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Tubbs Xplore - Women's Review

The Xplore is a decent introductory snowshoe with good flotation and easy-to-use bindings, though it falls short when navigating more advanced terrain.
Tubbs Xplore Women
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Price:  $130 List | $102.68 at Amazon
Pros:  Affordable, easy to use, good flotation
Cons:  Less than ideal traction for steep terrain, bindings don't work with some larger boots, heel strap hard to adjust in the cold
Manufacturer:   Tubbs
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 28, 2018
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Flotation - 30% 7
  • Traction - 25% 4
  • Stride Ergonomics - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 10% 6
  • Binding Security - 10% 6
  • Binding Comfort - 10% 7

Our Verdict

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.

If you want to keep the price tag down and prefer more traction and versatility, the Atlas Elektra Rendezvous floats like a dream and is comfortable to walk in, and the MSR Evo is seriously grippy.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price $102.68 at Amazon$269.95 at REI$299.95 at Amazon$199.95 at REI
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$149.93 at REI
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Pros Affordable, easy to use, good flotationExcellent flotation, great traction, easy to use bindings, comfortable, pleasant to walk in no matter the terrainSuperior traction, heel lifts for steep terrain, easy to use, men's and women's versions, add-on flotation tail compatibleGood traction and flotation, excellent binding system, heel lift, affordableGreat 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 coldOn the heavy side, don't pack down as flat as other models, priceyExpensive, binding straps flop around, bindings take longer to get intoA bit heavy, tail flips up a lot of snow, toe shape feels a little wideBoa 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
Flotation (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Traction (25%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
Stride Ergonomics (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Binding Security (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Binding Comfort (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
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 mount Full Full Full Fixed Full
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.

Performance Comparison


For a beginning snowshoer on easy terrain  the Xplore is a solid choice.
For a beginning snowshoer on easy terrain, the Xplore is a solid choice.

Flotation


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.

The 25" long Xplore is at home when floating in deep snow.
The 25" long Xplore is at home when floating in deep snow.

Traction


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.

While the Xplore was fine in snow drifts and on moderate beginner trails  when we tried to climb down a steep icy hill  they just didn't keep us on our feet. This photo might look staged because the tester is laughing  but that's because there had been two falls before this one and when we decided to fake a fall to illustrate what was happening  a third fall happened on its own!
While the Xplore was fine in snow drifts and on moderate beginner trails, when we tried to climb down a steep icy hill, they just didn't keep us on our feet. This photo might look staged because the tester is laughing, but that's because there had been two falls before this one and when we decided to fake a fall to illustrate what was happening, a third fall happened on its own!

Stride Ergonomics


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.

We found the width and shape of this snowshoe to be rather awkward to walk in. Even though they are the women's model and supposed to accommodate a narrower gait  we still experienced our feet knocking into each other regularly.
We found the width and shape of this snowshoe to be rather awkward to walk in. Even though they are the women's model and supposed to accommodate a narrower gait, we still experienced our feet knocking into each other regularly.

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.

These snowshoes were straightforward to use on simple terrain  but when we tried to climb something steep we had a really hard time.
These snowshoes were straightforward to use on simple terrain, but when we tried to climb something steep we had a really hard time.

Binding Security


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.

We liked the front half of the Xplore's binding system a lot  but the heel strap was stiff in the cold and situated at an angle that made getting it difficult to tighten while bundled up in snow gear.
We liked the front half of the Xplore's binding system a lot, but the heel strap was stiff in the cold and situated at an angle that made getting it difficult to tighten while bundled up in snow gear.

Binding Comfort


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.

Best Applications


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.

While the Xplore didn't quite measure up against our other tested models  we still feel that it's a great introductory snowshoe  more than satisfactory for the right kind of casual user.
While the Xplore didn't quite measure up against our other tested models, we still feel that it's a great introductory snowshoe, more than satisfactory for the right kind of casual user.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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