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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > Redfeather Pace Snowshoes > Jennifer Pope > Test Report by Jennifer Pope
Initial Impressions & Product Description(back to top) Since I'm completely new to snowshoes, these snowshoes seem fairly ordinary. The shoes seem well made and are what I expected based on the Redfeather website.
These snowshoes are designed specifically for women. The only modification I can gather from the website is that this means the snowshoes fit a woman's narrower stride.
These snowshoes are comprised of an aluminum frame that tapers into a tail on the heel end. The decking is made of a material the website calls "TXN35". To me, this seems like some kind of plastic material. It's flexible and feels durable. There are plastic plates riveted into the decking underneath the toe and heel areas. The Optima bindings consist of nylon webbing and a polyurethane heel strap. The Sure-fit crampons are made of stainless steel and are located under the ball of the foot and the heel. They appear to be aggressive and sharp.
Ease of Use and Fit
I have never worn snowshoes before. The shoes did not come with any instructions so I was pretty much on my own. Luckily, there wasn't anything complicated about strapping my feet into the shoes. The first time I put on the snowshoes I put them on with some lowtop Vasque trail runners. It was fairly easy to adjust the two webbing straps over my toes and the top of my foot. The heel strap was also easy to tighten. The strap works like a buckle. A metal prong slides into a hole in the strap to hold it in place (see below). I was able to adjust the snowshoes to fit my feet snugly. The shoes were even marked "left" and "right" so I got them on the correct feet. Once in the snow shoes, I am able to lift my heel off the snowshoe by way of a hinge near the ball of my foot. This gives me a more natural walking motion rather than just picking my feet straight up and then back down.
These snowshoes are protected with a limited lifetime warranty.
Unfortunately, despite blizzards in other parts of the country, the mountains of Southern California have experienced limited snowfall. Luckily I have still been able to get out on three dayhikes. They were:
Lassen National Park - Ski Chalet
I was able to snowshoe during a trip to Northern California where snowfall has not been limited. This was my first snowshoeing experience ever. This hike began at 6,700 ft (2,040 m) and there was at least 3 ft (1 m) of snow pack. This hike was along a road that does not get plowed during the winter months. It's heavily used by sledders near the parking area, and cross-country skiers and snowshoers further along down the road. The snow was fairly packed but there had been recent snowfall (within the week) and snow fell during our hike. I walked along well-used paths and in fresh powder. The temperature hovered right around freezing and there was a slight breeze. Since the falling snow was blowing in my face and it was my first time on snowshoes, this hike was only about a mile (1.6 km) total.
San Gabriel Mountains - along the Angeles Crest Highway
We drove up California State Route 2, the Angeles Crest highway, in attempt to find snow. We expected to find snow around 7,000 ft (2,100 m). At the end of the road the snow was still spotty. Along the road, near where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses it, we found a spot that seemed to have a decent amount of snow. The snow was about a foot (.3 m) deep where we walked with areas that were much shallower and even free of snow. Some areas were powdery and some were hard-packed. There had not been snow any time recently, it was in the mid-50s F (10s C) and there was no wind. There were no established trails; we walked where others had walked previously and through virgin snow. This hike was about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) because we got to a point where we ran out of snow.
Los Padres National Forest - Mount Pinos
Our next attempt to find more snow took us to Los Padres National Forest and to Mount Pinos where there are many cross-country skiing trails. Our hike began at the Nordic Base facility at 8,300 ft (2,530 m). It was immediately evident that the snow was melting, probably due to the warm temperatures; they were in the mid-50s F (10s C) to mid-60s (15s C) while we were there. The snow conditions varied from slick ice to deeper powder with a thin, icy crust. There was a slight breeze. This hike was approximately 4 mi (6.4 km).
I find the fit of the snowshoes to be good. I can easily slip my feet into the shoes and then tighten the straps across my foot and the heel strap. I have not found it necessary to re-tighten the straps while wearing the snowshoes. The snowshoes are comfortable to wear and, for the most part, it doesn't even feel like I'm wearing them.
I can walk in a fairly normal stride while wearing these snowshoes. They are designed to fit a woman's stride and thus far, I can attest to their claim. I have never had problems stepping on my own feet while walking in these snowshoes. I even attempted a brief jog without any problems.
I have found the snowshoes easy to adjust to my shoes. I have been able to put on and adjust the snowshoes with thin glove liners on but not with my regular large gloves.
