In my last post, I discussed my personal favorite snowshoes for my preferred winter activity: peak-bagging and strenuous mountain trails and travel. For me, packability is king. But that doesn't mean there aren't other excellent snowshoes available. Two other styles I often recommend are the Atlas 10 and 12 series.
Atlas 12 Series
The 12 series is their top of the line model ($280; 4.1 - 4.6 pounds, depending on length). It features an extremely secure and comfortable binding, excellent crampons for traction, and comes in three lengths: 25, 30, and 35-inch (styles 1225, 1230, and 1235), which are each rated for specific weight ranges.
The binding envelopes your boot more than just about any other snowshoe, providing a super secure grip around your boots; there is no slipping or sliding on side-hill traverses or other challenging terrain. Plus it's padded for extra comfort.
It's easy to tighten, even with mittens. Simply get your hand through the primary loop and pull, cinching it down over your instep. Then grab the heel strap and pull. You're done. They are also easy to release, though this maneuver requires slightly more dexterity (though I've done it with mittens).
The bindings are also their drawback. They're bulky and protrude, making it more or less impossible to nest them together. This means that you need to strap them individually to either side of your pack or attach them in some other unwieldy manner. If, however, you expect to be wearing your snowshoes the majority of the time, this isn't an issue.
The 12 series is an excellent all-mountain snowshoe. Includes a pop-up heelbar as well.
Atlas 10 Series
The 10 series, on the other hand, offers a better value ($200) and a little less weight (3.9 - 4.5 pounds, depending on length). The binding is almost identical but features more classic nylon straps instead of the "FlowTape™ silicone straps" found on the 12 series.
The aluminum used in the frame is actually thicker diameter—and heavier—than the 12 series. The weight savings comes from the lack of a heel bar, and slightly fewer teeth underneath—but still more than enough for the vast majority of activities.
Atlas 9 & 11 SeriesAtlas also makes a 9 & 11 series. The 11 series is brand new this year ($230; 4.2 - 4.6 pounds) and is basically just the 12 series with the same, slightly heavier aluminum found on the 10 series.
Avoid their entry-level 9 series. The binding is very difficult to adjust.
The women's versions of these series—the Elektra series—are equivalent in most ways but have a smaller, narrower shape.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.