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 and 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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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 solid choice.
This snowshoe had the largest surface area of all the models we tested, so we weren't surprised to find that it provided decent float. We preferred walking in deep snow than on packed trails, where we found them rather awkward. But in deep snow, the Xplore seemed at home, especially in the 25" size which is what we tested. Our favorite shoe for flotation, though, was the Atlas Elektra Rendezvous. It was also our Best Buy winner, so you can keep your wallet happy while still happily floating on powder. The model we had the least successful flotation with was the Crescent Moon Gold 13 due to its intense teardrop shape.
Unfortunately, this snowshoe had a bit of trouble with traction on icy terrain. If we kept to beginner trails and powdery snow, all was well and good, but as soon as we tried to navigate anything steep or icy we had issues. Getting up high angle hills was difficult and required a lot of energy. Getting down was even dicier — the testers that tried to go straight down without traversing sideways very slowly and carefully found themselves on their bottoms! We still awarded the Xplore a 4 out of 10 because 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, check out our Editors' Choice, the MSR Lightning Ascent.
Being the largest shoe we tested, we weren't entirely surprised that the Xplore felt more cumbersome to walk in than any other model. But a truly well-designed woman's shoe should be able to balance both surface area and easy walking. Unfortunately, this shoe doesn't quite find that balance, and we ended up stepping on our feet a lot. The model we felt we could walk the easiest in was our Top Pick for Ease of Use, the Tubbs Flex RDG. It's a bit pricier, but well worth it if you'll be walking on a lot of packed trails.
Ease of Use
Ease of use was a mixed bag for the Xplore. The binding system is straightforward and we liked 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 as the ones on the MSR Lightning Ascent and the MSR Evo - Women's. 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 we could only award a middle-of-the-road 5 out of 10. Our favorite model for ease of use was again the Tubbs Flex RDG - Women's, which has a Boa binding system that opens up nice and wide to accommodate a larger boot.
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), and the extra strap length didn't stay in its retainer clips most of the time, so it would 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. Our favorite binding systems for security were the Crescent Moon Gold 13 and our Editors' Choice the MSR Lightning Ascent - Women's.
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 like 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 we liked the Crescent Moon Gold 13 considerably better.
This snowshoe is best for beginning snowshoers that 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.
At $130, this was the cheapest shoe we tested. It was also the longest, (offering the most surface area and, therefore, very good flotation), which is a great selling point. However, for only $10 more, you can get either the Atlas Elektra Rendezvous or the MSR Evo - Women's, 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, in our experience, better performing shoes for only a little bit more money.
The Tubbs 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.
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Most recent review: April 22, 2017
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