The Tubbs Xplore is an intuitive and easy to use starter snowshoe at a comfortable price point. If you're new to snowshoeing and want something simple and not overly technical to start out with, this might be a great choice. Lightweight with excellent flotation, the Xplore isn't fancy, but if you plan to stay on beginner trails or in nice deep snow without too much elevation gain, these shoes will definitely cover all your bases.
Tubbs Xplore - Women's Review
Cons: Less than ideal traction for steep terrain, bindings don't work with some larger boots, heel strap hard to adjust in the cold
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Tubbs Xplore - Women's
|Price||$89.98 at Amazon||$270 List||$299.95 at Amazon||$199.95 at REI|
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|$149.93 at REI|
|Pros||Affordable, easy to use, good flotation||Excellent flotation, great traction, easy to use bindings, comfortable, pleasant to walk in no matter the terrain||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||Great traction, Boa binding system, comfortable binding, easy walking, quiet|
|Cons||Less than ideal traction for steep terrain, bindings don't work with some larger boots, heel strap hard to adjust in the cold||On the heavy side, don't pack down as flat as other models, pricey||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||Boa system is more finicky and less repairable than a strap system, on the heavier side|
|Bottom Line||The Xplore is a decent introductory snowshoe with good flotation and easy-to-use bindings, though it falls short when navigating more advanced terrain.||This well-rounded snowshoe is a pleasure to use and has all the features needed for a day out in some serious 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 well-performing snowshoe with great traction suitable for many different kinds of terrain and snow.|
|Rating Categories||Tubbs Xplore - Women's||Tubbs Mountaineer - Women's||Lightning Ascent||Atlas Elektra Montane||Louis Blizzard II|
|Stride Ergonomics (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (10%)|
|Binding Security (10%)|
|Binding Comfort (10%)|
|Specs||Tubbs Xplore -...||Tubbs Mountaineer...||Lightning Ascent||Atlas Elektra...||Louis Blizzard II|
|Uses||Trail walking||Mountain terrain||Mountain and technical terrain||Mountain and technical terrain||Day hiking, variable rolling terrain|
|Optimum weight loads (per size)||21": 80-150 lbs, 25": 120-200 lbs||21": 80-150 lbs, 25": 120-200 lbs, 30": 170-250lbs||22": 180 lbs, 25":120-210 lbs||23": 80-160 lbs, 27": 120-200+ lbs||22": 80-160 lbs, 25": 100-200 lbs|
|Weight (per pair)||21": 3.4 lbs, 25": 3.5 lbs||21": 4.3 lbs, 25": 4.8 lbs, 30": 4.9 lbs||22": 3.56 lbs, 25": 3.75 lbs||23": 4.26 lbs, 27": 4.36 lbs||22": 4.2 lbs, 25": 4.4 lbs|
|Binding system||QuickPull binding||ActivFit binding||PosiLock AT bindings||Wrapp Swift binding||Boa binding|
|Crampon||Recreational crampon||Anaconda toe & Python heel crampons||Powder-coated steel Torsion2 crampons||All-trac toe crampon||Traxion HCS front crampon & V-rail crampon|
|Frame material||Aluminum Fit-Step frame||Aluminum||7000-series aluminum||Aluminum V-frame||6061-T6 Aluminum ErgoStream|
|Deck material||SoftTec decking||SoftTec decking||Urethane-impregnated nylon||Nytex decking||EDGE molded polymer|
|Surface area (per size)||136 in² for 21" and 178 in² for 25"||136 in² for 21", 178 in² for 25", and 234 in² for 30"||160 in² for 25"||145 in² for 23" and 176 in² for 27"||189 in²|
|Dimensions||8 x 21"/25"||8 x 21"/25"/30"||7.25 x 22"/25"||8.5 x 23"/27"||8 x 22"/25"|
|Flotation tails sold separately?||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Load with tails (per size)||N/A||N/A||Up to 240 lbs for 22", 270 lbs for 25"||N/A||N/A|
|Men's and Women's versions?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No, women's specific||Yes|
|Sizes Available||21" and 25"||21", 25", 30"||22" and 25"||23" and 27"||22" and 25"|
|Size Tested||25"||25"||22" and 25"||27"||25"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The women's Tubbs Xplore is great for someone new to snowshoeing and winter recreation in general. It's a simple design perfect for beginner terrain that also feels great in deep snow. For the casual winter enthusiast, this is a good option.
