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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes > David Heyting > Test Report by David Heyting

Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes
Test Series
Last Update: Long Term Report May 21, 2007



Tester Information:
Name: David Heyting
Age: 29
Gender: Male
Height: 6’ 0”, 1.83 m
Weight: 205 lb, 93 kg
Email: deheyting@yahoo.com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking and backpacking for over 15 years. A great deal of the backpacking that I do is related to mountaineering and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. When not climbing, I’m a hiker that tries to go light in order to push more miles. My main areas of exploration are the Washington Central and North Cascades, but have done lots of hiking in the British Columbia Coastal Range as well as the Oregon Cascades. I am also an avid adventure racer and compete in several races each year ranging from 2 hours up to 24 hours in duration. .


Initial Report
January 2, 2007

Product Information
Manufacturer: Redfeather
Model: Alpine 25 Ultra
URL: www.redfeather.com
Listed Weight: 4.8 lbs / 2.18 kg
Measured Weight: 4.9 lbs / 2.22 kg
MSRP: $209.00 US
Country of Manufacturer: USA
Color: Light blue/black

Product Description:
The Alpine Snowshoe is listed by Redfeather on their website as one of their high performance and technical snowshoes. The frame is made of Extruded 6000 series aluminum tubing. The snowshoe features a V-tail design. The decking is made out of Hypalon II, which is best described as a tough, stretchy, rubbery like material. Redfeather uses its Eagle crampon system which the website refers to as an, “aggressive 360 degree stainless steel crampons which bite securely into hard pack of ice-crusted snow.” The crampon system consists of the main tracking system, which fits under the ball of my foot and secondary crampon that positioned to sit under my heel. Under the ball of my foot and the heel, the decking system is reinforced with hard plastic pieces to provide stability under my shoes. The Alpine also features the “Delta Hinge” which provides improved lateral support and is an item that is exclusive to the Alpine models. The bindings consist of a lightweight binding system which combines a quick V-strap to secure the toe and a simple ratchet tightening system to adjust the heel strap.

binding.jpg
Bindings - Ratchet system

Initial Impressions:
During my initial inspection and trail use, the Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes have lived up to their billing on the Redfeather website. The Alpine’s have a very sleek look to them due to the V-designed tail and color scheme. Probably the item that I have found the most interesting is the Delta Hinge system. The Delta Hinge seems to allow for excellent movement; likewise it also allows the snowshoe to sort of “snap” up during each step. This makes it easier to maneuver by stopping the snowshoe from dragging on the snow during each step. It even seems to allow for a much easier reverse option then most snowshoes can provide! The performance of the Delta Hinge is something that I will be looking into during the testing phase.

The crampon system does indeed look aggressive. The stainless steel crampons appear to be a lightweight material. I will be curious to see how they hold up over time and with a little abuse on the trail. They are also powder coated to keep ice and snow from building up, I will be anxious to see if this really works. The main crampon component features a jagged tooth like system that upon initial trail testing seems to bite nicely into snow and ice. The heel crampons also seemed to dig in well when going downhill. However this is something that I hope to really explore over the next several months.

The strapping system was very easy to figure out and I really like the heel ratchet system as it was very easy to tightly secure my heel when putting on the snowshoes. The V-system for the toe is straightforward to fasten, however I plan on spending some more time making adjustments to the straps with gloves on.

crampon.jpg
Eagle Crampon System


Field Conditions:
So far the Pacific Northwest has already seen lots of snowfall! My main areas of exploration are the Central and North Cascades, where I should be at altitudes ranging from sea level up to 9,000 ft ( 2743 m). I have several trips already planned in which I will be guiding groups of people on snowshoes. Some winter camping will also be in order as I would like to see how the Alpines perform with varying loaded weights.

Initial Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The fabric really soft and stretchy, which makes it comfortable to wear. I like the fact that it is fully taped – meaning no leaks!

Dislikes: Nothing so far!


Field Report
March 13, 2007

Field Locations and Conditions Experienced:
Based on the winter that I have been experiencing in the Pacific Northwest, I was able to use the Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes in varying snow conditions: from hard pack snow and ice, to a breakable crust, to some great powder! I spent most of my time in the Central Cascade Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I was at altitudes ranging from 2,500 ft (762 m) to 5,000 ft (1524 m). Typically in the Pacific Northwest the snow is wet and heavy, which makes flotation less of a factor and traction and stability the key to snowshoe performance. This pretty much held true in terms of snow conditions, however I was able to experience a great powder after a storm dumped a foot of snow in the mountains and was able to take a multi-day trip east of the Cascade Crest where much dryer snow can be found.

I either guided or was an assistant with three snowshoe trips during the field reporting period. During these trips, I was able to view the performance of the Redfeather Alpines to comparable rental snowshoes that were used by the participants of the trips. I also used the Alpine Snowshoes for a winter adventure race. The race consisted of several miles of cross country travel over lots of varying and steep terrain as well as through various snow conditions.

In terms of loads and pack weights beyond lots of day trips. I was able to test the Redfeather Snowshoes with a full pack on an overnight trip and did multiple day trips with my two-year old on my back in the child carrying pack.

