Tubbs Flex VRT Review
I had a pair of Tubbs Flex VRT snowshoes sitting on my shelf for nearly two months. Despite the calendar telling me that, yes, it was winter, you wouldn't have known it by looking out the window in December and November. The snowshoes were collecting dust, doing their best to like like modern relics. My wife and I had managed to get up the Grosse Titls mountain once over the Christmas holiday but then the snow on the descent was less than stellar. The light on the other hand... was awesome. That said, an 30 minute hike to the peak hardly qualifies as product testing.
Winter made a brief return to town just after New Years. Not with a vengeance, but more like a flock of sheep returning after a week grazing in the fields. With no snowboard classes to teach, I took advantage of the conditions and strapped on the Tubbs for some testing.
I decided to head to the end of the Engelberg valley and take the Fürenalp Cable car up to 1,850m to begin the day on some marked snowshoe trails that head into the Engelberg Valley. The farther I got into the valley, the more I wanted to go further and further. With several local peaks looming above, Weissberg, Steinberg, Große Titlis and the Spannort, the views beconed me farther.
After about 2km I was out of trail, but far from out of valley.
So, I kept going all the way to Blackenalp. A rather long traverse brought me to a large open amphiteater with a Chapel at the opening. If I had time to go further I could have made it to Lake Luzern / Vierwaldstättersee but that will have to wait for another day.
The Tubbs Flex VRT
The immediate thing that drew me to the Tubbs Flex VRT was their incorporation of the BOA system. Many snowshoes close over the forefoot with rubber straps that are often quite tricky to use once you are wearing large winter gloves. The BOA system is a ratchet with a wire that runs along the binding. Rather than struggling with rubber straps to close the binding, you simply step in and turn the boa clockwise and the wire tightens, closing the binding. The instructions from Tubbs suggest that you step into the binding and close it tightly, then, adjust the heel strap.
Of course, this is how you always get into snowshoes. What I found about these shoes was that I never needed to adjust the heel strap again. The Dynamic Fit binding opens so wide that I can just step right out without undoeing the heel strap. When I put the shoes back on, I step in, slide the heel strap over my heel and tighten the BOA again. It does help if you have a large heel on the shoe. While snowshoeing in Hokkaido recently using snowboard boots that if the heel strap wasn't incredibly tight it coudl occasionally fall off. The snow was also hip deep so there was defintely more pressure than normal.
The front crampons, called Viper 2.0, work incredibly well. On the ascent to the Große Titlis the snow was bomber. No problem for the Flex VRT. You can feel the front points of the crampons bighting in on every step. I;ve even found some thin parts of snow and stepped right on rocks with nary a mark to show.
The Tubbs Flex VRT snowshoes are awesome. The float really well in deep powder, the crampons grip as well as any I've ever worn, and the BOA will have both snowshoes on your feet before most people have even strapped on one. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a top of the line set of snow shoes.