ALPINE MODEL 30 SNOWSHOES (ULTRA
TEST SERIES BY JENNIFER KOLES
May 6, 2007
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jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
5' 5" (1.65 m)
140 lb (63.50 kg)
I started taking overnight backpacking trips last year in the Uinta Mountain Range in Utah. I found myself taking entirely too much gear. I am finding out slowly how to minimize my needs and not require extra luxuries. My previous outdoor experiences consisted of 4-wheel-drive camping in primitive areas and day hiking. I use a four season convertible tent or a three season tent for my shelter. I plan to take more trips, increase my duration, and reduce my two to three day backpack base weight below 17 lb (8 kg).
January 2, 2007
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture:2006
|Alpine Snowshoes-Photo Obtained from Manufacturer's
Manufacturer's Website: www.redfeather.com
MSRP: US $219.00
Listed Weight: 3.8 lb (1.72 kg)
Measured Weight: 4 lb 10 oz (2.10 kg)
Indicated User Weight: 220 lb
Color Available/Color Tested: Black and Blue Decking with White Stripes
Sizes Available: Model 25, Model 30, and Model 35
Bindings Available: Pilot and Ultra
Binding Tested: Ultra
Size Tested:Model 30
Actual Measured Length: 30.75 in (78 cm)
Warranty: "Redfeather will repair or replace any defect on snowshoes for original purchaser. Warranty does not cover any normal wear or damage caused by abuse, but Redfeather will gladly repair snowshoes at a very reasonable cost."
Place of Manufacture: LaCrosse, WI USA
Manufacturer's Description from Product Tag:
The product tag lists the sizes available, warranty information, and a description of the Alpine model features (frame, decking, bindings, hinge, and crampon).
The manufacturer indicates that the Alpine Snowshoe is a high performance/technical model.
Frame: Extruded 6000 Series aluminum tube, V-tail design, Powder-coated grey
Decking: Hypalon II Grey and black with white stripes
Bindings:Choice of high-performance bindings:
Pilot: A rugged, secure binding system which features an injection-molded frame for superior lateral support and two flexible plastic straps which criss-cross the boot's toe while a urethane strap encircles the heel. Entire binding system adjusts easily with two ratchet buckles-even while wearing gloves for a secure fit.
Ultra: A lightweight binding system which combines a quick V-strap to secure toe and a simple ratchet tightening system to adjust the heel strap.
Hinge: The Delta Hinge provides improved lateral support. This feature is exclusive to the Alpine models.
Crampon: Eagle crampon system with 360 degree stainless-steel crampons which bite securely into hard pack or ice-crusted snow. Powder-coated to shed snow and ice.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS/PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
I reviewed the Redfeather website prior to receiving the snowshoes. The website describes this model as a high performance/technical snowshoe. The information on the website is identical to the product hang tag that was attached to the snowshoes. The features of the snowshoes are described along with the sizes that are available and the warranty information. The website does offer a 360 degree view of the snowshoes that did give me a better visual understanding of what I was going to receive.
These snowshoes are a unisex model and feature a V-tail design for a more natural stride and better maneuverability. The top of the snowshoe is rounded and bent at approximately a 35 degree angle. The frame then straightens out to form the sides of the snowshoe frame. The frame then tapers off to a V-shape at the bottom. The bottom of the frame at the V-shaped tail is capped with a plastic plug on each side of the frame. The frame is a powder-coated grey color and is constructed of extruded 6000 series aluminum tubing. The frame diameter measures 61 mm (2.40 in).
The snowshoes are constructed of a decking material that the manufacturer calls Hypalon II. This material is stretched to the frame and in ten places it surrounds the frame and is held in place aluminum rivets. The material appears to be durable and is not thin and flimsy. This material is the same material that water rafts are constructed of. The Redfeather logo is printed on the decking material near the top of the snowshoe and the words Alpine 30 are printed near the tail.
