After going out on three snowshoe trips with my Yukon Charlie's Trail Series 930 snowshoes (above), I had a list of complaints about their performance/comfort. Also deciding that I really liked the sport, I decided to do the research and invest in some gear that would satisfy all my needs and be long lasting.
My main gripes were:
1. Snow would get compacted under the 4-sided crampon under the ball of my foot, causing the traction to be lost and I would then get the sensation of stepping on a rock underfoot. And instead of just the crampon teeth piercing the snow surface, I would have to punch this 'rock' through it making it harder to step. This was uncomfortable and inefficient.
2. On traverses (going across a slope, not up it) I noticed that there was little traction keeping me from sliding sideways and down the hill. Not fun!
3. I probably got a pair that was too long for my needs (the 930 stands for 9"Wx30"L) Oftentimes on traverses the packed trail would be narrower than the width of my shoes side-by-side, so I would have to go one foot in front of the other. This caused me to step on the front of my trailing snowshoe a lot since I had to take such a long step to get in front of the other shoe.
MSR Lightning Axis 8x22 plus Removable floatation tails
The 8x22s hold up to 180lbs, and with the tails hold 250lbs, plenty for me and a full pack. I can keep the tails in my pack and if the snow gets deep I can just pop them on for added floatation! I'll be less likely to step on my other shoe since these are 8" shorter than my current pair, and also marginally narrower making it easier to walk side-by-side. The 360-degree edge crampon will keep me stable on the traverses and there shouldn't be any snow build-up under the ball of the foot with this design. Lastly the 'Televator', the little 'U' shaped bar behind the binding, flips up so your boot rests on it, providing calf releif on steep ascents (your foot is more level when you take a step instead of tilted back at the angle of the incline).
Plus, they are made in the Pacific Northwest and were 25% off at REI! :)
I've heard great things about these shoes and am excited to get out there on them and see what they can do!