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Tubbs Flex VRT Review

This contender provides excellent traction, heel lifts, a comfortable binding, and moderate weight
Tubbs Flex VRT
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Price:  $260 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Fully featured for steep and technical use
Cons:  Loud decking and bulky harness
Manufacturer:   Tubbs
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 12, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 11
  • Flotation - 30% 5.0
  • Traction - 25% 8.0
  • Stride Ergonomics - 15% 9.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8.0
  • Bindings - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Tubbs Flex VRT is a solid product that leans toward the high and wild. It has all the attributes we look for in a snowshoe for technical terrain. The size is moderate, the binding and deck are joined with a hinge, there are extensive steel crampon points, and the binding is secure enough in most conditions. Generally, for snowshoes, we award our top honor to those suited to mountaineering. Mountaineering snowshoes also work on trails, while trail shoes barely work at all in the high mountains. Because of this, top honors go to the more technical products, and the Flex VRT lands close to the top spot.

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Tubbs Flex VRT
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Tubbs Flex VRT
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Pros Fully featured for steep and technical useRigid, precise, excellent binding security, impressive tractionInexpensive, easy to use, versatileLarge, easy stride, great flotationCompact, uniquely excellent stride ergonomics
Cons Loud decking and bulky harnessNew binding trades ease-of-use for comfortUnimpressive tractionHeavy, heel lifter is clunkySmall footprint and flexible deck creates limited flotation
Bottom Line This contender provides excellent traction, heel lifts, a comfortable binding, and moderate weightThe best snowshoes in our test, complete with high end features and simple engineeringThis snowshoe does everything well and has a low price, making it a great valueAn all-around snowshoe that tilts its preferences to the wild and deep environmentsExcellent compact snowshoes for packed trail and firmer snow when flotation isn't the main concern
Rating Categories Tubbs Flex VRT MSR Lightning Ascent Atlas Helium Trail Crescent Moon Gold 10 TSL Symbioz Elite
Flotation (30%)
5.0
6.0
6.0
9.0
2.0
Traction (25%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
9.0
Stride Ergonomics (15%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
8.0
Ease of Use (15%)
8.0
6.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Bindings (15%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Tubbs Flex VRT MSR Lightning Ascent Atlas Helium Trail Crescent Moon Gold 10 TSL Symbioz Elite
Uses Spring snow and steep terrain Spring snow and steep terrain Spring snow and moderate terrain Deep snow Groomed trails
Optimum Weight Load (per manufacturer) 24": 120-200 lbs;
28": 190+ lbs
22": up to 180 lbs;
25": 120-220 lbs;
30": 150-280 lbs
23": 80-160 lbs;
26": 150-220 lbs;
30": 200-270+ lbs
up to 225 lbs S: 65-180 lbs;
M: 110-260 lbs;
L: 150-300 lbs
Weight (per pair) 4 lbs 9 oz 4 lbs 0 oz 3 lbs 9 oz 5 lbs 2 oz 4 lbs 9 oz
Surface Area 179 in² 188 in² 191 in² 256 in² 162 in²
Dimensions 24 x 8" 25 x 8" 26" x 8" 32 x 10" 22 x 8"
Crampon/Traction Aids Steel crampon augmented with traction rails Steel crampon augmented with rail and frame teeth Tempered steel Steel crampon Steel spikes throughout bottom of deck
Frame Material Steel traction rails Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Composite
Deck Material Molded plastic Fabric Plastic Polyurethane fabric Composite
Heel Lift Yes Yes Yes Optional add-on Yes
Binding/Deck Connection Hinged Hinged Hinged Strapped Hinged
Binding System Boa Rubber Straps with pin-in-hole Nylon straps with plastic buckles, rubber strap with pin-in-hole Rubber straps with plastic buckles Combination of rigid plastic, nylon straps, cam locks, and ratchet style straps
Flotation Tails Sold Separately? No Yes No No No
Men's and Women's versions? Yes Yes Unisex Yes Unisex
Sizes Available 24", 28" 22", 25", 30" 23", 26", 30" One size S (20.5"), M (23.5"), L (27")
Tested Size 24" 25" 26" One Size M

Our Analysis and Test Results

Flex VRT Updates


Since our testing period with these snowshoes, Tubbs updated the Dynamic Fit binding system, simplifying the Boa system with less cord. Compare the two snowshoes below; the new version is pictured first.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Take note that since we haven't tested the latest version yet, the following review continues to reflect the previous model tested.

