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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > TSL HyperFlex Symbioz Elite Snowshoes > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

TSL HYPERFLEX SYMBIOZ ELITE SNOWSHOES

Initial Report - February 22 2017
Field Report - April 5 2017
Long Term Report - June 4 2017

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 50
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 200 lb (90.7 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

TSL OUTDOOR

Year of Manufacture:

2017

Manufacturer’s Website:

http://www.tsloutdoor.com

MSRP:

$299 USD

Sizes:

S, M, L (see spedification chart below)

Measured Weight:

2.5 lbs (1.15 kg) / each

Product pix

Product Description:

The TSL HYPERFLEX SYMBIOZ ELITE SNOWSHOES are a new take on a very old tool. TSL started with a plastic figure 8 style deck and made them flexible for a more natural stride and added a carbon fiber insert to improve its responsiveness. They also included a modern ratchet binding system (like many snowboards use) as well as aggressive traction using a mix of steel and plastic cleats and ribs. And if that were not enough they included a heel lift for climbing.

Initial Report

February 17 2017

Storage BagCramponsThe SYMBIOZ ELITE are the one of 4 designs in the HYPERFLEX line of snowshoes. This version includes all the bells and whistles for rugged terrain and climbing.

Starting with the most unique feature, these shoes are designed to flex lengthwise; hence the HYPERFLEX name. The shoe is designed to flex lengthwise to allow for a more natural stride. There is a carbon fiber insert intended to help the shoe spring back after flexing. Along with this the shoe has multiple plastic ribs and cleats as well as steel cleats along its length to help ensure traction throughout the entire stride. There is also a rather substantial steel crampon on the toe of the bindings to assist with traction. It comes in one color (red) and 3 sizes.Based on my body weight and the weight I normally carry, I requested and  received size L.

Manufacturers specifications:


S

M

L

SHOE SIZES

6.5w > 15m (37 > 50 Euro)

5m > 15m (37 > 50 Euro)

5m > 15m (37 > 50 Euro)

USER WEIGHT

65 > 180 lbs (30 > 80 kg)

110 > 260 lbs (50 > 120 kg)

150 > 300 lbs (70 > 140 kg)

SIZES

20.5 x 7.5'' (52.5 x 19 cm)

23.5 x 8'' (59 x 21 cm)

27 x 8.5'' (69 x 22.5 cm)

WEIGHT 

2.05 lbs (930 g) each

2.15 lbs (980 g) each

2.40 lbs (1080 g)



Rear BindingsCramponsI would note here that the snow shoes arrived with 4 sets of plastic cleat covers (one for each pair of steel cleats). This is a nice detail but I anticipate I am very likely to loose one or more of these. I would prefer if they were all attached together.

The bindings are designed to accommodate a large range of footwear. The footplate can be extended to adjust it to the users shoe or boot. There are numbers molded into the plastic ranging from 28 to 39. While looking these over I adjusted the bindings of one snowshoe to fit my winter boots and then was able to use those numbers to easily set the other binding to match. The toe of the bindings have 3 primary parts. The bottom of the toe bindings adjust to the width of the users boot and can be offset to customize the feel/stride. Once set these lock in place so they do not change unless the user wants to change it. The bindings include adjustable straps on either side to adjust for the volume of the toe of the boot. After adjusted there is a simple lever lock to cinch/release the binding. This allows me to put the snowshoes on and take them off without having to readjust the bindings. At the heel end of the footplate are two straps with snow board style ratchet bindings.

Toe BindingsThat covers the major features and components of these snowshoes. I would note that  the more I look at these the more details I discover, so I will endeavor to cover more details in the field and long term reports.




Likes:
  • Quick on/off bindings
  • Can be configured for a large range of footwear
 
Dislikes:
  • None so far

Field Report

April 5 2017
Climbing with my dogUse:
  • 10-12 days on Nordic Ski Patrol (groomed ski trail and rugged snowshoe trails)
  • 2 day hikes (mostly packed snow)
  • 1 overnight backpacking trip (temperatures hovering just over to just under freezing, wet but mostly firm old snow)

Field Report:
Most of my use of these snowshoes have been during my ski patrol responsibilities along with some casual use for day hikes and a single overnight with a full pack. So far all of the use has been in temperatures around or just under freezing and all of it occurred in the central cascades of Washington state. Snow conditions were a mix of fresh deep soft snow to packed trails with one trip on slightly crusted wet snow.

