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OWNER REVIEW – Faber Winter Guide snowshoes

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  • Matthew Bradley
    *Tester Information **Name:* Matthew T. Bradley *Age:* 38 *Gender:* male *Height:* 5′ 6″ / 1.68 m
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 16, 2013
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      Tester Information

      Name: Matthew T. Bradley
      Age: 38
      Gender: male
      Height: 5′ 6″ / 1.68 m
      Weight: 140lb / 63.5kg
      Email: matbradl@...
      City, State, Country: Pittsfield, Mass., U.S.A.
      Date: 16 September 2013

      Backpacking Background

      Having grown up on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I have been a casual day hiker for most of my life. I became gradually more involved with dayhiking beginning with the Northeast’s big snow year during the winter of 2010/11, when I became addicted to snowshoeing. Currently, most of my hiking is done in the relatively steep and rugged Berkshire Hills and Taconic Mountains, with occasional trips to the nearby Catskills and Adirondacks.

      Product Information

      Manufacturer: Faber & Co.
      URL: https://www.fabersnowshoes.com/
      Model: Winter Guide (10 x 36 in / 25 x 91 cm)
      Place of Manufacture: Loretteville, Québec, Que., Canada
      Year of Manufacture: 2012
      Listed Weight: 4.85 lb / 2.2 kg
      Measured Weight: 4.79 lb / 2.17 kg
      MSRP: $156.05 CAD
      Warranty: one year; manufacturer will repair or replace if product damage is due to material or manufacturing defect

      Product Description

      The Faber Winter Guides are constructed using a combination of natural and synthetic materials. The crossbars and frame—which is upturned at the nose and gradually tapers towards the tail—are made of lacquered ash. The decking is made of injected copolymer and is reminiscent of a backpack frame sheet. Circular holes in the decking segments provide exit ports to prevent snow accumulation. The decking segments are secured to the crossbars and frame with high test monofilament and the frame is joined with strips of polymer.

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      An injected polymer bar secured to the toe bar via two screws provides purchase. In the same vein, the decking segment between the crossbars incorporates fourteen short “knobs”; four of these in turn incorporate steel tips.

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      Faber’s Trio CBR binding is constructed from Delrin and includes a molded toe stopper up front and two steel-tipped traction knobs similar to those present on the middle decking portion. The bindings secure via dual ratcheted straps, one across the top of the user’s metatarsal and the other at the heel.

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      Initial Use

      I received my pair of Winter Guides in mid-March of 2013 as the western Massachusetts snowpack seemed to be well on its way to disappearing for the season. Happily for me, we received a nice late season snowstorm on the final day of winter and I was able to shake down my new raquettes rather than put them directly into summer storage.

      On the morning of March 19th I parked at Petersburg Pass just on the New York side of the NY/Massachusetts state line and hiked up a three-quarter mile segment of the Taconic Crest Trail. The trail gained about 400 feet and the still-in-progress snow was powdery and unbroken. The Winter Guides provided good flotation. Not so good as tightly-laced traditional snowshoes, to be sure, but noticeably better than aluminum frame and Hypalon models. I did have to herringbone and kick step a few times on my way up due to the combination of snow conditions and the pitch of the trail. I do not believe that burlier crampons would have made much of a difference there, as there was no crust or ice underneath the fresh powder to be gripped. I descended back to the parking lot and made the drive to Williamstown, Mass., for lunch and to dry off.

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      After lunch I headed to the Vermont state line to make a trip up to the summit of the peak known as The Dome. The snow was thin at the trailhead so I started my trip up with my Winter Guides lashed to my pack. They didn’t stay there long, though, as it quickly became apparent that the fresh snow overlaid a thick sheet of ice formed during the preceding weeks’ freeze/thaw cycle. The Winter Guides’ traction provided more than adequate there. The route to the summit of The Dome gains 1,700 feet in 2.7 miles. Given that I was breaking trail in powder the entire time there was quite a bit of sweating on the way! The Winter Guides did their part to help me out, however. Flotation was again clearly superior to aluminum and Hypalon snowshoes, and the relatively long tail functioned to counterbalance the nose, lifting it with each step. In addition, the width of the Winter Guides helped provide stability on the heavily canted trails.

      The next day I made a trip to the parking lot of Mount Greylock Ski Club for a loop to the Stony Ledge overlook. I began the loop via the Roaring Brook Trail, a mile and a half up with nary a flat spot until the top. The snow had compacted somewhat overnight due to temperature and wind. The Winter Guides kept me right on top of wind-packed drifts which the two barebooters who had preceded me had sunk to their knees in with each and every step. I descended via the Stony Ledge Trail, an old Civilian Conservation Corps alpine ski piste. The descent was quick and sans problème. Thanks to the upturn at front and the counterbalance lift action of the tails I felt comfortable hopping along at a brisk pace without any fear I would inadvertently kick the noses into the snow and be sent for a face plant.

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      What I Am Looking Forward To / What I Know So Far

      I acquired the Winter Guides to fill a specific niche. I have traditional wood and babiche snowshoes that work wonderfully in powder and in wet snow and I have aluminum and Hypalon snowshoes that work great on packed and iced trails. Neither is perfect for the crusty off-trail snow one regularly finds in the sometimes steep terrain of the Berkshires and Taconics, however. Traditional snowshoes lack the grip to climb without constant kick steps, and aluminum and Hypalon snowshoes tend to break through the crust on each step due to a combination of relatively poor flotation and the puncturing action of aggressive crampons. My initial use of the Winter Guides leads me to believe that they will grip crust without punching through it, but only time will tell.

      One thing of which to be aware while using the Winter Guides is that the polymer traction bar and knobs appear to be somewhat susceptible to wear from contact with rocks. The lower stretch of my climb to the summit of The Dome involving fairly thin snow atop a rocky trail surface left a bit of wear on both of these elements. That is by no means to say that the decking nor the snowshoe in general is fragile, but I will attempt to minimize use of the Winter Guides in similar conditions from here on out.
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