Performance Comparison


In some ways, the Flex VRT is an amalgamation of many different snowshoes in our review. In other ways, it takes the best of the best from the other products. However, the end result is nothing remarkable. It is solidly built, functions well, and hits a versatile design combination.

For all-around snowshoeing, the traction and comfortable binding of...
For all-around snowshoeing, the traction and comfortable binding of the Tubbs is great. For more technical use, the traction is more than adequate but the binding isn't as secure as we'd like.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Flotation


The fully rigid decking of the Flex VRT is supportive and works well on firm-to-moderately soft snow. In normal "trail" and dense snow conditions, the Flex will have all the float you need. The rigid, molded, and stiffened deck makes all of the surface area effective in floating on softer snow.

Traction


In head-to-head testing, the generous crampons combined with hardened steel longitudinal rails provide excellent traction for the slipperiest of packed snow and ice. Whether the snow is slippery from wind packing action or from melt-freeze metamorphosis, the sharp steel spikes of the Flex will bite in.

The crampon and traction rails of the Tubbs combine to provide...
The crampon and traction rails of the Tubbs combine to provide traction that rivals the best in our review.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Stride Ergonomics


The Flex VRT is moderately sized, with a hinged binding/deck junction and a rigid platform. This configuration, combined with the excellent traction noted before, makes the Flex one of the best snowshoes in our test for the steepest and most technical terrain. The integrated heel lift allows the user to snowshoe straight uphill, with the crampons and flotation fully engaged, but the user's foot more level. For all these reasons, we recommend the Flex for rugged, firm-snow travel. In all other conditions, there is likely a better choice.

Ease of Use


Every tester loved the Boa system for wearing. The primary disadvantage of these bindings, in terms of ease of use, is that they are bulkier to pack. Beyond this, we found the operation of this binding to be straightforward.

Bindings


In our experience, including rugged terrain in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, the bindings of the Flex hold on tenaciously enough. Some other online reviews indicate that the Boa system can ice up. Our test team has experience with the Boa system on snowshoes, ski boots, and snowboard boots and has had no problems in the wettest and coldest of conditions. In short, we trust the bindings of the Flex but understand hesitations around this mechanical device.

The hybrid "Boa" and heel strap configuration of the Flex is well suited to spread the force of the binding pressure over the softest of winter footwear. That being said, these snowshoes are designed for use in rough terrain where stiffer footwear will likely be worn. In that case, even the tightest cinching bindings do not cause undue pressure. If you use stiff mountaineering boots for snowshoeing, stretchy rubber straps are secure without compromising comfort.

The most salient characteristic of the BOA style binding of the...
The most salient characteristic of the BOA style binding of the Tubbs Flex is its comfort. Whether on stiff mountaineering boots, or soft winter trail runners, the binding spreads the force evenly.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Value


At the suggested price, the high-performance attributes of the Flex are worth it. If you primarily tromp in mellower terrain, you can spend a lot less for a snowshoe that will do the job.

Conclusion


We're not entirely sure that Tubbs intended it, but this snowshoe has a rare set of features that makes them mountaineering specialists. Other products are slightly better in that technical terrain, but they cost more. If you like to get high and wild, the Tubbs Flex VRT is more than worth a look.

The Flex VRT is suitable for normal trail use with occasional off...
The Flex VRT is suitable for normal trail use with occasional off trail and technical use.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Jediah Porter
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