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Atlas Montane Review

This is a great traditional snowshoe that's outshone in a few areas by newer designs.
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Price:  $200 List | $149.99 at Amazon
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
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 8, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 9
  • Flotation - 25% 5
  • Traction - 25% 8
  • Stride Ergonomics - 20% 7
  • Binding Comfort - 10% 8
  • Ease of Use - 10% 8
  • Binding Security - 10% 9

Our Verdict

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 into the mountains, the woods or on the trail in the winter.

If you're planning to venture into more technical terrain during the colder months,check out our Editors' Choice award winner, the MSR Lightning Ascent.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Atlas Montane
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $149.99 at Amazon
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$259.45 at Amazon
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$200 List$207.96 at AmazonCheck Price at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Good traction, and an easy-to-use, comfortable bindingRigid, precise, excellent binding security, traction, flotationLarge, with unique hybrid hinged deck/binding interfaceFully featured for steep and technical useInexpensive, simple, reliable
Cons Mediocre flotation for the length, strapped deck/binding attachmentNew binding trades ease-of-use for comfortLimited tractionLoud decking and bulky harnessLoud decking on crusty snow
Bottom Line This is a great traditional snowshoe that's outshone in a few areas by newer designs.The best snowshoes in our test, complete with high end features and simple engineering.All-around snowshoes optimized for off-trail and deep snow performance.This contender provides excellent traction, heel lifts, a comfortable binding, and moderate weight.The latest in a long line of innovative, molded snowshoes; they are reliable, inexpensive, and have widespread appeal.
Rating Categories Atlas Montane MSR Lightning Ascent Louis Garneau Blizzard II Tubbs Flex VRT MSR Evo
Flotation (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
4
10
0
4
Traction (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
Stride Ergonomics (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
8
Binding Comfort (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
Ease Of Use (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Binding Security (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
Specs Atlas Montane MSR Lightning Ascent Louis Garneau... Tubbs Flex VRT MSR Evo
Uses Spring snow and moderate terrain Spring snow and steep terrain Deep snow Spring snow and steep terrain 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 150-250 lbs up to 190 lbs up to 180 lbs
Weight (per pair) 4 lbs 7 oz 4 lbs 0 oz 5 lbs 6 oz 4 lbs 9 oz 3 lbs 9 oz
Surface Area 176 sq in 188.5 sq in 282 sq in 179.4 sq in 173.8 sq in
Dimensions 25x8 in 25x8 in 31x10 in 24x8 in 22x8 in
Crampon/Traction aids Steel crampon augmented with traction rails Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth Steel crampon Steel crampon augmented with traction rails Steel crampon augmented with traction rails
Frame material Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Steel traction rails Steel traction rails
Deck material Nytex fabric Fabric LG "Lightec" fabric Molded plastic Molded plastic
Heel Lift Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Binding/Deck Connection Strapped Hinged Hybrid Hinged and Strapped Hinged 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 Yes
Men's and Women's versions? Women's version avalible Women's version avalible Women's version avalible Women's version avalible Unisex version
Sizes Available 25, 30, 35 22, 25, 30 825, 930, 1036 24, 28 One Size
Tested Size 25 25 930 24 One Size

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Atlas Montane is a great snowshoe. There are a few performance differences between it and our Editors' Choice award winner, the MSR Lightning Ascent. 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.

Performance Comparison


The Montane in action breaking trail.
The Montane in action breaking trail.

Floatation


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. The other two 25-inch long models are the MSR Lightning Ascent and the Chinook Trekker, which feature 188 and 205 square inches, respectively. The MSR Evo has more surface area despite the fact that it is three inches shorter.

Traction


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.

These traction rails are highly effective.
These traction rails are highly effective.

Stride Ergonomics


This is one of the key areas of difference between the MSR Lightning Ascent 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, such as those found on the Lightning Ascent, MSR Evo and Tubbs Flex VRT.

The rubber strap linking binding and deck. It provides some shock absorption on groomed trails  but at the cost of precision on technical ground.
The rubber strap linking binding and deck. It provides some shock absorption on groomed trails, but at the cost of precision on technical ground.

Binding Comfort


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.

Thin foam padding inside the binding adds to the comfort.
Thin foam padding inside the binding adds to the comfort.

Ease of Use


Our testers think the Montane is very easy to put on. Like the Louis Garneau Blizzard II and the Tubbs Flex VRT, 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 two buckles that control the forefoot strap are linked. Simply pull the yellow webbing to tighten  and the black webbing to loosen.
The two buckles that control the forefoot strap are linked. Simply pull the yellow webbing to tighten, and the black webbing to loosen.

Binding Security


The Montane's binding is more than secure enough for almost all snowshoeing. While the rubber strap binding system found on models like the MSR Evo 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.

The "wrapping" design distributed the pressure of the binding  making this a very comfortable snowshoe  even with thin boots.
The "wrapping" design distributed the pressure of the binding, making this a very comfortable snowshoe, even with thin boots.

Best Applications


The Atlas Montane is a reasonable choice for most snowshoe applications. It's best for hikers who know they want a strapped and flexible deck/binding interface.

The heel riser helps keep your foot level on the uphills  which makes them easier.
The heel riser helps keep your foot level on the uphills, which makes them easier.

Value


While this offering from Atlas does well in some ways, our testers aren't convinced that it is 60 dollars better than the MSR Evo. That is unless you know you want the strapped deck-to-binding connection.

Conclusion


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.

The Montane was the easiest and fastest snowshoe to take off.
The Montane was the easiest and fastest snowshoe to take off.


Ian McEleney