TUBBS FLEX NRG SNOWSHOES
TEST SERIES BY ARNOLD PETERSON
INITIAL REPORT - December 13, 2009
FIELD REPORT - February 17, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - April 20, 2010
Wilmington Massachusetts USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
At this time almost all my experience has been hiking in New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado USA, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia Canada using an 11 lb. (5 kg) day pack. I have backpacked on Mt. Washington and at the IMP shelter located between North Carter and Mount Moriah mountains in New Hampshire. The gear I will be writing about has been used a lot hiking mostly all year around in New Hampshire. I have recently completed the forty-eight 4000 footers (1219 m) of New Hampshire. My day hikes have been as long as 12 hours covering almost 20 miles (32 km).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Tubbs Snowshoes
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Model: Flex NRG 24
MSRP: US$ 179.95
Measured Weight: 4 lb 2 oz (1.9 g)
Listed Length: 24 in (61 cm)
Listed Width: 8 in (20 cm)
Colors: Tips are light grey and body is dark grey
Optimal Load: best up to 190 lb (86 kg) in powder conditions; otherwise, good for all weights in packed or variable snow conditions
When I first looked at the Tubbs Flex NRG snowshoes my attention was drawn to the large number of rivets used in the assembly. I counted a total of 27 rivets on each snowshoe. The snowshoes were mounted on a shaped piece of stiff cardboard with a snowshoe on either side of the cardboard with the cleats facing the cardboard. The snowshoes were attached by means of plastic packing ties. A black synthetic belt was provided to hold the snowshoes together when not in use. The belt had the FLEX logo written in white letters along the length of the belt. The belt loops through a buckle and attaches to itself by hook and latch.
The traction parts of the snowshoe are 2 steel rails which run parallel to the foot and slightly outside of the boot foot print, extending slightly beyond the toe of the boot. Each rail consists of 11 teeth of various heights and widths . The pivotal part at the toe end of the snowshoe has 5 additional teeth surrounding the toe of the foot. These teeth are arranged in the following manner: 3 straight across the front and 1 on each side adjacent to the front teeth but at a diagonal. The main part of the snowshoe is made with a semi flexible plastic material. There is a more flexible material under the heel part of the snowshoe. The front part of this flexible material is reinforced with a rigid plastic piece riveted to the flexible part.
|pivot plate bottom view|
|top view rivets|
|bottom view rivets|
|winter hiking boot|
|toe end clamp|
|heel end clamp|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
There are 2 pieces of information provided with the snowshoes, one is a leaflet attached to a snowshoe and the other was information printed on the cardboard placed between the snowshoes. The leaflet provides information for putting on the snowshoes. It begins with identifying the right shoe from the left. They are marked with a small R and L on the pivotal part of the binding between 2 large rivets. I found it easier to identify right and left by placing the buckle straps on the outside of the foot. By pushing gently on the tab on the front buckle which is the one on the top side of the foot, the buckle releases and the hiking boot can be inserted into the harness. Then place the ball of the foot over the pivot rod and snap the V-strap back into place. Then adjust and tighten V-strap until upper part is snug but comfortable then lock in place. Any extra strapping can be dressed in the clip provided. Put the heel in position and pull the strap back until snug and lock the strap in place and use the clip to dress the strap. To get out, release the V-strap buckle by depressing the tab and step forward and out.
The cardboard provides information on the features, which are mostly patented and in pictures with 1-2 word descriptions.
The following are quoted from the cardboard.
"Torsion Deck: Tubbs Torsion Deck design allows torsional articulation throughout the body of the snowshoe, enhancing traction, biometrics and comfort on uneven terrain.
Soft Strike: The Soft Strike zone acts much like the shock absorbing midsole found in your athletic shoes. Soft Strike works with the Flex Tail to absorb shock and reduce stress on joints and muscles. (Soft Strike is unique to the FLEX NRG.)
Flex Tail: The Flex Tail absorbs shock from the initial heel strike, reducing the amount of stress on ankles, knees, and hips. This allows you to walk more naturally and comfortably, in turn enabling you to snowshoe farther, longer and with less stress on your body.
