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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > TSL Escape Easy Snowshoes > Test Report by Shane Williams

TSL 227 Escape Easy Snowshoes
Test Series by Shane Williams
Initial Report: December 15th, 2010
Field Report: February 28th, 2011
Long Term Report: April 3, 2011

Tester Information:

Name: Shane Williams
Email: sherpa[dot]colorado[at]gmail.com
Personal Website: coloradosherpa.net
Age: 36
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
Weight: 190 lb (86.20 kg)

Bio:

As a child I lived in the last house on a dead end street. Just beyond my house was a wilderness area. I started hiking and exploring there, and I've never stopped. I started backpacking in the South Eastern Appalachian Mountains, including portions of the Appalachian Trail. Today I primarily hike in the Colorado Rockies. My pack weight is approximately 30 (13.61 kg) to 50 lbs (22.68 kg). I often carrying more gear than necessary hoping that I wonít need it. I enjoy weekend excursions into the High Country with friends and lower elevation day trips with my family.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: TSL Outdoor
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.tsloutdoor.com
Listed Weight: 2.35 lb (1.07 kg) per snowshoe Measured Weight: 2.34 lb (1.06 kg) per snowshoe
Listed Length: 29 in (74 cm) Measured Length: 29.5 in (75 cm)
Listed Width: 9 in (23 cm) Measured Weight: 9 in (23 cm)
Load Rating: 150 - 300 lb (68 - 136 kg)
Shoe Sizing: 4 - 12.5 US (3.5 - 12 UK)
(Courtesy of TSL Outdoor)

Product Details:

The Case:

The TSL 227 Escape Easy Snowshoes come packaged in a handy black carrying case. The sides are constructed of a single heavy duty vinyl material. The bottom has an additional layer of vinyl stitched into the interior of the case for added protection against the steel pin crampons and toe crampon found on the underside of the snowshoe decking. The case also has two handles made of 1 inch (2.54 cm) webbing stitched on the left side and the top. The front panel is a mesh material and has key specifications displayed on the left side, and the TSL company logo on the bottom. The right side also has a company logo and company name. Upon unpacking these snowshoes I found them to be solidly constructed and free from any flaws.

TSL 227 Escape Easy Snow Shoes and carrying case

The Shoes:

The TSL 227 Escape Easy Snowshoes are rated as an intermediate level snowshoe and stated by the manufacturer as an all-purpose snow shoe. A few of the key features are:

  • Hourglass shape allows for easier stride when walking
  • A fast quarter-turn adjustment system easily adjusts shoes to the binding
  • Tightening through a ratchet system for a secure and fast fit
  • Sound and Shock Absorbing System (SSAS)
  • Heel lift with the "easy up" automatic feature, there is no need to bend over to adjust the heel.
  • Heel block for transporting or storing snowshoe
  • Front teeth for maximum traction on steep terrain
  • 6 replaceable steel crampons

Decking:

The deck of the TSL 227 Escape Easy is a composite material composed of a durable, heavy duty, 05 polypropylene plastic. TSL Outdoor states that they have specifically selected this material for mountain regions with temperate climates. The 05 polypropylene also provides key characteristics that make a great snowshoe, such as, excellent gripping and precision tracking capabilities. The 227 Escape Easy is designed with a characteristic hourglass shape that is to aid in a more natural stride, without forfeiting traction.

TSL 227 Escape Easy Deck

Bindings:

The bindings are comprised of 0.75 in (1.91 cm) webbing and the same durable 05 polypropylene plastic. The heel binding also has a padded nylon panel constructed to sit on the front of the foot that sports the TSL Outdoor logo. The front binding is adjustable via the 1 inch ladder lock buckle.

Toe bindings, ladder lock buckle, and toe crampon.


The heel binding has some nice features that make these snowshoes simple to use. There are 2 different buckles, the primary ratchet buckle thatís used to keep the snowshoe fastened to the foot, and a ladder locking buckle for fine tuning the adjustment once the ratchet buckle has been fastened. In the center of the ratchet buckle, TSL Outdoors constructed a quick release lever. The ratchet system and quick release lever make these snow shoes easy to get on and off.
Heel binding, ratchet lever and quick release lever.

Adjustable Foot Bed:

Another nice feature is the adjustable foot bed. Built into the heel adjuster is a flip down tab that is used to loosen the heel binding for adjustment. The base of the foot bed has a printed numeric scale to aid in symmetrical adjustment. This makes it easy to do field adjustments without needing any additional tools.
Adjustable foot bed with easy adjustment tab.

