Redfeather Alpine 25 Epic ReviewFebruary 17, 2012
- Virtually no heel drag.
- Stayed tight to the foot when running or in confined space maneuvers.
- Simple pull Z straps over the foot, while a quick ratchet in the rear allows fast deployments.
- Interchangeable bindings.
- Shed snow well in deep powder with very narrow tail design.
- Confident in walking or running on packed trails.
- Large amount of kicked up snow over the head from the rear platform, especially when running in powder.
- The ratchet style Epic binding needed adjustments between using snowboard style boots and smaller profile footwear where the Ultra Binding accommodated both nicely.
- Z straps could develop snow and ice build-up in more humid environments or with sharp temperature drops.
- Difficult to “snug” with gloved hands.
- Deep powder might have your tips dragging in the snow as opposed to “Tip up” designs that reduced drag.
A lightweight option with a natural feel for either walking or running on packed or moderate powder covered trails with good vertical grip, especially on steep groomers or light powder.
Redfeather has been a long term player in the snowshoe market, and I remember using some very low profile Redfeather snowshoes when living in Aspen in the 80’s where we used to ascend Ajax Mountain on them for fitness and racing. That craze has kept up over the years, and Redfeather has kept a niche in the hardpack market, while also branching out to the backcountry with snowshoes like the Alpines. Along with a binding design that allows the foot to stay closer to the shoe for a more natural gait (and no heel drag), the Alpines really are designed for packed trails, narrow spaces, and quick turns on hardpack.
In deep snow, there are some drawbacks. If you like to run downhill or on flats, expect some pretty hefty shots of snow to kick up from the heels. Of course, that might be exactly what you want. Also, with virtually no toe movement in the binding to keep the tips “up,” with each transition the tips dragged more in the snow than others in the test group. And when running downhill in the deep I was more inclined to somersault forward as the tips would occasionally plow down. On a positive note for powder, the Alpines “pintail” design shed snow adequately from the rear when climbing in the deep.
The Alpines are available with two binding models, and I did test both the three ratchet Epic bindings and the Z strap Ultra bindings. The ratchets took slightly more time than other “pin and hole” designs on other snowshoes but effectively held my feet with the exception of large snowboard boots where an adjustment before venturing out would need to be made to fit. Another negative to ratchets is that I noticed some pressure points as they grab the foot. On a positive, they did allow the shoes to pack flatter when transporting. The Z straps (Nylon) worked better for both low profile footwear as well as snowboard boots, and also seemed to reduce any pressure points. On the durability side, my favor would be for the straps. But for ease of use and easier handling, especially with gloved hands, I would pick the ratchets.
The Epic is available in a 25”, 30”, or 35” option.