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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Product Review: Atlas Snowshoes

For the 4th or 5th time I went to my knees...the snow, which was around 20 inches deep made for a soft landing, but also complicated getting up. It took some practice before I learned to use the poles to pull myself upright. Snowshoes, I found, are a lot like have to keep the tips up or you'll fall. And they don't keep you on top of the snow, but instead of falling through to past my knees, I only sunk to ankle depth.

I put a lot of thought into buying my 1st pair of snowshoes. We got our winter gear list in early December, so I had time to shop around. I'm a traditionalist, and like the way the old fashioned leather and wood variety look. But in the damp Pacific Northwest, they aren't very practical. I knew I'd have to settle for a modern metal and plastic pair. I had no idea how many brands and styles of snowshoes there are!

First, I read all I could about the art of snowshoeing...even back in Missouri I thought it sounded like fun. Once I figured out the key to choosing the right pair, I started to narrow the field. Here are the 2 most important things to know before your buy snowshoes.
  • How much do you weigh - and how heavy will your pack be? Snowshoes are rated for a weight range, and the more you weigh or carry, the longer the snowshoe should be.
  • Will you be snowshoeing on groomed trails and level ground, or will you be going off trail over uneven terrain, or will you be making your own trail on steep and/or dangerous terrain? Again, there are snowshoes for each degree of difficulty.

Given that my weight plus a full pack would run about 170-180 pounds, and that while we would be off trail and in the mountains, we were not likely to get into seriously dangerous terrain, I wanted 27 inch women's snowshoes for moderate terrain.

After studying several snowshoe company web sites, I decided on the Atlas Elektra 927 with poles and a carrying case. This brand boasts what they call a "spring-loaded suspension" which I felt would be gentler on my old lady ankles. They also have a binding that's easy to cinch and easy to remove. The women's style is a bit narrower than the man's style which makes for a more natural gait. They have toe crapons and a heel cleat for traction. The Aluminum frames are sturdy but light weight, and the Neytex decking remains flexible when cold. The 927 is rated for moderate terrain and a weight range of 120-200 pounds. The poles are 2-part and adustable, and the carrying case keeps them nice and neat for travel, and is ventilated so they dry well.

I ordered them from L.L.Bean at the sale price of 179.00. They were delivered promptly and served me well on our winter camping trip. I would recommend them to weekend and beginnig snowshoers. The value for the price is very good. I expect to use them for many winters to come.

1 comment:

  1. How appropriate! Tomorrow I am heading out with a group of trackers to teach some UW students about tracking in the snow.... and we will be wearing snow shoes.

    You and I seem to be on the same wavelength. :)


My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"