FR - Tubbs Flex NRG snowshoes - D.Baxter
Here is my field report for the Flex NRG snowshoes. I wish they'd spent more time on my feet than strapped to my pack, but it's been a much warmer and snow free winter than usual!
HTML version : http://tinyurl.com/y8ga6mu
Text as follows:
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I first used the Flex NRG snowshoes hiking to Low Mountain mid December. Our off trail route gained 3500 ft (1067 m) over about 3 miles (4.8 km). Weather was cloudy and cold with a strong breeze. The snow was thin at lower elevations and icy higher up.
I next used the Flex NRG snowshoes hiking to Keechelus Ridge early January. We followed packed groomed roads and snowmobile tracks over about 9 miles (15 km) gaining 2200 ft (671 m). Weather was warm for mid winter and partly cloudy. The snow was very firm until near the ridge top and was then soft or a little slushy.
I also used the Flex NRG snowshoes over a three day trip between huts in the Mount Tahoma Trail Association. We hiked up a groomed road for about 3 miles (4.8 km) gaining 2000 ft (610 m) to high hut for the first night. The second night we moved about 5 miles (8 km) gaining about 1000 ft (305 m) to a yurt for the final night. The last day we hiked out an ungroomed trail in the trees covering about 5 miles (8 km) with negligible elevation gain. The snow was very thin in places and at times the snowshoes were carried. In areas with sun exposure they were helpful. Weather was very mild and sunny.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
So far I am pleased with the performance of the Flex NRG snowshoes. They have, unfortunately, spent much more time strapped to my back than my feet due to an abnormally warm and snow-free winter in the Pacific Northwest.
The snowshoes have been very comfortable on packed terrain. On hard packed snow, such as a groomed surface or snowmobile track, I can feel the flexibility in the "Soft Strike" zone. It gives a feeling of walking on softer snow and does indeed prevent my knees from absorbing the full impact. It is noticeably softer than the pair of hard-plastic decked snowshoes I own and slightly softer than the aluminum-tube framed pair.
The binding has been very solid. My feet stay firmly in place and my heel cannot slip side-to-side at all, which happens occasionally using my other snowshoes. Once secured it holds my foot in place and rarely needs a second tightening over the day. It is also very easy to step out of by simply unclipping the toe-strap. I would prefer a larger buckle, however. In thick gloves it can be difficult to undo the clip, especially if it is covered in packed or frozen snow.
But this rigid binding also causes one problem I did not anticipate. Compared to other snowshoes I find the Flex's difficult to secure to a backpack. Because of the thick, solid binding, when the snowshoes are set back-to-back and strapped vertically to my pack they protrude further from the pack and stretch the straps to their limit. This tends to make me feel unbalanced. The best packing solution I have found is to open the toe-strap on one shoe, spread the binding wide across the face of my pack, and cinch it down tightly to the pack. This keeps it closer to my back and is more comfortable. It does stretch the binding but so far I haven't noticed any damage. This did not work with my overnight pack while traveling between the huts, however. I resorted to carrying them under my arm since I could not find a satisfactory way to attach them to the pack..
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Snowshoes" IMAGE CAPTION = "Snowshoes on my pack.">>
I am unsure how effective the flexible tail is in a normal gait. I cant feel any effect from the tail while walking unless I take a funny step or walk in a very exaggerated stride. I swapped snowshoes with a friend on Keechelus Ridge so I could observe them from behind. I could visibly see his weight stretch the "Soft Strike" zone but did not observe any significant flexing in the tail. The added length of the tail does add some useful flotation in softer snow though.
The misaligned plastic I mentioned in my initial report has not caused any problems so far. I have noticed, however, an increasing amount of rust on the metal rails. I have treated these snowshoes the same as all my other pairs and simply let them air-dry after use. There are many spots where the metal has been scraped and the protective coating chipped off. These are now discolored from rust. At the moment it appears simply cosmetic but I am keeping an eye on it.
I am pleased with the Tubbs Flex NRG snowshoes. They offer excellent traction on packed and icy terrain. They are also very comfortable with the secure binding and flexibility of the landing zone. My knees do indeed feel less fatigued after a trip with the Flex's compared with my solid plastic snowshoes. The binding is very solid and holds my feet in place well. I do find the toe-buckle a little small and difficult to access while wearing thick gloves, though. I also have some trouble attaching them to my backpacks due to the thickness of the snowshoe and the rigid binding.
Thus far I have primarily used the Flex NRG snowshoes on packed snow or older, crusty snow. They offered excellent traction. They have also performed well in sun-softened deeper snow. I have not yet had the chance to use them in powder or deeper snow due to an abnormal winter and lack of snowfall but hope to have this chance before the final test period ends.
Check back in two months for my final report on the Tubbs Flex NRG snowshoes. Thank you to Tubbs and Backpackgeartest.org for this opportunity.
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Thanks for the report, html looks good. Only one little edit for you as follows.
> I resorted to carrying them under my arm since I could not find a satisfactory way to attach them to the pack..Edit: extra period/full stop at end of sentence.
> I cant feel any effect from the tail while walking...Edit: add a little apostrophe to "can't"