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Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW

Lightweight snowshoes at a great price, but there are issues.

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by Doug Johnson | 2006-02-07 03:00:00-07

Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW

Introduction

At $159, the Redfeather Trek 30s are inexpensive for moderately lightweight snowshoes. They use stainless steel crampons that provide good bite for recreational to moderately technical snowshoeing. However, there are issues with the shoes that, depending on your usage, might make them a poor value for you.

What’s Good

  • Competitively priced at $159
  • Moderately lightweight at 3.8 pounds for a 30-inch snowshoe
  • Thin steel crampons slice easily into ice and crusty snow and offer good traction in most conditions

What’s Not So Good

  • Bindings do a poor job of centering the foot, causing the snowshoes to “pigeon-toe,” which shifts your weight to the inside of the shoes
  • Heel plates ball up with wet snow, causing heel slippage
  • Printed graphics rub off with usage
  • Stiff pivot straps flip snow up your back (or over your head when running)

Specifications

  Manufacturer

Redfeather

  Year/Model

2005 Trek 30

  Dimensions

8.9 in wide x 30.5 in long (22.5 cm x 77.5 cm)

  Surface Area

Measured surface area 224 in2 (1445 cm2), manufacturer specification not available

  Frame

6000-series aircraft-grade aluminum alloy tubing, 0.75 in diameter (1.9 cm)

  Deck

TX 35 polyvinyl laminate material

  Binding

Control binding consists of a heavier rubber strap called the "Live Action Hinge,” a stiff plastic base plate, soft rubber side supports, 1-inch webbing straps, and urethane heel strap with aluminum buckle

  Crampons

Hawk crampon system consists of a stainless steel 1.25 in (3.1 cm) long front crampon and 1 in (2.5 cm) heel crampon

  Weight

60.8 oz as measured (1724 g), manufacturer's claim 56 oz (1.59 kg)

  Load Rating

220 lb (100 kg)

  MSRP

$159

Performance

The Redfeather Trek 30s use the Control Binding, which consists of clear plastic side supports and a 5-inch (13 cm) hard plastic base. The front of the binding is tightened with two nylon straps that cross the foot in three places, providing a secure attachment. The urethane heel strap adjusts with a single aluminum buckle. There is good adjustability to accommodate a wide range of boot sizes. Excess straps tuck neatly into attached rubber rings.

Although the bindings are very secure, they do a poor job of keeping the heel centered over the heel plate. This results in heels sliding to the inside of the snowshoes and the snowshoes having a “pigeon-toed” gait. With the heels on the inside of the snowshoes, my weight tended to shift to the inside, causing the shoes to angle inward when walking in deep snow. Despite trading boots, setting up the bindings differently, and having several friends try out the snowshoes, this problem was consistent and seemingly unavoidable.

Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW - 1
Heel centering is an issue with the Redfeather Trek 30. The heels tend to slide to the inside, causing the snowshoes to be “pigeon-toed” (left). This is due to binding design and is further exacerbated by a plastic heel plate that quickly balls up with wet snow.

The Trek 30s use a pivot strap to keep the deck close to your heel when walking, keeping it clear of snow, allowing for a natural stride, and ensuring flat landings when jumping. However, the stiffness of the pivot strap results in snow being flipped against my back when running. (This is fairly typical with this type of snowshoe pivot.)

The traction system consists of a moderately aggressive toe crampon with a heel crampon in the rear. The crampons are made of stainless steel and have remained sharp and durable during our testing. While not as aggressive as some crampons, they are sufficient for technical snowshoeing that far exceeds the realm of “recreational snowshoeing” including sidehilling icy snow on Mount Hood in Oregon and direct high angle ascents. Because the steel crampons are thinner than aluminum, they bite easily in crusty and icy snow; a real benefit. Despite multiple rocky river crossings the crampons showed no sign of bending.

Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW - 2
Thin stainless steel crampons easily bit into icy snow and proved very durable, despite rocky river crossings.

Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW - 3
In crusty, icy snow on Mount Hood, the moderately aggressive crampon of the Trek 30 provided a good grip - certainly enough for recreational snowshoeing.

The heel plate, which helps to center the heel of a shoe or boot, is a raised plastic plate with angled ridges for traction. When snowshoeing in dry conditions, the plate provides good traction. However, it tends to ball up in wet snow, causing the heel to further slip off the plate and to the side. In conjunction with the problem of the binding not keeping the heel centered, it is very difficult to keep the heel centered on the snowshoes during wet snow conditions (quite common in the Pacific Northwest).

According to Redfeather, the pointed tail is designed to act as a rudder to help straighten the stride when snowshoeing in powder or downhill. I did notice a slight effect, particularly when descending in steep, icy snow. However, the pivot strap typically keeps the decking pretty close to the heel, eliminating this advantage in most situations. Further, the pointed tail decreases the surface area of the shoe, reducing flotation. While the pointed tail did not adversely affect side hilling, it did sometimes catch in the open foot area of the opposite snowshoe in very narrow, technical traverses, causing stumbles and occasional falls. All in all, the benefits of the pointed tail did not outweigh the drawbacks.

The TX35 decking of the Trek 30 wraps around the frame and is secured by rivets. While I didn’t have problems with the decking in general, the attachment points tend to rub against icy snow, trail obstacles, and occasionally the opposite snowshoe. On the first trip with the shoes, the screen printed graphics began to wear off of the decking along where it wraps around the frame. After extended usage, the decking at the front attachment points has begun to fray and wear through slightly. While other snowshoes have similar decking attachments, the durability of the TX35 decking might not be adequate for this style of attachment.

Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW - 4
The Redfeather Trek 30 snowshoes were pushed to the limit during testing. Greg Johnson shown jumping on left (note the kicked up snow from the strap bindings) and author on the right (I made it!).

I bent one snowshoe frame slightly in the heel area. The tubing did not flatten but it now has a slight curve to it. Although I’m not sure where or how this occurred, these shoes were submitted to usage that exceeds what I would consider normal usage for a recreational snowshoe. We jumped off of small cliffs, kicked placements in icy traverses, and took several hard, tumbling falls. However, I have used a variety of snowshoes (Sherpa, Northern Lites, Tubbs, and Atlas) doing similar things for years and have never experienced a bent frame before.

Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW - 5
A bent frame (left) and a worn decking attachment with rubbed-off graphics (right) were durability concerns.

At $159 for a pair of quality, fairly lightweight snowshoes, the Trek 30s are a good value.

However, the problem of heel centering is annoying, and if you push these snowshoes to the limit you may experience durability issues.

What’s Unique

Steel crampons set the Redfeather Trek 30 apart from snowshoes that use aluminum crampons. These proved durable during testing and especially sharp, a real benefit in icy conditions.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • The Trek 30s need some changes to improve heel centering in the binding. The Redfeather Alpine 30, which has a stiffer (and heavier) pivot binding, doesn’t have heel centering problems to the extent of the Trek 30. With this in mind, a stiffer binding may be a solution to this problem. A lower profile heel plate with wider groove spacing would ball up less and minimize the heel sliding off the plate, helping to keep the heel centered.
  • While it is annoying to see graphics begin to rub off on the first outing with a new pair of snowshoes, the decking beginning to rub through after hardly one season of use is unacceptable. More durable graphics would be preferable and a more durable front decking attachment (or tougher decking) is essential.
  • Despite my pushing these snowshoes to their limit, I should not have experienced a bent frame. A more durable snowshoe with a tougher frame material would be better for extreme usage.

Citation

"Redfeather Trek 30 Snowshoe REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/redfeather_trek_30_snowshoe_review.html, 2006-02-07 03:00:00-07.

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