This snowshoe has one of largest surface areas we tested, so we weren't surprised to find that it provides decent float. The Xplore seemed at home walking in deep snow, and we preferred that to packed trails, where we found them rather awkward. While our other tested Tubbs model and Editors' Choice, the Mountaineer, provided the best flotation and overall experience in our test suite, it's also a much more serious setup and twice the price.
Unfortunately, this shoe has a bit of trouble with traction on icy terrain. If you keep to beginner trails and powdery snow, all will be well and good, but when trying to navigate anything steep or icy, our testers had issues. Getting up high angle hills is difficult and requires a lot of energy. Getting down is even dicier — our testers that tried to go straight down without traversing sideways very slowly and carefully found themselves on their bottoms!
Still, it performs just fine as long as you stick to non-advanced terrain. If you're looking for a truly burly backcountry-ready shoe that can take you to the summit and beyond, look to our Top Pick for Technical Terrain, the MSR Lightning Ascent.
Being on the larger side in regards to surface area, we weren't entirely surprised that the Xplore feels more cumbersome to walk in than many other models in our review. However, a truly well-designed woman's shoe should be able to balance both surface area and easy walking. Unfortunately, this one doesn't quite find that balance, and we ended up stepping on our feet a lot. If you plan to be walking on a lot of packed trails, we recommend considering a different model like the Rendezvous.
Ease of Use
Ease of use was a mixed bag for the Xplore. The binding system is straightforward, and we like how the front straps both cinch tight and release by pulling on a single loop. But the heel strap is rather difficult to tighten, in part because the rubber straps aren't as stretchy when cold.
One tester wearing a larger snow boot also couldn't get their foot all the way into the binding. Combine all of that with the fact that the shape of these shoes is a bit awkward on packed trails and there is no heel lift for steep climbing, and we weren't overly impressed.
The bindings on the Xplore are decently secure, though multiple people in reviews online found that they loosen while walking due to the back strap not staying tight. In our experience, this strap never came completely loose, though it was hard to tighten (especially when cold). The extra strap length didn't stay in its retainer clips most of the time, leaving it to flop around. The front area that holds the toe of your boot secure also doesn't work with some larger boots, so if you can try these on with the boots you plan to wear before purchasing, that would be wise.
The front straps on the Xplore cinch uniformly around the bulk of the foot, which we found quite comfortable. Larger boots may have issues though, because the binding system doesn't open up completely as it does on the MSR models, and the area meant to hold the toe secure is rather small. All in all, it was a decently cozy system if compatible with your footwear, but there are others we liked considerably better.
This snowshoe is best for beginning snowshoers who don't plan to push into advanced or steep terrain. If you want to start out with something not too expensive that will work well on easy trails and for floating out in deep snow, this is a model to consider. But if you want to be able to get more technical in your outings, the Xplore isn't your best bet.
At $130, this is the cheapest shoe we tested. It does, however, offer some of the largest surface area and, therefore, very good flotation. But for only $10 more, you can get either the Rendezvous or the MSR Evo, both of which performed better across the board. While we think the Xplore is a very decent beginner snowshoe, the fact of the matter is that there are better performing shoes for only a little bit more money.
The Xplore is a very decent introductory snowshoe with good flotation and an easy straightforward binding system. It came up short in a number of areas such as traction, binding versatility, and stride ergonomics. For a very casual user of the right size, it's possible none of these things would be a very big deal, but up against our impressive test suite, the Xplore fell behind.
— Penney Garrett