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Application to Test Snowshoes - Josh Moffi

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  • jmoffi_ca
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2007
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      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
      Age: 36
      Gender: Male
      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

      Backpacking Background:

      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
      this trail.

      Hiawatha Highlands:
      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.

      Weather Conditions:
      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
      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)

      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)

      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)

      Test Plan:

      Snowshoe Testing:
      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
      extended winter.

      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
      designed for.)

      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
      my legs?
      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
      descending hills?
      How much traction do the snowshoes provide under icy conditions?
      Do the snowshoes track squarely or do they twist when on slightly
      uneven snow?
      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
      while standing?
      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?

      Tubbs Mountaineer
      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:

      Applications Pending:
      Slumberjack Optimus Sleep System

      I have sufficient time to test and report on a pair of snowshoes, as
      outlined above.

      Thank you to BackpackGearTest, MSR and Tubbs for considering my
      application to test a pair of snowshoes.
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