Category Archives: Product

Backcountry Avalanche Safety for Snowshoers

Atlas-Snowshoe-PhotoCredit-Ian Coble-940x625

Spring brings the opportunity to snowshoe higher and deeper into the backcountry.  It’s also a time of high avalanche activity from wet snow and persistent slab slides.  Now is a great time to have a look at late season snow conditions and be reminded of the BCA’s five backcountry basics and avalanche safety for snowshoers.

  1. Get the Gear. Before you head into the backcountry, get the avalanche safety gear you need, at minimum a beacon, probe and shovel.  Carry all required backcountry safety gear, on your body, all the time to help you find a buried partner and be found yourself. Consider two-way radios to communicate should your group get separated, as well as navigation and first aid equipment.
  2. Get the Training. Take an avalanche course to learn the backcountry basics, including how to use your avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel in event an avalanche rescue is necessary.
  3. Get the Forecast. Check your local avalanche center website for weather and avalanche advisories.
  4. Get the Picture. Research and inspect your route, look for signs of recent avalanche activity, identify and avoid dangerous terrain, communicate with your group and always make a plan ‘B’ with alternate terrain options.
  5. Get out of Harm’s Way. Limit your snowshoe group’s exposure to backcountry hazards and dangerous terrain.

Backcountry Access has some great educational avalanche avoidance videos and avalanche rescue videos that every backcountry snowshoer should watch.

Atlas Backcountry Access Spring Giveaway

To entice our snowshoe community to travel safely in the backcountry, Atlas Snow-shoes and BCA invite you to enter our spring giveaway contest!

[ ENTER CONTEST HERE ]

Enter for a chance to win your choice of a set of Atlas Montane or Atlas Endeavor snowshoes, plus a Backcountry Access DTS avalanche rescue package, complete with avalanche beacon, probe & shovel. Prize package MSRP value $530. Enter by Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

Atlas-BCA-Giveaway-Mar17_CTA-560X544

New registrations received by 11:59 PM MTN on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 will be eligible to win, US and Canada only. Winner will be selected and contacted by April 30, 2017. All fields must be completed for valid contest entry. You agree to opt-in and to receive Backcountry Access and Atlas Snow-shoes email by entering this contest. Company reserves the right to substitute prizes of similar value based on availability. See contest rules.

About BCA

The “Access” in Backcountry Access means a lot more than just getting after it in the mountains. Since 1994, BCA avalanche safety gear has been designed to make backcountry riding and snow safety more accessible: more widely available, affordable and easy-to-use. The “A” in access also stands for access for all backcountry users, no matter what the means of travel. BCA dedicates discretionary spending towards promoting avalanche education, not restricting access to the backcountry. For more information or just to get stoked, visit backcountryaccess.com.

Gear Review: All-around Recreation with Atlas Elektra Women’s Snowshoes

Atlas-Elektra-3-Outdoor-Gear-Lab-640x483

By Briana Valoros, Outdoor Gear Lab

The Atlas Elektra line of women’s snowshoes has a femininely designed decking paired with anatomical frame shapes that join to create an excellent all-around pair of women’s snowshoes.

#GearReview
The Atlas Elektras brings some backcountry technicalities to an all-around recreation snowshoe. The crampons fall between semi-aggressive and aggressive traction. Zodiac toe crampons are on a fixed rotation traction system while the Stabilock bindings grip beneath the heel. The frames are constructed of 7075 aluminum, which is the lightest framing material of any of the other pairs in our review. Technically advanced features from the reputable brand, Atlas, paired with a stylish feminine design make the Elektras an excellent selection for on and off trail snowshoe hiking for someone with a narrow gait.

Performance Comparison
The Atlas Elektra Snowshoe line has a feminine design combined with technical features such as a semi-aggressive traction system and the lightest frame weight.

Flotation
The size-to-weight ratio of the Atlas Elektra snowshoes equate to excellent flotation. The Elektras have a narrow frame shape designed for the narrow gait of a woman’s stride and therefore have less surface area. More surface area directly relates to better flotation, and if they had a slightly wider frame, they may achieve better flotation. The Duratek nylon decking and aluminum frames maintain the best flotation in recreational terrain. The narrow gait of the women’s specific Elektra snowshoes is ideal for striding forward.

