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Tubbs Elevation Snowshoe REVIEW

Clever, simple, user-friendly, and durable; but heavy.

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by Will Rietveld | 2005-12-06 03:00:00-07

Tubbs Elevation Snowshoe REVIEW

Introduction

I was very impressed with the elegant, simple design and user friendliness of this high-end snowshoe. Its step-in binding, larger surface area, and long toothy crampons make it a good performer in most situations. But in spite of their simplicity, the Tubbs Elevation snowshoes are not lightweight.

What’s Good

  • Step-in binding positions and secures feet
  • Easy on/off
  • Very smooth and durable pivot system
  • Anodized 7075-T7 aluminum alloy frame is strong and lightweight
  • More surface area and floatation than average for a 25-inch snowshoe
  • Stainless steel crampons with long jagged teeth
  • Cleverly designed, solidly built, and very durable

What’s not so Good

  • Heavy
  • Lacks a pivot stop to limit rotation

Specifications

  Manufacturer

Tubbs Snowshoes

  Year/Model

2004-05 Elevation 25

  Dimensions

8 in wide x 25 in long (20 cm x 64 cm)

  Surface area

Measured surface area 205 in2 (1323 cm2), manufacturer specification 188 in2 (1213 cm2)

  Frame

7075-T7 series aluminum alloy tubing, 5/8 in (16 mm) diameter

  Deck

ArcTec (a proprietary plastic material)

  Binding

Nexus step-in binding; left and right foot specific

  Crampons

Stainless steel with jagged teeth, toe and heel

  Weight

Measured weight 4.19 lb (1.9 kg); manufacturer specification 3.93 pounds (1.78 kg)

  Load rating

120 to 200 pounds (54 to 91 kg)

  MSRP

$249

Performance

The first thing I noticed on the Tubbs Elevation is the Nexus step-in binding, which is left and right foot specific. It works like a clamshell; you simply put your foot in the gap, connect a clip on the top, and pull one webbing strap to secure it. The binding holds the adjustment. I did not have any problems with the top webbing strap icing up and interfering with tightening or loosening. The heel strap is a tried and true hook-and-hole type. The binding effectively secured my feet to the snowshoe with uniform pressure, and kept my feet aligned for tracking in a variety of conditions. Of all the snowshoes we reviewed, the Nexus binding on the Elevation is the easiest to attach and release. It is also remarkably simple and lightweight. One nitpick is that the heel strap lacked enough holes to accommodate smaller boots, but there is a women’s model available with smaller bindings.

Tubbs Elevation Snowshoe REVIEW - 1
Tubbs Elevation 25 bottom and top. The decking is a super tough plastic. The Elevation has a “western tail,” which is rounded rather than pointed. This design maximizes floatation and stability, while keeping the length shorter for better maneuverability.

The next thing I noticed is the frame and decking. The frame is 7075 T7 aluminum alloy (the best available), which enables a smaller tubing diameter to save weight. Its anodized finish is very durable. The ArcTec deck material is a super strong and pliable plastic that seems indestructible. It does not have an imbedded fabric and is claimed to be puncture and abrasion resistant to -40 °F. The deck on these snowshoes is very tight and looks great, but it is also thicker and heavier than the other snowshoes we tested, adding to the weight.

Tubbs Elevation Snowshoe REVIEW - 2
The Nexus binding on the Tubbs Elevation is a clamshell design. It’s easy to step in and secure, and positions your feet perfectly. Pictured are the outside (top left) and inside (top right) of the right snowshoe. The bottom photo shows how the binding positions the toe area.

The Elevation has stainless steel toe and heel crampons with long jagged teeth. They enabled me to climb a slope so steep that I was holding on with my hands so I didn’t fall over backwards. Walking downslope, the long crampons held on about a 40 degree slope (on firm snow), then as I leaned back (and unweighted the front crampons), the rear crampon was not enough to hold on and gravity took over sending me into a controlled slide on the smooth tails. In powdery snow conditions, the Elevations were great fun for “plunging” (sliding) down steep slopes. Side slope stability was average because the Elevation lacks any specific lateral crampons like the Atlas 10-Series or MSR Lightning Ascent.

Tubbs Elevation Snowshoe REVIEW - 3
The Tubbs Elevation has crampons like a great white shark - long and jagged. Each crampon has a piece of the decking material attached to the bottom to resist icing (left). Note the hinge-type pivot system, consisting of a steel rod that passes through a sleeve on the crampon.

The Elevation has a hinge type pivot system that will turn 360 degrees. There is no stop on it, so if you lift your foot high the snowshoe will point straight up. Basically, the system depends on your shuffling the snowshoes forward and dragging the tails. It provides good stability and freedom, but it requires more energy and makes it a little harder to step over logs, climb steep icy slopes where you need to kick in the front crampons, and back up in tight places.

Tubbs Elevation Snowshoe REVIEW - 4
The Elevation has a free hinge-type pivot system, which is very strong and gives lots of freedom, but does not align the snowshoe for you like a pivot strap does. Basically you shuffle forward, lifting the tips and dragging the tails. The vertical hang is definitely uncool when you’re jumping off a snowbank!

With its elegant and simplistic design, the Tubbs Elevation seems like it should be lighter than it is. The extra weight comes from the steel hinge pivot mechanism, steel crampons, and deck material. All are unquestionably durable, but contribute significantly to weight.

What’s Unique

The Elevation is elegant in its design simplicity and user friendliness, and is built to last. In particular the Nexus binding is delightfully simple, yet it effectively positions and clamps your foot in place and tracks well. Also the toe pivot design is very strong and provides free movement.

Recommendations for Improvement

There’s a lot to like about the Tubbs Elevation, I only wish they were lighter. How about providing a lightweight version using the same basic design?

I would also like to see a stop added to the hinge pivot system to limit its rotation. That would make the shoes more maneuverable while retaining their excellent stability.


Citation

"Tubbs Elevation Snowshoe REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/tubbs_elevation_snowshoe_review.html, 2005-12-06 03:00:00-07.

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