Atlas has continually emphasized the importance of design in its snowshoes over the past 25 years. As we know, each snowshoe outing is different. So, choosing the right snowshoes for the conditions is essential, whether you are on the trail or in the backcountry. Of the three series of snowshoes designed by Atlas, their All-Mountain snowshoes set the benchmark for versatility on trails ranging from powder to harsh conditions. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to test and review the Atlas Apex Mountain snowshoes in the spring snow of the Colorado Front Range.
This snowshoe is equipped with a range of features including aggressive traction, the Wrapp Helix binding with BOA closure and durable decking.
First, let’s start with the aggressive yet versatile traction of this racquet. Most snowshoes designed for versatility don’t have as aggressive traction as the Apex Mountain (MTN). Typically, versatile snowshoes only include a toe and heel stud to grip the snow.
Altas Apex MTN snowshoes go much further. Not only does this snowshoe feature aggressive X-Trac toe crampons and a serrated T-Frame heel spike designed to penetrate deep into icy snow, but the entire snowshoe frame is a serrated edge (Reactiv-Trac construction) which allows the racket to conform to the terrain. Thus, the Reactive-Trac construction is beneficial for walking over rough terrain where it may not be possible to fully sink your toe crampon in the snow. The serrated edge is also useful for going up / down hills (up to 30 degrees) as the side pull will prevent the racket from slipping under you.
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Additionally, the Apex MTN is built with a spring suspension that keeps the racquet close to your foot. This design allows for deeper stud penetration and foot control over rough terrain. The spring suspension also prevents snow from getting on your pants in deep snow.
The only downside to the crampon design is that they can be a bit more prone to snowball accumulation than other aggressively traction snowshoes. Since the X-Trac crampon is designed to dig underfoot when walking in soft snow, snow has an edge to collect under the snowshoe.
That said, we tested and reviewed the Apex MTN snowshoe in the worst type of snowball snow (spring snow, extremely wet, coarse grain), and it took about 30 minutes to form small snowballs. Other brands of snowshoes we tested in similar conditions snowballed much faster. If you’re afraid of snowballs, you can spray an eco-friendly ski wax or cooking oil on your crampons before a snowshoe adventure.
Lift the heel
In addition to the toe stud, heel stud and jagged design, the Apex MTN has 19 degree heel lift. At first glance, heel lift seems like a very strange thing to add to a racquet, but we have found them to be extremely useful.
When going up steep hills, you can pull up the heel lift for extra support. The lift keeps your heel elevated on the way up. So instead of tiptoeing up the mountain, your foot is flat. This feature not only reduces the strain on the calf muscle, but helps engage the racquet more for better traction.
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Another feature that stands out on the Atlas Apex MTN is the Wrapp Helix binding with BOA closure. If you’re like me, you might be thinking BOA’s shutdown seems to be on everything! Usually I have a soft spot for straps, like the Packflat binding on the Apex BC snowshoe from Atlas. But I really like the BOA closure and the Wrapp Helix binding on these racquets.
I congratulate Atlas on being one of the first companies to incorporate the BOA closure into their snowshoe bindings. There’s a reason this closure ends up on a slew of outdoor gear. The BOA closure on most equipment is easy to use, fast and very durable. This reputation also stems from the Apex MTN snowshoes from Atlas.
Enabling and disabling Apex MTNs is a snap. Simply insert your foot, twist the BOA to tighten it, pull on the heel strap and you’re good to go. Removing them is as easy as opening the BOA closure. This is the simplest binding I have ever used on a snowshoe. And I don’t say this lightly, as I really like the simple strap-on bindings on other racquet models.
The Atlas Apex MTN snowshoe and Wrapp Helix binding are a great option for day trips that include steep terrain and unpredictable snow. If you’re really heading off the grid for a multi-day backcountry snow adventure, you might want to consider the Atlas Apex BC as an alternative. The Apex MTN’s Wrapp Helix binding can be difficult to fold up due to its size unlike the Apex BC’s Packflat binding.
In addition, I have a small, unfounded concern about the closure of the FOB in the backcountry. Whenever my gear has a unique design, I start to worry that I will have to do without the gear if it breaks. However, I found an easy solution. Just pack an extra lace (or two) in your bag (or a complete snowshoe repair kit). If the BOA closure breaks, you can still attach your shoe to the snowshoes the old fashioned way. And, quite frankly, it’s probably a good idea to pack an extra lace in case the laces on your boots break or you want to tie something to your bag. They are worth their weight in gold.
Decking and flotation
The Atlas Apex MTN’s decking is their unique Infinity Platform and rocking urethane footbed, which helps optimize surface area and is abrasion resistant. The total area of the Atlas Apex MTN is 158 square inches. This surface is narrower than other general-purpose racquets, but the racquet still provides adequate flotation.
However, if you typically spend a lot of time clearing trails in deep powder (over 2ft / 61cm), I recommend looking for a snowshoe with a larger surface area. You can also oversize these snowshoes for your weight to achieve better flotation, as long as a size above is not too large for your snowshoe gait. We always recommend that you try out rackets before purchasing them, if possible.
In addition to the deck and flotation material, one of the other newer additions to the Atlas Apex MTN snowshoe is the updated sticker, a subtle graphic on the deck. If I’m going to spend hours and hours on my snowshoes, I appreciate how nice they are. So I applaud Atlas for updating the decals to include more appeal than a solid color.
In fact, while chatting with the graphic designer, she mentioned that it is quite difficult to design a sticker for a snowshoe. The reason is that most people keep their rackets for 5 or 10 years, sometimes longer. So, we want the designs to be quite timeless. That said, a nice color scheme or unique design is nicer than looking at a dull black racquet. I recommend you take a look for yourself. Personally, I think these racquets strike the right balance with the black and gray deck and orange powder coated frame. They are pleasing to the eye.
Height and weight
Atlas Apex MTN snowshoes are available in 25 ″ and 30 ″. Women specific models are also available in 22 ″ and 27 ″. On average, 25 ″ models provide adequate flotation in deep snow for weights up to 180 lbs (81 kg). The 30 ″ models can accommodate up to 235 lbs (106 kg) for flotation in deep snow.
However, the most important aspect of sizing is that the racket binding adapts to the size of your foot and shoe. If you are looking to purchase a pair, be sure to check out the size chart. The table can be found below the racquet description and is a great starting point for choosing your shoe size.
The weight of the Atlas Apex MTN is just over 4 lbs. This weight is slightly (and I mean slightly) heavy due to the traction system, especially the jagged edges and BOA closure of the Wrapp Helix binding. However, most aluminum frame racquets with similar aggressive traction have similar weights. To get about 0.5 lbs less you will need to go for plastic racquets or racquets with less traction.
So to sum it up, the Atlas Apex MTN snowshoes are a must-have for versatility, including steep terrain, flat trails, and deep snow. Wrapp Helix binding with BOA closure, X-Trac toe stud, T-frame heel stud, serrated edges (Reaction Trac construction) and Infinity deck work great together to provide a seamless racquet experience .
Would you use Atlas Apex Mountain snowshoes? What was your experience? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Atlas Snow Snow Company supplied our pair of Apex MTN snowshoes. As always, the views and opinions expressed in this article are entirely our own.
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