Hands-on Gear Review

Alps Performance Lightweight Review

Alps Performance Lightweight
Price:  $65 List
Pros:  Lightweight, inexpensive, great for beginners, great for families.
Cons:  Binding strap lengths are not appropriate.
Editors' Rating:   
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Uses:  recreation
Sizes Available:  21, 25, 30
Optimum weight loads per size:  70-150, 125-175, 150-225
Manufacturer:   Alps Mountaineering

Our Verdict

The Lightweight Snowshoes from Alps Performance Are Discontinued as of May 2017
Are you new to winter recreation? Looking for an introduction to snowshoeing without making a big investment? Planning to share your snowshoes between friends and family? The Alps Performance Lightweight snowshoes are the best option for an introduction to snowshoeing. While most snowshoes are gender specific with sizing that clearly reflects the differences, the Alps snowshoes are sized to be suitable for interchanging between men and women. The simple design, affordable price, and unisex sizing makes them a perfect introductory snowshoe for anyone.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Briana Valorosi

Last Updated:
Monday
November 10, 2014

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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.

Performance Comparison


The Alps Performance Lightweight snowshoes are a good entry level pair of snowshoes. In fresh snow  they kept us afloat but do not excel in deep snow.
The Alps Performance Lightweight snowshoes are a good entry level pair of snowshoes. In fresh snow, they kept us afloat but do not excel in deep snow.

Flotation


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.

Traction


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.

The crampons on the Alps Performance Lightweight collect snow  which hinders traction and stability.
The crampons on the Alps Performance Lightweight collect snow, which hinders traction and stability.

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.

Before putting snowshoes on  its important to clear any snow from the binding foot bed. Any snow under your foot will alter the overall stability and comfort of the snowshoes and bindings.
Before putting snowshoes on, its important to clear any snow from the binding foot bed. Any snow under your foot will alter the overall stability and comfort of the snowshoes and bindings.

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 ratchet style bindings are among the easiest to use. Like snowboard bindings  the plastic strap feeds into the plastic buckle. Pulling the circular ratchet up will tighten the straps and pushing the small tab down will release the straps.
The ratchet style bindings are among the easiest to use. Like snowboard bindings, the plastic strap feeds into the plastic buckle. Pulling the circular ratchet up will tighten the straps and pushing the small tab down will release the straps.

Best Applications


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.

Note the synthetic decking material stretched on an aluminum frame on this lightweight model.
Note the synthetic decking material stretched on an aluminum frame on this lightweight model.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.
Briana Valorosi

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Most recent review: November 10, 2014
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
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