OR - Yukon Charlie's ICON BETA Snowshoes - Kathy Waters
- Even though I'll be taking (just in case) these snowshoes with me this week,
I'm posting this OR now anyway. I'm reasonably sure my notes won't change
HTML is in the test folder at http://tinyurl.com/6ptwoq8 and text is below.
Feel free to mark it up!
YUKON CHARLIE'S W'S ICON SERIES BETA SNOWSHOES
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
May 26, 2012
NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to
backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land
bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other
gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my
husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers,
rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New
Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is
comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed).
Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
Manufacturer: Yukon Charlie's
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.yukoncharlies.com
Sizes Available: 8x21, 8x25 and 8x29
Size Reviewed: 8x21
MSRP: US$ 89.00 to 109.00
MSRP Reviewed: US$ 89.00
Listed Weight (by size): 3.4 lb (1.5 kg) to 4.4 lb (2 g)
Reviewed Measured Weight: 3.4 lb (1.5 kg)
Frame Colors Available: Carbon
Deck Colors Available (by size): Lemon Zest, Grape Crush, Aqua Blast
Deck Color Reviewed: Lemon Zest
Photo Courtesy of Yukon Charlie
Other details: (from the manufacturer's website)
8x21 Carries: Up to 150 lbs (68 kg)
8x25 Carries: Up to 200 lbs (91 kg)
8x28 Carries: Up to 256 lbs (116 kg)
Warranty: "Yukon Charlie's warrants this product to be from defects in
material and workmanship for the life of the product to the original
purchaser, when purchased from an authorized retailer."
The first thing I noticed about the Yukon Charlie ICON Series BETA snowshoe
is its very eye-catching graphics. A bold yellow checkered pattern is
slashed with gray and black on the rear and mid-decking and the front toe
decking has thick yellow "Vs" topping black and gray checks which somehow
remind me of wings. The bindings are a medium gray color flexible material
with yellow Quik Clik II buckles and heel grip. The one piece frame is a
black matte color. The overall design is quite pleasing, very modern-looking
and made me want to get out into the snow!
According to the Yukon Charlie website, the ICON Series BETA snowshoes are
"designed for flat to rolling terrain for the active recreational user."
This is a gender specific snowshoe with technical features Yukon Charlie
advertises will "provide a natural stride," extreme maneuverability and
"traction in any condition."
To start, the profile of the BETA is narrower than my other snowshoes by a
full inch (2.5 cm) at the heel strike plate. Just before the frame angles to
form the V tail, the width of the BETA is almost 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) less
than my other snowshoes. At the widest point, in the front of the snowshoes
where the frame turns up (from the ground), the width is almost the same
Two - as Yukon Charlie calls them - Quik Clik II binding straps are
positioned one just behind the toes and one over the mid-step. These straps
are adjustable via a unique (to me) buckling mechanism which allows
tightening of the strap to the proper fit by ratcheting the buckle upward
and loosens the strap with a one-handed grip-and-pull (upward) gray plastic
tab in the middle of the buckle. The heel strap gets its custom fit by
pulling it tight and inserting a metal tab into the proper hole. The excess
strapping can then be looped back and held in place with a neat top-opening
"belt loop". Once the heel strap is affixed, it needn't be fussed with again
unless different sized footwear is worn.
Of course, the "meat" of any snowshoe is the crampons and the BETA snowshoes
sport some pretty aggressive aluminum front and rear ones! The four main
front teeth are arranged in a semi-circle and are a full 1.5 inches (3.8 cm)
long with a shorter serrated tooth in the middle. In the heel traction
plate, four 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) serrated sections are off-set from the center
of the heel.
Last point to note is the length of the snowshoes as the model indicates is
21 inches (53 cm) long which is 4 inches (10 cm) shorter than any one of my
uiFIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE
Over the last several months (January through May, 2012), I put the Yukon
Charlie BETA Snowshoes to the test on 5 different backcountry treks and one
snowshoe 5K race. My backpack load was approximately 20 lb (9 kg) on each of
the hikes and that combined with my winter wear and my own body weight,
meant the snowshoes were carrying 150-154 lb (68-70 kg). Of course, for the
snowshoe race, I was not toting anything more than the usual base layers,
mid-layer and jacket.
Most of the terrain was flat to rolling hills on packed trails through
evergreen trees or in open prairie. Temperatures were as low as 8 F ( -13 C)
and high as 45 F (7 C). Obviously, I'm talking about snow and/or ice-covered
landscapes to a depth of 30 inches (76 cm) or so, although I actually did
pack in the BETAs on one occasion where there ended up being a decided lack
of snow - so disappointing!
When evaluating snowshoes, I look for only 4 things - how easy are they to
put on, how easy are they to walk/hike in, how well do they grip in
icy/packed snow and how well do they float on soft snow. If I were giving
out one star for each of those criteria to the BETA snowshoes, the BETAs
would shine proudly with 3.5 out of 4 stars. AND, the half star off really
wouldn't be fair as I far exceeded their intended use.
How easy are the BETAs to put on?
The one word answer would be "very" but I'll expound on that a bit here.
Even on my very first attempt at adjusting the snowshoes' fit, it was
intuitive. Within the comfort of a 70 F (21 C) living room, I pulled on my
favorite winter boots, placed the BETAs on the rug, lifted up the yellow
plastic buckles to a vertical position and started to pull out the foot
straps to loosen them. Whoops! Pulled the first one out a little too far. No
worry though - it was a cinch to thread the strap back into position. Once
the foot straps were back where they belonged, I slid my boot under the
straps, placing my heel directly over the heel strike pad. Then using just
one hand, I ratcheted the two yellow buckles in turn side-to-side while the
strap tightened to the just right fit.
