On the scale at GearJunkie headquarters, the Women’s Elite snowshoes from Northern Lites measured 18.9 ounces each. That’s light. On my feet, the airiness ensued, and I could plod or run through snow like there was nothing on my feet.
New this winter, and among the lightest snowshoes built, the Elites give buoyancy in snow with almost no weight tradeoff. The design is not revolutionary — the snowshoes have aluminum tubing and a thin-but-tough synthetic decking (called Coolthane).
Aluminum crampons let you dig in for grip. They cinch on with an easy-to-use system of straps that lock into hook buckles across the top of a boot or waterproof trail shoe.
I tested the Elites this month on the snow-choked trails of an area park. The terrain was steep and the new snow was light and deep. I headed downhill into a canyon near a river and then went looking for a waterfall.
The 8“x25” snowshoes made running and walking natural and balanced. They are made to support 175 pounds. I floated along over the new snow, often forgetting there were snowshoes strapped my feet.
As the name says, these snowshoes are made for “elite” use. Racing, winter backpacking, or mountaineering situations are all candidate. The made-in-the-USA Northern Lites are tough and suitable for any of these serious outdoor winter tasks.
Northern Lites sponsors ultra athletes like Josiah Middaugh and Travis Macy. Both use the brand’s lightweight snowshoes in races around the world.
For me, in the park, they were just plain fun. I am no serious snowshoer, but I am training for an ultra-running race this winter. The lightweight Elites let me wear my normal trail-running shoes and actually run for a workout to train in the snow.
At $229, the Elites have an elite price tag. But they also have a lifetime warranty and are well made. They are so light that you will hardly notice them on your feet.
—Amy Oberbroeckling is an assistant editor.