Lightweight, durable, easy to use and easily repairable. How do we get all of these features in a single snowshoe design?
The design of the Northern Lites Snowshoes allows them to be incredibly light without sacrificing durability. Our snowshoes are the lightest in the world when compared to competitive designs that can weigh up to twice as much as ours. Even though our snowshoes are incredibly lightweight, they also provide world-class durability. It is common to attend snowshoeing events and see participants wearing Northern Lites Snowshoes dating back to the beginning of the company in 1992.
These snowshoes are constructed with aerospace grade materials. We use 7075 and 6061 Aluminum alloy tubing, manufactured to our custom specifications. This tubing is extraordinarily lightweight yet it easily stands up to years of use. The deck, binding and suspension strap materials are all based on a lightweight material that was originally designed for air-dropped fuel bladders in the military. Unlike the PVC or Hypalon Decks of most other snowshoes, our decks, bindings and suspensions retain their strength and flexibility characteristics, even at extremely low temperatures. Our material is also UV stabilized so many years of exposure to the winter sun will leave it looking as good as they day you received it. This deck material is also extremely lubricious, which allows it to shed snow easily. This property, combined with the suspension design in the binding, leads to a “tail low” configuration when using the shoes - so the snowshoe slides out of the snow with each step, thus minimizing the amount of snow that the user lifts with each step. This is a further weight advantage to the customer when using our snowshoes, compared to other, less sophisticated designs. Another minor note is that our “tail low” configuration is combined with a passive suspension design that allows for a more natural stride motion and it eliminates the annoying tendency of most snowshoes to “throw” snow up your back with each step!
When you look at these snowshoes, you immediately notice that the deck is attached to the frame with a large number of black clips. These are made with Zytrel – a super tough nylon variant. The large number of attachment points means that the stresses on the deck are widely distributed around the frame, allowing the frame material to be much lighter than would otherwise be the case. In addition, these clips incorporate a secondary cleat feature that noticeably improves traction. In the unlikely event that a clip fails, the remaining clips can easily handle the additional load, allowing you to safely return home from your trek. We even have customers who use simple zip ties for field expedient repairs when using our shoes on extended back country treks or in ultra-competitions.
Because our snowshoes are designed to be manufactured by hand in a modular fashion, we can easily repair virtually any damage that is inflicted on our shoes. We routinely have Northern Lites Snowshoe owners contacting us and requesting a minor repair on snowshoes that are 10-25 years old with obvious signs of hard and sustained use. Normal wear and tear finally catches up with them and they send their shoes in for a fast, and usually inexpensive, repair that has them quickly back out on the snow for many more years of use. This is in direct contrast to the typical snowshoe design that normally requires complete replacement of the shoe in the event of damage.
The legendary TruTrak binding system is known for its simplicity and reliability. Throughout the racing and ultra-competition world, this binding has a well-earned reputation as the binding to use when you really want to be on the podium when the medals are awarded. And in the back country, the TruTrak straps are also the only field replaceable straps on the market. We rarely see them break, but a spare can be carried and easily installed in under a minute if necessary.
In 2018, we are introducing the Speed Binding. This binding system allows the user to put their snowshoes on and take them off in 15 seconds! In addition, it accommodates Women’s size 4 through Men’s size 15 footwear. It continues the Northern Lites reputation for extraordinary durability and it weighs 1 ounce less than the corresponding Tru-Trak binding. The QuickSilver and Trek & Trail models can be ordered with either binding system.
All of these design elements work together to give the user the lightest, most reliable, easiest to use and most fun snowshoe on the market!
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