Sep 29, 2009 at 1:58 pm #1239748
@bryansLocale: On a hill
What is the best Snowshoe for the price?Sep 29, 2009 at 2:09 pm #1531514
@beepLocale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Hmmm…need more information…
Location (area of the country)
Intended use (unbroken trail, packed trail, racing, etc.)
In general, the more weight (hiker plus gear), the bigger the snowshoe size that is required. My experience is that in deep powdery unpacked snow, I sink WAY in with the biggest snowshoes around so that breaking trail is a real PAIN IN THE SNOWSHOES!!!
Also, the intended sort of use/location may come to bear. Snowshoes do vary by "hardware" quality and binding durability. As you'd expect, the higher the "build quality", the more expensive they are. There is a substantial price difference between snowshoes for casual use and those for serious (as in your life depends on it) backcountry use.Sep 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm #1531517
Andy BernerBPL Member
I know the Northern Lites are great but not sure on if they have the best value, price wise.
I'm also looking for snowshoes. Are Northern Lites gonna work good for me here in Michigan? I'm 6'2" and 210 lbs. + pack weight. They would be for day hikes and hopefully over nighters in the future.Sep 30, 2009 at 6:00 am #1531699
@bryansLocale: On a hill
Location: North Michigan (UP)
Trail: Unbroken trail
BPack about 30 poundsSep 30, 2009 at 6:10 am #1531701
@sprucegooseLocale: New England
>>Are Northern Lites gonna work good for me here in Michigan? I'm 6'2" and 210 lbs. + pack weight. They would be for day hikes and hopefully over nighters in the future.<<
Northern Lites have shoes up to 32", which should provide you a good amount of float, even if you threw on a heavy winter pack.
I have a pair of Northern Lites that I use for racing on packed trails, but for mountain use, the crampon isn't agressive enough. I know some people that have modified them with steel crampon , which provides an ideal setup, but requires quite a bit of work.Sep 30, 2009 at 6:53 am #1531708
Steven EvansBPL Member
Bryan: for unbroken trail (non mountain routes), the Northern Lites are perfect. However, they are not cheap, so your original question of what is the best snowshoe for the price does not apply to these…but, if you are looking for the lightest, you've found it. I went through a snowshoe selection process about 2 years ago and I will tell you that nothing on the market is as light as the northern lites (equivalent size of course), and the ones that are marketed as being "light" will be expensive aswell.
I'm 6'3" tall and about 185 lbs, I have the backcountry rescues. They work great for me, but in the lightest powder, nothing will keep you floating right on top of the snow.
Andy: You'll be pretty close to the "backcountry" weight limit with a pack. Depending on what type of snow your dealing with, you may want to go up to the next size. No one wants to get a heavier pair, but it'll save you the extra exertion of sinking in every step.
SteveSep 30, 2009 at 9:09 am #1531755
@beepLocale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
The best bargain I've found on snowshoes (when I was shopping for my wife) was to purchase used rental snowshoes from a local outdoor shop. Despite some cosmetic flaws resulting from rental usage, they were functionally "new" with much good use ahead of them. In deciding what size to get, we relied on the usual weight/size charts from the manufacturers (like Tubbs/Atlas/NorthernLite/Redfeather). Going this path is much more easily accomplished at the end of the season. If you're purchasing early in the season, then looking for the size and model you want on Craig's List or eBay is likely to be your best alternative.Sep 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm #1531825
Andy BernerBPL Member
I wear size 13/14. I don't see anything on the northern lite website saying anything about shoe/boot size. Anyone know If I would have a problem?Sep 30, 2009 at 11:36 pm #1532028
Depends on the type of snow in your neck of the woods. Personally, for highest quality, I'd choose between the NorthernLites (which I did choose) and MSR. The NorthernLites will be your lightest option but are best in soft, unpacked, "dry/cold" snow. The MSR snowshoes (any model) are designed to be aggressive with the snowscape that typifies the Sierras: wet, packed, slippery.
That said, most of my Winter camping is in the Sierras, and I still chose the NorthernLites, cause of the weight. And I'm happy after two years.
There's other features worth mentioning, one in common with both manufacturers are rubber straps. Key. I hate nylon straps. They freeze every time and build up ice.
-MichaelOct 1, 2009 at 5:47 am #1532055
Steven EvansBPL Member
Andy, I wear a size 11, but use overboots with my snowshoes and they fit fine. I don't think you'll have a problem, it's just a strap that goes around the back of your shoe…that said, you should probably e-mail them to confirm, or I could pull mine out and see how much room there is with the strap set at the largest.
