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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > Fimbulvetr Hikr Snowshoes > Test Report by Michael Pearl

FIMBULVETR HIKR SNOWSHOES
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - February 21, 2017
FIELD REPORT - March 28, 2017
LONG TERM REPORT - May 15, 2017

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Pearl
EMAIL: mikepearl36ATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)

I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four-season backpacker and year-round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Snowmotion AS IMAGE 2IMAGE 1
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Made in Norway

Manufacturer's Website: fimbulvetr.no
MSRP: US$270.00

Listed Weight: 4.7 lb (2146 g) per pair
Measured Weight: 4 lb and 14 oz (2.2 kg) per pair

Listed Length: 24 in (60 cm)
Listed Width: 10 in (25 cm)
Measured Length and Width confirms Listed

Bearing Surface: 214 sq in (1380 sq cm)
Recommended Load:

Materials:
Snowshoe & Binding: DuPont Hytrel TPC-ET
Strap: Polypropelene
Buckle: Acetal
Crampon: Stainless Steel

Features - Instep & Heel Crampon, Heel Lift
Colors Available - Orange, White, & Black

The Hikr snowshoes are listed on the Fimbulvetr company website as unisex. The intended terrain as all mountain and specialty as steep inclines.

The Hikrs are like other snowshoes in their intended function and how they are worn. Where the Hikrs differ is in the design of the decking and attachment of the binding to the decking. The decking of the Hikr is a single, solid piece of flexible plastic. The deck has a unique waffle pattern cut into the deck material. The decking connects to the binding with three flexible sections, one each to the left and right and one at the heel. This allows the binding and therefore the foot to move in more than one direction unlike a traditional snowshoe. The Hikr behaves more like a ball and socket than the hinge of a traditional snowshoe. The binding is bolted directly to the snowshoe and then to the instep cleat directly below. There is also a cleat bolted to the snowshoe directly behind the flexible section at the heel. Another design difference is in the shape and size of the Hikr. The Hikr is shorter in length and greater in width than other snowshoes I have used. They are also asymmetric in shape being slightly longer in length at the inside edge. The front of the Hikrs have a very pronounced upward curl, more than I am used to with other snowshoes I have used. The binding is slightly off set from center, favoring the inside edge of the Hikrs.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Hikrs arrived attached bottoms together with a Velcro strap. Around the strap was a cardboard product display sleeve. All parts, materials and construction look to be of high quality and well made. The Hikrs look and feel like solid and sturdy snow traveling shoes. The bindings look to be very generous. They appear big enough to accommodate a wide range of boots. The cleats do not look very aggressive. But they seem to be positioned nicely, one directly under what should be the toe and ball of the foot and then one at the heel. Both edges of the snowshoes have a tongue and groove or teeth pattern running from the front to back cleat. On the top or upper side of the Hikrs there is a piece of metal where the heel contacts the deck. These acts as a grip for the heel or can be pulled up to act as a heel lift for uphill travel. The heel lift easily moves to and from both positions. When in the heel lift position it measures 1.25 in (3.2 cm) from the deck surface.

This all combines to give the Hikrs a very distinct look. While this look is different it is also intriguing and appealing. It is the kind of design change that draws me to get outside and try something new. I am very interested in how these design changes translate to performance in the field.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

IMAGE 3There are no use or care instructions supplied with the Hikr snowshoes. There is information found on the inside of the cardboard sleeve that came wrapped around the Hikrs. There is a disclaimer, basically saying to be safe. The Fimbulvetr limited lifetime warranty protects against material and workmanship defects, which will be repaired or replaced. There is a reminder to recycle, the product and packaging are 100% recyclable! I appreciate a product design that takes into consideration product end of life. The part I found most interesting was the explanation of the company name. Fimbulvetr is an old Norse meaning The Great Winter. This conjures up images of epic treks through extreme conditions and terrain. The Fimbulvetr story goes on to explain the company motivation and process to make a new type of snowshoe.

My first glance at the Hikrs, it sure looks like they did just that. I like tradition but also appreciate innovation. If the two can blend together to improve a function or an experience that's attractive to me.

