Jan 7, 2007 at 11:05 am #1221100
I am looking at purchasing a pair of Northern Lites Snowshoes. I have no experience snowshoeing and I want to use them on a winter backpacking trip in northern Minnesota (BWCA). I weigh 150 pounds, and may carry up to 35 pounds on my back… any more and I would switch to a pulk. I am trying to decide between the Elite (25", 36 oz. pair, listed for user packing weight under 175 lbs) and the Backcountry (30", 43 oz. pair, for 175 lbs to 250 lbs). So I am right on the threshold between these snowshoes, around 175-185 pounds total. I know the snow conditions can play a big factor. Should I go with the Backcountry, a slightly heavier and more cumbersome snowshoe, but one that will keep me afloat above the snow better? Or with the Elite which in many conditions may provide all the flotation I need and which I should be able to move around in more easily (7 oz lighter, 5" shorter), but which may frustrate me in powdery snow or when carrying heavier loads? Any practical snowshoeing advice would be appreciated. I also need boots of some sort… which I haven't looked at yet.Jan 7, 2007 at 6:05 pm #1373454
@drayLocale: Olympic Peninsula
I have a pair of the 25in Northern Lite "Quicksliver"s. I weigh 160 lb and typically carry a 25lb or less pack. However I snowshoe mostly in the Olympic Mountains where the snow is wet and dense. In most cases these snowshoes are fine but in light snow they do sink in. If I lived in somewhere with softer snow and colder temps (meaning heavier packs) I would definitely go with a pair of 30" snowshoes. Sinking in with snowshoes burns a lot of energy, it seems to me more than hauling heavier shoes around.Jan 7, 2007 at 6:50 pm #1373457
I also am looking at the Northern Lites and ordered the racers 20", the 25", and the 30" (because they have a great return policy) … after anguishing about it, I figured I would look at them and then decide.
So glad to hear that the 25" work in harder snow. I thought they would with a pack, it is funny — the website says the 20" racers are good to 210 lbs., but the description of the larger 25" say they are good to 175 lbs. — so I took a chance on the racers at 20" at 34 oz. v. 25" for 36 oz. for the non-racer version. If that makes sense.
How easy are the bindings to use???? That is my biggest question. bdJan 8, 2007 at 12:09 am #1373489
Being a B-C skier I find no problems handling a 30" snowshoe. In fact I'm looking for 36" Atlas snowshoes to replace my Atlas 30" shoes.
The more length the more flotation. But you'll never get the flotation from any snowshoe you will with back country skis. Snowshoes are great for thick woods and very steep hills. B-C skis rule everywhere elseJan 8, 2007 at 7:49 pm #1373582
>>How easy are the bindings to use???? That is my biggest question.
The bindings are very easy to use. You can even fasten them wearing mitts. I most often use my Quicksilver 25s with low volume shoes (trailrunners with neoprene overbooties) and have a lot of strap left after I tighten them. To get them out of the way I first tighten the strap at the toe and tuck the extra length under the middle strap before I tighten that one. The extra length of the middle strap gets tucked under the strap closest to the ankle. Don't forget to fasten the heel strap.Jan 8, 2007 at 9:07 pm #1373594
Dondo, on most trailrunners I don't see a good area in the heel for the back snowshoe strap. Do you need to buy special trail runners for snowshoeing?Jan 8, 2007 at 10:12 pm #1373598
John, I don't use special trail runners. The Saucony Grid Omnis that I use for hiking work fine with my Northern Lites. The rear strap snugs into the heel cup just above the sole.Jan 9, 2007 at 4:30 pm #1373678
@djohnsonLocale: Washington State
I have a pair of 25" Elites. GREAT shoes! I weigh 175 and carry a 20-25 pound pack in the winter. Like the other guy I live in Washington with typically wet and dense snow and these give great flotation. I never need a 30" here. I also tend to really push snowshoes and do a lot of steep climbs, jumping, and playing with them. The smaller size gives me greater mobility which I like.
However, I totally agree with what some other folks have said. If I lived in an area with lighter snow or more mellow terrain (flatter), I'd totally go for the 30" model. You hardly pay a weight penalty at all with the larger shoes.
Another note- I'm wicked hard on snowshoes and these snowshoes are really durable. I took a 15 foot cliff last weekend, crashed hard, and these things just keep going. You will be very happy with these snowshoes for YEARS!
DougJan 9, 2007 at 5:24 pm #1373684
Where I live along the front range of Colorado, snowshoeing is a very popular activity. Mostly, by the time I get to a trail, the surface has been partially packed down by others wearing mini-snowcats on their feet. So 25" is usually sufficient. As I attempt more mileage, I sometimes go beyond the point where others have turned around. It's then that I wish I had a pair of 30" snowshoes to give more "float" on virgin snow.
If you expect to be in any kind of powder, go with the 30".Jan 9, 2007 at 8:57 pm #1373712
Thanks for the info. and advice … hits the question on the head. I will try the different lengths out and see, but my tendancy is to get the 25". Actually dreamt about them last night, because they are so beautiful — the colors of the beds and the quality that radiates from the photos … can't wait to try them and walk around the frozen lakes up here. bdJan 9, 2007 at 10:48 pm #1373718
@djohnsonLocale: Washington State
One last thing- I actually have the red Backcountry Rescue models. I got them for visability and they really work. My wife was trying to spot me on a mountain once with a scope- she couldn't see me but she could see my reddish-orange snowshoes as I waved them.
Just a thought. They are bright!
DougJan 15, 2007 at 3:44 pm #1374471
Thanks for all the advice. I decided to go with the 30" Backcountry snowshoes. I can't wait to try them out!
LukeJan 15, 2007 at 4:29 pm #1374475
I think you will love them, based on my experience — even if a smaller shoe might work sometimes, you can always get a much cheaper pair of shoes that are shorter and heavier than the 30" Northern Lites — but why bother. I love the 30" shoes. bd
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