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Atlas Elektra 11 Series  
Women's Snowshoes


Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan

Page Contents:

Initial Report:
January 21, 2010

Tester Information

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 57
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 19 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Manufacturer
Atlas Snow-Shoe Company
Website http://atlassnowshoe.com
Model Women's Elektra 11 Series - Model E1127, also available in Model E1123
Color
Burgundy
Frame Material
6061 Aluminum
Decking
Duratek
Binding
Wrapp Plus with SureClick buckle
Crampon/Traction
All-Trac toe crampon and Advanced Aft Traction and climbing bar
Size
E1127 (Load limit 120-200 lb (54-91 kg), also available in E1123 (Load limit 80-160 lb (36.29-73 kg) and Men's sizes
Manufacturer  Weight  4 lb 1.5 oz (1.86 kg)
Tested Weight  4 lb 7 oz (2.01 kg)
Model Year 2009 
MSRP $229.95

Initial Impressions and Product Description 

Atlas Elektra 11 Series Snowshoes
The Atlas Elektra 11 Series Snowshoes arrived in great condition with an informational booklet (written in five languages). Just as requested, I received the Women's version in the size of E1127. The numbers commonly refer to the width and length of the snowshoes so I assumed they were 11 in (27.94 cm) in width and 27 in (69 cm) in length. Although the length does correlate the width is surprisingly over 2 in (5.08 cm) less at around 9 in (22.86 cm).  

The load limit for the E1127 tops out at 200 lb (91 kg). The decking surface coverage for this model is 176 sq in (1135 sq cm). Size and coverage are important features to consider when choosing snowshoes.

Although I could realistically wear the smaller version (E1123) that Atlas also makes in this model they would not give me as much flotation in deep snow. I often pull my sledge loaded with gear for multi-day winter camping trips where I move camp each night. The conditions vary but it is not uncommon to have deep snow conditions of several feet (one-to-two meters). 

The Elektra 11 Series belongs to the mountain hiking category by the manufacturer. They also carry a number of other models for other needs such as for trail running.

 

Design and Technical Features

Elektra Design:
"Elektra" refers to the women's-specific design that are shaped to accommodate a women's natural gait. The snowshoes have tapered tails, a narrower front and outside rolling bends that nest the snowshoes together comfortably.

Spring-Loaded Suspension (SLS): According to the manufacturer, the SLS keeps the snowshoe close underfoot for easy maneuvering. It suspends my foot so that it lets my foot flex naturally from side to side for stability. The SLS reportedly improves traction control too as the flex allows deeper crampon penetration.

Aluminum V-Frames: Reportedly the V-Frame design of the molded frame allows the snowshoes to track straight in deep snow and the tapered tail pulls less snow as I step forward resulting in using less energy.

Wrapp Plus Bindings: The bindings are built around a platform of gender-specific lasts offering more arch support. There are instructions for fitting the bindings on the hangtag. Basically the steps that were outlined included placing the ball of the foot centered over the Atlas Logo (yellow diamond shape) on the footbed with the buckles to the outside, aligning the foot straight on the snowshoe and then pulling the Uniloop strap to tighten the instep (so easy), and pulling on the heel strap with a SureClick to secure the heel. To release my foot from the binding I just reverse the steps. There is a nicely padded section on the outside edge of each binding which would no doubt help in the comfort and dispersal of the tension. The Wrapp Bindings also have holder clips on the webbing to hold the excess webbing out of the way. There is also a holder clip on the silicone heel strap for the same purpose.
Traction on the Elektras
Heel Lift Bar: The bars are integrated into the aft traction of the snowshoes and can be lifted to ease strain on the calf muscles while climbing. They are just simply pulled up into place but are a little harder to push down.

Duratek Decking - This flexible webbing has a pebble-type surface reportedly to protect from abrasion. The decking is wrapped around the frame of the snowshoes and secured with rivets.

All-Trac Toe Crampon - These crampons are made of stainless steel and feature 7 points to provide traction in all directions. The traction tabs on the sides and corners are wider and more rounded while the top two and single bottom tab are more pointy and sharp (aggressive).

Advanced Aft Traction - There are four different angled and ridged rails with many sharp teeth arranged in a "U" shape on the aft crampon.


