Over the years, we’ve owned three different styles/brands of snowshoes: Atlas racing snowshoes our boys used when they were young and light; a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes that Mr. GeoK used for several years; and a couple of pairs of older model GV mountain snowshoes.
We haven’t used them a lot over the past few winters – partly because snow has been scarce some years and partly because we didn’t love them. The bindings on the MSR snowshoes are fussy and one of the straps failed (which was replaced under warranty). The GV snowshoes are heavy; K and I got blisters on our heels every time we wore them. And now that our boys are full-grown, the racing snowshoes don’t have enough float for their increased weight.
So when Mr. GeoK spotted a couple of pairs of Symbioz Elite snowshoes on clearance on Amazon.ca last year, he did a bunch of reading. They were priced so much lower than every other site he checked, that he ended up calling TSL Outdoor to find out what was up. It turned out that Amazon was clearing out the last 2 pairs of the previous year’s model. There’s only one minor change from that model to the 2014 model, so he bought them.
Thanks to 45 cm of fresh snow in Canmore, we finally had a chance to try them today!
- Amazingly easy to adjust / use binding system. It took us about two minutes to figure out how to size the bindings to our boots and strap them on. And it only took about 10 seconds to take them off;
- The bindings are really secure. I didn’t feel any slippage or play and there were no tight spots to cause circulation issues.
- Comfortable. The floats aren’t as wide as on my old GVs, so I was able to walk quite naturally. The pivot point on the binding feels natural. I came back after a couple of hours on relatively flat terrain with absolutely no hotspots on my heels!
- The only downside is that because the floats aren’t that big and the flexible material is designed to return energy on each step, we sank into the very light, powdery snow a little more than I expected we would. Mind you, there were other snowshoe tracks out there that seemed to sink about the same amount.
We went up / down a few small hills with no trouble. Their crampon-style teeth are made for icy, more technical terrain, so we really didn’t push them anywhere close to their limits today.
We’re looking forward to the next opportunity to get out and about on snowshoes. I’ll try to remember to come back and update this post as we try them out in other conditions.