Published on December 11th, 2013 | by Greg0
Easton Artica Backcountry: A Serious, All-Purpose Snowshoe
To the uninitiated, snowshoes can seem ridiculous and ungainly. Certainly, when you consider the original models, a modern high-tech snowshoe seems almost like a science fiction prop. Today’s synthetic pair are made from, we kid you not, an aerospace aluminum frame and have an extensive feature list that might rival your car. But, just like a newer tennis racquet can make an older one seem incredibly antiquated, so do the upgraded materials and design have incredibly positive effects. And unlike most sporting gear, a better snowshoe could save your life.
For the most part, though, the Easton Artica Backcountry might just save energy and time. We’ve been hit by some recent winter storms here in NYC, but you don’t slip these on for your walk around the park. Instead, these are built for, and most helpful in, the sort of serious conditions where you need the best. Basically, if you plan on trekking through winter weather in areas where paths and trails are impassable, then the Artica Backcountry snowshoes are precisely the sort you should consider.
We’ve seen several pairs before- like those from Kahtoola- and there are always a few things to consider. The first is the terrain- rocky, hilly, or flat- as each has certain requirements. These were built to be multi-terrain, which is great, but specialists might prefer an option that focuses in on specific demands. Another is sizing, and these come in three sizes depending on your needs. We always recommend getting the smallest size that will support your weight, since larger shoes equal less control and harder handling, but this handy chart should help you decide. Easton offers racing, trail, and hiking models as well, but these are from their Backcountry line.
Features matter as well- long treks get exhausting quickly without some help. The climb-assist heel helps you navigate steep inclines, and the articulating frame was great for uneven terrain. Getting all set and ready to go is always one of the harder parts, but its’ much easier with the quick cinch binding (and getting them off isn’t so hard either). The Articas are rugged, and even environmentally-friendly as they are made from 80% recycled materials. Crampons are serious and well-placed, with rear traction and a split axis- we felt far more secure side to side than with some others we’ve tried, and the bindings felt solid and stable. They weren’t the fastest to move, and were quite heavy though- at five pounds, three ounces, they do add fair bit of bulk. But they also feel more durable than many, and the price is decent- the Easton Artica Backcountry snowshoes run $175-$250 or so, online and in stores.