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Hands-on Gear Review
Fimbulvetr Hikr Review
Cons: Binding is insecure and ices up
Bottom line: An innovative snowshoe design that has yet to mature into a product we can recommend to all but a small subset of the market.
Weight (per pair): 4.9 lbs
Frame material: DuPont Hytrel
In hundreds of miles of testing and months of winter travel, we had the opportunity to use and abuse the best snowshoes on the market. In that process, on top of years of snowshoe experience, we developed some strong preferences and critical perspectives. None of the products we reviewed are poor, but some clearly exceed the function of others. In this way, some product in our test has to come out on the bottom. That product may exceed the function and quality of most of the market, but it is not as recommendable as any of the others in our test fleet. The Fimbulvetr Hikr is that product in this year's snowshoe review update. The TSL Symbioz Elite is better on trails, while the Louis Garneau Blizzard floats better, and the MSR Lightning Ascent is a technical terrain wizard. For basic use, the casual user will note no issues with the Fimbulvetr, but that same user will enjoy using another product more.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
An innovative product whose attributes very well may suit a niche of users, with otherwise minimal appeal to a broad audience.
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, like 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 Louis Garneau Blizzard II is more appropriate.
The wildly textured molded plastic deck, complemented by minimal metal spiking, makes for an almost exactly average traction score. The Best Buy MSR Evo has greater traction, for sure. All the backcountry and alpine oriented snowshoes, like the Atlas Aspect 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 TSL 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 Atlas Aspect 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 snow shoe 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.
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.
Of the eight snowshoes we tested, only two are more expensive than the Hikr. Both of these 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 almost two pairs of our Best Buy Award winner. 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.
— Jediah Porter
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