Tag Archives: reviews

Review: GV Mountain Trail Snowshoes

GV Mountain Trail Snowshoes



Up until this year, I have never gone out and tried snowshoeing. It’s probably really weird to hear an outdoorsy Canadian admit to that. I guess my hesitation can be linked to snowshoeing looking a lot more complicated and awkward than it actually is. It turns out that you’re no longer strapping a pair of wonky tennis rackets onto your feet and walking bow legged down the trail. With the numerous technological advancements that have been made in the snowshoe industry, it’s now dead simple to get into a pair of snowshoes. The GV Mountain Trail snowshoes will allow you to get up and going in no time.

GV Mountain Trail Snowshoes Ratchet Buckle

Ratchet time! Just a few cranks to lock in a snug fit.

  • Ratchet buckles (Rambus Buckle System)
  • Weight (4.94 lbs combined for the 9″x29″ size)
  • Narrow footprint design
  • Sturdy frame
  • Crampons
  • Made in Canada!


  • No toe bucket
  • Coating on the frame
GV Mountain Trail Snowshoes Bottom

The belly of the beast. Crampons will give you the grip you need on slippery hills.


The GV Mountain Trail snowshoes are a good mid-level snowshoe. They’re not entry level, but they’re also not in the expensive, super-decked-out-high-end category. One of the biggest selling features for me here is the ratchet buckle system. They’re so easy to tighten and loosen that you can even work the buckles while wearing thick winter gloves. All you have to do is stick your foot into the binding, tighten both straps using the ratchet buckles (so that they’re snug) and tighten the heel strap. Done. No more than 30 seconds. The only minor annoyance when putting these snowshoes on, is that there is no toe bucket to use as a guide. The toe bucket sits at the front of the binding and is a quick indicator that your foot is positioned properly in the binding. Without the toe bucket, you have to position your foot by sight and feel. However, this isn’t hard to figure out and comes with a little practice. The ball of your foot should be sitting at the pivot joint near the front of the binding. Want to loosen the straps? Just grip the wings on the side of the ratchet lever and pull. Voilà! The strap has released your foot from its sturdy clutches.

The narrow design of the snowshoes is great. It means you’re actually able to walk normally while they’re on your feet. The frame is made of strong, lightweight aluminum. I have noticed that after a few treks out in various different terrain types, the coating or paint on the frame has gotten a little scratched in places. To be fair, rocks and fallen tree stumps are very hard surfaces, even more so in the frigid winter temperatures. The frames are not dented in any way though. The decks of the snowshoes are made of a durable plastic that uses Entech™ technology. The company states that the Entech™ decks are more durable, can resist extreme temperatures down to -50° Celsius (-58° Fahrenheit), prevents friction on the deck bottom and generates 50% less plastic waste. Not too shabby. Good job on reducing plastic waste GV; you get extra points for that one. The crampons feel sturdy and offer great grip when traveling up or down inclines. During our outing the other night, we had to cross a bare patch of paved road. We were a little worried about what might happen to the crampons as we crossed. When we were done, we did a thorough inspection of the bottoms of the snowshoes. The crampons were fine; no bending or dents, not even scuffed paint.

GV is a purely Canadian company, with their base of operations located in Quebec. They locally source the materials to manufacture their many snowshoes; another win in my books.

Snowshoeing In The Field

Layered up and heading out for some exercise in the freshly snow-covered field.

Final Thoughts:

  • With the GV Mountain Trail snowshoes strapped on, you’ll be able to trek farther into the depths of winter on your search for the ever-elusive and mystical Yeti. Or just get a really good workout, while having fun in the snow.

5 out of 5




Copyright © 2015, Ben Aerssen. All rights reserved.


Leave a comment

Filed under Gear, Hiker's Hangout, Winter

Review: Black Diamond Trail Back Poles

Black Diamond Trail Back Poles



Some people might argue that hiking poles are glorified walking sticks. Why not just grab a stick on the side of the trail and use that instead? This manner of thinking is why hiking poles get kind of lumped into that group of gear that is considered a “nice to have” for some hikers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; to each their own as the saying goes. However, after trying out a pair of poles while hiking on a glacier in Alaska, I was instantly sold. When I got back to civilization, I ended up purchasing the Black Diamond Trail Back hiking poles.

BD Hand Grips

Simple rubber hand grip. Grip it and rip it.


