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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > Redfeather Explore Snowshoes > Leesa Joiner > Test Report by Leesa Joiner

Initial Report
Redfeather
Explore Snowshoe
January 8, 2007


Personal Information:

Leesa Joiner
leesaj@gmail.com
Southwestern Maine
45 years old                                                                     
Female
5'7" (1.7 m)
160 lb (73 kg)                                                                   
bottom/side view  top view



Background:

    My camping, hiking and backpacking experience has included trips varying in length from one-day hikes to two-week trips.  My experience hiking began with my father when I was about six years old. We hiked along the river pathways in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.  
    While enjoying the outdoors with my friends and family, I spend time hiking, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and camping.  Although I am not a lightweight backpacker, I am trying to ‘lighten up’.  I spend almost as much time outdoors during the winter as I do during the summer.


Product Information:
Manufacturer: Redfeather Snowshoes
Product: Explore model 30  
For users up to 220 lbs.
Year manufactured: 2006
MSRP: $169.00 (US)
Advertised weight: 4.5 lb (2.04 kg)
Measured weight: 4.5 lb (2.04 kg)

Web site: www.redfeather.com

Manufacturer's Description:

CRAMPONS: Lynx™ stainless-steel crampon system with aggressive rear crampons for stability when descending a hill. Powder-coated to shed snow and ice.

FRAME: Extruded 6000 Series aluminum tube Rounded Western tail 

BINDINGS: Control: A rugged, secure binding which features a     solid polymer heel plate, semi-rigid injection molded polyurethane toe and heel frames for superior lateral support, quick-adjust nylon webbing to secure foot in frames, and a flexible urethane heel strap which stretches to hold heel of boot securely.

HINGE: Pivot Rod Hinge does not lift heel of shoe on each step, allowing tail to drag in snow for added flotation – and keeps tips up for use in deeper snow.

They are advertised as being able to 'keep you floating under a heavy load'.  

Initial Impressions:

The Redfeather Explore 30 is of the Beaver-Tail, or Rounded Western Tail design.  They are suprisingly light feeling, when they arrived, I thought the box was empty!  Upon examining them, I was impressed with how well made they are.   The decking, made of TX35 is a fairly sturdy, black laminated material.  This material is wrapped around the frame in twleve places, securing it and keeping it from shifting. The frame is extruded aluminum tubing.   The most impressive part of the shoe is the hinge - the Pivot Rod Hinge - it pivots, allowing the back of the shoe to stay in contact with the snow.  This is supposed to help maintain flotation and balance in deep snow.  

The bindings are called 'Quick-Adjust' and consist of nylon webbing that holds the snowshoe to my boot.   It crosses the foot at three spots; front of the ankle, toe and diagonally across the top of the foot.  When looking down at my foot, while in the snowshoe, it looks like a 'Z'.  

The crampons are aggressive looking.  They make me wonder if snow will get caught and packed into them.  They are powder coated, which is supposed to reduce build up of snow and ice.  

For the most part, the Explore are what I expected from the website.  My only surprise was the weight.  These are 'big' snowshoes, yet they feel surprisingly light.  They are easy to slide on and the binding are easy to use.  Of course, I haven't had to put them on with cold or mittened hands.    

Test Locations, Conditions and Time Frame:

Living in Northern New England, I have the good fortune of being able to experience at least 4 seasons (sometimes within days of each other!) and some of the best outdoor areas around.  During the next four months our temperature range will run from the current of 42 degrees F (5.5 C) down to about 0 degrees F (-18 C).    During the months of January through the beginning of April I spend a good deal of time snowshoeing and ice fishing.  

I am looking forward to testing the Explore snowshoes - hopefully we won't have to wait much longer for snow!
   
I snowshoe both on frozen, snow covered lakes and snow covered trails.
Picture is taken from the Redfeather web site: http://www.redfeather.com
This ends my Initial Report,  I will amend it in two months to report on my field information.



Field Report
Redfeather
Explore Snowshoe


Field Information:

