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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > Redfeather Pace Snowshoes > Kathryn Doiron > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron
RedFeather Pace snowshoes
Test Series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Dec 17 2006
Field Report: Mar 10 2007
Long Term Report: May 3 2007
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Height: 1.7 m (5' 8")
Weight: 68 kg (150 lb)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA
Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently starting getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.
Material: Aluminum frame with nylon web straps, stainless steel crampons and TXN35 decking
Weight (as stated): 2.9 lb (1315 g)
Weight (measured): 2.96 lb (1345 g) (for the pair)
Colour/sizes available: Black and blue with white stripes, 21 in. and 25 in. (53 cm and 63 cm)
Size received: 25 in. model (63 cm)
December 17th 2006
I received the RedFeather Pace snowshoes on Dec 13th 2006. The snowshoes are light and narrow with a seemingly easy to use buckle system. The platform fills the space within the aluminum frame and is attached within the point of the V at the back of the snowshoe. Upon receiving the snowshoes, I could not at first tell which was the right and which the left snowshoe. In fact, the only way to tell is to look at the webbing attachments. I felt that the straps should be pulled by the same hand as the foot the snowshoe is placed on. Hence the right hand snowshoe has the buckles on the right side of the snowshoe. As was pointed out to me later, the toe step has an L or R printed into the top of the plate. This was not obvious to me as the toe straps fell over this toe plate and hid the lettering. The hole for the toe is nice and spacious to allow toe movement along the pivot. I was a little confused about where the pivot was as I could not find a pivot in the traditional sense. I was looking for something that would look like a hinge but instead found that the toe crampons are strapped to a piece of rubber under the snowshoe that flexes and twists like a pivot but without the working parts. The crampons are bolted to the platform and look to be easily replaceable.
The attachments of the snowshoe to the foot wear is a new V tightening system where the webbing straps zig zag over the toes twice then there is another tightening strap higher on the toe. Overall there are three straps that cross over the foot with only two tightening points. There is then a rubber strap that runs behind the heel to firmly hold the shoe in place. I loosened up the buckles and fit my boot into the straps. I did have a little trouble getting the boot in place but I was simply holding the snowshoe rather then stepping into it. The boot fit nicely into the system but I felt that the rubber heel strap seemed to be rather loose in that there is a pin that fits into a hole on the strap then a rubber ring that slides up to lock the pin in place. I will be looking into the effectiveness of this but I didn't find it to be that secure. If the rubber ring were to roll back, then the pin would pop out of the hole and then there is nothing to stop the strap from loosening. I wear a size 9 men's hiking boot and I found that the heel of my boot rested nicely on the heel mount on the snowshoe. The crampons under the snowshoe are placed to the toe and heel. The toe crampons are angles to allow for digging and climbing while the heel crampons are straight but form a V shape to give traction.
I am looking forward to taking these snowshoes out to see how much weight I can pack on before they can't keep me up. I am near the upper weight range for this size and while I am under the limit, I will likely go over that on my first winter camping trip. The snowshoes also have a rather large toe opening. I am curious as to how much snow will find its way up through that opening, or will my boot effectively cover up that hole. The snowshoes are narrow to account for a woman's stride but will this cause any loss of efficiency over powder. The snowshoes are quite light making it easy to strap them onto the pack for later use rather then feeling the need to leave them behind. I will look into how well the snowshoes perform under different snow conditions. I am very interested to see how they will handle wet snow. Will the snow ball up in the crampons or will the snow stick to the platform weighing me down.
I strapped the snowshoes to my daypack and carried them into work to weigh them. My day pack will only allow for something to be strapped across the pack rather than along the side so they did stick out on one side. I found there really were no attachment points on the snowshoes but I was able to feed the buckle and webbing between the platform and the tubing. The snowshoes stacked nicely. I pulled the straps loose on the bottom snowshoe and set the other snowshoe in that loop of webbing. While it was not tight, it did hold the snowshoes together with less flapping around.
Over the last two months I have had a chance to take these snowshoes out on several day trips over powder and icy conditions. The trips have been about 2-3 miles (3.2 - 4.8 km) each lasting for a couple of hours. I have only used these snowshoes out in the Canaan Valley in West Virginia as that has been where I can most reliably find snow at this time. The conditions have been mostly blowing snow with large drifting over relatively groomed trails. Due to the drifting snow, I have a chance to break new trails or remain on the groomed trail. While I mostly stuck to the groomed trails on the way up, I was having fun breaking trails on the flat and on the way down.
The walking motion is very comfortable with these snowshoes on. They do not impede my stride nor do the snowshoes drag along the ground. They are light enough that the weight wasn't noticed over the weight of my heavy hiking boots. I have noticed that the pivot for the snowshoe tends to not allow for easy pivoting of my foot but rather causes the snowshoe to snap up hitting my heel. This does prevent the snowshoe from dragging until I place my heel down again. I found that while I did occasionally bump one snowshoe into the other while walking, the width was never a problem. Sometimes while walking uphill and especially when I was tired, the toes and front crampons did drag a little causing further fatigue. The heel flapping was annoying but I did get used to it after a while. Along with this snapping motion, the snowshoe tends to kick up a lot of snow especially when I am in powdery conditions. While this has not been a problem for me, especially since I wear rain/snow pains, I have managed to kick up a lot of snow into my hiking partner's face. I didn't receive many complains while on the icy base surface but in drifts and powder with blowing snow, my partner had to back off while I broke trail. I have had the snow kick up past my shoulder and sometimes get myself in the face when I glance behind.
