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Bryan S
(BryanS) - F

Locale: On a hill
Snowshoes on 09/29/2009 14:58:23 MDT Print View

What is the best Snowshoe for the price?

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Snowshoes on 09/29/2009 15:09:09 MDT Print View

Hmmm...need more information...

Your height/weight
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.

Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Snowshoes on 09/29/2009 15:21:36 MDT Print View

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.

Edited by Berner9 on 09/29/2009 21:07:04 MDT.

Bryan S
(BryanS) - F

Locale: On a hill
Re: Snowshoes on 09/30/2009 07:00:07 MDT Print View

Location: North Michigan (UP)
Trail: Unbroken trail
Height/weight: 6'/195
BPack about 30 pounds

Spruce Goose
(SpruceGoose) - F

Locale: New England
snowshoes on 09/30/2009 07:10:08 MDT Print View

>>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.

Edited by SpruceGoose on 09/30/2009 07:12:54 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Snowshoes on 09/30/2009 07:53:37 MDT Print View

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.

HTH
Steve

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Snowshoes on 09/30/2009 10:09:33 MDT Print View

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.

Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Snowshoes on 09/30/2009 13:23:36 MDT Print View

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?

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
uber-snowshoes on 10/01/2009 00:36:25 MDT Print View

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.

cheers,
-Michael

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Snowshoes on 10/01/2009 06:47:33 MDT Print View

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.

Steve

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
MSR Lightning Ascent on 10/27/2009 16:39:30 MDT Print View

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.

Edited by Danepacker on 10/29/2009 13:30:07 MDT.

Daniel Benthal
(DBthal)

Locale: Mid-Coast Maine
Northern Lites on 10/27/2009 17:58:55 MDT Print View

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.

Dan

Edited by DBthal on 10/27/2009 17:59:56 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
BUMP on 10/29/2009 13:31:10 MDT Print View

Daniel, see my reply in my earlier post.

Eric

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
More Thoughts on Snowshoes...? on 11/05/2009 08:48:06 MST Print View

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.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: More Thoughts on Snowshoes...? on 11/05/2009 18:24:07 MST Print View

"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.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
uber-shoes on 11/11/2009 01:41:03 MST Print View

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.

cheers,
-Michael

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
re: "Snowshoes" on 11/11/2009 07:14:45 MST Print View

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.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
slow-shoes on 11/11/2009 13:21:21 MST Print View

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.

cheers,
-michael

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: uber-shoes on 11/11/2009 14:59:27 MST Print View

"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.

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
re: "Snowshoes" on 11/12/2009 07:32:47 MST Print View

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!