One of the things I was interested in is a pair of snowshoes that are quick and easy to put on and take off for when I need to quickly switch between skis and snowshoes. These do not disappoint. After configuring them for my boots I simply slip my toes into the bindings and then step down to seat my heel. Then lock the toe clamp and tighten the ratchet across the top of my foot. Quick, easy, and secure. I did discover that it is possible to over tighten the rachet, which rapidly became uncomfortable, but was easily loosened so not really a problem. Removing them is a reverse of the process and even quicker. I am very happy with the bindings. They are everything I could possibly ask for. During use I have not had a single time when the bindings gave me trouble, slipped or allowed my boots to shift or move.

These snowshoes allow the most natural gate I have ever experienced with a snowshoe. When walking on firm snow I found the snowshoes would flex during the heel strike and extend back to shape as I transition from the flat of my foot to my toes, giving a feeling of propulsion, regardless of if I am on groomed flat snow, rolling un-tracked virgin snow, or rugged torn up heavily used snowshoe trails, the shoes performed perfectly. During a day hike I ended up running and jumping around playing with my dog. And once while stopping to get some selfies, I kind of forgot I was even wearing snowshoes...until I tried to walk backward without thinking and tripped. I laid in the snow for a bit laughing at how it could be possible to forget I was wearing snowshoes. One of the advantages of solo trips is that no one sees when I do silly things like that.

When it comes to traction I am equally pleased with these snowshoes. During the day hike with my dog I intentionally climbed up a few quite steep areas. With and without using the heel lifts. The traction was excellent on both soft fresh snow as well as old crusted snow. What surprised me was the traction when traversing a steep section and walking directly down. Regardless of the terrain or angle of attack, the shoes provide excellent traction. I also used these to climb a rather treacherous area to reach the top of a popular water fall at the end of one of our snowshoe trails. Despite deep soft snow I was able to walk up and down with little  difficulty. The traction provided was excellent.

A side note on the heal lift. I really like the ability to extend and retract the heal lift with my ski pole and not having to bend down or worse remove my gloves. It may not seem like a big deal but trying to bend all the way over to reach my foot when on uneven snow and wearing a full pack is not something I, being old and fat, like to do.

Likes: Easy and fast to put on/off. Secure comfortable bindings. Excellent traction. Natural gait. Easy to use heel lift.
Opportunities: None that I have found so far.

AscentDecent

Long Term Report

June 4 2017

Since the posting of the field report I only manged one more outing with these snowshoes. I took my dog up the White Pass Nordic ski trails a few weeks after we had shut down for the season to spend some time wandering the trails as well as the surrounding forest. It was sunny with temperatures a little above freezing. There had been some recent snow so we found firm snow along the trails and a mix of firm snow, crusted snow and even some pockets of deep soft snow. We had a great time and wandered the area for a few hours before heading back to the truck. As with the previous outings the snowshoes were fantastic.

I did run into one small problem. While putting one of the snowshoes on I managed to feed the ankle strap into the buckle incorrectly and got it stuck. I could not get it to release and so could not get the snowshoe off my boot. So I had to sit in the snow with my leg at a rather awkward angle trying to get it free. I finally resorted to force the blade of my multi tool between the teeth of the strap and the buckle and managed to work the strap free...to my amazement without damaging the buckle.

A final usage note, thanks to my dog leaving me a gift just as I finished getting my snowshoes on, and there being no trash cans near by I chose to walk the short distance across the gravel parking lot with the TSL snowshoes still on. Now at the end of the test I have examined the snowshoes for wear. The deck and bindings show virtually no signs of use. There are only a few minor scratches on the metal cleats. The only sign of wear is a few small nicks and scratches in some of the plastic cleats. Based on what I have seen so far I am confidant the shoes should give me years of use.

Throughout the test I did not use the plastic cleat protectors nor the storage bag. But I did manage to not lose them and they were nice to have to store the shoes after my last use.

These are without a doubt my favorite snowshoes and the best I have ever used. With the end of this test and the coming of summer I sadly will be putting these away, but look forward to getting them back out again when the snows return this fall, and again for many more seasons.


This concludes my Report. I would like to thank the folks at TSL OUTDOOR and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



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Reviews > Snow Gear > Snowshoes > TSL HyperFlex Symbioz Elite Snowshoes > Test Report by David Wilkes



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