True confession: I’m not an avid snowshoer. I can’t believe I’m admitting this to you dear reader. As one who lives in this small outpost along the Rocky Mountains, one would think I would have snowshoes strapped to my feet eight, nine months out of the year. Truth be told, I had a silly experience with snowshoes when I was just a rookie Westerner trying to feel my way through the glorious Wind River mountain-scapes near Pinedale, Wyoming. It was cold, the kind of cold you don’t tell your mother about. I was unprepared and to be certain, I was NOT wearing a pair of Northern Lites snowshoes.
I do believe that if I had slipped on this glass slipper of a product, I would have found years of snowbound bliss and would have discovered more of the wild places above 6,000 feet sooner. Please, don’t make the same mistake I made so many years ago. An American made, Wisconsin based company may be your Prince Charming this winter. These are the lightest snowshoes. And when I say light, I don’t think there is a word in the English dictionary that could explain the weightlessness of Northern Lites snowshoes. Like Hermes of old, I was seemingly floating along the top layer of new snow while my little blue heeler sank with every new step she took. Poor dog. Too bad Northern Lites doesn’t make snowshoes for pups.
Since 1992 Northern Lites has sought the very essence of snowshoes, refining the art of walking on snow. They contend that the, “perfect snowshoe would allow those to float on top of even the fluffiest snow, would weigh nothing, would last a lifetime, would go on as easy as a slipper and be just as comfortable, would not requite adjustment from a normal walking stride, would have the traction of a mountain goat and cost no more than a cup of coffee.” Northern Lites has been near perfect in its ongoing attempts. Using the latest technology Northern Lites has created a tough but incredibly light snowshoe. If you’re hard on your gear, you may have met your match with Northern Lites. Depending on the model, the snowshoes weigh between a mere 2 to 3 pounds. Interesting too is that Northern Lites only make five types of snowshoes — I was using the Women's Elite. Northern Lites also offers a men's version of the Elite, the company's most popular model. Additionally, its lineup includes:
- The Backcountry for mountaineering, backpacking, hiking, and general use over uncertain terrain.
- The Elite, a full-sized mountaineering and backpacking snowshoe with highly aggressive crampons, and their TruTrak binding system. This is the company's most popular model.
- The Quicksilver, a recreational line of snowshoes for less demanding applications, at a less expensive price point.
- The Race, which complies with the Snowshoe Association standard and is designed for use by serious racers on hard, fast courses.
- The Tundra, a super-floater for people carrying larger heavier loads in the deepest snows.