The heel strap also needs no instruction as there is a metal tab which acts
as a stopper that hooks into one of several holes in the strap to form a
custom, snug fit. Once the proper hole is secured, the excess strap is
folded back on itself and slid into a sort of open ended belt loop so as to
not flap in the breezes. Once the heel strap was secured, I did not have to
adjust it again all winter.
As for the ease of adjusting the foot straps in the field, even with my
heaviest winter gloves in a frigid temperature of 8 F (-13 C) with a wind
chill of -24 F (-31 C), I was able to put the BETAs on. Goodness knows, I
wasn't about to take my gloves off if I could help it!
How easy are the BETAs to walk/hike in?
Let me start out by saying - "Grace" is not my middle name! I'm a bit of a
klutz on flat dry ground barefooted, so when I am on snow or ice, tromping
on hills with "shoes" the size of Bigfoot's? Well, it's not elegant to say
the least. More than once I've landed face first in a tangle of legs and
trekking poles when catching the edge of one snowshoe with the other.
However, with the BETAs, I don't have to do what I call my "monster stomp"
where my legs are splayed outward at what feels like a 45 degree angle and I
look like a female version of Frankenstein. The narrow profile of the BETAs
allows me to walk almost naturally without fear of one foot tripping over
the other. OK, to be honest, the tripping phobia is no more than normal at
Shockingly - to me - is my ability to actually run with the BETAs on my
feet. This is a very good thing as I have been intrigued with the concept of
snowshoe racing (I figured it would be slower than regular racing - ha!) and
this past March along with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter entered my
first event, a charity 5K race to support breast cancer. While I certainly
didn't win (place or show), I did finish in the front of the pack without a
single stumble. With the smaller-than-most size of the BETAs, I was able to
pass a lot of other contestants in tight quarters and even maneuver around
the pack by climbing off trail a bit. I'll never be a sleek snowshoe-racing
fool, but I certainly feel more confident in the ease of snowshoeing in
How well do they grip in icy/packed snow?
Icy Snow (speaking to BETA snowshoes): "What big teeth you have!"
BETAs (speaking to Icy Snow): "The better to EAT you with, my dear!"
... With apologies to the unknown author of "Little Red Riding Hood" ...
When I've got hard-packed snow, that is where the BETA snowshoes really
devour the trails! Thanks to the very aggressive crampons on the front of
the snowshoes and grippy heel strike crampons, I am able to securely chomp
down on snow-covered trails like a bull dog with a steak bone.
I get a very firm foothold when striding down well-traveled trails where the
snow is more crunchy than cushy. My forefoot can dig into even a semi-steep
slope quite nicely and the rear crampons keep me from slipping backwards. On
descent, the heel teeth function particularly well at keeping me from
glissading into the nearest tree, rock, etc.
While I really like the way the BETAs work, I wouldn't mind if the crampons'
teeth were a bit more wolf-like (more sharply pointed).
How well do they float on soft snow?
That "half star" I mentioned - this is where it came from and why it's not
entirely fair. Plain and simple, when wearing a full pack and my heaviest
winter clothing, I had difficulties with the BETA in deep powder. Topping
out at probably 150-154 lb (68-70 kg), I weighed slightly over the
recommended carry-weight for the 8 x 21 snowshoes. AND, the BETAs are
market-positioned for walking/running and light hiking, not backpacking. I
knew I was pushing them over the limit so to speak and while I was able to
traverse an unexpected fresh snowfield, it was not very enjoyable. I didn't
exactly post-hole but I did sink in a good 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) and with
a pack and snowshoes, I tired out rapidly. Fortunately, the snow only
stretched for a short distance and the BETAs were re-strapped to my pack for
the rest of the trek.
With less weight - day pack of 15 lb (68.kg) or no pack at all - if I walked
with care, I could safely navigate soft snow. I don't think soft snow is the
BETAs strong suit, nor does the Yukon Charlie website really hype them as
such. If I know I'm going to be off-trail/backcountry in the future, I will
probably leave the BETAs at home and stick to my Chinooks.
1.) The light weight.of the ICON Series BETA Snowshoes allows me to be
faster with less fatigue
2.) The narrow footprint lets me walk with a natural stride, not bow-legged.
3.) The Quik-Clik II Ratchet bindings are a dream to fasten and unfasten.
1.) Not the best snowshoes if pushing the weight limits in deep snow.
My very first pair of snowshoes 'way back in 2002 was a pair of Yukon
Charlie's Chinooks (one of my very first Owner's Reviews). I have had other
snowshoes since then but still, almost always, I've pulled out my faithful
Chinooks when hitting the trails or the backcountry.
In recent years, I've been spending more time on packed-down snow rather
than powder and am now entering the snowshoe race frenzy. As a result, I
have been coveting a lighter, sleeker pair of snowshoes. So when I was
offered the chance to try out the Women's ICON Series BETA Snowshoes, I
jumped at it!
Lightweight, good traction, and a stride I can deal with, the BETAs deliver
it all! These snowshoes have been all that I had hoped for. So, when I'm not
carrying a heavy pack and will be on packed trails of snow and ice, I will
be wearing the BETAs from here on out.
Thank you to Yukon Charlie's for giving me the opportunity to pound the snow
in these great snowshoes.
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version
1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
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