This is a well-performing snowshoe with great traction suitable for many different kinds of terrain and snow
Price: $205 ListPros: Great traction, Boa binding system, comfortable binding, easy walking, quiet Cons: Boa system is more finicky and less repairable than a strap system, on the heavier side Manufacturer: Garneau
The Louis Garneau Blizzard is a great all-around snowshoe suitable for a wide variety of terrain and skill levels. The angled multidirectional toe crampons and V-Rail back crampons make for a very secure walking experience even when the going gets steep and icy. Flotation in deep snow is excellent, and walking on a packed trail feels natural and uncomplicated. This is one of only two models in our review with a Boa binding system, a setup that some people love, though we liked other options in our review better both from an ease of use and a durability standpoint. All in all, however, we find the Blizzard to be a competent option with no significant drawbacks or shortcomings.
New Version Available
Louis Garneau released the Blizzard III, which is essentially the same snowshoe, only with some updated graphics. The updated version is pictured above.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Blizzard is a well-tractioned snowshoe that all our testers enjoyed. From the aggressive crampons and excellent float to the fast Boa binding system, this is an excellent buy to consider for both packed trails and breaking out on fresh new snow.
With the largest surface area of all the models in our review, it's no surprise that the Blizzard floats very well. Despite the size, the footprint does not feel cumbersome, and it helps keep the feet steady and secure even in fluffy fresh powder. Sometimes a large surface area can increase the weight enough to impede flotation instead of improving it, but this shoe strikes the perfect balance between the two without causing walking to feel awkward.
The Blizzard excels in this category due to its well-conceived design. The high carbon steel crampons in front are multidirectional and angled outward strategically. The back V-shaped crampons are also burly and help solidify your sticking power, whether you're going uphill, downhill, or traversing. Even the clips that attach the decking to the outer tube are ribbed for extra grip.
There are other models in our review that have teeth down the entirety of their sides instead of a mostly smooth tube, giving them even better traction. But for most users and most situations, the Blizzard won't let you down.
Despite the large surface area on this shoe, it's quite easy to walk in, especially in deep snow. The width keeps you steady, and the full binding mount means that the tails fall away as you walk. This can feel odd at first if it's new to you, but it quickly becomes second nature. While stepping over rocks or logs and backing up can be tricky with this style of shoe, walking along a trail or, especially, through virgin snow drifts, is pretty dreamy.
Ease of Use
This model is one of two in our review with a Boa binding. Boa systems are easy and fast to use once you learn their quirks. But, they are much bulkier than other shoes that we tested, so consider how packable you need your snowshoes to be. The Boa dial can also be hard to pull up and open if you have particularly cold hands or thick gloves. They are also prone to icing in some conditions, though we didn't personally experience this.
While some people love Boa bindings, we found the thin wires laced through the system finicky at times. It is also easy to strap each foot in a little differently if you don't pay attention to exactly where the ball of your foot is sitting when tightening everything up. Finally, the back heel strap is a tooth-and-buckle system that can be awkward to cinch tight.
Honestly, part of the security of a binding system is psychological. It should inspire confidence and not leave you wondering about durability or strength. While we had no issues with the bindings on the Blizzard in our time with them, the thin wires that lace up the system do not feel as reliable as most of the burlier straps.
If something happened to your Boa system during a hike, you would be hard-pressed to make a field repair. If you plan to be out in extremely remote places, we recommended a more straightforward system where you could break a strap, maybe even two, and still make it back to your car.
All that aside, this is a very comfortable system once you get everything situated. The padded areas that wrap around the foot help distribute pressure evenly and are also warm. While other, more strappy bindings might be more secure, they can also feel constrictive and are easy to over-torque and create pressure points, especially with less rigid shoes or boots.
These are an investment, though we feel they are generally worth the price for what you get. However, there are also cheaper options that are a bit more versatile and durable.
All in all, we very much enjoyed our time with the Blizzard and would recommend them for a lot of different applications. They float well, are comfortable and easy to walk in, and provide confidence-inspiring traction. The Boa bindings may not be the most durable or appropriate for deeply remote areas, but we had no problems with them during our testing period and like how well they fit a variety of differently shaped and sized boots.
While they have changed over the years, snowshoes have...
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