Atlas Aspect ReviewFebruary 18, 2012
- Walking felt natural with good fore and aft foot motion at the front of the binding.
- Tail drop was minimal, reducing most drag in the snow for more maneuverability.
- Heel lift bar was a bonus for steep ascents.
- 3 strap design on binding held well laterally and stayed snug.
- Deep powder ascents resulted in trapped snow on the decking with each step increasing snow weight on the surface.
- Heel lift bar required more effort to rise, especially without poles.
- Slightly heavier than others in the test group.
A true backcountry snowshoe that felt comfortable in all conditions including hard pack, ice, and steep ascents. Although with a slight weight penalty and some trapped snow in deep powder on the decking. Minimalists might sum it up as “over-engineered,” but it held top honors in the binding performance category.
The Atlas Aspects were loaded with “buzz” features including their time tested spring loaded binding that held the shoe close to the foot, allowing for a natural feel especially on hardpack. The binding provided good cushioning and nimbleness, and the tail dropped minimally with each step, keeping the nose up in powder. It did, however, accumulate snow on the center decking area on steep uphill climbs, where it might have been nicer to have some additional channels to help snow escape. The same spring bindings that keep the shoe so snug did not allow the tail to drop down far enough to fully clear snow from the platforms where the MSR and Tubbs snowshoes we tested did.
The bindings are an easy three strap (two over the foot and one for the heel) process capable of holding both low waterproof shoes as well as large snowboard boots. The decking material seemed very durable and was nicely tugged into the frame. And after multiple trail ascents over several months, I found these shoes tackled a wide variety of conditions with ease, especially when descending where the nose stayed “Up”. The heel lift bar, designed for steep ascents, was easy to engage but suffered from some stiffness in getting it back down.
The Aspects felt heavier underfoot in comparison to other snowshoes in the test group, with the spring loaded binding adding some weight as did a larger crampon up front. Traversing steep and icy trails proved no obstacle for the Aspects with the side teeth holding nicely at steep angles thanks to the good lateral support noted in the bindings.