Snowshoeing is simple. No lift lines, overpriced cheeseburgers, or long list of expensive accessories. All you need is some snow, a warm pair of boots (see page 107), and a pair of versatile shoes that's up for whatever terrain you'll encounter. To settle on our Gear of the Yearwinning favorite, our seven-member team collectively tackled hundreds of miles of slop, crust, ice, and, of course, pow. Nothing made us want to hit the trailthen leave itmore than the Tubbs Flex Alp.
1. In everything but deep powder, the Alp simply outperformed every other shoe in the test. The flexible plastic deck affords exceptional stability and grip whether you're hiking for turns or strolling on the rec path. The flexible tail of the shoe is softer than the supportive midfoot, absorbing shock on descents and rolling confidently into each step, while the free-pivot binding provides excellent lateral stability.
2. Dialing in the perfect fit is, literally, a cinch. Two easy-to-pull straps lock down the binding midfoot andthis is the best parttuck away and never drag or otherwise interfere. An adjustable, floating pad under the straps disperses pressure and makes these snowshoes compatible with a wide variety of boots. And both the quick-flip heel lifter and heel strap are easy to tighten, even with bulky mittens.
3. Don't be afraid to tackle steep or icy terrain. With a cirque of aggressive, sharklike teeth underfoot, serrated crampons running the length of the decks, and tinybut surprisingly tenacioustail crampons, the Flex Alps dug in better than anything else we tested. Even on the tricky summit of Vermont's Mount Mansfield, when other shoes started to slip, the Alps were rock-solid. Available in one size only.
(4.5 lbs; 24") tubbssnowshoes.com