A tag attached to the shoes provides four other points of information about the features and materials they are;
- All direction hinge for improved traction and support in all directions which carries a US patent
- DuPont thermoplastics and stainless steel
- Stress tested in -40 C (-40 F) with more than 1,000,000 cycles
- 100% recyclable, no permanent mechanical components

There is a #7 plastic recycle symbol on the bottom front of each snowshoe. So the folks that collect my recycling will accept this material after removing the metal and polypropelene. The metal they will also accept. I don't know about the polypropelene though.

TRYING IT OUT

Just before the Hikrs arrived we received our first real snowstorm of the season. After a few inches here and a couple of inches there, a good 18 in (45.7 cm) of fluffy snow fell. I dug out the step at the back door and strapped on the Hikrs. The bindings go on easy enough with a pull of three straps. There's one at the toe, one mid-foot and one near the ankle that also engages a strap around the back of the heel. The straps loosen with a lift of a tab at the end of the tension lock.

IMAGE 4The snow was deep and soft but the Hikrs provided good floatation. Each step felt natural and fairly easy. The first most noticeable thing was the lack of hinged sensation in the snowshoe. I am very accustomed to lifting with a forward step and feeling a swing and slide or drag of the trailing snowshoe. The Hikr has more of a step and squishing down, paddle-like feel with the forward step. Also missing is the very straight lockstep feeling of other shoes. The Hikr feels like the snowshoe is following my foot. There is more of a lateral movement in the binding. This also had an unsteady sensation to it initially. Instead of each step having a straight, flat downward push into the snow the Hikrs flex more. This translated to my ankle and leg and felt slightly off balance at first. However as I focused on walking instead of the snowshoe this changed. It ended up feeling more natural and fluid, more like walking through the snow than walking on something through the snow.

I put in about 0.5 mi (0.8 km) on the trail that drops into the wood rather steep to the pond behind my house. Here I walked down, across and up the grade of the hill. Going across the hill was great, the flex in the binding made this very easy. I was able to lean into the hill keeping myself upright and the snowshoe still made good contact with the snow and hillside. There was no strain in my ankle as I and the snowshoe stepped in opposing directions. Traveling uphill was also good. I could easily flip the heel lift up and down. The heel lift is not the biggest but is definitely noticeable. On two of the three downhills the toe of my boot slide forward and hit the snowshoe. Once it was enough to stop my forward progress. This may have been due to an improperly adjusted binding as it was the same foot both times. I will have to play with this more.

I also managed to find several snow covered trees across the trail, a few of which I did not notice until I stepped on them. The Hikrs flexed, stuck and stepped right over with the tree at the front or back of the shoe. This is something I have not experienced in a snowshoe before. It was very encouraging, making me feel confident in the Hikrs. The trees that were noticeable I stepped one shoe on and atop the tree the next shoe over and down on the other side. The Hikrs being rather short made this move without bumping the tree on either side. All in all a good first run.

SUMMARY

The Fimbulvetr Hikr snowshoes are a very different looking and fairly different feeling snowshoe. The materials and construction look to be of good quality. The design is thoughtful and well executed. My first mini hike with the Hikrs was a good one. The Hikrs feel agile and capable. I am eager to get out on longer hikes with them.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Day Hike at Velvet Rocks - Hanover, New Hampshire
Elevation - 525 to 1100 ft (160 to 335 m)
Pack Weight - 20 lb (9 kg) IMAGE 1
Distance and Conditions - 5 mi (8 km) Temperature 20 F (-6.7 C) clear and calm with 18 in (46 cm) of fresh, puffy snow

Day Hike at Balch Hill - Hanover, New Hampshire
Elevation - 525 to 950 ft (160 to 290 m)
Pack Weight - 15 lb (7 kg)
Distance and Conditions - 5 mi (8 km) 30 F (-8 C) and windy. Hard-packed snow and ice covered trail

Two Night Backpack at Mt Cardigan - Alexandria, New Hampshire
Elevation - 1400 to 2250 ft (427 to 680 m)
Pack Weight - 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
Distance and Conditions - 8 mi (13 km) Night / Day 1 low around 35 F (1.7 C) calm and clear unseasonable high of 55 F (13 C). Night 2 low 20 F (-6.7 C) with 0.5 in (1.3 cm) rain turning to ice with winds around 40 mph (64 kph). Day 2 high of 30 F (-1 C) winds calming by afternoon.