The crampons from the snowshoes, while they didn't seem like a very aggressive crampon, gripped into the icy base very well. I had no problems hiking either uphill, other than lack of breath, nor downhill. On another trip, when the powder over the icy base exceeded 18" (45 cm), I found that the crampon was unable to grip into the powder. With 18" (45 cm) of powder to walk through and with a total weight of 185 lbs (84 kg), I found that I sank down at least 12" (30 cm) into the powder, sometimes more depending if I was running or walking. The weight rating on these snowshoes is for 175 lbs (80 kg). While I did find myself over the weight rating each time, the snowshoes did manage to keep me from sinking in up to my knees and the crampons gave be a good solid base to push off with. While I can't run great distances, the snowshoes have been nice to jog in on the occasional downward slope. Uphill is more difficult for me so when I was on the downward part of my hikes, I did enjoy the occasional jog. Once I got over the uphill fatigue, I felt like I had lots of energy and was jogging around, running and jumping.
I have not had a chance to get these snowshoes out into wet snow. The powder did not stick to them nor did I get any accumulation of snow either on the top, the webbing or on the bottom. The snow actually seemed to flow through the holes in the sides of the snowshoes or was kicked up behind me. The Optima Bindings have stayed firmly tightened around my feet. They are easy to tighten and easy to loosen after hiking. The rubber strap around my heel did stiffen up some but it didn't impede my ability to remove the snowshoes at any point. I noticed that my right foot didn't want to sit straight on the snowshoe, rather my heel tended to angle to the left not quite sitting on the heel guard. I will look into this further as it may have been that I placed my foot into the Optima Bindings at an angle and tightened my foot at that angle. The left foot did stay parallel along the snowshoe as it should.
The snowshoes have encountered mostly powder but they have been in contact with an icy groomed base for several hikes. The platform is still in excellent shape as are the crampons. The crampons are still sharp and the ratcheting action still works great. The decking hasn't been in contact with any sticks or twigs and still looks fresh and un-marred. I tend to store the snowshoes one on top of the other with the top on placed into the loosened Optima Binding of the bottom snowshoe. This works well for me and keeps the snowshoes together with only one set of crampons showing.
Field conditions since about mid-February on, in the West Virginia, Maryland and DC areas has been greatly lacking in snow. I managed to catch some lingering snow near the end of February before the rains came. January saw some record warm spells in the 60-65 F range (15-18 C), warm enough that I was able to hike in T-shirt and shorts but alas, not in snowshoes. Since March onwards, there has been no snow to be had in either West Virginia, or southern Pennsylvania. We have had plenty of rain and sun. Because of the lack of conditions, I have not had a chance to use the Pace snowshoes near enough to comment on long term durability. I am hoping that next winter will prove better suited to snowshoeing activities.
I did try to take the snowshoes out on a hike that I expected to find snow further up in elevation and found none. I had no problems attaching the snowshoes to my pack. In fact the tapered point on the back of the snowshoes helped easily secure them in place. I was able to slide the tapered point into the loops at the bottom of my pack then thread the side clips of my pack through the toe hole and lock the snowshoes down in place. This worked out nicely since my pack only has one set of side clips. When I was pulling out the snowshoes for that hike I noticed the coating on the crampons had worn away some from previous outings showing some bare metal underneath but I have not yet seen any sign of rusting nor do the crampons seem any less sharp then when I first received the snowshoes. The wear on the crampons so far has only been on the side teeth and not the front teeth. The snowshoes are still in great condition. The frame is solid and the deck material unmarred and still firmly attached to the frame. I didn't like the toe pivot as it felt too stiff. The snowshoes felt like they were snapping back after each step and the result was that the snowshoes would hit me in the heel after every step.
While I was pleased with overall fit and comfort, I was not pleased with the lack of a larger model. Over a thin powder layer, the snowshoes performed very well and gave excellent traction no matter what direction I attacked the hill. Once I started getting into thicker snow cover, the going became harder as I sank down to meet that icy base. In some cases, I sank down a good 3 ft (90 cm) before I hit that base. Although I have never snowshoed before this winter, I was expecting less sinkage in deep powder. I do realize that I am at the upper end of the weight range, but on at least one trip I was able to get under that limit. I still sank down to the icy base. I never encountered conditions with more than 3 ft (90 cm) of powder. In the end, I am left wondering if the weight range on the snowshoes is accurate or not. I would like to see another set of snowshoes that will cover above this level. These snowshoes are designed for women, as a woman, I should be able to buy the model best suited for me and the weight I expect to be when either snowshoeing or backpacking. I was unable to do any backpacking with this model as I would have been at least 35 lb (16 kg) over the upper weight range.
This concludes my report on the RedFeather Pace snowshoes, I'd like to thank Redfeather and BackPackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Pace snowshoes, thank you for reading and following this test series.
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