    The snow finally arrived in Maine the third week in January.  The amount and frequency seems to have made up for the late arrival.   I've had plenty of opportunities to use the snowshoes on many types of snow - from light, fluffy snow to hard packed, ice crusted snow.  
    I have found that once I fit the snowshoes to my footwear, they hold the adjustment.  I usually take care of that before I leave the house, then just slide them on when I get to wherever I am going.  One thing that I have found somewhat odd is the amount of strapping left after the shoes are adjusted.  I end up tucking the ends under the rest of the strap.  The only problem is that it sometimes works its way loose and I have to stop and tuck it back in.  That becomes difficult when it is very cold and my hands become stiff and the straps are wet or frozen. I understand why the straps are so long - other users might need to adjust them differently than I do.  I don't believe that either of the boots I wear take as much space as some other boots might.     
    Overall, the snowshoes have performed well.    When wearing them in light, fluffy snow, I do sink a bit, but am able to keep moving easily without the snow dragging on the snowshoe and slowing me down. The pivot hinge works smoothly and keeps the snowshoe tip from catching in the snow when I lift my foot.  The floatation ability of these snowshoes is better than most others I've used.  On one particular outing, I snowshoed with my daughter who at first was moving slowly - which slowed me down and made walking a little toughter.  Once she got the hang of it, we picked up speed and walking at a brisk speed actually made it easier to move.  The temperatures were in the low 20s F (-6 C) and sunny.  The trail was fairly flat and winding.  It was pretty much perfect snowshoeing weather!  
    Using the snowshoes on hard packed or crusty snow is usually interesting to say the least. The Explore snowshoes though made staying upright easy. The crampons on the bottom of the snowshoes worked very well and I experienced little slipping or loss of balance.  There was no snow buildup within the crampon.   I found that I could move fairly quickly without worry.  
    One problem I encountered was a build up of ice under my right foot, near the lower part of my toes.  The first time I assumed that I hadn't adjusted the shoes correctly.  I stopped, cleaned the ice off and put the snowshoe back on.  I made sure it was snug and started off again.  Within a 1/4 mile (.4 K) I had the same problem.  This time I noticed that the snowshoe kept turning on my foot.  The front of the shoe would start pointing out (away from my body).  I again took it off, removed the ice and started off again.  At this point, I was almost back to my car and didn't experience the problem again in that short distance.
    Since that trip, I have not been on packed snow or ice and have not experienced the problem on soft snow. It is definitely something I will be looking for during the rest of my testing.   The snowshoes are holding up well - they are well constructed, with no rough edges on the metal.  The metal tubing of the frame has held its shape, and the bindings are still in good shape and firmly attached to the frame.   Structurally, these snowshoes are great.  I will continue to look at the ice build up issue.  I'll be back out on them again in a few days and since the weather has been below freezing for days, I'm sure I'll find plenty of ice to walk on!

Positives:
Great grip on ice
Straps stay as adjusted
Snowshoe doesn't kick up much snow

Still Unsure of:
Ice buildup under toe area

This ends my Field Report.  My Long Term report will be posted in about two months.




Long Term Report
Redfeather
Explore Snowshoe
May 12, 2007


Summary:

    Over the last two months I have put approximately 42 miles (66 km) on my snowshoes.   I have had the opportunity to use the snowshoes in many different types of weather and snow conditions.   Most of the latest usage was in late March and early April.  Our last snow melted off by April 27th.  
    One long weekend trip, was spent backpacking and camping in Western Maine, where daytime temperatures were in the high teens to low 20s F (-6 to -9 C).  I was able to spend about 3 hours each day snowshoeing.  The first day was a slow, easy trek on fresh, powdery snow.  I was out with a few children, all who had snowshoed before.  My oldest son and I took turns 'breaking the trail'.  The snowshoes did very well when I was bringing up the rear.  If I was the one breaking the trail, I ended up kicking up a lot of snow.  The back of my legs were covered with snow, and the person behind me would complain that I was throwing snow at them.  Once the snow was packed down, as when I was in the back, this was not a problem.  The next two days were spent on trails that were already broken, and there was no problem with flying snow.  These trails were somewhat flat, but had a lot of curves and obstacles to climb over. I am amazed at how little fatigue I feel when using these snowshoes - I have found in the past that my legs tired quickly.  I had experienced problems with ice build up early on in testing.  I forgot to bring oil or petroleum jelly on this trip, so used what I had on hand.  I had bag balm in my pack, which we normally use to prevent and treat dry skin.  I used this on the section on top of the snowshoe right under the toe area and it worked!  No snow or ice build up.  
    On another weekend outing, I went to Northern New Hampshire and had the opportunity to use the snowshoes on some hillier trails.  The trails were clear of debris that I needed to climb over, allowing for a more steady pace than on the first trip.  The temperatures were in the mid to high 20s F (approximately -7 C).  The snow was more granular and didn't stick to my clothing or the snowshoe.  
    Most of the other miles I have put on the snowshoes during daytrips.  I am able to get out fairly frequently during the winter.  Most of the local trails are in heavily wooded areas, so the snow tends to freeze and stay frozen for a while. It is sometimes slippery, but the crampons provide quite a bit of traction.   I have not had any more issues with snow build up either in the crampons, or under my toes.
    I am able to easily carry the snowshoes when not in use by attaching them to the back of my backpack.  Depending on the pack, I either strap them to the pack, or attach them with a caribiner to a top strap.  They are light weight enough that I don't really notice the weight when walking.  I do need to remember to attach them high enough on the pack that they don't move around.  
    I am very impressed with the Redfeather Explore snowshoes - they are lightweight, sturdy and easy to manuever.  They have remained almost new looking, with just a few surface scuffs to the metal frame.  This damage is only cosmetic in nature.
    My thanks to backpackgeartest.org and Redfeather for the opportunity to test these snowshoes.













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