– A great snowshoe has a great binding. Bindings separate great snowshoes from average snowshoes. Snowshoe decking and snowshoe frames are all pretty strong but the biggest difference in snowshoes are how you attach yourself to the snowshoe… The binding. How well does the binding hold your footwear? How comfortable is it? How easy is it to adjust and does it stay that way the entire time you are out snowshoeing?
My favorite binding is made by Atlas and it comes on the 11 and 12 series of snowshoes from Atas. You only have to adjust the straps on this binding once. You won’t need to stop, readjust, fiddle, or complain about these binding!
Lets start at the bottom of the binding to check these out… The talon under the base plate is made with sprung steel. You can drive your car over this binding, flatten the snowshoe, and the sprung steel talon will pop back up into shape. Talk about strong!
Next up is the plate your boot sole slots onto. It’s cupped. It is very intuitive to find the perfect spot for your boot. The ball of your foot slides right into the cupped portion of the plate for the perfect boot position every time. Not too far forward, not too far back, but just right.
The heel strap locks into place with an easy pull. The buckle has a small post that slots into the holes on the strap. Very secure and it is easy to open when your day of snowshoeing is done.
The top of the binding that snugs over your boot is very comfortable. It flexes with your footwear. It is not rigid and it doesn’t create any resistance while you are hiking. You won’t even notice it.
There is enough strap for a single pull to snug the binding around your forefoot. The synthetic strap pulls easily through the buckle. And it is a simple one pull to open the binding up to get out. Retention with this binding is first rate. I have loaded up into this binding without the heel strap and I have stayed in the binding. Try that with any other binding out there and I bet you come out of the binding within a stride or two.
If there is one complaint about this binding it is the spring loaded feature. Personally, this complaint doesn’t hold any water with me. The Spring Loaded System (SLS) is how the snowshoe is attached to the deck. The webbing is twisted creating a spring action. This allows the tail of the snowshoe to not drag over the snow as you step forward (saves energy). It also lets you lift the tip of the snowshoe up easier to step over deep powder (rather than plow right into it). The complaint is that the spring action throws snow up on the back of you leg… C’mon Man! Right? You’re dressed for a winter day to be out in the snow and somehow snow on the back of your leg bothers you? Ok, to each their own but the benefits of this binding far outweigh this one issue.
The only difference between the 11 series binding and the 12 series is the strap over the top of your foot. The 12 series uses a synthetic strap and the 11 series uses a woven strap.
Ready to buy a pair of snowshoes? Shop bindings! That will show you the better difference.