By Dan J.
Winter in Maine is interesting. Sometimes it starts early, hits hard and then just goes on and on. Sometimes it doesn’t really get going until after Christmas, and hits hard and keeps going. No matter when it starts, it lasts for ever it seems. I read recently that our average snowfall is over 120″. We’ve had about 70″ so far this winter, with another good storm coming in tonight. Although it makes driving a bit of a pain, it is great for snowshoeing.
Fortunately for me, I have a brand new pair of Tubbs Flex ALP 24 men’s snowshoes. Tubbs provided these for the purpose of this review.
Tubb’s website provides quite a bit of information, especially for those new to snowshoeing. The FLEX ALP page offers videos specific to this style, and includes information, design features and bio-mechanical testing.
Product Description: (from website)
Weight: 4.4 lbs Dimensions: 8″ x 24″
ActiveLift Heel Lift: ActiveLift™ heel lift reduces calf fatigue and Achilles tendon strain on steep ascents.
FLEX Tail: The ergonomically and biomechanically designed FLEX Tail absorbs shock from heel strike, reducing the amount of stress on your joints and allowing you to snowshoe farther, longer and with less stress on your body.
Torsion Deck: Tubbs’ advanced Torsion Deck™ design adapts to variable snow conditions underfoot. The decks allow torsional articulation throughout the body of the snowshoe, enhancing traction, biomechanics and comfort on uneven terrain.
Rotating Toe Cord – Rotation Limiter: Rotating Toe Cord design enables the tail of the snowshoe to drop and snow to shed off the tail, reducing cardio-respiratory strain by 7%. The underfoot pivot point also allows the toe traction teeth to bite deeply into the snow when weighted. A rotation limiter prevents over-rotation and shin bang.
ActiveFLEX Binding: Gender specific, asymmetric ActiveFLEX™ binding featuring patented Control Wings™ provides lightweight control, support, comfort and ease of use. Men’s binding fits up to size 13 boots; women’s size 5- 11.
ALP Traction Rails: Micro-serrated 3D curved Traction Rails and two additional tail traction elements ensure superior side-hill grip on hard to icy conditions, while progressive Snow Brakes aid in downhill braking.
I’ve had the opportunity to use these snowshoes a couple of times over the last few weeks. We’ve had plenty of snow here in Maine. I’ve taken them out on weekends on the trails behind my house. Our property abuts a 5000 acre wildlife management area, and there are trails throughout. Most of the trails are not well broken and are a bit rough. I found that the ALPs handled very well. I was able to stay out for a few hours at a time, even though I hadn’t snowshoed since last winter. The Traction Rails really do seem to help when I’ve had to do any climbing on icy trails. There have been some very icy spots, that the ALPSs handled extremely well – no slipping or sliding at all. I was pretty amazed, because in some places, it was smooth, thick ice that looked almost impossible to cross.
I think one of the reasons I was able to stay out for so long right off the bat this season was due to the Rotating Toe Cord – Rotation Limiter. It causes the shoes to shed snow, reducing strain on my legs. The FLEX binding is lightweight, and increases comfort while walking according to Tubbs. I do find they are lighter than previous snowshoes I’ve used.
The weather on the weekends I’ve been out has been in the 10-20F range. One day was fairly windy, but for the most part I’ve had sunny, calm days. The snow has ranged from light powder, to frozen solid ice. When on powder, I noticed a little bit of snow coming off of the back of the snowshoes, and hitting the backs of my legs. It wasn’t enough to cause a problem, and I took care of it by wearing gaiters the next time out. While on packed snow I had no problem with snow flying up, and stayed completely dry.
I’m looking forward to getting out over the next month, and trying some different trails. Hopefully, a trip to Vermont will be taking place the beginning of March. I’ll be updating this review in a month, and will let you know how they are holding up.