Day Hike Mts Tom, Field and Willey - Crawford Notch, New Hampshire
Elevation - 1800 to 4340 ft (549 to 1323 m)
Pack Weight - 25 lb (11 kg)
Distance and Conditions - 9.8 mi (15.8 km) starting at 20 F (-6.6 C) with windy and snowing ending at 40 F (4 C) with clear calm skies. Trail firm packed snow with 3 to 6 in (7.6 to 15 cm) of fresh snow and very steep in two sections. Three streams crossed - two fully frozen ice the other partially frozen.

Day Hike Storrs Pond - Hanover, New Hampshire,
Elevation - 525 to 400 ft (160 to 120 m)
Pack Weight - 15 lb (7 kg)
Distance and Conditions - 4 mi (6.4 km) Temperature 15 F (-9 C) very windy and snowing heavy with 8 in (20 cm) of fresh snow on the ground.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This winter has provided a wide range of conditions. I have hiked with the Fimbulvetr Hikrs in everything from below freezing to well above freezing temperatures, fresh powder to rotten snow to hardpack snow and ice. In all conditions the Hikrs performed quite well. Overall I have been happy with them with just a few areas minor trouble.

First off in fresh snow the Hikrs are great. Their traction, flotation, and maneuverability are excellent. Uphill and especially across hill the Hikrs are very secure and comfortable. The heel lifts are easy to flip up and down and greatly ease going up steep inclines. On some very steep downhills I sometimes found it difficult to maintain traction. If moving too fast I lost purchase in the downhill foot and would slide. This made for a telemark-like ski maneuver. This was never out of control but still could be alarming when not prepared. What I found funny however was I was not able to intentionally glissade on the tails of the Hikrs. They are too flexible, making it very hard to put the right amount of tension on the snowshoes to initiate a slide.

On hardpack and even ice the Hikrs bit in and held every step I took. On Mt. Cardigan I encountered a few windblown areas of bare rock. There was no way around and too short of a distance to remove the Hikrs. So right across I carefully stepped in gusty winds. I had no troubles and on inspection after the hike neither did the Hikrs. They showed minor wear on the plastic toothed edges. The other thing I noticed while hiking on hardpack or ice was a performance difference when carrying a light pack. The all directional hinge that allows movement between the deck and binding is very resilient. It returns to its unweighted position with a robust spring. While carrying a pack of 20 lb (9 kg) or greater this is very helpful returning the snowshoe to ideal position for the next step. However with a 15 lb (7 kg) pack weight and again only on hard surfaces this spring in the hinge became a nuisance. When lifting my load bearing foot the Hikr produces an uncomfortable recoil. This is a popping sensation as I lift the snowshoe I feel a pushing up of the hinge to my foot. I tried adjusting my step to lessen this but the only solution was finding softer conditions or increasing my pack weight.

IMAGE 2 I find the Hikrs comfortable for all day use even carrying 30 lbs (13.6 kg) loads. My legs and feet did not complain of anything beyond the typical strains of winter hiking. Additionally I found them compatible with my winter load, meaning able to easily attach and remove from the side of my pack. The Hikrs also proved useful for stomping out and leveling a tent site. Going off trail to select a tent site I discovered a minor downside to the cut out pattern on the Hikrs. A broom handle diameter branch hidden under the snow went through one of the holes in the Hikr. It momentarily threw me off balance as the branch pinned down the snowshoe at a strange angle. I was able to shift my weight and slide the snowshoe off the branch. This occurred once more again going off trail on a different hike. This time I was moving at a regular pace when I found a buried branch. While I did not fall it was very startling causing an abrupt stop and took great effort not to go down.

The branch problem happened only twice of the course of 32 mi (51.5 km) include five off trail ventures. I try to avoid ice and hardpack snow as much as possible. So these two things are not negatives I mention them to report my experience. The thing that troubles me is the binding. I find them to be too big. In order to secure my three season boot I need to cinch the straps so tight the bindings almost touch. If my foot were smaller I do not think I would be able to properly secure the Hikrs. The bindings pulled as tight as IMAGE 3they are there ends of being a lot of excess strap. My bulkier winter boots filled the bindings better. But there were still lots of loose strap. The ends hang down over the snowshoe to the ground. I never tripped on them but they flop around here and there. I tried weaving them through the D-rings on the bindings not know what else the rings could be for. While this took care of the excess strap it made it difficult when it came time to remove the snowshoes or make adjustments. And I had to make adjustments several times on most hikes. Over the course of a hike one of the straps would lose tension. This usually led to my foot sliding forward in the binding. When it happen the toe of my boot would hit the deck of the snowshoe. Most of the time it meant an annoy click sound and feeling. A few times it fully stop the snowshoe from hinging and me from moving. Twice the heel strap loosened and I stepped right out of the snowshoe. I found most of this had to do with initial placement of my foot in the binding. And which strap I pulled when and how much. If the binding was tensioned with my foot favoring one side or unevenly it led to shifts in pressure and binding malfunction. This is being rather picky as the bindings work and the problems experienced were manageable.

