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Backpacker Magazine – Fall Gear Guide 2013

Gear Review: Komperdell Alpinist Snowshoes

Snowshoes that stay a step above the snowy slush.

by: Allison Woods

Komperdell Alpinist (Andrew Bydlon)
Komperdell Alpinist (Andrew Bydlon)

Bargain Flotation

“The Alpinists provided great flotation on sno-cone consistency slush, and they didn’t sink into the sloppy muskeg I regularly had to cross between snow patches,” reported our Alaska tester after a trip in Tongass National Forest. Thanks to their large oval frames, they fared similarly well in 18 inches of dry powder in Boulder’s Front Range, and they also received high traction marks on slopes of up to 40 degrees. Six fangs under the toe and three at midfoot provide grip in front, and six more get it done in the rear.

“Downhill grip was outstanding once I figured out the best way to walk,” reports a Vermont tester. “The aggressively-raked front points* required me to lift my feet when descending steeps—otherwise, I’d trip on them.” The big frames lacked maneuverability in tight trees and on uneven ground. Shorter testers found them awkward to walk in, but those over 5’6” didn’t have problems. The binding consists of an “X” pattern of webbing; a couple pulls with a gloved hand sets the forefoot in place. But the heel strap (double-laced through a rubber pad) is tricky to adjust in the field. Smart: Tiny teeth on the deck’s topside keep heels from slipping. Bonus: price. $140-$150; 25 and 30 inches; 4 lbs. 4 oz. (25);

*Front point -- A downward- or slightly forward-facing steel claw at the front of the underfoot area that provides positive traction when initiating a step.

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