Traction
These snowshoes have fixed rotation bindings with Zodiac crampons beneath the toes and Stabilock crampons beneath the heels. The crampon orientation and design is semi-aggressive. They have the best traction on packed snow that is flat to moderately steep.

Atlas-Elektra-1-Outdoor-Gear-Lab-640x603

No Hands, No Poles
Atlas Elektra Snowshoes have semi-aggressive traction that straddle the line between an ideal recreation specific model and an ideal backcountry snowshoe.

Ease of Use
The Wrapp Pro bindings on the Elektra snowshoes are unique in design and function. Silicone straps that look similar to rubber bands cross over the top of the feet and through a low friction buckle system that secures closed with a flip of the handle. Silicone bands secure the bindings of the Atlas Elektras. They look like rubber bands but offer the security and flexibility of durable rubber straps.

Security on Foot
The easy-to-use Boa® Closure system bindings secure the boots onto the snowshoes and remain fastened while active. The length of the tails add security and stability, but we found the most comfort with poles. Security on foot is excellent on packed snow as well as fresh snow. We didn’t experience any issues concerning the bindings or traction systems loosening.

Best Applications
Atlas Elektra snowshoes are ideal on intermediate trails and in moderate backcountry conditions including some mountainous, non-technical terrain. They are suitable for novices and experts, but excel in the middle space between the two extremes. They have semi-aggressive traction systems that are appropriate in some backcountry applications such as moderately steep terrain and snow. They are ideal for petite women hiking on intermediate terrain.

Conclusion
Atlas Elektra women’s specific snowshoes ideal in the moderate range of terrain conditions, offering a balance between on-trail and off-trail snowshoeing.

SHOP WOMEN’S SNOWSHOES

Spring in the Backcountry: Snowshoeing as an Alternative to Skinning

022514_Atlas_MtBaker_0051

Adventurous skiers and snowboarders have been trekking into the backcountry for decades, to get away from lift-lines and to seek untouched powder. Technological innovations in equipment over the 10-15 years have made alpine touring more popular than ever before, and the sport now represents one of the fastest growing categories in the outdoor sports market. One of these innovations has been the development of synthetic skins that strap to the board or skis, allowing participants to “skin” or ascend moderately steep slopes, without sliding back down the mountain.

One of the issues all too familiar to the alpine touring community, however, is the limitation of skins: one can only ascend a slope up to around 25° before sliding back down the mountain, hence the need to continuously switchback even moderately steep faces. Additionally, though special crampons can be affixed to the underfoot portion of the ski or board to mitigate slipping and to provide traction in variable terrain, they can only do so much.

This is where snowshoes provide a solution, and potential upgrade, to traditional backcountry alpine touring with skins. Atlas snowshoes already feature a backcountry line-up including the Endeavor, the Aspect, and the Spindrift – the vehicles of choice for many backcountry snowshoeing enthusiasts. And for those that like to descend down the mountain on a snowboard in particular, using Atlas snowshoes to get up (instead of skins or an expensive splitboard) is a logical extension of the sport. This applies more to backcountry snowboarders vs. skiers because strapping snowshoes on ski boots is a non-starter for most. Generally speaking, there are several advantages snowshoeing provides over skinning in the backcountry.

022614_Atlas_MtBaker_0251

First, especially for those looking to get into backcountry snowboarding, snowshoeing is much cheaper and easier compared to a splitboarding. With the proper knowledge, avalanche safety tools, and training, one can simply purchase a pair of Atlas snowshoes for around $220 and strap their resort board to their pack and away they go. This compares quite favorably to purchasing a splitboard set-up (including board, bindings, and skins) that costs in the neighborhood of $1500! Also, snowshoeing is a much easier and more familiar movement to the uninitiated, compared to skinning.

Second, the wider snowshoe surface area allows for more floatation and easier movement when breaking trail in deep snow compared to the thinner planks of a splitboard.