Trying them out on a short hike:


As soon as I received the snowshoes I immediately noted the bindings and traction. The bindings are a lot different than any I have used before so I played with the Uniloop strap, or one tug strap to see how wide they could go.

Although I will be wearing a variety of footwear with the snowshoes, my mukluk-type boots are quite wide as they are lined with double-felt liners. I was happy to see that I could wear them with the wide boots so I headed out my door to the surrounding woods of deep snow to test them out. I wore the mukluk boots with them as I wanted to test the comfort of the combination before I took them on a five-day sledge trip two days later. I've already taken that journey but the details for that will be in the field report in two months.

During this initial test on the trails near my home there was several feet (one meter) of mostly powdery snow and although I couldn't see most of the frames of the snowshoes while I hiked I had no trouble getting through the snow. I practice
Trying them out in the forest near my house with my huge mukluksd descending and ascending hills to test the traction and I was pleased with the aggressive amount of traction the toe and aft traction provide as I didn't slip backwards at all. The SLS provided a spring-type action to each step which seems to takes less energy than dragging a similar snowshoe without the system (I have used plenty of snowshoes that don't have this system). The SLS does flip up more snow with each step but that is not an issue as I normally wear gaiters or high mukluks with pants that have a slippery surface to allow the snow to slide off.


Care


The instructions for care of the Elektra Snowshoes seem simple enough. The manufacturer suggests allowing them to dry before storing and then storing in a dry environment away from heat.
 
I'm looking forward to wearing the Elektra 11 Series Snowshoes for the next four months of not only multi-day winter sledge adventures but day trips as well. As stated earlier I have already taken a five-day trip while wearing them while pulling my sledge.



 
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Field Report:
March 26, 2010


USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the Atlas Elektra Snowshoes not only for day treks but primarily for extended trips where I was pulling a sledge loaded with gear each day (15 days while pulling sledge). Locations ranged from and included boreal and deciduous forest communities, frozen lakes, and more. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1400 ft (427 m).
 

Trip 1 - January Wilderness Sledge Trip

Location: McCormick Wilderness - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Bushwhack
Distance: 26 mi (42 km)
Length of Trip: 5 days/4 nights
Sledge Weight: Estimated 50 lb (22.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds, and light snow
Precipitation: 0.12 in (0.30 cm)  
Temperature Range: 6 F (-14 C) to 40 F (4 C)


Trip 2 - Early February Hike-in Rustic Cabin Trip:

Location: Hiawatha National Forest - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 19.2 mi (30.9 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days/3 nights
Sledge Weight: Estimated 55 lb (25 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, light snow
Precipitation: Trace (couple of inches/5 cm of very light snow)
Temperature Range: 5 F (-15 C) to 25 F (-4 C)


Trip 3 - Porcupine Mts Wilderness State Park Sledge Trip:

Location: Porcupine Mountains - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Bushwhack (with a bit of trail)
Distance: 20 + mi (32 km)
Length of Trip: 5 days/4 nights
Sledge Weight: Estimated 50 lb (22.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds, and snow
Precipitation: 8 in (20.32 cm) of new snow  
Temperature Range: -9 F (-23 C) to 27 F (-3 C)


Trip 4 - Late February Hike-in Rustic Cabin Trip:

Location: Hiawatha National Forest - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance:19.2 mi (30.9 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/1 night
Sledge Weight: Estimated 35 lb (16 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy 
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 25 F (-4 C) to 30 F (-1 C)


Trip 5 - Grand Island National Recreation Area Sledge Trip

Location: Grand Island - Lake Superior, Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Ice travel and packed snowmobile trail
Distance: 28 mi (45 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days/3 nights
Sledge Weight: Estimated 50 lb (22.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 23 F (-5 C) to 49 F (9 C)


Field Work 


I have worn the Atlas Elektra Snowshoes primarily in deep powder snow conditions during five different sledge trips (three trips where I was pulling a loaded sled day after day....no base camping!). Due to the overall smaller size of the Elektras than I am used to, I often walked one or two positions behind the lead person in deep snow on most of the sledge trips. However I have also made my own tracks quite often. Usually I would sink at least a foot (0.3 m) or more, but while bushwhacking through thick conifers some times my foot would plunge down into an air space of several feet (1 m). Snow depth was more than 3 ft (1 m) on all trips and often up to 6 ft (2 m). During the third trip, I did have to use a snowmobile trail for approximately less than 1 mi (1.61 km) and a ski trail for about 0.5 mi (0.81 km). All other miles were in untracked territory except for the last trip which was mostly on packed trail.

