After deciding to go on my first winter backcountry adventure and choosing a date with my friend Cheryl, the next step was to find me some snowshoes and poles for our Algonquin Provincial Park adventure!
Enter Randy at Algonquin Outfitters (AO), who offered to set me up with the equipment I would need. Before he could make a recommendation though, he needed a few details on our trip.
He asked me:
- Where are you going?
- Are you backpacking on snowshoes?
- Are you pulling a sled?
- Do you plan to make your own trail or travel a well travelled trail?
- Will you be climbing hills and descending steeper declines?
- Will you be walking on ice (lakes & rivers)?
- How much weight do you plan on putting on them (person + gear)?
Based on my responses, Randy recommended Tubbs Women’s Elevate 25″ snowshoes (http://tubbssnowshoes.com/snowshoes/elevate-w) and Tubbs Snowshoeing poles (http://tubbssnowshoes.com/accessories?type=poles).
So, we headed to AO in Huntsville, where Randy helped me to try on the snowshoes in my hiking boots, and then a different pair for comparison. He explained how to tighten them, and how to adjust the poles for my height. In an ideal world, I would have tried the snowshoes on for a day hike before heading out for a 4-day backcountry adventure, but I don’t live near AO, so it wasn’t really an option.
The trail conditions for the weekend were mostly packed snow tramped down by other snowshoers or hikers. We did, however, blaze our own trail a few times as well, in somewhat deep snow with a crunchy layer on top (it rained the day before we arrived).
In short, I loved the snowshoes. I didn’t realize that on Day #1 my feet were too far forward in them, but on Day #2 the strap on the left snowshoe was much longer than the one on the right, so I figured something was wrong. I finally realized that with my foot too far forward, the hard plastic part that snugs the toes was slipping under the snowshoe and putting upwards pressure on the bottom of the snowshoe (see picture).
After adjusting my foot backwards, the problem was fixed and I was good to go. Long term use of the snowshoe with the foot in improperly would definitely have damaged the snowshoes.
I found them very comfortable, light, and easy to maneuver. Sometimes I stepped on one showshoe with the other, but I’m sure that was my fault, not the snowshoe’s! Once I had my foot placed properly, they were very easy to tighten, and they did not loosen on me! There is a binding that goes behind the heel, and this too stayed snug. Even when ascending a steep, icy hill, the metal grips held tight, the snowshoe stayed tight on my hiking boot, and I was able to make it up the hill while pulling a 60+ pound sled with gear.
The strap behind the ankle would sometimes come out of the holder, but this was more annoying than anything – the strap did not loosen.
I was able to loosen the snowshoes very quickly, but it wasn’t always easy to get my boot out given the straps were frozen with snow all over them. I never had to unclip the back strap to remove my feet though.
Dimensions: 8″ x 25″
Weight: 4.16 pounds
Optimal load: 54-91 kgs
Surface area: 452 cm
The poles? On Day #1 I wasn’t convinced that I liked them, because one kept loosening and shortening. However, I eventually really tightened it and never had a problem on Day #2, 3 or 4. Without the poles I would never have been able to get up the steepest of the hills along the Highland Trail! They held me in place while I figured out my next step.
In the end, I bought the snowshoes and poles from AO!
Related posts for this trip: