over the Tubbs, partly because I liked their bindings better (although I can't recall the full details right now).

Dave has a pair of Atlas backcountry snowshoes I got him for Christmas years ago and he's had no problems with them. Atlas has been a good brand to us.

For what it's worth, I also have a pair of MSR Lightning Ascents for steeper backcountry stuff. I love the heel lifters on those things! I also have the Kahtoola Flight System, from testing it last winter, but that's a somewhat specialized setup and not part of my regular rotation.

4:06 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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"No problems" isn't quite right. The bindings on my Atlases attach to the frame via small rivets on the bottom of the frame. After a number of occasional encounters with rocks, logs, and hardpack, all four of those rivets had sheared off. I replaced them with larger-diameter rivets with washers and haven't had any problem since. I believe that Atlas has updated their design to be less vulnerable to such abuse.

4:25 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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I stand corrected.

9:51 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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On some of the Snowshoe Ecology hikes, we have had a few losses of rivets from the bindings on the Atlas recreational shoes (all rentals that were heavily used), but much less problem than the Tubbs and Redfeathers. No problems with the 10 and 12 series Atlas, though, and despite my using my personal Atlas on Denali for something totaling 3 months and innumerable backcountry trips, neither Barb or I have ever had any problems with our 4 pairs (now 3, since Young Son took a pair to Colorado, then Wisconsin with him).

12:13 a.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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Am I the only one who still uses wood and rawhide snowshoes? Just as I refuse to use anything but wood for a canoe paddle (although with a kayak I don't care), I am very reluctant to put aside my 14 x 48 Michigan style snowshoes. (I still ski on wood, as well).

Perhaps I should join the 21st century . . . .

11:18 a.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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Barb and I use our wood and rawhide snowshoes --- they hang above the mantle, making a very nice decorative display, along with our wood-handled ice axes. And we dress in period-correct clothing, cook over a wood fire in our dutch ovens (fire built with flint and steel or fire-bow, cut with a period-correct tomahawk), sleep in period-correct tent with period-correct blankets, using period-correct candle lanterns for light, and carry our period-correct flintlocks (the period is the fur-trading period of the late 18th early 19th Century Mountain Men) --- at the historical re-enactments for a couple of the state parks and at scout camporees, 3 or 4 times a year. We also sit around the campfire during the evenings telling tall tales.

11:22 a.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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The 21st century is mostly over-rated. I also have a pair of wood framed snowshoes, but the lacing is nylon webbing rather than rawhide. I made these from a kit by Country Ways. Lots of fun to make. Depending upon the snow conditions (very loose, fine, deep powder), wood framed, rawhide shoes will outperform the modern variety as the flotation is generally better in those conditions.

3:48 p.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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Actually, I have a fifth pair of snowshoes that are wooden. They're pretty rough, round, bear claw style ones that my dad had in his garage from who-knows-when. The deck is made of criss-crossing rope.

I saved them partly because I love snowshoes, but also to hang on the wall someday when our attic is finished for our home office.

I've half jokingly thought of trying them in the snow, but I'd hate to ruin them. I really should learn more about them first.

8:45 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill:

My wife teases me by saying that I'm starting to look like the photograph of Calvin Rutstrum in Paradise Below Zero--you know, the one with him leaning on the old snowshoes while wearing the sealskin parka with the fur ruff. I don't think it's period correct for anything, but it's kind of a scary thought.

However, as I sit here sweating in front of the computer in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity, I start looking forward to winter.

5:44 p.m. on September 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Here's another vote for the MSR Ascents for their outstanding heel lifters.
I switched them out to the Northern Lites Backcountry last year, and never looked back.

4:13 p.m. on October 3, 2007 (EDT)
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I like Northern Lites, but I removed their rubber straps and use a piece of webbing for a tighter, no-slip fit.
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/101764446yARQiX

11:27 p.m. on October 3, 2007 (EDT)
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I have used many snowshoes, for work in deep snow as well as for solo multi-day trips here in B.C. I disagree about wood/hide shoes being superior to modern ones in ANY kind of snow, that's just romantic dreams talking, IME.

My coldest trip was -41*F for five days alone in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in the '70s, I was on 4- to about 30 ft. of snow and camped for four nights. This entailesd packing a 50 lb. external frame pack on my "misery slippers"and, after this, I bought my Cascades, then my Cole's Expedition shoes and last winter, bought the best snowshows I know of in the Expedition version.

These are "Crescent Moon" shoes made in the US and they totally exceed ANY others I have used/seen, even the superb Canadian Faber shoes and CanForce military versions. I HIGHLY recommend these if you want the best.

September 20, 2014
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