During the last trip I only used the snowshoes for part of the travel as I also had my backcountry skis. The snow was so deep in the woods that when I wasn't skiing I switched over to snowshoes. I also wore them for icy conditions on some of the mornings. I wore the snowshoes for all the hours at camp to pack my bivy site and to get around without sinking up to my knees in the soft conditions. Between sledge trips and dayhike snowshoeing I
have easily traveled over 110 mi (177 km) on the snowshoes.

Sledging across the Lake of the Clouds at Porcupine Mts
Footwear Choices

I have worn three different types of footwear with the Elektra Snowshoes. During my sledge trips, I have worn oversized mukluk-type boots (True North Boots). Amazingly the bindings on the Atlas Elektra will accommodate this type of boot that contain two felt liners. Admittedly they were almost at the end of the width for the binding closure but I still could easily insert and extract the boot from the binding.

The only issue I had was that the heel straps would slip off easily while snowshoeing which I find is a common problem for most any snowshoe type with these boots. There are simply no ridges on the boots for the heel straps to remain in place. I often use a doubled piece of cordage looped over each back strap (and then it was tied in the front of each ankle with a simple square knot) to prevent the heel straps from slipping. This is the orange-colored cordage shown above my ankles in picture at right).This is not a permanent adaptation as I slip it off whenever I use other footwear.

I also wore the Atlas Elektras with Columbia Bugabootoo Boots. The boots have a slight heel ridge in the back so I never had any issues with the back strap. The third pair of footwear I used with the snowshoes was a pair of simple light running shoes (Five Ten Runamucks). These shoes are very slight and unpadded in appearance but the Wrapp Binding not only provided padded support and comfort but also was easy to adjust to a narrow width for these shoes. I haven't had any problems with the heel straps slipping on the running shoes.


Bindings

The Uniloop straps have been so easy to use. I do have to be careful on my extended trips to both scrape off any snow on the bindings and snap the buckles to release snow to made sure the snow doesn't freeze in place. Snow tends to stick to the type of webbing used for the bindings and makes it harder to maneuver them if frozen. There aren't any issues with the silicone heel straps however as snow simply doesn't stick to them. My feet have always felt very stable in these bindings. There is no slippage or sliding of the foot sideways.


Traction/Decking
Climbing up and down the ravines
The traction on these snowshoes is amazing. I have pulled my sledge with gear (50 lb/22.7 kg) up and down steep embankments from lakes and bushwhacked many ravines where others were having difficulty and I just zoomed right up and down (well, maybe "zoom" is an extreme word but I had no difficulty). The crampons grab the snow and I have felt very stable with virtually no slippage either sideways or from front to back. I have used many pairs of snowshoes through the years and the traction on these have been far superior to anything else I have encountered.

Clumping of snow on crampons....even though I have experienced very warm temperatures on two of the trips the clumping on the snowshoe crampons has been minimal. As stated earlier, if there is an accumulation of snow on the bottom of the snowshoes after I remove them, I scrape it off before it freezes in place during the night. On the last trip the temps got up to abnormally high temps almost to 50 F (10 C) and I noticed that when I was doing little activity such as setting up camp and walking around camp, the clumping was worse but that is to be expected.

The Duratek decking has performed well. I haven't noticed any snow sticking to the decking at all.

I have tried the heel lift bar a few times but the terrain around here doesn't have the long steep climbs that would necessitate its normal use. It does have a lot of short steep climbs, but disengaging the feature is awkward to do repeatedly (they are hard to push down from the upright position).

 

Durability
Scratches on top inner edge of snowshoe
The only nitpick I have with the Elektras is that I have experienced a lot of wear on the frame of the snowshoes. The brightly-colored coating is very scratched on both the top inner edges and bottom sides as well as some on the Duratek decking. I have always worn the snowshoes in a great depth of snow so the scratching is not from encounters with dirt or the like because it simply didn't occur.

