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Tubbs Flex VRT Review

This contender provides excellent traction, heel lifts, a comfortable binding, and moderate weight
tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review
This model is ready for almost any terrain and excels on steep ground.
Credit: Jessica Haist
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Price:  $280 List
Manufacturer:   Tubbs
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 20, 2022
73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • 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.
REASONS TO BUY
Fully featured for steep and technical use
REASONS TO AVOID
Loud decking and bulky harness
Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 20, 2022, to cover changes to the binding and traction systems.

Compare to Similar Products

 
tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review
This Product
Tubbs Flex VRT
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $280 List
$279.95 at REI
$350 List
$349.95 at REI
$150 List
$149.95 at REI
$240 List$100 List
$111.85 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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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 flotationGood flotation, inexpensive
Cons Loud decking and bulky harnessNew binding trades ease-of-use for comfortUnimpressive tractionHeavy, heel lifter is clunkyLess reliable binding technology, poor traction
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 at a low price, making it a great valueAn all-around snowshoe that tilts its preferences to the wild and deep environmentsIf you're not getting out much or going far, these budget snowshoes could be right for you
Rating Categories Tubbs Flex VRT MSR Lightning Ascent Atlas Helium Trail Crescent Moon Big S... Chinook Trekker
Flotation (30%)
5.0
5.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Traction (25%)
8.0
9.0
5.0
4.0
2.0
Stride Ergonomics (15%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
4.0
Ease of Use (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
3.0
Bindings (15%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Specs Tubbs Flex VRT MSR Lightning Ascent Atlas Helium Trail Crescent Moon Big S... Chinook Trekker
Uses Spring snow and steep terrain Spring snow and steep terrain Spring snow and moderate terrain Deep snow Spring snow and groomed trails
Optimum Weight Load (per manufacturer) 21": 80-160 lbs;
25": 120-200 lbs;
29": 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 22": 90-130 lbs;
25": 130-210 lbs;
30":180-250 lbs;
36": 250-300 lbs
Weight (per pair) 4 lbs 6 oz 4 lbs 0 oz 3 lbs 7 oz 5 lbs 2 oz 4 lbs 4oz
Surface Area 195 in² 188 in² 207 in² 256 in² 205 in²
Dimensions 26 x 8" 25 x 8" 27 x 9" 32 x 10" 25 x 8"
Crampon/Traction Aids Steel crampons and rails Steel crampons, rails, and teeth Steel crampons and rails Steel crampons Aluminum crampons and teeth
Frame Material Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Deck Material Plastic Fabric Nytex nylon Polyurethane fabric Polyethylene fabric
Heel Lift Yes Yes Yes Optional No
Binding/Deck Connection Hinged Hinged Hinged Strapped Strapped
Binding System Boa and rubber strap Rubber net and straps with pin-in-hole Nylon straps with plastic buckles, rubber strap with pin-in-hole Rubber straps with plastic buckles Ratchet straps with plastic buckles, nylon strap with ladder-lock buckle
Flotation Tails Sold Separately? No Yes No No No
Men's and Women's Versions? Yes Yes Unisex Yes Unisex
Sizes Available 21", 25", 29" 22", 25", 30" 23", 26", 30" One size (32") 22", 25", 30", 36"
Tested Size 25" 25" 26" 32" 25"

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our testing team gets psyched when legacy snowshoe companies adopt new technology. In the case of the Tubbs Flex VRT, that new tech is a plastic deck and BOA system on the binding. While these aren't exactly new ideas (and this model has had them for a while), the snowshoeing world moves slowly enough that they qualify.

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 other products. However, the end result is nothing remarkable. It is solidly built, functions well, and hits a versatile design combination.

Performance Comparison


tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review - this model is made to explore.
This model is made to explore.
Credit: Ian McEleney

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 the surface area effective in floating on softer snow.

tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review - testing flotation with the vrt.
Testing flotation with the VRT.
Credit: Ian McEleney

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 VRT will bite in. Augmenting the crampons and rails (which are noticeably bigger than on other models) are ridges molded into the deck and tiny metal spikes on the tail. Our testers found these two features particularly beneficial on descents.

tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review - the flex vrt had the deepest traction rails and teeth.
The Flex VRT had the deepest traction rails and teeth.
Credit: Ian McEleney

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 while keeping the foot mostly level. For all these reasons, we recommend the Flex for rugged, firm-snow travel. In all other conditions, there is likely a better choice.

tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review - a slightly flexible deck complements the hinged binding to deck...
A slightly flexible deck complements the hinged binding to deck attachment.
Credit: Jessica Haist

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.

tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review - the boa system is quick and easy to use.
The BOA system is quick and easy to use.
Credit: Ian McEleney

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, the stretchy rubber straps are secure without compromising comfort.

tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review - foam padding under the boa panel enhances comfort.
Foam padding under the BOA panel enhances comfort.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Should You Buy the Tubbs Flex VRT?


Hikers who are seriously considering this snowshoe should have high and wild terrain on their wish list. The feature set of the VRT is optimized for big mountain travel. Folks who are staying away from steeper or technical terrain can pay less or find a model with other, perhaps more desirable, features.

tubbs flex vrt snowshoes review - this rubber pin-in-hole strap (included) is a nice accessory that...
This rubber pin-in-hole strap (included) is a nice accessory that makes transporting this model easier.
Credit: Ian McEleney

What Other Snowshoes Should You Consider?


Those looking to the Flex VRT for mountain use would also do well to check out the MSR Lightning Ascent. They have similar features with bindings that are slightly easier to use. The MSR Evo Ascent is also a technically minded model but also performs well on mellow trails and is a bit lighter than the VRT.

Ian McEleney
 
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