MSR Snowshoes Review – Why I’m a Diehard Fan

Snowshoeing with a furry friend in Cheakamus Canyon, Whistler B.C.

Snowshoeing with a furry friend in Cheakamus Canyon, Whistler B.C.

Well, hiking season is winding down, sadly. But on the bright side, that means snowshoe season is on its way!

I’m not so into skiing of snowboarding, even though the “cool factor” for those sports may be higher than snowshoeing. But I’m an avid snowshoe fan!

If you haven’t snowshoed before, you’re in for a treat. Snowshoeing is pretty much like hiking, except your “hiking shoes” are extremely big and clunky. 🙂 It takes some getting used to, and you may trip over your snowshoes a few times at first. But after a few minutes you’ll be clomping along just fine.

And it’s so much fun to hike through the snow! The best scenario is when you snowshoe on a sunny day with fresh, fluffy snow. It’s like being a kid again, squishing through the fresh white landscape. Or if you come across a well-traveled trail, try bum-sliding down a hill! Just be sure the end of the slope doesn’t take you off-trail (or worse yet down the mountainside).

This brings me to why I adore my snowshoes, which are Women’s MSR Ascents. I’ve tried a wide variety of snowshoes, but I haven’t found any snowshoes that can match MSRs for versatility, useability, and grip.

The key with MSR Ascents are that they have a unique metal frame around the edges, with lots of grippy teeth, as you can see in this photo:

Mine are a slightly older model of these

Mine are a slightly older model of these

Other snowshoes have metal tubing for a frame, which are lightweight, but don’t have any grip. The only teeth are in the center of the snowshoe, which makes it harder to trust that your foot will stick when you place it on a slippery, icy patch of snow.

Ascents also have easy to use bindings to strap in your boots, and heel lifts. If you’re thinking of getting a pair of snowshoes that don’t have heel lifts — believe me, it’s worth the extra $$ to get a pair with heel lifts! They make those uphill slogs much more pleasant.IMG_0177

My MSRs work great, whether I’m frolicking through fresh powder, or across icy stuff. And believe me, I’ve tested these puppies. My friend V and I once got stranded on the backside of a mountain after sliding off-trail. We had to literally climb back out, kicking out footholds for our feet with our snowshoes! I was very grateful for MSR’s extra grip.

I honestly can’t think of any downside to MSR snowshoes. Perhaps it could be nice if they somehow included a hot chocolate dispenser feature. But MSRs are lightweight, perform great, and include special snowshoes designed for women or those with narrower gaits. Plus, MSR hails from my hometown in Seattle, Washington 🙂

Whatever snowshoes you end up with, I hope you’ll get a chance to get out to the mountains this winter! (And my sympathies to those that don’t live near any snowy mountains).. Just remember to stay safe. Stay on trail, be prepared for the elements, bring a map and emergency numbers, and hike with others!

Happy hiking,

Tiffany

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

cover-Easy-Hiking-RecipesP.S.: Check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes for more flavor ideas to spice up your meals this winter!

Chronicles of a Water Bottle Obsession

I have a slight obsession with water bottles, to the point that at one time I seriously contemplated starting a water bottle company. What’s not to like about water bottles?

  • They’re useful, so you never have to go thirsty, even when you’re driving or in the bathroom
  • They’re eco-friendly, except when you start to amass a large number of them (err, I may be guilty of that)
  • They’re a fashion statement, so you can say “Look at me, I’m eco-friendly, sporty, and I like [insert name of athletic company logo sticker you put on your bottle]

I think the water bottle craze started about the time I was in undergrad. I noticed all of my fellow classmates were carrying around “Nalgenes” wherever they went. A few of my friend were determined to break their Nalgene, because the company claimed they were indestructable. I joined the trend and started enjoying having a re-useable bottle. And this was way before I even knew what hiking was all about.

Since then, I’ve accumulated metal water bottles, flexible water bladders or “hydration packs, flip cap bottles, bottles with straws, and more. So when the company Zojirushi sent me a water bottle to review, I was thrilled! I already love Zojirushi because they make top quality hot water dispensers for making tea.

Here’s the bottle they sent me:

IMG_1571

Testing it out at the rock crags – Forgotten Wall in Cheakamus Canyon

Their Stainless Steel 16oz. water bottle is like the Cadillac of water bottles. It has more bells and whistles than most bottles, and the  giant instruction manual that came with the bottle was a little intimidating at first. But after a few minutes I got to know the basic features: In addition to a push-button flip cap, a locking lid, and a controlled pour so water doesn’t spill all over your face if you tip it too fast, this bottle is double-walled, so water stays cold for hours. Plus, the lid locks in the open position, so it doesn’t bonk against  your nose when you drink! Seems like the designers thought of everything.

I took this bottle on some hot summer day hikes, and my favorite feature on the bottle is the double walled insulation. It really works, and the water tasted so much better than the lukewarm water in the other bottle I was carrying. The locking lid is also handy, but it’d be nice if there was a color indicator so I could easily tell whether it was locked or unlocked. I could also use a bottle with a tad larger capacity, but perhaps it was designed with the Japanese audience in mind, since Zojirushi is based in Japan. 🙂

The Verdict: This is my new go-to bottle for shorter hikes and gym trips! Since it weighs a little more than bare bones bottles and has a smaller capacity, I probably won’t take it on heavy duty hikes, but I really love the extra fancy features for everyday use. It’s not often I get excited by new water bottle features, but this time I definitely swooned a bit!

Enjoying nice cold water at Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver, BC

Enjoying nice cold water at Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver, BC

~~~~

Check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes: Simple Meal Ideas for Day Hikes and Other Outdoor Adventures!