2014, 3M, Atlas Snowshoes, Black and White, Black Diamond, Cub Lake, March, Photography, Rocky Mountain National Park, Snow, Snowburban UltraDry, Snowshoeing, Stones Peak, The North Face, Thinsulate, UltraDry, USKestrel, USKestrel Photography, Vasque, Winter
The Vasque SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY™ boot is insulated with 400g of 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation which will keep your feet warm in most conditions down to roughly 0 degrees F. Add to that the Vasque UltraDry system to keep your feet dry and you have a fantastic winter trekking or snowshoeing boot!
On Sunday March 9th, I took the opportunity to get up to Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to create an image I had envisioned for about two years, to wear my new Vasque SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY™ boots for a snowshoe trek to my photo-shoot location.
I had not been to the Cub Lake trailhead for a couple of years and definitely had not been up to that particular location in the winter months. As such, when I started out on the trek, my mind was not calibrated appropriately and I ended up heading up the Fern Lake Trail.
After trekking for about 1.5 miles, I realized my error and decided to just continue on to The Pools, where I would pick up the Fern Lake Trail to Cub Lake Trail connector. Once I crossed the bridge at The Pools, I started down the connector trail and within 30 seconds found myself making fresh tracks in 12-15″ of powder.
I do wear gaiters because I tend to find photographic opportunities that take me off trail a ways and I try to ensure my feet stay dry (mainly for safety measures). The Vasque SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY™ boots kept my feet very warm and dry, even when surrounded constantly with snow.
The more I trekked the more I realized I was climbing quite fast. With 50lbs in my pack and my camera in my chest-pack, the vertical gain was quickly depleting my energy stores. Upon reaching the saddle, before heading down to Cub Lake, I stopped to rest for a few minutes, replenish my energy a bit and prepare for what I could tell was going to be an amazing photo shoot!
Once I had refueled, I started down to Cub Lake (I won’t say I started down the trail, as there really was not a trail to follow like you would have in Spring/Summer/Fall). As I got to the point I wanted to shoot from, I trekked out to the middle of [frozen] Cub Lake, took my pack off, set up my tripod at ground level and put my camera in the ball-head to start capturing shots! The shot below is what I had in my mind for two years, so I was thrilled to actually capture the shot!!
Back to the gear review…
The Vasque SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY™ boots are solid performing boots with plenty of insulation for most weather conditions, though I have not worn them enough to give a full temperature range just yet. The rear of the boot has a notch built in to support the back strap of snowshoes and this was very handy! The hook at the front of the laces did a great job of keeping the built-in snow gaiter on my snow pants fixed in place.
The sole has a fairly aggressive tread pattern and performed very well, once I got to a point towards the end of the trek where I no longer needed snowshoes (though I was still walking on solid snow).
After completing my trek, which was a total of 6.6 miles, I can say that my feet felt pretty good overall. Only issue I did have, which is my own fault, is that I did not put my orthotics in my SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY’s (from my Vasque Wasatch GTX boots). My arches were definitely not happy, but I cannot fault Vasque for this. The insoles that come with the boots is decent and undoubtedly designed for the average foot.
If you are looking to replace existing boots or planning to buy your first pair of boots for the winter, I would definitely recommend you give the Vasque SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY boots strong consideration!
UPDATE – 27 March 2014
Last Sunday, I went out for another snowshoe trek. This time, the goal was to trek up to The Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park, to get some shots to replace older images. The forecast for the day wasn’t fantastic in terms of wind & temperature, but nothing I have not dealt with in my journeys!
The last time I trekked up to The Loch in the winter, the route was via the normal summer trail, so I was a bit off my game when I got a ways up the winter route that had been trekked, cross-country skied, etc. Sure was beautiful though:
The route was filled with 6″ to 15″ of fresh powder from Friday night through early Sunday morning. My SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY’s once again truly proved their worth, keeping my feet warm & dry the entire trek!
Once at Mills / Loch junction, the snow got fairly deep along the normal summer trail, so after about 1/4 mile, I opted to drop down into the creek basin where everyone else had trekked up to The Loch (and points beyond). Very surreal being down in that creek bed, seeing just how deep it really is!
The trek up the creek bed was a lot steeper than the normal summer route and it sure provided for a workout! I was still moving pretty good, despite some lingering lung-capacity issues (lol). Soon though, I got up to The Loch and the wind was just nuts! Forecast called for winds at 15mph…by my account, they were probably 20mph, gusting to 30 at times!!
Fortunately, I was able to secure my tripod sufficiently to capture a great long-exposure shot in black & white!
Overall, this trek was amazing. The temperature was fine for my typical setup and my SNOWBURBAN ULTRADRY’s were just awesome! I did have my orthotics in this time, so my feet did not feel complain about incorrect arch support. Warm & dry, comfortable. Hard to beat these boots for the price, fit and quality!!