Living in Maine makes for some looong, snowy winters. Boredom can creep in and lead to cabin fever. A few years back, I started snowshoeing, and discovered that it not only gets me out of the house and from getting cabin fever, it is also great exercise. I can go out my door, and snowshoe along the trails that criss cross the 5,000 acre wildlife management area behind my house. I can also throw them in my trunk, and head out to a different spot. My sons like to go icefishing, and many times I’ll take my snowshoes and go for a hike while they fish. We meet back up and have lunch. Oddly, lunch has never been fish…
The Tubbs Flex NRG snowshoes
Information below is from the website, along with my comments on my experience with the snowshoes.
The ergonomically and biomechanically designed FLEX Tail allows the FLEX NRG to absorb 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.
While I can’t really speak with much experience to the ‘design’ aspect, I will say that when snowshoeing on packed trails, I find that these snowshoes are noticeably more comfortable than most. I did not feel the typical impact on my feet. I had previously injured my knee, and find that after a lot of exertion, my knee starts to protest. So far, I have not had an issue while using the Flex snowshoes.
Torsion Deck design allows torsional articulation throughout the body of the snowshoe, enhancing traction and comfort on uneven terrain. At only 24” for men and 22” for women, the FLEX NRG’s Compact Design enhances maneuverability on packed to variable snow conditions.
These definitely work well on ‘variable’ snow conditions! Maine is not known for its powder, like some western states. The last few weeks have been the exception though. It definitely is a different experience – and requires a bit different style of snowshoeing. The Flex have been great – they go from packed snow and icy conditions so power without hesitation (on their part or mine).
Based on the popular 180™ binding but even lighter weight, the 180FLEX binding combines step-in convenience with Control Wing™ technology for secure, pressure free support. Gender specific, asymmetric bindings fit a wide range of men’s and women’s boot sizes.
The 180FLEX binding works well, easy to put on and take off. The first time I wore them, I had to adjust them, walk a ways and readjust. Since then, I just slide them on and off quickly with just a snap of the buckle. I like the narrower shape of the shoes, as it makes it much more comfortable to walk with a more normal stride. The buckles are a little tough to open and close with gloves on – but they stay closed, which makes it a good trade off. I would rather have to use my bare hand to snap them open or shut, then have them open when I am walking. I do wonder if they will losen up a bit over time.
Carbon steel toe crampon, ergonomically placed under foot, maximizes weighted traction and responsiveness while 3D curved Traction Rails ensure superior side-hill grip in hard or icy conditions. Progressive molded Snow Brakes, on the deck as well as the Soft Strike zone, improve weighted traction.
I have not had the opportunity to use them on many real hills yet, but I can attest to how well they perform on ice! One day while snowshoeing, I had to cross a icy area – glare ice, smooth as an ice rink. I wondered how they would do, and I am happy to say I made it across, without having to ‘scoot’. I’ve used them on packed snow that was frozen solid. That section was rolling hills and the snowshoes worked out very well. I had no problem with slipping, and I felt the crampons provided enough traction.
The Soft Strike zone on the FLEX NRG works with the FLEX Tail to absorb shock and reduce stress on joints and muscles. The advanced ergonomic design not only improves comfort, but also aids in weighted traction under the heel, as the larger Snow Brake traction element is fixed to the Soft Strike zone. Finally, Soft Strike makes for a quieter overall experience while snowshoeing.
I find the snowshoes very comfortable, and that I don’t tire as quickly as I have in the past. Since I rarely snowshoe alone, I am not sure about the quietness factor. I always seem to have someone, or a dog with me while I am outside.
I will be updating this review over the next few months, and will report back on durability and other factors. I will say that so far, I really like these snowshoes – and I love that they motivate me to get outdoors more!
Fortunately, this was a good year to review snowshoes! We’ve had a good amount of snow starting in December, and through January. Towards the end of January, the snow stopped and the temperatures dropped. I get the feeling the snow will be still here in April, as it is frozen solid. We got a few more inches of snow in mid-February, so it at least ‘looks’ better. It was nice to have some powdery snow this year.
As with most snowshoes, the Tubbs Flex NRG snowshoes have become quick and easy to put on. The adjustments are just like I need them now, and they stay adjusted. I got in the habit of slipping them on when I get home from work, and go out for a quick hike around the wildlife management area behind my house. I can go for an hour, come home and feel relaxed and like I did something ‘healthy’ for myself. I’ve also had the chance to do a few longer (5-7 mile) hikes the last few weeks, and really appreciate how lightweight these snowshoes are! What a difference that makes with how my legs feel during and after a few miles.
The Soft Strike zone really does seem to cut down on the shock produced when my foot comes down on hard packed snow or ice. Its not noticable unless you stop to think about it – but once I was aware of it, I could tell that less stress was being placed on my legs and knees in particular. This really did help keep my legs from tiring too quickly, and I found I wasn’t sore the next day.
The traction is good, although like any type of crampon, there is only so much that can help when climbing a grade that is slick ice. I found side stepping worked the best, as did finding a better route. The toe crampon (which is more accurately under the foot, not toe) is aided by the users weight, more so than if it was under the toe area. This made walking on hard packed and ice crusted snow much easier. I found they worked well when walking uphill, even on slippery ice crusted snow. The crampons dug in enough to give me good traction, without making it difficult to them move my foot forward again.
Hopefully, we will have enough snow for one more update this year. I’ve enjoyed trying the FLEX NRG snowshoes out and plan to continue using them.