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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > Redfeather Conquest Recreational > Test Report by Jeff Ruhle

REDFEATHER SNOWSHOES - CONQUEST
TEST SERIES BY JEFF RUHLE
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - January 20, 2010
FIELD REPORT - April 06, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - June 01, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Jeff Ruhle
EMAIL: jjruhle@madski.com
AGE: 23
LOCATION: Waterville, Maine, USA
GENDER: m
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.90 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

I developed a love for backpacking while spending the semester abroad in New Zealand. I enjoy playing games and seeing how little I can pack to keep my pack light, however, I always pack a lot of food. My favorite terrain is steep, rugged, alpine terrain with more vertical and less horizontal. Living in New England, I find a lot of this terrain since the trail makers don't seem to make many switchbacks. I also am highly involved with a large number of other outdoor activities like skiing, kayaking, climbing, and biking. Generally, I like to push my comfort zone.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
From the Top
Manufacturer: Redfeather Snowshoes
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.redfeather.com
MSRP: US$69.95
Listed Weight: 68 oz (1928 g)
Measured Weight: 67.4 oz (1911 g)
Other details:

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 2
From the Bottom
The snowshoes arrived in a box that almost seemed like it was empty, which is a good thing to me! The shoes did not have any flashy packaging. They were just held together with nylon zip ties with a tag on one of them (which is visible in the first picture). After taking them apart and assessing their weight, they may be slightly heavier than some other high performance snow shoes that I have used. But if they even are heavier, it is barely noticeable.

After looking them over, they appear to be quite durable. The injection-molded nylon frame seems to be quite solid, and since it is nylon, I would think that it will not get brittle with the cold. All of the binding straps appear to be firmly rivetted in place. The Live-Action Hinge is actually just a thick rubber strip, although, if it stays pliable in the cold it should do just fine. The part that I suspect might fail first is the crampons. They are a fairly thin sheet of metal, and I feel like if all my weigh was on one or two points of the front section, they might bend. However, this will be determined through further testing!

TRYING IT OUT

IMAGE 4
Buckle Mechanism
IMAGE 3
Crampons
After parading around my back yard for a few minutes, I have a few quick comments. The snow was not very deep, so I cannot really comment as to their floatation. The binding seemed remarkably secure and very comfortable. The Live-Action Hinge, however, does not really seem to provide enough springy action to pull the back of the snowshoe up when there is any snow on it. Even without snow on it, it hangs down at about a 20 degree angle. A little hanging is good to keep the tip from catching on the snow, but these shoes seem like they don't have quite enough spring.

I did not test the crampons on any hard surfaces since I do not want to bend or destroy them before I take them on a legitimate trip.

SUMMARY

IMAGE 5
Binding Close-up
Pros:
-The platform and binding seem very durable
-The binding is very comfortable and light
-They seem relatively light for their solid construction

Cons:
-Live-Action Hinge does not provide enogh spring
-The crampons seem like they might be a little flimsy if they get caught on a solid surface


This concludes my Initial Report. Please return in two months for the Field Report. I would like to thank Redfeather Snowshoes and BackpackGearTest.org for the oportunity to test these snowshoes.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

These snowshoes were primarily used for day trips in Grand Country, Colorado. There are five days that I can specifically recall. They were all weekend days where the resort was so busy that it wasn't worth skiing. Four of those days were sunny, with no or very few clouds in the sky. The temperatures ranged from 15 to 55 F (-9.43 to 12.78 C). At this high altitude, I was sure wearing myself out quickly!

The one day that was sunny was really nasty. It was snowing pretty hard with winds sustained at 30 mph (48.3 kph) and gusting at 50 mph (81 kph). The temperature was about 30 degrees (-1.1 C). While we were in the trees and sheltered, the winds were not too much of a problem. But above tree line, it was a completely different story. It was almost like being on another planet.

All of the trails were moderate, most of them being fairly regular unplowed roads and trails. Even above tree line we stuck to fairly easy terrain.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have really grown to enjoy using these snowshoes. They do not have quite the surface area that I am used to, however, for the most part, this has been a good thing. Being smaller, they allow a little more agility and don't seem quite so big and encumbering on my feet. That being said, the smaller size has its shortcomings as well. Primarily being the loft they get in lighter powder. In February, we had a few dumps that were the light Rocky Mountain-type powder, and these snowshoes were not sufficient for my weight.

Fortunately, most of my hiking has been since it has gotten warmer. They do just fine on the thicker spring snow, and the crampons bite nicely into the hardened crust from where the snow has started melting.

Also, I found that I could run in the snowshoes quite well. I am not sure whether this should be attributed to their Live-action Spring or just their light weight, but either way they performed well. As long as I remembered to lift my feet, I did not have many problems with the shoes catching awkwardly on the snow.

Unfortunately, I still have not really used the crampons on any hard surfaces. This is not by choice, there just hasn't been a lot of rocks that I have stumbled across.

SUMMARY

Things I Like:
-The platform and binding seem very durable
-The binding is very comfortable and light
-They seem relatively light for their solid construction
-They are great for running
-Crampons bite into early morning spring hardened snow

Things I Don't Like:
-Live-Action Hinge does not provide enough spring, although this may be a benefit when running
-The crampons seem like they might be a little flimsy if they get caught on a solid surface


This concludes my Field Report. Please return in two months for the Field Report. I would like to thank Redfeather Snowshoes and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these snowshoes.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

As the spring wore on, my general use of these snowshoes shifted as well. Rather than taking them on longer day trips, they were used to hike in to some prime back country skiing. Most of these hikes were from the top of Berthoud Pass to access terrain a little farther out. Sometimes a lot of climbing was necessary, but I usually did not gain or lose too much elevation. Given the spring conditions, the temperatures were above freezing and sunny. I only went out one day that was snowy.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

At first I believed that testing snowshoes in the spring would be pointless, but it has actually led to another insight. Their traction in the usually treacherous spring slush was actually very good. Usually with the traditionally styled snowshoes on, the crampons are not enough to hold against the slushy nature of spring snow. Since these snowshoes are synthetic, they have narrow ribs that run across the bottom. I think these help dig into that slushy spring snow giving you a much larger area or purchase.

To address my concerns with the possible lack of durability in the built in cramp-ons, as of this test they seem to be holding up well. They are not bent or destroyed in any way. I guess that my skepticism was misplaced. And on the durability note, the rest of the snowshoe seems to be holding out well. Their fancy hinge (I am still of the opinion that it is a glorified strip of rubber) did not lose any noticeable amount of spring and all the straps seems to be in good shape.

SUMMARY

Things I Like:
-The platform and binding seem very durable
-The binding is very comfortable and light
-They seem relatively light for their solid construction
-They are great for running
-Crampons bite into early morning spring hardened snow
-The crampons survived the 4 month test period without any major damage.

Things I Don't Like:
-Live-Action Hinge does not provide enough spring, although this may be a benefit when running

CONTINUED USE

While I will definitely use these snowshoes again at some point, they sadly will spend a large majority of their time hanging on my garage wall. I had a great time testing them, but I think my telemark skis with skins are a much better option for the vast majority of the trips I take. I will mainly use these again when I will be passing over terrain that would rip apart my skis and skins.

This concludes my test of the Redfeather Conquest Snowshoes. I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.com and Redfeather for the opportunity to test these snowshoes.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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