Snowshoeing is one of the easiest sports to get into. All you need are some snowshoes and to go walk in the snow. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Snowshoes range in price from $50 to $300 can you can buy them at almost any outdoor store.
A couple years ago, a few friends said they were going snowshoeing and I wanted to join so picked up a pair of the Mountain 12 Series snowshoes’s from Atlas.
The 12 Series I have are 25 inches long which is in the middle of size ranges. There are shorter lengths available and longer ones as well. I wasn’t sure what kind of conditions I would be getting into on my snowshoe trips so I decided to go in the middle.
They are a tubular design, with a round metal frame running around the snowshoe. Flat plastic fills out the middle and provides a platform to stand on. The binding for your foot is near the front and has a fabric strap that goes over the top of your foot. there is also a plastic strap that goes around the back of your foot to keep it snug in the binding. You can adjust the 3 adjustments on the binding to be looser or tighter depending on where you want your foot to be in the binding.
The bindings are very easy to get one and the fastest of any bindings I’ve tried. All you do is slide your foot in and pull the one binding strap that tightens at two points. Throw on the strap around the back of your foot and you’re ready to go.
Getting out of the binding is a little more work as you need to open pull the clips and either push the binding over to loosen it or pull the strap through the other direction.
The other issue I have with the binding is that they don’t fold flat very well. Other styles of snowshoes like the MSR Lightning Ascents can stack flat because there isn’t much binding, only straps, and they fold down flat.
On the bottom of your shoe right under the binding where your foot will go, are a bunch of metal teeth for grip. When you’re on a bit of an icy slope or the trail has been heavily travelled on that it’s a bit hard, these big teeth will come in handy. Old snowshoes didn’t have any teeth and were fine for travelling on flat ground but if you got into technical terrain on a slope, you would be sliding all over the place. The big teeth on the bottom of the Atlas snowshoes act like crampons and keep you steady and travelling where you want to go, not falling down the hill.
Connecting the binding to the snowshoe frame are 2 stretchy plastic straps. They hold the binding nicely and put a little spring in your step when you use them. The only downside is that sometimes they cause the back of the snowshoe to flick up and throw some snow. When you’re moving quickly this can be a lot of snow so make sure you are wearing waterproof clothes. Other styles of snowshoes don’t have this elastic system and don’t flick as much so look out for those when you’re buying.
The only major issue I had with the 12 Series was one of the heel risers breaking twice. Heel risers are short metal bars that you can raise and clip into place to set your heel on when you are walking uphill. Instead of setting your heel down flat on the snowshoe, you stand on the heel riser making less work for your calves as you climb up hills. Obviously these need to be sturdy because they’re going to take a beating from people standing on them repeatedly. The pair I have aren’t quite as strong as they need to be.
Aside from the heel riser issue the Atlas Mountain 25 Snowshoes are a great choice for a pair of snowshoes. The elastic attachment to the binding and the light tube frame make it an excellent snowshoe for cruising around on the trails and through light snow. If you’re looking for something for gnarly, icy conditions, and need traction more than anything. I’d opt for the MSR Lightning Ascents instead.
Other Reviews of the Atlas 12 Series Snowshoes