Application to Test Snowshoes - Josh Moffi
- APPLICATION TO TEST SNOWSHOES
Date: November 01, 2007
Closing Date: November 05, 2007
Please note the even though I live in Canada, I have a US shipping
I have read and understand the requirements for testing as outlined in
The BackpackerGear.org Bylaws v 0609, including Chapters 4 & 5. I
agree to comply with the testing and report requirements. I have
signed and submitted my tester agreement to the address indicated on
the agreement but I have not received confirmation of its arrival,
this may be due to spending four months on the Bering Sea and just not
seeing it upon my return.
Name: Josh Moffi
Height: 180cm (5 ft, 11 in)
Weight: 95 kg (210 lbs)
Email address: joshmoffi AT gmail DOT com
City, State, and Country: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
I have been backpacking since I was 3 years old, owned my first pack
at the age of 4, my first tent at 9. I have backpacked in various
locations New York, Vermont, Ontario, Michigan, Oregon and Alaska.
Once I introduced my wife to backpacking, we expanded our activities
to anything that gets us out into the woods. I usually carry the
heaviest pack in any party I hike with. I have recently started
getting rid of some excessive weight from my pack. I am expanding my
range of activities by to include winter backpacking and camping.
Testing locations and Trips:
Potential Testing Locations: While I do have numerous trips actually
planned for this fall and winter there is always the possibility that
additional backpacking opportunities will pop up. In addition to
backpacking I am also an avid ice fisherman, if chosen the snowshoes
will also accompany me on my many ice fishing excursions. These trips
could be made to various locations in Northern Ontario and Michigan,
the snowshoes always accompany me on any trips which may spontaneously
Planned Trip Locations:
Lake Superior Provincial Park: Lake Superior Provincial Park (LSPP) is
located along Lake Superior's eastern shore. The park is 1600 sq km
and is situated in the transition zone between the Great Lakes
St-Lawrence Forest and Taiga Forest regions. Its backcountry upland
vegetation is a mix of sugar maple and yellow birch in the deciduous
stands, while white spruce and white pines dominate the coniferous
areas. In the low-lying areas Eastern white cedar, black spruce and
tamarack dominate. Closer to Lake Superior, white spruce and white
pines become the predominate tree cover. Along the shore of Lake
Superior, where winds, waves, and spray hamper growth, some relict
Arctic-Alpine plants linger on in the wake of the Ice Age. The highest
point is northwest of Old Woman Lake at 594 m (1950 ft), the lowest
point is Lake Superior at 183m (600 ft) or less, depending on water
level. The topography of the park combined with the harsh storms that
frequently roll in off Lake Superior make life in the park hard,
especially for hikers who have to be constantly aware of how quickly
things change while backpacking in this amazing area. While there are
many thousands of square kilometres (thousands of square miles) of
wilderness closer to where I live than Lake Superior Provincial Park,
the fact that the park has no motorized vehicles and a number of
developed trail systems has encouraged me to make this area a major
destination for my camping trips. It is also close enough to make many
quick over night trips possible.
Right now I am planning on one extended trip into the backcountry area
of the park and two or three over night trips in to the park.
LSPP Coastal Trail: Within LSPP is the Lake Superior Coastal Trail; a
48.5 km trail that follows Lake Superior's eastern shoreline from
Agawa Bay at the south end to Chalfant Cove at the north end. While
Lake Superior's shoreline and the forests along the lake's edge are a
wonder for eye, the trail is a challenge for backpacking. The trail
winds though the forests along the lake, over bedrock outcrops, down
craggy bluffs and out over sand and cobble beaches. The weather can
make hiking very challenging as it can change quickly going from sunny
and warm to very cold, windy and raining in a matter of a half an
hour. This changes the trails into mud and slick moss making hiking
seem more painful. Nevertheless, when the evening comes and the
weather settles down the sunsets over Lake Superior are well worth the
hike in. It is this scenery and the sunsets, which draw me back to
this trail again and again. The current trip plans are to do two
extended weekend trips during the fall along different portions of
The Hiawatha Highlands is a 3000-acre area of Great Lakes St-Lawrence
forest . There are 50 km (31 mi) of maintained trails as well as
countless unmaintained trails requiring good map skills and potential
bushwhacking to navigate through. The area is the start of the
Canadian Shield and consists of rolling hills, networks of streams,
rivers and lakes, as well as stands of mixed timber and old growth
pine forests. This area is the location for my quick escapes when I
expect that there are a lot of people in LSPP.
Voyager Hiking Trail:
The Voyager Hiking Trail is an over 500 km (311 mi) of trail segments
which still have to be connected. The existing segments of trail start
with the Nipigon River Recreation Trail beginning just north of Red
Rock, in northwest Ontario and ending at South Baymouth on Manitoulin
Island in Lake Huron. Each area has it's own local club that maintain
and add to the trail every year with the goal of a continuous,
non-motorized trail extending across Ontario. This trail is a
potential location for either a 2 or 3 extended weekend trip.