The binding system on this model is the Ultra binding. This binding system is constructed of a V-strap design to secure the foot. These straps are constructed of a webbing material and are fastened by pulling the straps through plastic buckles. These buckles are fastened to the binding with aluminum rivets. The flexible plastic binding material that hugs the lateral and medial aspect of the foot are attached to the decking via a thick plastic plate. This plastic plate is where the ball of my foot rests when the snowshoes are donned. This plate measures 12 cm (3.15 in) long and 7 cm (2.76 in) at the widest point. This plastic plate is marked L and R for identification of the left and right snowshoe. The underside of the toe plate has a crampon attached. This crampon has nine teeth and has a coating on it to help shed snow. The teeth at the top and the sides measure 3 cm in length (1.18 in) and the one tooth towards the rear measures 4 cm (1.57 in) in length. The toe crampon is fully attached to the deck and does not have its own hinge system. Some movement of the front of the foot is allowed with this system, but not as much as a separate hinge system. Where the heel of the foot sits there is another thick plastic plate that has another crampon attached to the underside. This crampon has a coating on it and consists of ten teeth. These teeth measure just over 2 cm (0.79 in) in length. Both sets of crampons have very pointy teeth. The rear heel strap is made of a ratchet type system with a plastic strap with grooved teeth and a plastic ratchet buckle. This type of system reminds me of my snowboard bindings.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have tested the Alpine snowshoes while backpacking and during day hiking in the following locations:
Wasatch and Uinta Mountain Range (near Salt Lake City), Utah USA: One overnight snowshoe trip, and four day-hikes. Used in snow depths up to 3 ft (91 cm) of fresh powder.
Elevation: 6,000-10,200 ft (1,829-3,100 m)
Daytime Temperature Ranges: -10 F to 40 F (-23 C to 10 C)
Weather on various days: Snow, sun, and cloudy.
Mount San Jacinto State Park, California: Snowshoe backpacking trip. Approximate snow depth 6 -24 in (15-61 cm)
Elevation: 8,000-9,300 ft (2,438-2,835 m)
Temperature Ranges: 20 F to 40 F (-7 C to 10 C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Alpine snowshoes have been used in various snow conditions (hard packed, powder, slush) during the past two months of testing. They have been primarily used in the state of Utah.
|Hiking with the Alpine snowshoes
I found that the snowshoes were not difficult to don, doff, or adjust when the bindings were dry and did not have any snow or ice adhered to them. At times snow and ice would stick to the binding webbing and in the loops and it would make it difficult to adjust and remove the snowshoes.
If the binding system is adjusted properly the foot remains secure in the binding. I have not encountered any loosening of the webbing while using the snowshoes. I did initially find it difficult to find the most comfortable foot position on the front footplate. I needed to adjust my foot position several times to obtain an ideal placement for better snowshoe and crampon performance.
I had issues of the binding buckles and the rear binding ratchet tightening system becoming iced up overnight while stored outside my tent. The plastic of the binding is less flexible in cold temperatures. The webbing became frozen and almost made it impossible to don the snowshoes.
I do like the V-tail design, the tapered tail does not catch and make me trip or fall down. The tail design does seem to provide a more natural stride. In some of the larger styles of snowshoes with the beaver tails I find myself tripping and falling over. With the V-tail design there is less surface area of the snowshoes and there is less flotation noted. It is not a huge deal for me. I sank about 10 in (25 cm) in fresh powder.
The Alpine snowshoes do not have great traction on steeper slopes. I lost traction and the crampons did not dig into the snow. I need to further assess this with various types of snow conditions and steepness in terrain. I am wondering if this is because the front crampon does not have a pivot hinge. I have never used snowshoes that the front crampon does not pivot. I find that the snowshoes spring when I step and an excessive amount of snow gets kicked up when I am walking. I found that the back of my pants get wet and that there is some snow on the rear of my jacket. I have not experienced this with other snowshoes that I have tried.
|Snow spraying from the snowshoes
The crampons do accumulate ice and some of the packed snow does not shed from them. The coating on the crampons has worn off in some areas. I have not worn these snowshoes in rocky areas. I am wondering if this coating is wearing off from wearing the snowshoes on ice.