Traction Rails: The Flex Series snowshoes feature 3D curved Traction rails with variable tooth height, which ensure superior side-hill grip in hard-packed and icy conditions, and also help prevent fore-aft slippage on steeper climbs and descends."
Pictures with 1-2 word captions
"Terrain; Snow Conditions: Ice, Packed, Mixed, Powder; Day Hiking."
"For the spirited hiker looking for a fun winter adventure."
TRYING IT OUT
I was a little disappointed when I had spent a weekend in the Whites immediately before my snowshoes arrived. About a day after the snowshoes appeared, the first heavy snow fall of about 8 in (20 cm) came. Then before I could take advantage, it turned to rain. Overnight it got cold and I was able to try the Flex NRG snowshoes on thin layer of icy crust over dense snow. I went in my back yard, slipped the front end of my right trail shoe into the snowshoe, ensuring the ball of my foot was over the pivot rod. I then pushed the V-tab snugly into place and pulled back on the strap and dressed it. I then pulled the heel strap snugly into place. When I repeated this for the left shoe, it took me a little longer since I was not prepared to tighten the strap with the other hand. This delay was not long, and then I was walking in these wonderful snowshoes. They are easy to use, and feel balanced. I walked as I normally walk and the snowshoes did not require any special attention. I did watch my feet carefully at first, but it soon proved unnecessary. I can't comment on the quietness as the crust was braking under me and that was noisy, however I was comfortable in Flex NRG snowshoes. I think I will enjoy wearing these snowshoes.
There are 2 features I really like about these snowshoes, the ease of putting them on and taking them off, along with how natural they feel when walking. I am looking forward to going on many enjoyable hikes with these snowshoes.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information. I wish to thank BackpackGearTesters.org and Tubbs for the opportunity to test the Flex NRG snowshoes.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Locations in New Hampshire: temperature; time duration; weather; field conditions; snow cover.
Crotched Mountain; 17 F (-8 C); 7 hours; sunny with moderate wind; several small brooks with steep slopes; heavy cover mostly crusted with some areas of powder with bare spots on summit.
Locations in Massachusetts: temperature; time duration; weather; field conditions; snow cover.
Harold Parker State Forest: 15 F (-9 C); 5 hours; sunny light wind; rolling hills with a lake and pools of water; mostly powder with some bare rock.
Boxford State Forest: 24 F (-4 C); 5 hours; overcast light wind; rolling hills with swampy areas; powder and hard packed trails.
Middlesex Fells Reservation: 30 F (-1 C); 3 hours; sunny no wind; rolling hills with many rocky areas; mostly powder with bare rocks.
Wilmington Town Forest: 15 F (-9 C); 2 hr; cloudy and light wind; rolling hills with large pine trees; mostly powder some exposed rock.
Middlesex Canal: 25 F (-4 C); 2 hr; heavy overcast with light wind; mixed forest of mostly small trees and bushes with a few mature trees, relatively flat with wet areas; deep powder.
Wilmington Town Forest: 20 F (-7 C); 2 hr; cloudy no wind; rolling hills with large pine trees; deep powder.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
In this test period I have snowshoed seven times for about 24 hours. I never thought wearing snowshoes could be almost as easy as "bare booting" it. Some of the problems I experienced in the past were keeping my snowshoes parallel and my feet sufficiently apart so that I was not stepping on my snowshoes. With the Flex NRG snowshoes, both of these problems were almost non existent. When I get tired in boots I tend to trip, which did happen toward the end of my 7 hour snowshoe. However, when it did happen, I had more stability than when I trip in my regular boots.
I enjoy deep powder the most of any snow condition, coupled with a sunny day. I like being the first person to break trail and to walk through the snow almost noiselessly. It is so nice to be able to follow animals tracks almost anywhere with the snowshoes on. My first snowshoe in these shoes was in 14 in (36 cm) of powder. I did sink in the powder but not nearly as much as without snowshoes. I could never hike in deep snow with boots, it was always too strenuous. I have been out several times now in deep powder conditions, and find myself hoping for more deep powder snow storms.