Delirium Wilderness Tract & Hiawatha National Forest:
I am planning a 4-day trip with the Michigan Bush Rats in January '08.
This will be a snowshoe and sledge winter-camping trip will see them
exploring the 11,870-acre Delirium Wilderness Tract, which is located
within the heart of the 890,000-acre Hiawatha National Forest on the
eastern side of Michigan's Upper Peninsula not far from Sault Ste Marie.
To summarize the time I will be backpacking:
Lake Superior Provincial Park (Northern Ontario): one extended trip
and 2-3 over night trips throughout the test period.
Hiawatha Highlands: quick get over night get a ways.
Voyager Hiking Trail: 2 or 3 extended weekend trip as well as day hikes
Delirium Wilderness Tract & Hiawatha National Forest: a 4-day trip in
Regardless of when I go out, a pair of snowshoes they would be used
instead of my regular snowshoes during the test period.
Although I know that there is a bunch of fall left in which I can
spend time out in the bush I am really looking forward to a time when
there is snow on the ground and the lakes are frozen so that I can get
out and enjoy a winter wonderland. I have included weather data for
November, even though the area does not usually receive much snow that
stays on the ground for extended periods, we do receive some major
snowfalls that could result in some early season snowshoeing.
Climate norms for Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and area during the test
MONTH: AVG MIN TEMP; AVG MAX TEMP
November: -2 C (28.4 F); 4 C (39.2 F)
December: -10 C (14 F); -2 C (28.4 F)
January: -14 C (15.8 F); -5 C (23 F)
February: - 15 C (5 F); -4 C (24.8 F)
March: -9 C (15.8 F); 1 C (33.8 F)
April: -1 C (30.2 F); 9 C (48.2 F)
MONTH: RAIN; SNOW
November: 52 mm (2.05 in); 41 cm (16.14 in)
December: 17 mm (0.67 in); 81 cm (31.89 in)
January: 6 mm (0.24 in); 85 cm (33.46 in)
February: 5 mm (0.2 in); 54 cm (21.26 in)
March: 29 mm (1.14 in); 34 cm (13.39 in)
April: 49 mm (1.93 in); 15 cm (5.91 in)
Wind Speed: AVG KM/H; DIRECTION; MAX HOURLY SPEED
November: 15.6 km/h (9.7 mi/h); E; 89 km/h (55 mi/h)
December: 15 km/h (9.3 mi/h); E; 80 km/h (50 mi/h)
January: 14.3 km/h (8.9 mi/h); E; 80 km/h (50 mi/h)
February: 12.6 km/h (7.8 mi/h); E; 64 km/h (39.8 mi/h)
March: 14.1 km/h (8.8 mi/h); W; 74 km/h (46 mi/h)
April: 14.5 km/h (9.0 mi/h); W; 74 km/h (46 mi/h)
The fact that Lake Superior does not freeze over entirely results in
the area receiving a very large amount of snow in the area east of the
Great Lake. This snow is often light and fluffy building a deep snow
base in the area's backcountry. Routes often have to be changed to
deal with areas of extremely deep snow. Light fluffy snow requires
snowshoes to provide a large amount of float even when one is not
carrying a heavy pack. When there is a warm period this deep snow can
result in any of the melt being held on the frozen surfaces of the
lakes. Hiking across these unseen wet areas results in the hiker
packing the snow down into the water resulting in the hiker hiking
through slush. Snowshoes can be quickly covered with ice when this
slush freezes to the shoes. Combined these conditions with its rugged
terrain of the Canadian Shield and winter trekking in the are is
beautiful but very tough.
In the early spring the deep snow of the area turns granular and
compacts down. This is a nice time to be in the backcountry area but
this warming and thawing results in different snow conditions. When
snowshoeing in the area one can expect to have to deal with icy
conditions on hills, granular snow and at worst water on the surface
of the lakes. This means that the snowshoes may not have to provide a
lot of float but they do have to provide traction on the hills and
slippery ice of the lakes.
I have had numerous pairs of snowshoes over the years but I am still
trying to find a pair of snowshoes that will actually cover the wide
range of conditions experienced over a winter of trekking. I have
found that the `old school' wooden framed, raw hide laced shoes are
great in deep powder snow. But I tend to reach for my modern aluminium
and rubber shoes when spring comes. I would love the opportunity to
test a new pair of snowshoes to see how well they meet the
manufacture's claim of all around versatility.