SteveOct 27, 2009 at 3:39 pm #1540206
I just got a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent 30" 'shoes. They have FAR better lateral traction than my 30" Atlas 800 series 'shoes.
Plus, having a flat aluminum frame instead of a tubular aluminum frame, they are more durable and resistant to breakage should you take a sudden slip on hidden rocks or timber.
They aren't a cheap date but should last decades. Got 'em at the Boulder, CO REI on a 20% off weekend.
NEW ITEM WORSHIP reigns! (Does that sound materialistic? Will these snowshoes make my thighs look big?)
Daniel> I've been in northern Wisconsin and the UP (where the "Yoopers" live) and there, in that rolling terrain, your Northern Lites are excellent. Same goes for my Atlas 'shoes in NW Pennsylvania, where I came from.
But now that I'm in the west with big mountains and many more miles of steeper terrain I just gotta have the MSR Lightning Ascents to be safe. Last year on my Atlas 'shoes I slid over 50 ft. down a mountain and re-injured my left shoulder. Now I have to get surgery. That painful lesson is why I changed to MSR 'shoes.Oct 27, 2009 at 4:58 pm #1540233
@dbthalLocale: Mid-Coast Maine
I'm 6' 2" and 205 lbs. with size 13 winter boots. The Northern Lite Backcountry snowshoes work well for me in northern Wisconsin & the U.P.
I use them mostly for day hikes, so I'm not carrying a lot of additional weight.
DanOct 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm #1540904
Daniel, see my reply in my earlier post.
EricNov 5, 2009 at 7:48 am #1542972
I'm in the market for a new pair of snowshoes and I've narrowed my choices down to the Northern Lite Backcountry and MSR Lightening Ascent.
I'm a bit concerned regarding reports that the Northern Lite crampon isn't very aggressive and thus more suitable to gentler terrain.
I will use these snowshoes mostly in the White Mountans of NH, so I need the ability to occassionally cross short icy sections and hard packed trail. However, on longer sections of windswept icy trail (think presi traverse) and on packed out trail I prefer to use crampons — so I will usually be carrying both.
Since I often carry the snowshoes, I really want the Northern Lites. But since I don't want to constantly stop at every icy/hardpack section and switch to crampons the Northern Lites need to be suitable for at least short sections of challenging terrain.
Comments and suggestions are appreciated.Nov 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm #1543201
"Comments and suggestions are appreciated."
I wouldn't use Northern Lites for ice or hard snow unless the terrain was essentially flat or with a very safe run out. They just don't have an aggressive enough crampon or teeth on the frames like the Lightning Ascents. They are a great SNOW shoe and OK even in steep snow as long as it is soft. The Lightning Ascent is designed for technical terrain.Nov 11, 2009 at 12:41 am #1544463
I think from the surface, this argument of MSR for ice/pack, and NL for soft snow, is true, technically, but the reality of the Northern Lights is that they're fully functional on all snow and lightest mile after mile.
There's always a situation when you'll wish for a different, or specialized piece of gear. But then you'll learn to use what you brought, you'll be fine, and realize nothing is the "uber-gear".
Also, you'll miss the fun of glissading if you get the MSR's.
-MichaelNov 11, 2009 at 6:14 am #1544483
Yeah, I hear ya. For long stretches of hardpack and icy sections I much prefer to take the snowshoes off anyway, and if I need more traction I'll put crampons on my boots.
This definetely sways me toward the Norther Lites.
I'm also now a bit worried about continued reports of MSR durability issues. Back in 2000 I had a new pair of Denali's break near the binding on my second day on Denali and it seems like people are still experiencing similar issues
But it would be totally ineffecient if the Northern Lites are so poor on hardpack and ice that I would have to take them off for every short section of ice I come across.Nov 11, 2009 at 12:21 pm #1544594
There are times when the snow pack just isn't playing fair, and you'll be slipping and catching, but there's strategies for dealing with that, or you adjust the route. I've had to do this around Mt Baldy where the snow is mostly a frozen surface, but postholing was real too. I just never was moving free and easy. My wish list would have included a light, packable snowshoe with aggressive tread; Microspikes for the icy, well trod lower trail; and aluminum 10 point and a short ice axe for the rest. Yea, right. Hehe.
But if you already anticipate packing your snowshoes, well, shiet, that cinches it for me, cause carrying the NL are a breeze. I've done it for miles of terrain or road in the Spring shoulder when the roads are a mix of dirt and pack, and the trail, too, was so nicely packed you aren't post-holing. Then on go the NL's when we went off the established routes.
