Since we tested the Hikr, Fimbulvetr has revised their binding. We're excited about this, since our findings with this snowshoe was that the bindings were problematic. The new binding, called the Hugin, is designed to be more secure than the previous binding and easier to mount. If you own Fimbulvetr snowshoes already, you can even purchase the bindings separately to mount onto your existing Hikrs.
See a new colorway for the Hikrs and compare the bindings in the images below. The dark blue is the new snowshoe; the white is the version we tested.
We're looking forward to testing the updated shoes, but for now, the review to follow still tells our account of the previous snowshoe with the old bindings.
Hands-On Review of the Hikr
An innovative product whose attributes very well may suit a niche of users, with otherwise minimal appeal to a broad audience.
The Fimbulvetr Hikr is the most unique looking snowshoe in our test. The binding and crampon are attached to a flexible section of the unibody molded deck.
For fresh snow, the Fimbulvetr's flotation is about average among our tested products.
With the innovative materials, design, and shape of the Hikr, we expected the flotation to be relatively good, for the size. The off-center binding mount, for instance, allows the snowshoes to be wider, overall, without dramatically influencing the stride ergonomics. The greater width translates to greater surface area and surface area is the main determinant of flotation. However, presumably due to the flexible materials and "rockered" design, the effective surface area and therefore flotation is less in fresh snow than we first thought it may be. Like all compact snowshoes, such as the Tubbs Flex VRT and TSL Symbioz Elite, these are perfectly suitable for packed trails. For much greater flotation, something long and lean like the Crescent Moon Gold 10 or our Top Pick the Louis Garneau Blizzard II is more appropriate.
The traction of the Fimbulvetr comes from both the metal spikes and the shape of the plastic decking.
The wildly textured molded plastic deck, complemented by minimal metal spiking, makes for an almost exactly average traction score. All the backcountry and alpine oriented snowshoes, like the Atlas Montane and the MSR Lightning Ascent have much better traction. Among the trail-oriented snowshoes, the TSL Symbioz Elite has better traction than the Hikr.
Once again, we were hopeful that the innovative asymmetrical shape and unprecedented flexibility of the Hikr would result in similarly unprecedented hiking ergonomics. While none of our testers had any problems with walking in the Hikr, we had no revelations about the walking comfort. The springy binding attachment, as we mention at length elsewhere in our reviews, seems to please half the testers, while the other half want a hinged binding attachment for walking efficiency. The next closest competitor, the TSL Symbioz, has a hinged walking mechanism and is otherwise optimized for trail use. If there is any pattern correlated with tester's preference for hinged attachment vs strapped, it is that trail users prefer hinged while backcountry and alpine users prefer hinged. In this way, the Hikr's edges slightly ahead of the Symbioz.
We had no issues with the comfort of the Hikr bindings. The soft nylon straps attached with pressure-dissipating plastic binding base material are quite comfortable. The even pressure of the Boa style attachment on the Louis Garneau Blizzard II is a little more comfortable, while the ultra-secure stretchy rubber attachment of the MSR Evo can cut off circulation in softer footwear.
Ease of Use
The binding straps of the Hikr are relatively familiar nylon textile straps run through simple ladder-lock plastic buckles. These are fairly intuitive to use. However, the nylon fabric straps are prone to icing up. In any conditions that involve both wetness and cold (which covers almost all snowshoe outings), especially when wear is extended for hours, the straps can freeze such that the snowshoes are difficult to remove or adjust. The rubbery straps of something like the MSR Lightning are far easier to use.
The soft nylon straps of the Fimbulvetr are more prone to icing than any other in our review.
Snowshoes need to stay on securely to be effective. The nylon straps of the Hikr were the least secure of any snowshoe in our test. Users feet would slide side to side and sometimes slip out entirely. All the other binding designs were more secure than those on the Fimbulvetr.
These are great low maintenance, innovative-looking, and conversation-starting snowshoes for the occasional trail user. For short hikes, the binding is comfortable and easy to use. Provided it stays secure on your feet and doesn't ice up, the binding is serviceable. Small users or those sticking mainly to traveled trails will do fine with the moderate flotation provided by the Hikr.
These snowshoes scored towards the bottom of the heap, yet cost more than most. Many snowshoes in our test scored much much higher and feature high-end construction, traction, and are equipped with secure binding systems. For this amount of money, one could buy three pairs of one of our Best Buy Award winners. We cannot say in good conscience that the Hikr is a good value.
These snowshoes turn heads. And, for basic use, they are perfectly suitable. While none of our test team found the stride ergonomics to be particularly unique, other online reviews suggest that the off-center binding mount can be very beneficial to some. If you are uncomfortable walking in other snowshoes, it is worth trying the Hikr style.