I have been snowshoeing for many years. I have recently built my own
pulk (some times called a sledge) so that I can extend the distance I
can travel in the winter. Towing a pulk allows me to reduce the weight
of my backpack while still allowing me to be fully equipped with all
the gear for winter camping. I feel that this would allow me to test a
pair of snowshoes under a very wide range of weight conditions. The
extended trip I am planning into Lake Superior
Provincial Park will occur in February 2008, the temperatures in the
park during February of 2007 dropped to -38 C (-37 F) at night, the
potential is there to see even lower temperatures in the area. This
means that I will be able to test the snowshoes for performance in the
bush for an extended time on a single trip I feel that this could
potentially help identify any potential problems.
I understand that the test period for the snowshoes will be
conditional on when spring actually arrives. I have no issues with
spending extra time out on snowshoes, in fact I would love having an
Due to my size, and adding additional weight for gear, I would prefer
to test the snowshoes in the following order:
First - Tubbs Mountaineer Men's 36 inch
Second - MSR Lightning Ascent Men's - 30 inch
Third - MSR Denali Evo Ascent (I would purchase the tail extensions,
even then I suspect that according to the manufacture's sizing chart I
would still be hiking in conditions beyond what these shoes are
Some questions I would like to answer for testing a pair of snowshoes
regardless of the model:
Fit and Comfort:
Do they work with a number of different types of footwear?
How do they feel under various types of footwear?
If snow builds up on or under the snowshoes does it effect how they
feel, specifically is it uncomfortable to hike and do I have to stop
to clear off the shoes?
How comfortable is the heal support when climbing hills?
Can the snowshoes be quickly pulled on when the same footwear is used
or do the bindings have to be readjusted to obtain a proper fit?
How far do the snowshoes articulate?
Is this articulation enough to make hiking comfortable?
Does the articulation result in snow being thrown up into the back of
Does the amount of articulation allow a natural stride or do I have to
fight a resistance in the snowshoe to maintain a natural stride?
How well do the materials the snowshoe is made of hold up over a
season of use?
How does the use of the snowshoes in slushy spring weather effect the
Do the crampons or other metallic parts corrode?
How well does the heal support hold up to various pack loads?
How well do the snowshoe's materials hold up under very cold temperatures?
Does the decking material hold up to sticks when bushwhacking?
How much float do the shoes provide under various snow conditions and
with different pack weights?
Does the manufacture's sizing chart reflect the snowshoes' performance
or would I have preferred a larger size?
How much do they sink into deep powdery snow under various pack loads?
How well does the toe articulation work?
How much traction do the snowshoes provide when ascending or
How much traction do the snowshoes provide under icy conditions?
Do the snowshoes track squarely or do they twist when on slightly
Does snow build up under the foot wear or stick to the bottom of the shoe?
If snow does build up the type of snow or the degree to which it is
packed effect the rate of build up?
How much does the heal support help in climbing hills?
Are there slope angles that the heal support works better for?
Are there snow conditions that are better for using/not using the heal
How well do the snowshoes perform on cross hill traverses?
Does the heal slip on the deck when traversing cross hill or in uneven
Ease of Use:
Are they easy to use with a variety of different pieces of footwear?
Are they easy to adjust to various types of foot wear?
How easy are the snowshoes to put on?
Do I have to be sitting when I put the snowshoes on or can it be done
How easy is it to adjust the bindings with gloves or mittens on?
Is it easy to get the heal support set up when one has the snowshoes
on and is carrying a backpack or towing a pulk?
Is it easy to get out of the snowshoes or do the bindings freeze and
fail to operate?
Care & Storage:
Do the snowshoes require special care or is banging off the snow and
letting them air dry enough?
Can the shoes be easily stored by themselves or do the need a snowshoe
Can I just attach the shoes to my pack or put them into my pulk or do
they need to be covered to protect other items from their crampons?
Model specific Considerations:
MSR Lightning Ascent
Do the True-Hinge (TM) really help reduce heal drift and increase
Do the snowshoes have a left and right foot?
If they do have a left and right is it easy to tell them apart?
Do they have "unprecedented 360 degree grip" or are there certain
angles of travel which result in the snowshoes slipping?
RLL Revolution Response work under a variety of snow and hill conditions?
Does the RLL Revolution Response freeze up and result in the decks
being at a strange angle?
How well do the bindings perform with my technical hiking boots?
MSR Denali Evo Ascent
How much extra float do the tails provide?
How easy is it to put on/take the tails off?
Do the tails effect how the snowshoes perform on hills?
Are the tails long enough? I know that MSR makes longer tails for
other models, would I have preferred longer tails for this model?
Do the extension plates on the crampons help the snowshoes track squarely?
Do the snowshoes have a left and right foot?
If they do have a left and right is it easy to tell them apart?
I'm sure more interesting features will come up if I am chosen to test
a pair of snowshoes.
Previously Written Reports:
I have completed both of my required Owner Reviews.
Reviews Written by Josh Moffi:
Slumberjack Optimus Sleep System
I have sufficient time to test and report on a pair of snowshoes, as
Thank you to BackpackGearTest, MSR and Tubbs for considering my
application to test a pair of snowshoes.