Hiking.jpg
Central Cascades

Field Performance:
Overall I have that felt the Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes have performed very well. I have been especially impressed with the Delta Hinge. It allows for great movement and balance. The Delta Hinge actually allows the snowshoe to “snap back” towards my shoe after each step. This makes it very easy to not only move quickly, but also makes it easier to navigate obstacles. Lots of snowshoes feature a true hinge, in which the snowshoes pivots with each step and thus allows the tail of the snowshoe to drag on the ground. This is not the case with the Redfeather Alpine. This feature was extremely apparent during my winter adventure race, where I was trying to move very quickly over steep terrain. This technology seems much closer to that of running style snowshoes. Although I have to point out that the Delta Hinge and the “snap back” effect does cause the snowshoe to flip up lots of snow that ended up hitting me in the back. However the maneuverability of the hinge far outweighed the snow flipping effect. I felt like the V tail system also contributed to my feeling of increased mobility. I felt like I had less issues of contact between my snowshoes during my stride, due to the decreased size of the snowhsoes.

I found the crampon system on the Alpine to be more than capable of handling just about any type of terrain. The crampons also seemed to hold up well as I did manage to go over my share of rocks and have not noticed any issues with bent crampons. I also felt comfortable moving in any direction on a slope. Up, down and side to side were not a problem as the crampons provided great traction and stability. They also dug in well while snowshoeing in icy conditions.

I was also impressed with the flotation, I went with a smaller model and at no point during the testing period did I feel like I need more flotation. This included hiking with a full pack during an overnight trip or while hiking with my son in the pack.

I found the strapping system to work like a charm. I found it very easy to get in and out of the Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes. I have really grown to like the heel ratchet system as it is very easy to get a tight fit by just simply cranking down on the lever. Even easier is the quick release system that unhooks the heel strap in mere seconds. I did find my foot tended to shift inward on the snowshoe decks a little bit after a few miles of use. I am not sure if this is due to the design, me failing to secure the snowshoes or due to the fact that I tend to over-pronate when walking and running. However I did find myself having to occasionally make some adjustments in the field.

Field Report Summary:
Overall I have been impressed with the mobility of the Redfeather Alpine. I feel very nimble while wearing them. Which is a big statement for anyone wearing snowshoes and especially for me as I am not the most graceful person! The strapping system allows for easy in and out access which is especially nice in very cold weather. The crampons system provides more than adequate tracking on various terrain features.

Field Report Likes and Dislikes::

Likes: The Delta Hinge and mobility it gives me.

Dislikes: The snow flipping effect caused by the Delta Hinge.
Delta Hinge.jpg
Delta Hinge



Long Term Report
May 21, 2007

Long Term Test Conditions and Locations:
During the Long Term Testing period, I again spent most of my time in the Central Cascade Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area where I took three more trips. All of these trips occurring in the I-90 corridor. I was at altitudes ranging from 2,500 ft (762 m) to 5,000 ft (1524 m). I was able to spend a day down Around Mt. Hood and did a day hike from Government Camp, OR 5,000ft (1524 m) up to the Timberline Lodge ski area at 6,000 ft (1,829 m). I experienced a variety of snow conditions during this period from a day of fresh powder to a windy crusty day down at Mt. Hood.

On one of the outings in the Central Cascades, I was able to climb up some steeper slopes (black diamond runs) in the Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Area which allowed me to try and test the snowshoes in a more alpine environment to further see how the crampon system performs.

Long Term Performance:
During the Long Term Testing period, I really wanted to test the traction abilities of the Redfeather Alpines further. After spending a day basically traveling up and down slopes, I felt the snowshoes did fairly good job of providing traction. I was satisfied with the crampon system when moving straight up a slope and more or less “front pointing” with the snowshoes. I felt that traversing a slope in the Alpines was more difficult than going straight up a slope; however I felt the maneuverability of the snowshoes helped dramatically in keeping me feeling solid on a slope by allowing me to still move quickly past trouble spots. On my trip to the Timberline lodge, I was able to experience some icy conditions. I felt that the crampons provided solid traction and were able to bite into the ice with relative ease.

I still found that my foot would pivot inwards on the snowshoe deck during use. I tried using different tensions with the binding system; however I was not able to prevent this from occurring during the Long Term Testing period. This is an issue that I experience when running as I over-pronate when I run. Thus I am not sure if this is an issue that is caused by my feet or an issue that relates to how the strapping system performs. Basically I would find myself readjusting my foot throughout my trips.

Over the testing period I felt the snowshoes held up quite well. I experienced a little paint chipping in a couple of spots, however I think that was more due to my trips and the rocks that I encountered and went over than with the integrity of the snowshoes.

Summary:
I have found the Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes to be a very mobile pair of snowshoes that allow me to move quickly over all types of snow conditions. I really liked the V-tail design as it eliminates some problems that I have experienced before while snowshoeing, such as me stepping on my snowshoe with the opposite foot! The Alpines have provided me with solid traction on all types of slopes. The Alpines have provided me with great floatation at all times. The snowshoes do flip up snow due to the design of the hinge mechanism, which can be a little bit annoying in the field. However it is this design that provides the great maneuverability which is the Alpine’s best trait. The snowshoes have appeared to be very durable during the testing period.

Long Term Report Likes and Dislikes::

Likes: The great mobility that I feel the Alpine’s provide.

Dislikes: Again, the snow flipping effect caused by the Delta Hinge.

Continued Use::

I plan on using the Redfeather Alpine snowshoes as my main snowshoe choice in the future. The mobility of the Alpines makes them a great choice for almost all of the typical snowshoeing that I do during the winter. They also fit right into my hiking style, by allowing me to go light and fast.

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Redfeather for this great opportunity to test the Alpine Snowshoes.



Read more reviews of Redfeather gear
Read more gear reviews by David Heyting

Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes > David Heyting > Test Report by David Heyting



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