Update - 2016
Our research indicates that Tubbs has made some significant updates to this product! We've contacted the manufacturer for details and will post here when we have confirmation.
The Tubbs Mountaineers marry the deep snow flotation and stability of a backcountry-oriented snowshoe to the simplicity and ease of use of a recreation-specific snowshoes. Look to the Mountaineers for snowshoes capable of all terrain conditions.
The Tubbs Mountaineers are our Top Pick awarded snowshoes for use for both backcountry travel and for casual recreation. They excel in deep snow but are versatile enough for on trail hiking and leisurely outings.
The flotation of the Mountaineer excels in off-trail travel. The heavy weight sinks more in deep snow than the MSR Lightning Ascent, but still provides incredible flotation relative to a smaller surface area shoe. The Pro-Step frames are constructed of 6000 series aluminum; the same grade of aluminum as the Tubbs Wilderness - Women's and budget Alps Performance Lightweight.
The Mountaineer (size 36) is one of two pairs that can accommodate weight loads over 250 lbs. They also have the longest tail lengths of any of the models in our review, even considering the add-on flotation tails available for both MSR models. The Lightning Ascent also has a maximum weight load exceeding 250 pounds, but measures up to size 30 without flotation tails or 35 with flotation tails.
In deep snow, the heavy Tubbs Mountaineers floated us through.
These snowshoes rated 8/10 for traction. The toe and heel traction are designed of two different types: Tubbs' Anaconda crampon under the toes and Python crampon under the heel. The toe crampons open horizontally under foot while the heel crampons open laterally under foot. This design increases traction not only on steep terrain while moving uphill and downhill but also while traversing or sidestepping. Overall stability is gained from the non-uniform placement of the crampons. Compared to other top snowshoes in our review, they are average. The MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes have the most aggressive crampons and traction.
The Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes are our Top Pick awarded snowshoes for their versatility between recreation and backcountry applications.
Ease of Use
The ActiveFit+ bindings are the easiest bindings to attach and adjust. Their unique design appears more complex than the ratchet design on the Alps Performance Lightweight snowshoes or the rubber straps and buckles of the MSR Evo, but we assure you that they are easier to use, especially with gloves on. You simply slide your foot into the step-in binding, pull the two opposing side straps at the top of the forefoot panel, then adjust the heel strap accordingly. Taking them off is just as easy — loosen the heel, then loosen the two binding straps with the release tab. The only downside is how easily they can be loosened when rubbed up against, particularly by the opposite snowshoe or foot when in stride. The bindings are not as easily adjusted for smaller feet.
The ActiveFit+ bindings on the Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes utilizes a unique step-in design that is tightened by two nylon straps on opposite sides of the boot.
Security on Foot
The Tubbs Mountaineer and MSR Lightning Ascent, both award winners, are the only two pairs in our review that earned a 10/10 for security on foot. The Mountaineers have excellent traction systems and binding setups for stability and security while snowshoeing. Whether moving across packed snow or through deep powder, they remain stable. The bindings can accidentally loosen if rubbed against, but otherwise they remain securely fastened.
These are one of only a couple of pairs in our review that we recommend for both backcountry and on-trail use. The flotation exceeds the needs of a trail-specific snowshoe yet the easy to use bindings and the stability are appropriate on groomed and moderate terrain. It's hard to find a snowshoe that crosses between both backcountry travel and casual recreational use, but the Mountaineers are close to ideal for both applications. For a pair of snowshoes best for backcountry specific applications, consider the MSR Lighting Ascents. For a pair of snowshoes best for recreation specific applications, consider the Tubbs Wilderness or MSR Evo. It is worth noting that the large surface area and long frame lengths are best suited for athletic body types and higher weight loads; medium body types and low weight loads will feel weighed down by the actual weight and size of the shoes. The MSR Lightning Ascent and the MSR Evo are both lightweight options that offer more agility and efficiency in stride when the added stability is not needed from a high surface area.
The tails of the Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes drag. At first this was a bit of a hinderance until we realized it made our stride easier when we didn't have to lift the entire snowshoe. It also reduces snow from being kicked up onto the back of our legs.
This pair rings up as one of the top three most expensive in our review, and the most expensive men's snowshoes by Tubbs. Based on their versatility between recreation and backcountry snowshoeing, they are an excellent value. They offer a surface area that stays afloat in deep snow and an easy to use binding design that even a novice will appreciate. From traveling on groomed trails to breaking trails, they are worth the expense.
The Tubbs Mountaineer have a large surface area that is ideal in deep snow conditions. On and off trail snowshoeing feels secure and stable in these shoes. Although they are among the heaviest snowshoes we tested, the weight didn't keep them from staying afloat in deep snow. This model excels when carrying heavier weight loads that demand larger surface areas, such as backpacking or hut trips. Overall, they are an excellent option for both moderate terrain and advanced backcountry travel.
The Tubbs Wilderness snowshoes (left) compared to the Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes (right). Both are offered in men's and women's versions.