My feet fatigue very easily while wearing these snowshoes. I get arch pain along with some knee discomfort after about 3 mi (5 km). It does not matter what type of terrain I am on or what the snow conditions are like, I still get the pain in my feet. I found that the left is worse than the right. I have noticed that there is significant adduction (turning inward) of my left foot. Clinically speaking if there is significant adduction of the foot there will also be knee pain. The foot and the entire binding adducts, therefore the heel of the foot is off the heel plate. I did attempt to correct this by tightening the binding straps, but it made no difference.
I have a pair of old Redfeather snowshoes with the lace-up binding system. They are about ten years old and the decking and the frame are not showing the signs of wear that the Alpine snowshoes are showing. The Alpine snowshoes are showing premature scuffs on the decking and the coating is wearing off the frame and the crampons. I am not sure why the Alpine decking is wearing after gentle use. The manufacturer did change the decking materials and added a coating to the frame and the crampons.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the final two months of testing the Alpine snowshoes were used in the following locations:
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: The snowshoes were used for two days in this location. There was light precipitation at night consisting of a rain and snow mix. The high was recorded at 47 F (8 C) and the low was 7 F (-14 C). The elevation was approximately 7,500 ft (2,286 m).
Wasatch Mountain Range, Utah: The snowshoes were used three days in this location. The elevation ranged from 7,200 ft (2,195 m) to 9,280 ft (2,829 m). The temperatures ranged from the 20's F (-7 C) to the low 40's F (4 C). The weather on the various days of testing included sunny and snowy conditions.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During the last two months of testing I was able to test the Alpine snowshoes in some powder, hard packed, and corn snow in the states of Wyoming and Utah.
I am still encountering some arch and knee pain after about 3 mi (5 km) of use. I attempted to adjust my foot placement in the binding and it made no significant difference. I also tried two different types of boots with the snowshoes and I still encountered the arch and knee pain. The pain is more prominent on my left side. My left foot is still adducting while walking with the snowshoes. This may be a cause of the arch and knee pain.
I noticed that ice and snow tends to accumulate on the footplates and the crampons of both snowshoes. The build up occurs on all the areas of the crampons, even on the coating. The manufacturer informed me that the wearing of the coating that I experienced during the field report is covered under the warranty of the snowshoes. I was informed to contact customer service to resolve the issue. I am planning on contacting Redfeather customer service after the test is complete. The weather has been warm and I wanted to get as much testing in as possible.
The webbing straps of the bindings continued to have snow stick to them. This made it difficult at times to further adjust or release them. The ratchet rear binding straps have held up well during the testing period and I have not encountered any issues of them loosening. Ice and snow can build up in the buckles and the rear ratchet making the binding adjustment more difficult.
The rivets and the bindings have held up well and no parts of the snowshoes have rusted. Including the areas where the powder coating has rubbed off. The decking and the frame of both snowshoes have some scuffs and scratches, but there are no tears in the decking. I think the scratches and the scuffs were a little premature.
I found that this particular size was too large for me to run in. In the past I had a smaller pair of Redfeather snowshoes with the V-tail design and I was able to run in them. These are just too large for running. However, I do like the tail design. I do not find myself tripping over the snowshoes while I am walking.
My pants still become wet in the back from the tail springing as I walk. The front crampon does not pivot much when I walk. As indicated in my field report snow sprays up onto the back of my pants and my jacket while I am walking.
These are a great pair of snowshoes for groomed trails with gentle rolling hills. In steeper terrain I did lose traction on both the ascent and the descent. I realize that I may need a more aggressive snowshoe for deep powder and steep terrain.
This concludes my test series for the Redfeather Alpine Snowshoes. Thank you Redfeather and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
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