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Thread: Heel lifts on snowshoes

  1. #1
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    Heel lifts on snowshoes

    How important are heel lifts on snowshoes? My feeling is that if it's steep enough to need heel lifts, I should be wearing crampons and have an ice axe in my hand. However, I just bought a new pair of Atlas 1025 snowshoes without the heel lifts. Got a very good price on them brand new so that's not the issue. I won't be using them more than a handful of days, so saving a few bucks seems worth the tradeoff.

    I've had snowshoes before, an earlier pair of the same model, which worked quite well for what I was doing (no serious climbing with them), but am now wondering if I should have spent the extra money for the latest model with the lifts. I did a quick search here and didn't find much, but I'm sure a few of you have opinions on this. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Member Scarpy's Avatar
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    I use them on the steepest ascents and like them. They take a good deal of stress off my calves. I have a pair of Tubbs Flex Alps. They have an aggressive crampon style base. The beauty of them is they work well in snow and on ice so I don't have to do a lot of changing throughout a hike. The only time I've used true crampons is above tree line. The Hillsound trail crampons work well for most conditions below tree line. You gotta love the fact that there are so many great pieces of equipment out there that can handle the conditions! It's a blessing and a curse
    Trail adopter-Franconia Ridge between Liberty Spring and Falling Waters trail.

  3. #3
    Senior Member loanshark's Avatar
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    Spend the extra money and get the shoes with the heel lifts. Worth every penny.
    Who is John Galt?

  4. #4
    Member Adirondack Ladies's Avatar
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    My fellow hikers and I have the MSR Lightening Ascents with the lifts and love them - traction is great on both snow and ice but not a replacement for crampons in some spots. (We also have the hillsound crampons that are great.) As far as the lifts on the snowshoes they help out a lot on long steep snowy ascents but I personally learned the hard way - don't be lazy and not drop them down on the even the short flat stretches between steep spots - your calves will pay in the end. I think the Adirondacks are hard on the MSR's because of the icy summits and many have had problems w/the crampons breaking - MSR is great about repairs though. I do carry some repair gear just in case as to not get stuck high up with a snow shoe you can't use.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Just make sure to have a repair kit, and make sure to put them down when going downhill!
    Tom Rankin
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  6. #6
    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loanshark View Post
    Spend the extra money and get the shoes with the heel lifts. Worth every penny.
    Completely agree!
    Mr. Tembo is on his way up the hill
    With only this song to tell you how he feels
    But to get there he will need a helping hand
    It's where he is now but it wasn't what he planned


    Artist: Damon Albarn
    Year: 2014

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jay H's Avatar
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    I have tried a pair of LAs with them and I don't find them that useful for me, I hate stopping to pull them up or down, takes me out of my groove and they make the Lightning Ascents even heavier than w/o them. However, I don't agree that needing them means you should be using crampons... there are a few steep ascents where it is not vertical and no possible chance of a serious fall that wouldn't be self-arrested by a tree...

    If you're not worried about cost, weight or any of them above, go for it. Or perhaps try out one with them and see if you like 'em.

    Jay
    You must go and you must ramble
    Through every briar and bramble
    Till your life is in a shambles
    Maybe then you will know
    -"You Must Go" - John Hiatt

  8. #8
    Member Rainman's Avatar
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    I find the heel lifts not only make things easier on the lower leg, they also provide more pressure on the cleats at the tail of the shoe, thereby providing more traction while climbing steeply. I would highly reccommend them.
    WM 48 / NE 67 / NE 100 / W48
    Trail adopter Carrigain Notch Tr, Stillwater Jct to Nancy Pond Tr.

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    I found a pair of Atlas 1225's on Craigslist, so picked them up today. They do have the heel lifts. Reasonable price, and they look new. The owner told me he was switching to another shoe that would take a snowboard boot. Now to return the other ones. That will teach me to give these decisions a little more consideration.
    Thanks for all the advice. Now, just have to wait for snow. It was 95 in Long Beach today.

  10. #10
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    It's not a case of "needing" them, it's a case of them making life a lot better. I find just about any sustained ascent to be much, much easier with the heel lifts. I also find that I get somewhat better purchase on moderate slopes, but again, the big thing is the energy savings. Worth EVERY penny, IMO. I have the MSR Denali Evo Ascents. Freakin' love them.
    Sure. Why not.

  11. #11
    Senior Member TDawg's Avatar
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    Worth their weight in gold when breaking trail up the steeps!
    67/67 NE4K, 82/100 NEHH, 47/52WAV, Long Trail SoBo, 2010.
    Hikes and Life
    Loving every step!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ed'n Lauky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay H View Post
    I have tried a pair of LAs with them and I don't find them that useful for me, I hate stopping to pull them up or down, takes me out of my groove and they make the Lightning Ascents even heavier than w/o them. However, I don't agree that needing them means you should be using crampons... there are a few steep ascents where it is not vertical and no possible chance of a serious fall that wouldn't be self-arrested by a tree...

    If you're not worried about cost, weight or any of them above, go for it. Or perhaps try out one with them and see if you like 'em.

    Jay
    On rolling terrain I don't bother to put up the heel lifts then take them down then put them up, but on a steady uphill climb they can be worth their weight in gold--perhaps even more.

    This past winter I started up the Ammonoosuc ravine trail with my Hillsounds and was having difficulty. I switched to my MSR Evo Denali Ascents and put up the heel lifts. I then proceeded to walk straight up the trail with no difficulty at all. On the way down I noticed that two men who had come after me had on full crampons and had had to side step up a long stretch where I had simply walked straight up.
    I used to look at my dog and think 'If you were a little smarter you could tell me what your were thinking', and he'd look at me like he was saying 'If you were a little smarter I wouldn't have to'. Fred Jungclaus

    Some of our greatest historical and artistic treasures we place with curators in museums; others we take for walks. Roger Caras

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  13. #13
    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    If you buy MSR's, their heel lifts are called Televators. This has led to some fine singing on the trail. Jason Berard and I sang the following ascending the Osceolas from the Kanc several years ago:

    • Lovin' The Televator by Aerosmith
    • Smooth Televator, by Sade
    • I just want to Televate, by Rare Earth
    • We're riding on the Televator of Life, by Robert Hazard (one hit wonder of the 80's)
    • Televation Time, Cmon! by Kool & The Gang (I think)



    I'm sure you can come up with more

    Marty
    Mr. Tembo is on his way up the hill
    With only this song to tell you how he feels
    But to get there he will need a helping hand
    It's where he is now but it wasn't what he planned


    Artist: Damon Albarn
    Year: 2014

  14. #14
    Senior Member LivesToHike's Avatar
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    I have a pair of Tubbs Flex Alp's with heel lifts. Use them all the time on steep, wintry hikes. Don't know how I lived without them, at least after age 50!

    --LivesToHike
    --- Help stamp out entropy!

  15. #15
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    My first pair [ YUKON CHARLES from Olympia Sports ]did not have heel lifts and I improvised by using two pieces of conduit and bungie cord w/ hooks.

    PITA to put on and off & they did not elevate my heels as high as I wanted, but I always used them on the really long stretches.

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