I've never heard about structural issues with MSR. But I also always bring a few sizes of cable ties for repairs. Mostly those narrow, short ones we use for IT cable management.
man, enjoy the snow! I'm getting excited myself.
-michaelNov 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm #1544625
"but the reality of the Northern Lights is that they're fully functional on all snow and lightest mile after mile."
I've got to respectfully disagree here, Michael. I've been using them in the Cascades for 3 years on slopes of all angles and, while they are fine in most snow textures, I would NEVER try to use them on steep styrofoam or ice where the slope is greater than say 15-20 degrees unless the runout was totally benign, especially on a traverse. They simply do not have an agressive enough crampon, or teeth on the frame that grip perpendicular to the slope on a traverse. Conditions like these are where the Lightning Ascent and also the Denali come into their own. If someone is likely to encounter these conditions, they would be far better off with the marginally heavier MSR's, IMO.Nov 12, 2009 at 6:32 am #1544746
Thanks guys. This is exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping to get. Of course, both of your arguments are so compelling I'm still not sure which model I'm going to get!Nov 26, 2009 at 7:56 pm #1548331
I just bought my son-in-law a pair of "Alaska Charlie's" snowshoes at COSTCO. $79.99 for 9" wide X 30" long aluminum tube famed 'shoes, adjustable hiking poles W/detatchable snow baskets AND a nylon carry sack!
OK, they are made in China (Yukon Charlie Chan?)but they are well made from 6000 series aluminum (poles too) and have tough decking and good bindings. For that price and COSTCO's money-back garantee you can't go wrong. Heck, they look more robust than my old 30" Atlas 800 series 'shoes and have a better binding system.Nov 26, 2009 at 8:24 pm #1548337
"OK, they are made in China (Yukon Charlie Chan?)but they are well made from 6000 series aluminum (poles too) and have tough decking and good bindings."
What kind of crampon setup do they have?
How much do they weigh?Nov 26, 2009 at 9:08 pm #1548348
george carrBPL Member
@hammer-oneLocale: Walking With The Son
I second buying used rental snowshoes. I bought 4 pair of Sherpas (ok, I know this is ancient history) from a gear shop that was getting out of the rental business a bunch of years ago. And I only paid what I would have paid for one new pair. I still have two pair (sold the other two to friends) and use them whenever I can.Nov 30, 2009 at 12:22 pm #1548971
Elena LeeBPL Member
@lenchik101Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
Just did my first snowshoeing trip with Northern Lites Elites. Went off trail to the Guides peak in the Snoqualmie pass area. We were climbing some steep slopes. wet deep snow. it was…well…interesting. the snowshoe does have a grip when you aggressively plant your foot down in the snow facing the slope straight on. however traversing sideways is tricky. coming down is even trickier. had to face the slope and climb down backwards. all in all, i was amazed that we made it as far as we did. several minor slips though. the flotation of the snowshoe was superb. also being so lightweight, it's a great snowshoe for mixed hiking/snowshoeing trips. definetely bring your ice axe if going somewhere steep.Sep 29, 2011 at 9:49 am #1784796
I realize this is an older thread, but I am now facing the same quandary. I live near Portland, Oregon, and am trying to decide between the MSR Lightning Ascents and the Northern Lite Backcountrys. Arg!!!!! I'm tired of postholing!
Our winter hiking will probably be a lot like our summer hiking. We do non-technical summits, river hikes, forest hikes, and go to places in the the Cascades, Olympics, and coastal ranges, AND Eastern Oregon. Throw in the occasional trip to Lassen and Yosemite.
The Northern Lites are reaaaalllly appealing for their lightness. Had a few back surgeries, and I try to keep things ultralight now. But I'm worried about their suitability for some of the hikes we do. I'm not interested in climbing glaciers/volcanoes (Rainier, Hood, etc.), but I do like plenty of hikes in the neighborhood of those mtns. So conditions are mostly forested, but include (in the drier months) rocky sections and so on. I lean towards the Northern Lites based on what I've read, but it's interesting to note that local REIs do not carry them. Seems like the MSRs rule the roost, locally.
And on another note, we really enjoy wildlife viewing and so are looking at traditional snow shoes. Anyone have thoughts on traditional snowshoes for the Pacific NW. It's been very hard to find information about them here.
Also, I'll be carrying Microspikes to slap on my boots for icy sections, so I don't need the snowshoes to be a single solution for all conditions.
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