Heel Elevator:

One of the things that make this snowshoe an intermediate shoe is the heel elevator, or as some call it, heel lifter. This feature is used to reduce calf and lower leg strain when climbing steeper terrain. TSL Outdoors has included a technology called ďeasy upĒ, which has been designed to engage and disengage the heel elevator with the use of a trekking pole rather than having to bend over. The heel elevator is a triangle shaped block positioned just behind the heel binding. Between the binding and the heel elevator thereís a tab used for locking or unlocking the heel elevator. The heel elevator can be placed in 3 different positions, down unlocked, down locked, and up unlocked. Both unlocked positions are acceptable while the snowshoes are in use. The locked position has been introduced as a way of keeping the foot bed from flapping around when the snowshoes are strapped to a backpack, or in times of general storage.

Heel elevation in the down and up positions.


Image of the "easy up" technology as detailed in the Owner's Manual


Steel Crampons:

Traction is supplied by 6 steel crampons that are fixed to the underside of the snowshoe deck. The points provide a traction depth of 0.875 in (2.22 cm).

Toe Crampon:

Attached to the front binding there is an aluminum toe crampon that can be utilized to dig into snow or ice on steeper terrain. The crampon plate is 2 in (5.08 cm) long, but has a prominence of 1 in (2.54 cm).

Offered Accessories:

As an accessory for the 227 Escape Easy snowshoe, TSL Outdoor offers the S7 Aluminum Claw. This can be attached to the underside of the deck to provide additional traction.

Testing Strategy

During this test series key points of testing will include:
  1. How well do these snowshoes handle steep terrain?
  2. Do these snowshoes perform better in certain types of snow conditions? (Deep snow verses hard windblown snow)
  3. Does the traction system provide adequate traction?
  4. How useful is the ďeasy upĒ technology and does it function as stated in the manual?

General Overview:

The 227 Escape Easy snowshoes seem to be well constructed and light weight. They have a narrow sleek design that is uncustomary from previous snowshoes that Iíve worn. I had a chance to get out with these snowshoes over the weekend, and thus far, they feel as nice as they look. I look forward to future outings with them.

This concludes my initial report. A follow-up field report will be posted February 2011.

Field Report

Field Conditions

Since my initial report, The TSL Escape Easy Snowshoes have carried me across roughly 15 miles (24.15 km) of snowy back country terrain. During an attempt at La Plata Peak I encountered deep snow that was 5 inches (12.70 cm) to 24 inches (61 cm) in depth and could be classified as powder. Terrain angles encountered were estimated to be between 0 and 45 degrees. Elevation gain for this trip was close to 3800 ft (1158 m) and ranged from 10000 ft (3048 m) to 13800 ft (4206 m). The weather conditions started out cold and sunny, but rapidly deteriorated above 13000 ft (3962 m). Temperatures ranged from 15 F (-9.43 C) to 30 F (-1.10 C) with winds in excess of 50 MPH (80.47 km/h). During another excursion I snow shoed the Crags Trail on the back side of Pikes Peak. The snow was hard packed and the terrain angles were estimated to be between 0 and 20. Elevation gain was around 1500 FT (457 M). Sunny conditions made for a perfect day with temperatures around 25 F (-3 C) with a slight breeze between 15 MPH (24.14 km/h) to 20 MPH (32.19 km/h) on an exposed ridge. Other trips included short jaunts where snowshoes were needed only for nominal portions of the hike.

Observations

During the ascent of La Plata Peak I had an opportunity to test these snowshoes on a variety of terrain. As I left the trail head the landscape was primarily flat and had around 5 inches (12.70 cm) of freshly fallen snow. Right away these snowshoes proved to be comfortable to wear. The combination of the hourglass design and the light weight material made snow travel significantly easier. As I began to encounter rocks, roots, logs and ice, maneuverability wasnít a problem. After an hour or so I began to ascend a steeper portion of the mountain. A few times I stopped and adjusted the bindings to suite the terrain as well as engaged the heel lifters. I found that all necessary adjustments and modifications came easily and didnít take a lot of time. The heel lifters certainly made a difference in reducing muscle fatigue, especially around calves. Once above tree line, I had to navigate through a boulder field, which is usually problematic. After a short distance I remembered that the heel of the shoe could be locked to the deck to keep it from swinging. I locked the heel in the down position which allowed me to have a higher level of precision with foot placement.

