Atlas Elektra Rendezvous Review
Cons: Lacking in traction, awkward for big boots
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rendezvous is explicitly designed for those with a narrower gait. That being said, we find that it works well for users of all shapes and sizes. It floated perfectly on deep unpacked snow for our heavier testers just as well as it did for our lighter ones! The binding system is intuitive, simple, secure, and comfortable. However, like most snowshoes, it takes a moment to find the perfect tension in the straps. This shoe shines brightest on beginner to intermediate trails, devoid of steep and icy inclines, as the lightweight design lacks in the traction department. The Rendezvous comes in two lengths; 23" and 27". We tested the 23" in past years, but have most recently had the pleasure of slipping into the larger size and will be referring to that one throughout this review.
We did not have high hopes in this department, as the narrowness of a shoe affects surface area and surface area directly affects the flotation. However, we are happy to declare that we were wrong! Even when pushing the recommended weight limit, this shoe provides excellent float.
The Rendezvous is clearly a very well thought out shoe. The small amount of surface area lost to the narrow width, in order to better the stride ergonomics, is made up for by reducing the overall weight of the shoe. The Nytex decking, aluminum frame, and lack of heavy teethed side rails allow for the shoe to be extremely lightweight. It is actually one of the lightest in our test suite! The fact that we were able to keep high on deep snow and also walk on packed trails with ease is evidence of a very efficient design.
Unfortunately, as far as traction goes, the Rendezvous didn't measure up to some of the other shoes we tested. There is a pair of two-inch teethed sections on the frames, but they just don't compare to the full side rails many other snowshoes are equipped with. The toe crampon is small but gets the job done on slight inclines, and works wonders on flatter terrain. The patented heel cleat is meant to increase grip when on varied terrain, but we struggled climbing anything particularly steep and icy in this model.
There's no heel lift on this snowshoe, which leads us to believe it was not meant for climbing anyways. There is a heel cleat that increases grip when weighting the heel on descents. Still, while ascending at a certain grade your heel will naturally lift, keeping it off the ground and rendering the cleat useless. All in all, we love this shoe for beginner to intermediate terrain, but if traction is your number one priority, you may want to look elsewhere.
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! We couldn't find one thing we didn't enjoy about walking in the Rendezvous! The light weight and narrow width fosters one of the more natural strides we have experienced while wearing snowshoes. This shoe exceeds our expectations with flying colors.
Because women tend to have a narrower gait, we paid very close attention to stride ergonomics during our time with this suite. This is one department that the Rendezvous really nailed. None of our testers felt the need to waddle, widen, or adjust their gait in any way. The extreme angle that the binding hinges in relation to the shoe allows for snow to fall off the heel with no flicking or brushing needed. Whether on a packed trail or in deep snow, this shoe allows for such a natural stride we almost forgot we were snowshoeing!
Ease of Use
Not only is the Rendezvous easy to walk in, but the intuitive single loop binding system makes for an overall fuss-free experience. The simple design allows for a snug fit around most boots, although we found the fitting to be a tad awkward for larger shoes like snowboarding boots.
Some of our testers experienced difficulty strapping the heel down tight enough to feel fully secure. However, we found that if you start with the heel strap, then move on to the front straps and finally pop back over to the heel strap for one last synch, confidence in the shoes was no longer an issue. That may sound like a lot of work, but it only takes a minute since the front strap is a simple single loop system. Those with much larger feet or those who wanted to try these shoes out for backcountry snowboarding felt that weaving their big boots through the binding straps was a bit awkward at first. But, for most testers, these are minor and temporary inconveniences.
If strapped in properly at the front, the Rendezvous offers a secure binding system. If the back heel is not locked in nice and tight before you take off, it has the propensity to come loose when hiking. The toe straps are made of a canvas-like material, while many others are made of a more stretchy rubber. Since the strap material is static and lacks stretch, you may need to fasten it down a little tighter than you think you need to, so don't be shy!
Our first impression from touching the canvas-like toe strap was that there needed to be more stretch. We thought that the lack of stretch might hinder our ability to strap the binding down efficiently, making them either too tight or too loose at any given moment. Comfort, however, is top-notch. The front straps crisscross across the top of the foot and cinch evenly and uniformly by pulling a single loop. We felt secure without experiencing any pinching, pulling, or rubbing.
If the flotation, comfort, and organic stride that the Rendezvous offers don't sell you on this shoe, then maybe the price point will! We had such a pleasant time floating across deep snowbanks, hiking around on flat-packed snow, and even hopping over obstacles like fallen logs. While this is indeed an introductory model, it performed admirably across our rating metrics and for a price that you just can't beat — which is why we gave it a Best Buy Award!
The Elektra Rendezvous is a wonderful choice for those looking to stick to beginner or intermediate adventures. You will be plenty comfortable in their easy to use bindings while floating high on snowdrifts or trudging across long packed trails. Even our smallest framed testers were able to walk naturally without having to widen their gait or point their toes outward. Since the shoe lacks in traction, we do not recommend it for extremely steep or particularly icy terrain. Although it's not meant for advanced terrain, our advanced testers still found this shoe to be expertly crafted and loved it for more moderate outings. The Rendezvous will last you ages for a very reasonable amount of money, exactly what we look for in our Best Buy winners.
— Hayley Thomas