After locating the sweet spot were my toes wouldn't hit I would first tension the toe strap. While pulling the strap making sure my foot was centered left to right. And watching the sides of the binding were also even as they came together. Next was the middle strap with the same tensioning as the toe. Last the heel strap making sure it was as high as possible on my heel. Once the binding looked even I would snug all the straps. This seemed to prevent the binding fit problem although I still checked the strap tension during every break. And still felt very tempted to trim the excess strap.


SUMMARY

The Fimbulvetr Hikr are very able deep snow traveling snowshoes. All parts and materials remain in like new condition with minor wear from contact with bare rock. I can wear the Hikrs an entire hike without undue fatigue to my feet or legs. While I am not 100% satisfied with the bindings they do work and I can manage the difficulties I've had. I am very impressed with the maneuverability and traction the Hikrs provide. They definitely make traveling through the winter forest enjoyable.

IMAGE 4



LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Tuckermans Ravine - Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire IMAGE 1
Elevation - 2030 to 4500 ft (619 to 1372 m)
Pack and Pulk Weight - 10 and 50 lbs (4.5 and 23 kg)
Distance and Conditions - 6 mi (9.7 km) morning low of 33 F (0.5 C) afternoon high of 40 F (4 C) mostly cloudy with periods of sunshine

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My last outing of the test series with the Hikr snowshoes was mixed use. We stayed the night at Joe Dodge Lodge an AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) lodge in Pinkham Notch at the base of Mount Washington. The next morning we hiked up the Tuckerman Ravine trail to ski and snowboard Tuckermans Ravine a large cirque that holds snow usually into late spring. We made two runs in the ravine then skied and boarded down the Sherburne ski trail.

Not knowing the exact trail conditions, I packed the Hikrs and microspikes. Knowing the kids couldn't or wouldn't carry their skis up I improvised a pulk to pull everyone's skis up. The pulk was 5 mm (0.2 in) construction plastic folded up and around the skis, cinched tight, and pulled by nylon cord. The first third of the way up the snow was frozen solid. Here bare boots worked okay and microspikes worked great. So the Hikrs hitched a ride in the pulk with the skis. The second third of the trail the snow softened enough that microspike were not as effective, so I switched to the Hikrs. The greater surface area of the Hikrs provided better traction against the weight of the pulk. I was able to climb at a steady pace without wasting energy in loose footing. In the few steep sections the heel lifts worked great. The last third of trail was very narrow, rocky and steep. Neither the Hikrs nor the pulk were suitable at this point so they were both stashed just off the trail. At this point everyone had to chip in and carry their share of gear.
IMAGE 2
After skiing the ravine we hiked back down to the where we stashed the Hikrs. I was able to fit the Hikers, rolled up pulk, three season hiking boots and miscellaneous gear in my winter pack. We skied down to the lodge in about thirty amazing minutes, a sixth of time it took to go up!

SUMMARY

On this last adventure with the Hikrs although brief they performed nicely. And overall the Hikrs worked quite well for me. In all conditions encountered they assisted me in covering difficult terrain. However, I find they are suited best for deep, soft snow. While capable in other snow conditions, the Hikrs all directional hinge makes them less comfortable in harder packed snow. I also feel the binding is oversized and not 100% reliable. This is the one area that knock the Hikrs out of the "my go to" snowshoe ranking. During field testing I had a binding loosen unexpectedly causing the snowshoe to come off my foot. While that is a negative, I really enjoyed the flotation in fresh untracked powder. I also like the all directional hinge for travel across the grade of a hillside. These two factors will have me selecting the Fimbulvter Hikr snowshoes for winter travel when these ideal conditions present.

This concludes my Long-Term Report. I would like to extend my appreciation to Snowmotion AS and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Fimbulvetr Hikr snowshoes.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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