While hiking the crags trail on the back side of Pikes Peak, the terrain was mainly flat but contained a few sections that had moderate elevation gain. For this hike the snow was about 3 inches (7.62 cm) in depth and predominantly hard and packed from travelers. On the flatter terrain the toe cleat is positioned in such a way that it doesnít really dig into the snow but more rests on top of it. The crampon pins, however, supply enough touch points to keep from slipping. The toe cleat is certainly more useful in steeper terrain.

TSL 227 Escape Easy.

Summary

All in all I found the TSL Escape Easy Snowshoes to be durable, comfortable and easy to use. These snowshoes can be considered slightly aggressive and seem to be geared more for steeper windswept terrain rather than deep powder. On fresh powder these shoes provided a little less flotation than I was expecting, but seeing the maneuverability advantages brought by a narrower design, I would say they function adequately. The toe cleat and steel crampon spikes provide superb traction especially on hard crunchy snow. Another key feature that I found to be an asset was the ability to make full adjustment to the binding and foot bed in the field without a lot of time or effort. Also, the ďEasy-UpĒ technology functions as stated, and is truly easy to use. The composite material provides a flexible yet strong deck that seems to hold its own.

As I continue to travel the back country with the TSL 227 Escape Easy Snowshoes, I look forward to further exploring how they handle the various terrain and conditions. This concludes my Field Report, please check back for my Long Term Report in April.

Long Term Report: April 3rd, 2011

Field Conditions

During the past couple of months Iíve continued to utilize the TSL Escape Easy Snowshoes for hikes and climbs where snow travel required flotation. My first real outing with the TSL Snowshoes was during an attempt of La Plata Peak, where rapidly changing weather turned us around 600 vertical feet shy of the summit. My last outing with these snowshoes was yet another attempt at La Plata Peak, and Iím relieved to say that the outcome this time was a successful ascent.

The climb of La Plata Peak starts at an elevation of 9800 ft (2987 m)and ascends 4500 ft (1372 m) to an elevation of 14336 ft (4370 m). The distance covered during the ascent was 9.50 m (15.30 km). Portions of the mountain below 12500 ft (3810 m) held deep snow anywhere from 12 Ė 24 in (30 - 61 cm) deep. All in all it was a beautiful day with clear blue skies, however, during the upper portion of the mountain we encountered heavy winds ranging from 30 Ė 50 mph (48 - 80 kph). The temperature ranged from 10 f Ė 20 f (-12 c to -6 c).

Observations

As I have continued to use the TSL Escape Easy 227ís Iíve become more impressed with their performance in the field. The hourglass shape and sleek design really does provide a more natural gait. The feature that I appreciate the most is the quick release adjustable binding system. With a super simple approach to in-field adjustments, TSL makes custom fitting not only possible, but efficient as well. The bindings are easy to get on and off with minimal effort. This really came in handy during sections of the trail where the necessity for snowshoes were sporadic. In addition, the heel lifters and traction system is perfect for hard, packed snow. While ascending La Plata Peak there was a lengthy section that consisted of steep windswept snow. As I pulled up the heel elevators and started my ascent of this arduous section, these snowshoes performed remarkably! The lifted heel helped to keep my legs from tiring prematurely and they never failed to provide adequate traction.

One of the things that Iíve often struggled with was how to carry snowshoes while they are not in use. Iíve often opted to hang them from my pack in some form or fashion that usually results in unbalanced pack weight. As I considered this for the ascent of La Plata Peak, I utilized the carrying case that the 227ís came in. This along with the feature to lock the bindings in place while not in use provided an nice, well balanced approach to carrying the shoes. Below is a picture of my pack configuration, taken while on La Plata Peakís upper ridge.

TSL 227 Escape Easy.

The TSL Escape Easy 227ís also fared well in regards to durability. In spite of rugged terrain where roots and rocks were encountered, these snowshoes held up nicely. The red paint seems to scratch fairly easy, but structurally they withstood some pretty rough conditions. I did lose one of the crampon pins from the underside of the deck, but other than that, there were no issues.

Summary

The TSL Escape Easy 227ís are a durable, light weight, sleek and well-designed snow shoes. They are feature rich with an hourglass shape, quick release adjustable bindings, heel elevators, composite deck and traction system. As an intermediate snowshoes, they are aggressive enough for steeper terrain, but also function well in deeper snow. Iím sure theyíll remain in my arsenal of winter gear for years to come. This concludes my Long Term Report. A special thanks to the folks at TSL Outdoors and backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to be a part of this test series.



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