What We’re Testing: TSL Snowshoes

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What We’re Testing: TSL Snowshoes

Finding a snowshoe that works well on narrow, rocky hiking trails is a challenge. It’s doubly challengi

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Finding a snowshoe that works well on narrow, rocky hiking trails is a challenge. It’s doubly challenging in the spring, when snow conditions can shift from powder to corn to ice in the course of a few hours. And that’s exactly where TSL’s Symbioz HyperFlex shines.

Apart from being relatively light (just over 2 pounds per ‘shoe in medium) and narrow (an 8-inch-wide hourglass shape), the Symbioz HyperFlex’s namesake flex works wonders to keep a natural stride on uneven terrain. The edges of the plastic deck are ridged, allowing it to bend without breaking. Two carbon bands follow the inside of the plastic edge, providing spring-back at the end of a stride. That made trudging uphill over icy rocks and packed snow on Vermont’s Mt. Ascutney much less fatiguing than it would have been with a more rigid frame. 

The Symbioz HyperFlex is also one of the most comfortable, easy-to-use designs we’ve ever used. A one-time adjustment locks in your foot length, meaning you never have to fiddle with an ankle strap. A boa fastener secures your toe, while a padded, snowboard-style ratcheting strap over the top of the foot secures the rest. It takes less than 10 seconds to put a single ‘shoe on thanks to TSL’s strap system. One downside to that design is bulk: it’s not the easiest pair of snowshoes to strap to the side of a backpack.

As for traction, The Symbioz HyperFlex has an aggressive crampon pattern with four replaceable, double-toothed steel blades running along the interior and a serrated triple-toothed blade in front. That made for reassuring foot placement when crossing frozen streams in Vermont’s Okemo State Forest. The HyperFlex made quick work of icy slopes too, thanks to a smart heel-lift system that utilizes a soft rubber protector on the bottom to help avoid pain points on the pad of the heel and to make flipping the lever nearly effortless. 

This snowshoe’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. All that flex, combined with the relatively narrow shape, makes it ill-suited for deep snow. On the final stretch to the peak of Mt. Ascutney, even two feet of soft powder made for slow progress. 

So while the Symbioz HyperFlex is a poor choice for deep powder days, it’s one of the most comfortable ‘shoes to put on and walk in over varied terrain and packed snow. If you’re chasing the fading springtime snow like we are, there are few better snowshoes for the job.

$300; 4 lbs. 2 oz. per pair (medium); Buy Now

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