One of the pleasures for me in the winter is being able to do more bushwhacking. Most of the irregularities of the forest are covered over and leveled off. Boots are fine on a well packed trail, but I like to go on lesser used trails and these snowshoes made travel on trail and off trail very easy and stable. I always had my poles at the ready but found myself using them a lot less than I expected. There are many wet areas where I hike and these areas are only passable in weather when the wet areas are well frozen.
It would be nice if the snow covered everything equally, but this is not the case. When I hiked in the Fells, there were exposed rocks, often on the tops of hills. Most of the rocks I encountered were covered by a thin layer of snow, so I did not know I was on rock until I put my foot down. These snowshoes were stable on all the various types of rock formation I encountered. When I examined the traction rails after returning home, I could find very little evidence that I had walked on rocks. I did rub on some rocks and I did find scratches on the plastic parts of the snowshoe. These scratches were cosmetic and had no effect on the performance of the snowshoes.
|Wilmington Town Forest|
|Middlesex Fells Reservation|
|Harold Parker State Forest|
|Boxford State Forest|
The Flex NRG snowshoes are easy to put on, to take off, and to use. They withstand the harsh conditions of the trails in New England. I cannot think of any downside to these snowshoes. I am always looking forward to my next snowshoeing trip.
This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information. I wish to thank BackpackGearTesters.org and Tubbs for the opportunity to test the Flex NRG snowshoes.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Locations in Massachusetts: temperature; time duration; weather; field conditions; snow cover.
Harold Parker State Forest: 20 F (-7 C); 5 hours; sunny no wind; rolling hills with a lake and pools of water; mostly hard crusted snow with icy places and some bare rock.
Merrimack River: 46 F (26 C); 5 hours; sunny; no wind; rolling hills along river bank, completely bare with muddy areas.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
This test period looked like the snow would continue and I would have a lot more trips to report about. I did get in 2 trips, one was good and on the other one, there was not enough snow or ice to warrant putting on my snowshoes. I was in a car accident and then the weather turned rainy and my area was in flood conditions for several weeks.
The last snowshoe of the season
The weather had been gradually been getting warmer in the day but still dropping below freezing during the night. The snow was gradually getting harder and more icy. On this last trip the sun was shining, there was no wind on this 5 hour snowshoe in Harold Parker State forest. A lot of the time we were bushwhacking and there was a lot of small brush to walk through. Dealing with this brush was easy and the snowshoes did not get caught in the brush. The traction was superb on the icy snow as well as solid ice formation on the trails.
I was having trouble closing the tab on my right shoe and someone closed it for me. I noticed the tab ended up in the fully closed position. I was thinking this may be a problem when it came to releasing the tab. It was a problem, when I pushed on the tab it did not release. I released the back of the snowshoe and slid my foot out from the heel end of the snowshoe. When I got home and examined the adjustments, I discovered I had not made same adjustment on the right snowshoe as on the left. I am sure my problem with releasing the tab would not have happened, had I carefully adjusted both snowshoes the same way.
After a fantastic season of snowshoeing on 8 occasions, with a total of more than 36 hours of encountering almost every snow condition I have ever experienced, I am now a fan of the Flex NRG snowshoes. I like the ease of putting them on and especially that of taking them off when I am usually more tired. All I have to do is push the tab with my trekking pole and I can easily step out of my snowshoes. As I get older I like the lightness but also the durability of the snowshoe. I can't think of anything I did not like about these snowshoes. I would highly recommend the Tubb Flex NRG snowshoes for anyone, especially beginners.
Weather patterns seem to go in cycles and I am looking forward to another great snow season next year using the Flex NRG snowshoes. These will replace the ones I had been using. I now fully appreciate enjoying the snow with a pair of snowshoes that work extremely well under a wide variety of conditions. I am looking forward to the next snow season when I will be using these snowshoes again.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long Term Report. I wish to thank BackpackGearTesters.org and Tubbs for the opportunity to test the Flex NRG snowshoes.
Read more reviews of Tubbs gear
Read more gear reviews by arnold peterson