The Louis Garneau Blizzard III 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 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 found the Blizzard III to be a competent option with no major drawbacks or shortcomings.
Louis Garneau Blizzard III - Women's Review
Cons: Boa system is more finicky and less repairable than a strap system, on the heavier side
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Louis Garneau Blizzard III - Women's
|Price||$200 List||$319.95 at REI|
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|$199.95 at REI||$189.95 at Amazon||$139.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Great traction, Boa binding system, comfortable binding, easy walking, quiet||Superior traction, heel lifts for steep terrain, easy to use, men's and women's versions, add-on flotation tail compatible||Good traction and flotation, excellent binding system, heel lift, affordable||Excellent traction, comfortable bindings, fantastic stride ergonomics||Affordable, great traction, easy to use, versatile|
|Cons||Boa system is more finicky and less repairable than a strap system, on the heavier side||Expensive, binding straps flop around, bindings take longer to get into||A bit heavy, tail flips up a lot of snow, toe shape feels a little wide||Binding system potentially isn't secure, doesn't float well unless you're very light||Plastic frame is loud, requires most women to widen their gait a bit, straps flop around|
|Bottom Line||This is a well-performing snowshoe with great traction suitable for many different kinds of terrain and snow.||This is a serious snowshoe for people that want superior traction and versatility while out in steep and variable backcountry terrain.||This is a well-rounded and solidly performing snowshoe fit for all kinds of terrain and objectives.||This is a comfortable snowshoe with fantastic traction and great stride ergonomics for women.||This is a solid snowshoe with great traction and versatile bindings that will have no problem taking you into a wide spectrum of snow types and terrain levels.|
|Rating Categories||Louis Blizzard III||Lightning Ascent||Atlas Elektra Montane||Tubbs Flex RDG - Women's||MSR Evo Snowshoe|
|Stride Ergonomics (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (10%)|
|Binding Security (10%)|
|Binding Comfort (10%)|
|Specs||Louis Blizzard III||Lightning Ascent||Atlas Elektra...||Tubbs Flex RDG -...||MSR Evo Snowshoe|
|Uses||Flat, rolling and mountain terrain||Mountain and technical terrain||All terrain||Variable rolling and mountain terrain||Flat and variable rolling terrain|
|Optimum weight loads (per size)||100-200 lbs||Without tails: 120-210 lbs, With tails: up to 270 lbs||120-200+ lbs||80-150 lbs||Without tails: up to 180 lbs, With tails: up to 250 lbs|
|Weight (per pair)||4.4 lbs||3.75 lbs||4.36 lbs||3.5 lbs||3.56 lbs without tails, 4.4 lbs with|
|Binding system||Boa binding||PosiLock AT bindings||Wrapp Swift binding||CustomWrap binding featuring the Boa Closure System||DuoFit|
|Crampon||Traxion HCS front crampon & V-rail crampon||Powder-coated steel Torsion2 crampons||All-trac toe crampon||Traction rails and carbon steel toe crampon||Steel traction rails and brake bars|
|Frame material||6061-T6 Aluminum ErgoStream||7000-series aluminum||Aluminum V-frame||Plastic frame and decking with steel traction rails||Plastic frame and decking with steel traction rails|
|Deck material||EDGE molded polymer||Urethane-impregnated nylon||Nytex decking||Plastic advanced Torsion Deck||UniBody deck - injection-molded plastic|
|Surface area (per size)||189 in²||160 in²||176 in²||151 in²||174 in² without tails, 220 in² with|
|Dimensions||8 x 25"||7.25 x 25"||8.5 x 27"||8 x 22"||8 x 22"|
|Flotation tails sold separately?||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Load with tails (per size)||N/A||Up to 270 lbs||N/A||N/A||Up to 250 lbs|
|Men's and Women's versions?||Yes||Yes||No, women's specific||Yes||Unisex|
|Sizes Available||22" and 25"||22" and 25"||23" and 27"||22"||22"|
|Size Tested||25"||25"||27"||22"||22" plus 6" add-on tails|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Blizzard II 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 a very good 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 struck the perfect balance between the two without making walking to feel awkward.
The Blizzard III excels in this category due to 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 like the MSR Lightning Ascent, our Editors' Choice and the MSR Evo, our Best Buy for Versatility 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 III 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 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 was 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 the flat, compressible straps on the MSR models we tested, so consider how packable you need your snowshoes to be. The Boa dial can also be hard to pull up on 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 every up. Finally, the back heel strap is a tooth-and-buckle system that can be awkward to cinch tight. We preferred the easy ratcheting system of other models, however, once you've figured out the nuances of the binding on the Blizzard, everything else will be smooth sailing.
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 III in our time with them, the thin wires that lace up the system simply 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 like on the Lightning Ascent. You could break a strap, maybe even two, on the Lightning and still make it back to your car.
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 snowshoes are great all-around and quite well-suited to off-trail adventures. Comfortable and grippy on packed trails and icy terrain, they also float excellently when you want to wander off among the trees into deep snow drifts. The large surface area helps create excellent flotation, and there are heel lifts for steeper more technical areas. The Boa binding system is comfortable and relatively easy to use, though it may not be the best choice if you plan to get into super remote places.
These are an investment, though we feel they are generally worth the price for what you get. However, there are cheaper options like the MSR Evo that are a bit more versatile and durable.
All in all, we very much enjoyed our time with the Blizzard III 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. While the Boa bindings may not be the most durable or appropriate for deeply remote areas, we had no problems with them during our testing period and liked how well they fit a variety of differently shaped and sized boots.
— Penney Garrett