Northern Lites Backcountry

Hiked It. Liked It.

Northern Lites is a Wisonsin based company who makes lightweight snowshoes. This is my take on their Backcountry model…

Specs

  • Gray Decking on Black Frames with Black Logos
  • 9″ X 30″ and 45 oz per pair
  • Surface Area 222 in2
  • For User Packing Weight 175 lbs. to 250 lbs.
  • Mountaineering, Backpacking, Heavier Loads
  • Suggested Retail Price – $249.00
Photo courtesy of Northern Lites
Photo courtesy of Northern Lites

Impressions

Having used clunky molded plastic snowshoes and some heavy rigid frame shoes in the past, the weight difference with the Northern Lites is immediately noticeable. I’m not hardcore into winter hiking and snowshoeing, so I use them with my GTX trail running/hiking shoes and it’s almost as if they’re not even there. The bindings are a simple and secure 4-strap design. Three overstraps with hook-type tension buckles secure the toe, mid, and upper foot while the heel strap utilizes a ladder lock to snug things up in back. I have friends with so called ‘speed’ bindings, and can usually have mine on and off just as quickly.

Nice to look at... great to hike with!
Nice to look at... great to hike with!

The Backcountry shoes are 30 inches and rated for loads over 175 lbs and up to 250 lbs. I account for a wispy 165 lbs, and with 25 lbs of gear on my back, and probably 10 lbs of clothes on my person, I’m only at about 80% of the load rating. Floatation is not an issue traveling through a couple feet of fresh Sierra snow. As of yet, I can’t speak to moving in lighter, drier powder, however I don’t anticipate that there will be any problems, at least not at ~200 lbs load.

Moving across consolidated snow is no problem. The aluminum crampons provide good traction and the going is easy. Additional traction is provided by hard plastic cleats on the straps that hold the deck to the frame.

Moving across ice… well, mostly the same as above – but I think moving across ice for long (or even short) durations on snowshoes is not the best decision from a safety standpoint; it really depends on the pitch and if one is traversing, climbing, descending, etc… Snowshoes are meant for snow travel, not ice travel. Proper crampons or a set of Microspikes would be a better choice when lots of ice is expected en route. Ultimately, this has little to do with the snowshoes and more to do with common sense 🙂

Liked…

  • Light weight!
  • Simple design, no fuss
  • Good balance / mobility
  • Made in USA

Not So Much…

  • Price tag

Famous Last Words

The Northern Lites Backcountry are excellent snowshoes. They’re very light, comfortable, and well balanced. Like all things-lightweight, there is a premium to pay… but they’re totally worth it. Hike It. Like It.

Jacob D Written by:

Jacob is the head honcho, wearer of many hats, and modern day berserker here at Hike It. Like It. When he's not out hiking or running the trails you'll find him operating in full capacity as a Super Dad and chipping away at a degree in Kinesiology. This guy likes to stay busy. Follow on Strava

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