It seems strange to think I’ve lived in Minnesota for nearly three quarters of my life and it’s only been in the last two winters that I’ve tried snowshoeing. For most of the many winters before, I considered myself a recreational cross country skier. But as hiking has drawn me further in, snowshoeing has been a natural progression.
There are plenty of ways to try winter gear including snowshoes. I have friends that loaned them and rented from regional or state parks at other times. Snowshoeing is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to get outdoors in the winter and affords the ability to traverse deeper snow with relative ease. Last winter I finally decided that it was time to buy my own snowshoes after having rented or borrowing them from friends for a winter.
I’d tried several brands as I rented and borrowed. As I did my research to buy, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the options. There are different ones depending on the type of terrain you are planning on using them for – mostly flat, hilly or mountainous. But all are sized by the amount of weight they will carry. So as you consider your options, think about whether or not you will be carrying a pack of any kind and figure that into your sizing. I’m not planning on carrying more than about 20 lbs. in a daypack.
When I compared brands, I ultimately settled on Tubbs. Most of the rental snowshoes I had tried were Tubbs. Knowing they are the snowshoe of choice for many parks indicated to me that they could handle all kinds of abuse. The Tubbs Xplore 25 Snowshoe Kit provided me with all the things I was looking for in a snowshoe: Easy to use bindings, light weight snowshoes and a cost that wasn’t going to break the bank since I was buying them at the end of season. The kit also included poles and gaiters, which I’d not really realized were included (duh, it’s a kit). When I opened the box – I’d ordered them online – to find the snowshoes, poles and gaiters, I felt like it was Christmas all over again.
I’ve had them now for almost two full seasons and I am still really happy with the purchase. The overall weight is easy to manage. The front toe strap is super easy to adjust and uses a simple locking mechanism that I can use the tips of the poles or a quick push with a couple fingers to loosen. The heel strap fits snugly over my Oboz Bridger 7″ BDry Insulated Winter Boots. The post and hole strap requires a slightly challenging effort to get it set, but once it’s tight, it doesn’t let go.
For anyone looking to get an entry level snowshoe, I’d recommend looking at the Tubbs snowshoe line. Their options are a great value for beginners looking to get into the sport. And since mine are a bit over a year old, I took a swing over to Tubbs website to see what this year’s options might be. The basic kit inclusions are the same but the color is new and definitely feminine.
WHAT I LOVE:
These snowshoes are easy to get on and off, even in the frigid below zero temperatures we get sometimes. No matter where I’ve used them – on snow and ice, steep elevation gains and flat terrain – I feel secure in my stride. The gaiters are nice for deep snow or to add a windbreak on chilly days. The poles came with removable rubber tips as well as snow baskets that can be changed out as needed. Most of all, I feel like a got a good value for the money.
WHAT I’M NOT A FAN OF:
So far I’ve not found any issues. We’ll see how these hold up over the long term.
Model: Xplore 25
Retailer Where Purchased: REI
Specs: Best for flat terrain and recommended for up to 200 lbs of load (including user and gear). The toe closure is pull webbing, frame is made of aluminum and the deck of a PVC-coated polyester. Carbon steel crampons are located on the toe and heel. The overall dimensions are 8 x 25 inches and the pair weigh 3 pounds 8 ounces.
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