I also never heard the snowshoes making contact or colliding with each other through the deep snow so I was somewhat puzzled as to why this was occurring. Upon close examination I can readily conclude that I am somehow hitting the top frame of my snowshoe with the extreme or outer edge of the aft crampon which is placed very close to the edge of the frame.

I have always walked very straight (not toe in or toe out) so it perplexes me how this happens. My only submission to this idea is that I am simply not placing my feet wide enough when I snowshoe or when I make tight turns. I have snowshoed since I was a child and I have never noticed this extreme of a wear pattern on my other snowshoes (they do have scratches but not like this). However, none of my other snowshoes have the wide aft crampon either! Of course this is only a cosmetic defect to the snowshoes if I continue to use them with my normal gait, but I question whether the aft crampon should be off set towards the outer edge to remedy this. All other features of snowshoes are still in great condition including the bindings, crampons (not bent nor rusted) and rivets.

Overall, I am highly pleased with the Elektra Snowshoes. I especially like the Wrapp Bindings and the superior traction in all conditions. During the long term period, snow levels will be considerably lower but I should be able to test the snowshoes a few times on crusted spring snow conditions.

Second picture in Field Report: Courtesy of Mary Ann Hayman from Ontario, Canada

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Long Term Report:
May 31, 2010


USA Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the Atlas Elektra Snowshoes for four more outings. All of the outings were day snowshoe treks on the Noquemanon Trail (3) and Marquette Mountain (1) during this time period. Locations were in deciduous forest communities and backcountry packed trails in Marquette County, Michigan, USA. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1400 ft (427 m).
 


Field Work 

An April outing on the Noque Trail
During the long term period, winter came to a quick halt. Even though most of the woods looked like a giant brown and white jigsaw puzzle by the first part of April, I was able to find enough snow high in the local hills to snowshoe on.

The trails on those hills were repeatedly packed all winter for cross country skiing purposes. I also ventured over to Marquette Mountain, a local downhill ski facility. I don't ordinarily snowshoe on packed trails but I figured that was my only way to deal with the melting snow and warm temperatures.

On the trail surface itself the snow was quite compacted but I often would veer off of it into areas of the forest that still had snow cover. There I found the snow to be at least a foot (0.3 m) deep. I would readily sink as the snow was in a very soft state with temps in the 50 to 60 F (10 to 16 C) degree range. I would often start the trek in temperatures just above freezing, but it would quickly warm up during the two or more hours of each outing.

For these snowshoe treks I wore my light weight trail runners and short gaiters. My feet got duly soaked due to the wet conditions but it wasn't an issue as I was roasting! One thing that I might note in these outings is that the bindings had excessive strap length dangling because I was wearing small footprint  trail shoes. I used the provided clips on the top of each binding as well as the heel straps but with any amount of motion, they simply slid right out. I fixed them a number of times before I told myself to "forget it", as they wouldn't stay in place. It really wasn't an issue it rather just looked weird. During the field test period the snowshoes were primarily used with large boots or mukluks so this strap problem wasn't an issue then. The bindings did continue to be secure otherwise and my shoes didn't slip sideways.

The trails were extremely hilly and I didn't have an issue climbing or descending. In fact, I even broke out into a run once in awhile for "old times' sake".
I really didn't have any difficulty with snow sticking to the bottom of the snowshoes as it was way too warm for it to be a problem. It would just melt right off!

I have continued to pick up more scratches on the frames evidently from one snowshoe hitting the other during activity. Otherwise the rest of the components of the snowshoes are all in great condition including the bindings, decking and crampons.

Overall, during the entire testing period I had loads of fun with the Atlas Elektra Snowshoes. They have the greatest traction of any of my snowshoes and I could completely rely on them to ascend and descend without slipping. My only disappointment is the excessive amount of scratching that the frames experienced due to the rear crampon hitting the top and side of the other snowshoe oftentimes when I was walking. Usage during the entire testing period covered over 132 mi/213 km of snowshoeing (15 days while pulling a sledge and 8 day outings).

Pros 
  • Bindings can adjust to even the widest footwear
  • Lots of traction
  • Uniloop bindings are easy to adjust
  • Attractive design 
Cons 
  • Frames scratch easily
  • Binding straps slip out of the clip holders very easily

Tester Remarks 

Thanks to Atlas Snow-Shoe Company and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Elektra 11 Series Snowshoes. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series. 

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