The Atlas Montane features a traditional tubular frame design and is probably one of the best snowshoes of this type ever made. They provide reliable traction and feature a great binding system that's fast and easy to use and don't pinch or otherwise compromise the circulation in your feet. They don't offer as much flotation as comparable models. Indeed, some shorter snowshoes provide more surface area. Still, they will get the job done for most hikers looking to get out in the winter, especially those who know they want a strapped and flexible deck/binding interface.
Atlas Montane Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Good traction, and an easy-to-use, comfortable binding
Cons: Mediocre flotation for the length, strapped deck/binding attachment
Manufacturer: Atlas Snowshoes
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|Price||$199.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Good traction, and an easy-to-use, comfortable binding||Rigid, precise, excellent binding security, traction, flotation||Fully featured for steep and technical use||Large, with unique hybrid hinged deck/binding interface||Excellent binding security, good traction, decent flotation|
|Cons||Mediocre flotation for the length, strapped deck/binding attachment||New binding trades ease-of-use for comfort||Loud decking and bulky harness||Limited traction||Binding straps can be a little fiddly or uncomfortable with soft footwear|
|Bottom Line||This average performer will keep most winter hikers happy.||Our overall champ combines simplicity and high-quality materials, features, and engineering.||This is a top-scoring model with excellent traction and comfort.||One of our favorite snowshoes for deep snow.||We like this snowshoe for everything but the most technical terrain.|
|Rating Categories||Atlas Montane||MSR Lightning Ascent||Tubbs Flex VRT||Louis Garneau Blizzard II||MSR Revo Trail|
|Stride Ergonomics (20%)|
|Binding Comfort (10%)|
|Ease Of Use (10%)|
|Binding Security (10%)|
|Specs||Atlas Montane||MSR Lightning Ascent||Tubbs Flex VRT||Louis Garneau...||MSR Revo Trail|
|Uses||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Spring snow and steep terrain||Spring snow and steep terrain||Deep snow||Spring snow and moderate terrain|
|Optimum weight loads per tested size. Per manufacturer.||25: 120-200 lbs, 30: 150-250 lbs, 35: 180-300+ lbs||120-220 lbs||up to 190 lbs||150-250 lbs||120-220 lbs|
|Weight (per pair)||4 lbs 7 oz||4 lbs 0 oz||4 lbs 9 oz||5 lbs 6 oz||3 lbs 13 oz|
|Surface Area||176 sq in||188 sq in||179 sq in||282 sq in||194 sq in|
|Dimensions||25x8 in||25x8 in||24x8 in||31x10 in||25x8 in|
|Crampon/Traction aids||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails||Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails||Steel crampon||Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth|
|Frame material||Aluminum||Aluminum||Steel traction rails||Aluminum||Steel|
|Deck material||Nytex fabric||Fabric||Molded plastic||LG "Lightec" fabric||Molded plastic|
|Binding/Deck Connection||Strapped||Hinged||Hinged||Hybrid Hinged and Strapped||Hinged|
|Binding system||Nylon straps with cam buckles, rubber strap with plastic buckle||Rubber Straps with pin-in-hole||Boa||Boa||Rubber straps with pin-in-hole|
|Flotation tails sold separately?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Men's and Women's versions?||Women's version avalible||Women's version avalible||Women's version avalible||Women's version avalible||Women's version availible|
|Sizes Available||25, 30, 35||22, 25, 30||24, 28||825, 930, 1036||22, 25|
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