  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Easily adjustable to various heights with the FlickLock® system
  • Collapsible
  • Colour (easily visible in most environments)
  • Durable
  • Comes with powder baskets (great for snowshoeing)
  • Weight (525g)


  • Price (they cost more than deadwood)
  • Made overseas
BD FlickLock

The FlickLock® system in action. Clever design.


The Black Diamond Trail Back hiking poles come with a hand grip made of rubber. While I find this to be comfortable and perfectly serviceable, others might find they need the extra padding offered by dual-density foam. That being said, you’ll also be dishing out more cash for the foam hand grips as they’re only offered on more expensive models. One of the main draws to these poles is how easy it is to adjust their height. You open the FlickLocks®, adjust the height, close the FlickLocks® and continue along your hike. It’s so easy, adjustments can even be done on the fly. Just watch your footing. The poles also come with height markers printed directly on the legs for you to use as a guide when setting them up from their collapsed position. After adjusting the height, they stay locked in position. The FlickLock® system does not come loose and start sliding down when in use. During several difficult hikes (like hiking up two mountains in the Yukon for example), I’ve never had these poles bend or bow out when supporting most of my body weight on some risky descents. These poles are very sturdy. Even though they are made of aluminum, they are fairly light-weight at 525 grams. Although, for the hiker that counts every gram, there are lighter options. The poles are easy to store with a collapsed height of only 65.5cm (25 inches). The “fire red” colour on the upper body make them fairly easy to spot in different environments if you happen to lay them down. With the addition of removable powder baskets, these poles are great to use in the winter for snowshoeing. The poles are also very useful on icy trails. For me, there are only two real drawbacks when it comes to these hiking poles. Firstly, the price point for these poles is fairly high, but I wanted a decent pair of poles that will last a long time. Secondly, these are made overseas. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with most of the hiking poles I have seen.

BD Powder Basket

The powder baskets are on and ready to break some trails!

Final Thoughts:

  • The Black Diamond Trail Back Hiking Poles can definitely be a Godsend on trails with constant elevation changes. They’re easy to adjust and take a good beating. Even on moderate trails, people will find these useful to stay balanced and upright. Give your knees a bit of a break and grab some Black Diamond Trail Back hiking poles for your next outing.

5 out of 5




Copyright © 2015, Ben Aerssen. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under Gear, Hiking

Review: Chaos Coastal Toque

Chaos Coastal Toque



I bought the Chaos Coastal Toque this past weekend before heading out on a 9Km hike at Hilton Falls Conservation Area. I was eager to see how it would perform in real world conditions.


  • Keeps my head at a perfect temperature.
  • Great fit.
  • Stylish.
  • Made in Canada!


  • Colour selection. (Not really a big deal.)


The Chaos Coastal Toque is longer than the usual beanie style toque. Since there’s more material available, you can choose to wear it a couple of different ways. I pulled the toque on, then rolled the bottom up a bit so that my ear lobes were still covered. I also positioned it to run across my face slightly above my eyebrows. Once on my head, it sat snugly in place for the entirety of the hike. If I had needed to, it would have been quick and easy to roll it up a few more times allowing for some heat to escape. At the beginning of the hike, I had my shell hood up over top of the toque. When I moved my head around with the hood up, the toque followed my head movements; it did not twist around or drop down over my eyes. This was an important test for me. It’s extremely annoying to have a toque move around and block your vision, not to mention dangerous. It was -8 Celsius (after the windchill) out during the hike. The Chaos Coastal Toque kept my head at that “Goldilocks” temperature the entire time; juuust right. I didn’t feel any wind cutting through and it didn’t roast my head either. The toque, made of 50% wool and 50% acrylic, is very comfy to wear. It’s fairly soft to the touch and did not irritate my skin at all. The construction quality of the Chaos Coastal Toque is really nice. It feels sturdy and will likely last quite a long while. Lastly, I love the fact that it was made in Canada. I’m a huge advocate of buying Canadian-made or USA-made products. I try and do so whenever I can. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder than you would think.

Final Thoughts:

  • I’m looking forward to pulling this toque on again and again for many more winter hikes. It keeps my head happy while I’m out on the trail.

5 out of 5




Copyright © 2015, Ben Aerssen. All rights reserved.


Filed under Clothing, Gear, Winter