Atlas Montane Review
Cons: Mediocre flotation for the length, strapped binding attachment isn't ideal
Manufacturer: Atlas Snowshoes
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|Pros||Good traction, easy-to-use and comfortable binding||Fully featured for steep and technical use||Inexpensive, easy to use, versatile||Large, easy stride, great flotation||Inexpensive, simple, reliable|
|Cons||Mediocre flotation for the length, strapped binding attachment isn't ideal||Loud decking and bulky harness||Unimpressive traction||Heavy, heel lifter is clunky||Loud decking on crusty snow|
|Bottom Line||This is a great traditional snowshoe that's outshone in a few areas by newer designs||This contender provides excellent traction, heel lifts, a comfortable binding, and moderate weight||This snowshoe does everything well and has a low price, making it a great value||An all-around snowshoe that tilts its preferences to the wild and deep environments||This molded snowshoe is reliable, inexpensive, offers widespread appeal, and is compatible with add-on tails for improved flotation|
|Rating Categories||Atlas Montane||Tubbs Flex VRT||Atlas Helium Trail||Crescent Moon Gold 10||MSR Evo|
|Stride Ergonomics (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Atlas Montane||Tubbs Flex VRT||Atlas Helium Trail||Crescent Moon Gold 10||MSR Evo|
|Uses||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Spring snow and steep terrain||Spring snow and moderate terrain||Deep snow||Spring snow and moderate terrain|
|Optimum Weight Load (per manufacturer)||25": 120-200 lbs;
30": 150-250 lbs;
35": 180-300+ lbs
|24": 120-200 lbs;
28": 190+ lbs
|23": 80-160 lbs;
26": 150-220 lbs;
30": 200-270+ lbs
|up to 225 lbs||up to 180 lbs (up to 250 lbs with tails)|
|Weight (per pair)||4 lbs 7 oz||4 lbs 9 oz||3 lbs 9 oz||5 lbs 2 oz||3 lbs 9 oz|
|Surface Area||176 in²||179 in²||191 in²||256 in²||173 in²|
|Dimensions||25 x 8"||24 x 8"||26" x 8"||32 x 10"||22 x 8"|
|Crampon/Traction Aids||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails||Tempered steel||Steel crampon||Steel crampon augmented with traction rails|
|Frame Material||Aluminum||Steel traction rails||Aluminum||Aluminum||Steel traction rails|
|Deck Material||Nytex fabric||Molded plastic||Plastic||Polyurethane fabric||Molded plastic|
|Heel Lift||Yes||Yes||Yes||Optional add-on||Yes|
|Binding System||Nylon straps with cam buckles, rubber strap with plastic buckle||Boa||Nylon straps with plastic buckles, rubber strap with pin-in-hole||Rubber straps with plastic buckles||Rubber Straps with pin-in-hole|
|Flotation Tails Sold Separately?||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Men's and Women's versions?||Yes||Yes||Unisex||Yes||Unisex|
|Sizes Available||25", 30", 35"||24", 28"||23", 26", 30"||One size||One size (22")|
|Tested Size||25"||24"||26"||One Size||22"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Atlas Montane is a great snowshoe, but there are a few performance differences between it and our top models. The major one is the strapped deck-to-binding attachment. While our testing team generally prefers the more rigid hinged attachment, the strapped attachment does have benefits that some users might prefer.
The 25" Montane registers about 176 square inches of floatation. This is a little on the low side for a snowshoe of this length and a reflection of the tapered shape that helps its stride ergonomics. Other similarly-sized 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 and can allow you to walk with a slightly more natural gait. However, as the terrain becomes more technical and challenging, we prefer a hinged attachment.
Ease of Use
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 bindings on the Montane are more than secure enough for wherever you want to go snowshoeing. While the rubber strap binding system found on other 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.
Thankfully, that security does not come at the expense of comfort. 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.
While this offering from Atlas does well in some ways, our testers aren't convinced that it is a lot better than some 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 rarely 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 direction these products are heading.
— Ian McEleney
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