I've been pretty satisfied with how these snowshoes work. I've only had a couple issues so far. On my last hike, I walked through areas where the snow was approximately 1.5 ft (.5 m) deep. This snow was powdery but had a thin layer of ice on the top of it (so thin that it only made a slight crunch when I walked through it). I had serious problems with flotation on this snow. I frequently sunk around a foot (.3 m) into the snow. In places, every single footstep sunk this deeply. This, of course, made walking a lot more strenuous and it also caused me to get snow in the tops of my shoes since I was not wearing gaiters. During this hike I was carrying a small daypack and my total weight was around 160 lbs (73 kg); well under the 175 lb (79 kg) capacity. I have worn a daypack on other hikes, as well as a lot more clothing, and not had a flotation problem- it must have been an issue with this particular snow.
Another issue that came up was an increased tendency to roll my ankles. When I was walking over hard, uneven snow it was difficult to keep the snowshoes straight and they had a tendency to shift laterally in one direction causing my ankle to roll. Thankfully this wasn't severe and I wasn't hurt at all but it did cause me to slow down my speed a bit to prevent this from happening.
I really like the placement of the pivot points on the snowshoes. This allows my toes to bend forward and my heel to come up off of the snowshoe in a natural walking movement. I have felt pretty natural walking and have only stumbled on one occasion (and was able to regain my balance). I have been using trekking poles with snow baskets on all of my hikes. These seem essential for me while snowshoeing.
On one hike I was able to use these snowshoes over icy patches. In one particular spot I traversed an area of about 15 ft (4.5 m) that was solid ice and had water running over it from the melting snow. I was easily able to walk over this icy section without feeling any slippage whatsoever thanks to the crampons on the snowshoes. I had attempted to walk over this area early in the day in just my boots and was sliding all over the place; I had to turn around and take a snow-covered route to keep from falling down. I have worn the snowshoes in other icy areas with positive results.
I have worn the snowshoes over snow-free areas on a couple of brief occasions. Due to limited snowfall I have come across areas without snow on my hikes. On a handful of occasions it has been unreasonable to modify my route to stay on snow and the snow-free area was so short that I decided to simply walk over it with my snowshoes on. In most instances the ground was extremely wet due to the melting snow. The snowshoes have survived this minor abuse no worse for wear. There are no scrapes or scratches on the snowshoes and the crampons appear to be as sharp as ever. I have also stepped on bushes and grass that has grown up through the snow in these snowshoes. Again, this has not caused any problems.
These snowshoes do not come with any mechanism to store them (like a bag or rubber band to hold them together). Transporting them to the trailhead is fairly simple since they are clean and dry- I just put them in the back of my SUV. Returning from the trailhead I strap the snowshoes to my roof rack with a couple of bungee cords so they have a chance to dry off. Once home, they are nice and dry. At home I store them on top of one another hanging on a nail in my garage.
I have only experienced ice build-up in one area so far- the heel plate. At the end of my hikes I have found a layer of ice underneath my heel on the plastic plate. I have no way to know for sure, but the ice seems to be forming on the metal rivets that hold the plate to the plastic webbing and building from there. I have not had any issues with ice build-up on the crampons whatsoever during my hikes.
I have worn the Vasque trail runners pictured above on all of my hikes thus far.
Unfortunately the weather has not been cooperating with snowshoe testing for the latter part of this winter. So far this year, Los Angeles has received the least precipitation ever which translates to very little snow in the mountains around Los Angeles. As reported in the previous section of my report the snow levels were already receding at that point and temperatures were warm. Soon after, the snow almost completely melted and since then snow has only been patchy and certainly not enough to use snowshoe in. Unfortunately, Southern California is my main stomping ground and I haven't taken these snowshoes into other areas with more snow. I don't have new field information to report in this section but hope to make additions to this report after the next snow season begins.
One new item to mention is that I recently took a look at my snowshoes after hanging in my garage for approximately two months since their previous use. The bottoms of the snowshoes are still have some dried mud on their bottoms. This mud appears to be fairly stuck on and cannot be tapped off. I encountered this mud in areas with low levels of snow and even in small patches without snow.
Additionally, a Redfeather representative passed on information about the snow I encountered during the Field Testing period at Los Padres National Forest (a flotation issue in powdery snow with a thin icy crust). He explained that this is isothermic snow and that this is one condition where snowshoes and skis are difficult to use. It is true that this particular snow is the only snow that I experienced problems with flotation despite placing a similar overall weight on the snowshoes (my weight plus the weight of my pack).
Thank you to Redfeather and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this item.
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