Third, backcountry snowshoes are built with an aggressive and comprehensive crampon system that provides much more traction and stability compared to the single underfoot crampon attachment for a splitboard or skis. This allows for steeper ascents directly up a peak, without having to considerably lengthen a journey by criss-crossing a mountain face up numerous switchbacks. On a related note, snowshoe crampons replace the need for skins altogether, and with it, the awkward process of applying and removing skins to skis. No more frustrating stops to re-affix skins when moisture negates their ability to stick to your skis!

Atlas backcountry snowshoes, in particular, offer numerous features to help snowboarders find that perfect powder stash. The Endeavor and Aspect models each have a wide binding that allows a snowboard boot to fit seamlessly into the shoe. Together with the backcountry utility strap, the boot is held firmly in place. Additionally, the Reactiv-Trac construction aids travel with tons of traction on the side rails and the elliptically formed nose is great for breaking trail.

022614_Atlas_MtBaker_0213

When it comes to crampons, nothing beats the traction and grip of the Atlas backcountry line. The underside crampons run up the entire base of the shoe and include a toe crampon to dig into hard-pack or icy terrain on steep ascents. The heel lift bar on the Endeavor and Aspect (just over 2” when engaged) also exceeds the lift provided by most alpine touring binding setups, another advantage in ascending steeper slopes. Finally, the PackFlat binding system of the Endeavor and Aspect makes it easy to pack the shoes away for the descent.

Snowshoeing as a means to access backcountry snowboard adventures, in particular, is a solid alternative to skinning. Snowshoes make one of the biggest barriers to entry for backcountry snowboarding moot, by reducing the start-up costs significantly. And the crampon system in the Atlas backcountry line opens up whole new possibilities for ascending steep and rugged terrain. For those thinking about getting into alpine touring for the first time, and for those already seasoned in the art of skinning, adding a pair of Atlas backcountry snowshoes to your quiver is a great idea.

See you on the trail (and on the ascent)!

SHOP MEN’S SNOWSHOES

SHOP WOMEN’S SNOWSHOES

Light-Ride Suspension

C15 atlas_LRS_NEW

Light-Ride Suspension (LRS) is the perfect blend of comfort and function, allowing your foot to articulate naturally and cushioning impact for smooth striding on mellower terrain.

Featured throughout the entirety of the Trail Series and the on Atlas Fitness snowshoe, LRS showcases Atlas’ proven ergonomic articulation – for optimal  performance on variable terrain – while allowing the V-Frame tail to drop, shedding snow and delivering a smooth, natural stride.

Check out the video below and see for yourself how Light-Ride Suspension delivers a smooth ride, efficient stride, and confident footing. 

Hybrid Construction

Elliptically formed nose allows flex in the frame.

The Iphone 6, Surface Pro 3, Lithium-ion Battery, Xbox One and Bluetooth interface are all amazing 21st century breakthroughs. In an era of technological advancement, the outdoor industry is keeping pace. Engineers within the snow sports industry have been hard at work looking for new innovations to enhance the users experience. Atlas Snow-Shoe Company is a firm believer that better technology enables a better snowshoe experience. With over 19 patents, Atlas has continued the search for a better, lighter, more durable construction. This year, Atlas is proud to announce its hybrid construction.

Atlas Endeavor
Aluminum & composite design.

Hybrid construction is making its debut with the new 2014 backcountry snowshoe, the Atlas Endeavor. Engineered as a lighter more compact design than previous backcountry snowshoes, the Endeavor decking is composed of partly aluminum and mostly composite materials. Shedding weight and mass allows for added maneuverability. Additionally, injection molded composite decking takes excess material and puts it back into the mold to reduce waste and increase molded traction ridges.

Molded Traction
Aggressive molded traction in the aft decking.

With this unique design, the Endeavor is classified as a non-traditional snowshoe. The construction incorporates perimeter traction rails with Spring-Loaded Suspension and the flex of an elliptically formed nose. These three characteristics work in unison allowing the frame to conform naturally to the terrain.

Elliptically formed nose allows flex in the frame.
Elliptically formed nose allows flex in the frame.

Breakthroughs like hybrid technology have helped to grow the sport of snowshoeing. Measuring up to 21st century standards, Atlas continues to push the limits of what’s achievable with a pair of snowshoes.

-The Atlas Team