Alps Performance Lightweight Review
Cons: Binding strap lengths are not appropriate.
Manufacturer: Alps Mountaineering
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Alps Performance Lightweight snowshoes are ideal for someone new to winter recreation and snowshoeing. The simple design is user friendly and suited for beginner to intermediate terrain.
The Alps Performance Lightweight snowshoes rated lowest of all the models in our review for flotation. Comparable in size and simplicity to the MSR Evo, the Alps have less surface area lending to flotation and is not suitable for extended travel in deep snow. They excel on groomed or packed-snow-covered terrain where flotation is not as important, although they offer enough flotation for some off-trail travel between trails. For an inexpensive snowshoe that offers more versatility, consider the MSR Evo.
This model has a semi-aggressive traction system with two separate crampon components: one under the ball of the foot and one beneath the heel of the foot. The fixed rotation bindings offer limited foot mobility, although with the light weight and the novice-oriented design, it works. The crampons gather a significant amount of snow when traveling through heavy or wet snow conditions, which hinders overall traction as the buildup limits the aggression of the crampons. We found ourselves constantly stopping to clear out snow so that we could maintain a comfortable and stable stride. The MSR Evos have a semi-aggressive traction system that resists snow buildup while widening the applications to moderate terrain and intermediate trails.
Ease of Use
These snowshoes are among the easiest to use. The bindings are similar to snowboard bindings and offer a simple ratchet system that is uncomplicated for the first time user. The design of the frame, decking, and binding system is simple and easy to interpret. They are sized as unisex, simplifying purchasing options and eliminating the need for the translating gender specific features of other snowshoes. Other easy-to-use snowshoes are the MSR Lightning Ascent and the MSR Evo, both with simple rubber strap binding systems.
Security on Foot
The security on foot in this model is subpar. We found our feet sliding around the binding foot bed as soon as snow built up or melted, creating a slick plastic surface. The bindings are rigid plastic, best for fitting in a warm environment as the cold adds to the stiffness. The binding straps are too short across the instep and toe but particularly long around the heel; this made finding an optimal and secure fit challenging. Although they are unisex, men with large boots will experience trouble ratcheting the bindings securely. There is a happy medium between using boots that are large enough to fill any spacing gaps in the bindings and using boots that aren't too large to securely fasten the bindings closed. A more user friendly binding system is found on the MSR Evo, which utilizes rubber straps and buckles with a wider range of sizing. The Tubbs Wilderness - Women's and Tubbs Mountaineer bindings have step-in bindings that securely fasten.
The Alps Performance Lightweight snowshoes are ideal for beginners. The semi-aggressive crampons are suitable for groomed trails and some off-trail travel in compacted snow. The flotation is adequate for maneuvering on moderate terrain in fresh snow but not recommended for all-day off-trail travel in deep snow. For people new to snowshoeing, the easy-to-use bindings and simple design are ideal. The unisex sizing makes sharing these snowshoes among friends and family members easy. Frame size and length should correlate to individual weight and pack loads, but the Performance Lightweight snowshoes are suitable for both you and your friend, due to the absence of aggressive technical features.
For around $65, a fraction of the cost of any other pairs in our review, this model is a great value for people new to outdoor winter recreation. The non-technical features and simple design keep the cost low. We found them to provide decent flotation, traction suitable for walks in the park or on moderate groomed terrain, and an easy-to-use binding system. The security on foot is inferior to other top snowshoes in our review, but for beginner applications, we found them to be satisfactory. For someone who has never spent time snowshoeing, they are good introductory snowshoes at a great price.
This model is an excellent choice for the novice snowshoer. Most comparable to the MSR Evo snowshoes, which provide significantly more traction and flotation, they have a wider sizing range and are easy to use. At a fraction of the cost of the MSR Evos, the Alps Performance Lightweights are great introductory snowshoes.
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Most recent review: November 10, 2014
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