Atlas Montane Review
Cons: Mediocre flotation for the length, strapped deck/binding attachment
Manufacturer: Atlas Snowshoes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Atlas Montane is a great snowshoe. There are a few performance differences between it and our top models. The major one is the deck-to-binding attachment. On the Montane, this attachment is strapped while it's hinged on the Lightning Ascent. While our testing team generally prefers the more rigid hinged attachment, the strapped attachment has benefits that some users might prefer.
The Montane registers about 176 square inches of floatation. This is a little on the low side for a snowshoe of its length, and a reflection of the tapered shape that helps its stride ergonomics. Other 25-inch long models feature more surface area.
The Montane has the most traction of all the standard tubular frame snowshoes in our review. Our reviewers rarely noticed slipping or sliding while in the mountains. Prominent steel teeth under the binding are augmented with toothed steel rails under the heel.
This is one of the key areas of difference between top performers and the Montane. With the Montane, the deck is attached to the binding with a beefy strap. This provides some cushioning on hard snow or groomed trails. Our testers also find the strapped connection allows us to walk with a slightly more natural gait. However, as the terrain becomes more technical and challenging, we tend to prefer a hinged attachment.
This snowshoe is among the more comfortable models in our test. The nylon binding strap is woven through several wide plastic parts, which effectively distribute the load and minimize pressure points. Additionally, two small pieces of foam padding add to the cush.
Ease of Use
Our testers think the Montane is very easy to put on. Only two actions are required when donning this snowshoe. First, pull the yellow nylon strap tight across the forefoot. Second, pull the rubber strap tight around the heel. That's it. The buckles on both straps do the rest of the work. For faster removal, the front two straps are linked by a bit of webbing that allows the hiker to open both at once.
The Montane's binding is more than secure enough for almost all snowshoeing. While the rubber strap binding system found on some models lets hikers crank the binding down as tight as a tourniquet, we think that's usually overkill. The Montane binding, when properly tensioned, will keep this snowshoe on your foot.
While this offering from Atlas does well in some ways, our testers aren't convinced that it is a lot better than osme cheaper models. That is unless you know you want the strapped deck-to-binding connection.
The Atlas Montane represents the pinnacle of the tubular frame snowshoe design. As such it is a very capable snowshoe that should keep all but the most demanding users happy. Our testers almost never worried about traction with these snowshoes. While we would like a little more floatation for the length, it is reasonably comfortable to hike with these strapped to your feet. Speaking of strapping them to your feet, that process is easy and secure. Every model that outscores the Montane has some other frame or deck arrangement, which represents the innovative directions this seemingly boring product is heading.
— Ian McEleney