- Nordic Ski Patrol - 6 days
- Overnight snow camping – 1 night
use of these snowshoes during my ski patrol days involve the following.
I typically snowshoe in the morning, evaluating and if necessary
packing down the snowshoe trails, and performing other minor trail
maintenance if necessary. In the process I dig out the entrances to the
bathrooms and assist/educate customers as necessary. On occasion I have
to haul gear or rescue toboggans and/or clear or pack the snow around
the toboggans for easy access. Then I switch to skis for the afternoon.
particular day I performed my normal morning duties, spent the
afternoon testing and evaluating a potential ski patrol candidate
(putting in more distance than normal), then switched back to snowshoes
to accompany a guided evening snowshoe trip (only about 45min on the
snow). Needless to say I was quite tired by the end. During the guided
trip we experienced a rather tricky stream crossing. I had to go off
trail and bushwhack around the group, leaping over a section of the
stream in order to get ahead of the group and assist people in making
the crossing. Obviously if my snowshoes were not firmly attached to my
boots and the shoe/bindings not strong, this would not have been
possible. I would not have even attempted that maneuver in some entry
level snowshoes. I would also mention that one section of our snowshoe
trail is a mix of mud, flowing water, rocks and branches about 6' (2 m)
long. These shoes are durable enough to allow me to simply walk across
this section without concern that a sharp rock or branch might puncture
or otherwise damage the shoes.
For the one overnight trip, after
a day of patrolling I hiked back into the trees at the far end of the
lake and set up my hammock. I love snowshoes for snow camping as they
make it really easy to pack down a nice flat area for my camp.
mentioned in the Initial Review I own an older Ascent version of these
shoes. They have the same bindings and I like that I am able to get
them on/off even with gloves on. I also have found these bindings to be
quite strong and durable (the bindings on my old ones still
like new), but there are a few things about them I struggle with. Since
these use tension of the strap to keep them secured on the pin, I tend
to over tighten them to ensure they do not come loose, resulting in
pain in my foot. I often have to stop and loosen one or more straps
after a short while of use. There are small clips intended to keep the
loose ends of the straps from flopping around (and potentially coming
unhooked), and on a few occasions I have had them slip out of these
clips and flop around. Overall I would say this is a very strong and
durable binding system, but probably overkill for most of what I do.
When in rugged terrain and during hard use I appreciate knowing they
are unlikely to break or come loose, but most of the time it is
unnecessary and I wish I had a simpler binding system. (All I ask is
absolute customized perfection for everything I might do. Is that too
shoes themselves seem bullet proof. The plastic deck and steel frame
& hardware give me confidence to do just about anything without
fear of damaging them. The trade off is weight. These are rather heavy
in my view, but not unreasonably so given the advantages. I would also
mention how noisy these can be. On packed and or groomed snow the shoes
make a very notable clickity clack clickety clack sound (reminiscent of
a train at a crossing), but I would note these are no louder than any
other hard deck snowshoes I have used. So this is not a problem, just
something worth noting should noise level or stealth be a
consideration. For example were I a hunter or otherwise want to go
quietly through the snow, I doubt I would choose these.
traction and flotation. I don't think I can ask for more in this area.
These shoes provide the exceptional traction I was expecting (based on
my other MSR Ascent shoes). The steel frame provides reliable 360 deg
traction allowing me to climb, descend, and even sidehill with
confidence. The toe crampons provide an impressive and very satisfying
bite into packed snow/ice. One irony is that I find the excellent
flotation, can negatively impact the shoes traction in soft snow. Due
to the flotation, the snow does not get compacted as much so the
edges/crampons simply have nothing to hold on to. So on steep soft snow
I find I need to stomp or at least firmly place my step in order to
compact the snow enough to reduce the risk of sliding. I would not
consider this a problem, just something to be aware of.
my favorite features of the snowshoes is the heel lifts. The design of
these allow me to simply reach down with the handle of my trekking
poles to extend/retract them. As opposed to the earlier design that
requires me to reach down with my hand (sometimes having to remove my
glove). As such I use the feature more often, and am quite pleased. The
heel lifts make ascents far easier. It has become a "must have" feature
for all my snowshoes.
Overall there really is nothing about
these that I do not like. There may be a few things that are a little
over kill or over engineered for most of what I use snowshoes for, but
that is no fault of the product (maybe I just need to be more
adventurous). See likes and dislikes in the Initial Report above.