This post may contain affiliate links.

Casacde Mountain Tech Expedition Trail Snowshoes Review

Cascade Mountain Tech, the company that broke the trekking pole market by selling inexpensive high-quality trekking poles on Amazon and at Walmart, now offers inexpensive snowshoes that cost one-half to one-third of the price of name brands like MSR, Atlas, or Tubbs. Bundled with snowshoe poles, winter pole baskets, and a kit bag, their Expedition Trail Snowshoe package is an inexpensive package that’s attractive for beginners to use on pre-established trails. The devil is in the details however and we think you’d be better off giving this package a pass. You can get a much higher quality pair of snowshoes for not much more.

Specs at a glance

  • Model tested: 25″ Expedition Trail Snowshoes
  • Weight / Pair 4 lbs 1.4 oz
  • Snowshoeing poles: three-section twist lock, with optional snow baskets and rubber tips
  • Kit bag: included
  • Material: Anodized Aluminum w/ plastic decking
  • Televators: No

Construction

These Cascade Mountain Tech Expedition Trail Snowshoes have a classic teardrop shape that’s wide in front and tapered in the back. The plastic decking is riveted to the aluminum frame, with a hinged front crampon under the ball of the foot and a braking crampon under the heel. The flotation is perfectly adequate for pre-established snowshoeing trails that have been packed down with use but the decking on the 25″ model doesn’t provide the degree of flotation you’d expect on 25″ snowshoes. I was surprised at how limited they were in powder or on crusty snow.

The front two straps are secured with ratchet-style buckles.

In addition, when it comes to hill climbing, these snowshoes do not have televator bars to alleviate calf strain when hiking on inclines, limiting their applicability to gently rolling terrain unless you’re willing to suck it up and climb uphill with them anyway.

Binding

The Expedition Trail snowshoes have a three-strap binding which includes two top straps that close with consumer-friendly ratchet buckles and a traditional rear ski strap to lock in the heel. The top straps are large enough to accommodate high-volume Pac boots, but the binding doesn’t limit how far forward you put your boots into it. This is a desirable feature on snowshoes designed for inexperienced users.

For example, if you compare the Expedition’s binding with the Paragon binding on MSR Lightning Ascent, or the less expensive Atlas Helium Trail Snowshoes, their bindings are designed to ensure that your boots are optimally positioned every time by limiting how far forward you can place your boots. This is increasingly common in snowshoe design.

There’s also a rear strap on the Expedition Trail that holds your heel in place and prevents the boot from moving back in the binding and falling out. It seems a little short and doesn’t have a lot of slack to accommodate large-sized boots. Cascade Mountain Tech does not publish a shoe sizing guide for the Expedition Trail snowshoes and while my size men’s 11 boots fit fine, I do wonder if the same could be said for a size 13 or higher, including larger and longer pac boots. They have another set of comparable snowshoes that only go up to a size 12…but your guess is as good as mine about larger sizes.

The Expedition Trail snowshoe has two crampons - front and rear.
The Expedition Trail snowshoe has two crampons – front and rear.

Crampons

The Expedition Trail’s front crampon is serrated with front, back, and side teeth, providing a good bite on crusty snow or ice, while providing good lateral stability. It’s perfectly suitable for hiking on snow-covered trails and intermittent ice, although the front crampon is on the short side and easily blunted if you need to walk over bare rock. The rear crampon is designed for braking on slopes and helps prevent the snowshoe from fishtailing on slippery surfaces, but is also easily blunted.

Cascade does not list the material that these snowshoes crampons are made with; however they use an aluminum crampon on the front and a steel crampon on the rear on their more expensive models, so it seems like a safe assumption that they do the same here. When using these, I quickly mashed the crampon teeth which leads me to believe they aren’t steel. Aluminum crampons wear down quickly and I wouldn’t recommend them for snowshoes that might be used in mixed rock and snow conditions. They won’t last.

Snowshoe Poles

The Expedition Trail Snowshoe Kit includes a pair of 3-section, 135cm twist lock snowshoe poles with carbide tips, rubber grips, and adjustable webbing wrist straps. Snow baskets, a must-have for winter use, and rubber tips are also included. These poles are adequate, but nothing to write home about.

The top ratchet straps are intuitive to use.
The top ratchet straps are intuitive to use.

Assessment

I decided to review these Expedition Trail Snowshoes because of Cascade Mountain Tech’s reputation for producing high-quality but low-cost trekking poles. Quality snowshoes have gotten really expensive and I hoped to provide my readers with an acceptable value-based alternative. Unfortunately the old adage, “you get what you pay for” rings true for the Expedition Trail Snowshoes.

While the low price point ($113) for this complete kit is attractive, I’m not wowed by their lack of flotation compared to other 25″ snowshoes, lack of sizing and material information, and modest crampon size. While this snowshoe package could be used by beginners on pre-established snowshoe trails, I think you’d be much better off spending another $37 bucks for a low-cost but much higher-quality snowshoe like the Atlas Helium Trail ($150) that has much better flotation, carbon steel crampons, an easier to use binding system, and televators. That’s a product that will provide many years of rugged use and be much more pleasurable to use.

Disclosure: Cascade Mountain Tech donated snowshoes for this review.

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.

4 comments

  1. I agree. The Atlas Helium Trail is a great value. I bought a pair after you reviewed them a while back and they’re so much better than these design wise.

  2. I’m not sure if it’s the same thing, but I got a snowshoe kit almost exactly like this a few years ago from Costco – same binding, same traction, even same colour! They’re totally fine for playing around after a big snowfall in town, but that’s about it. The bindings got flaky after a couple seasons of use and started to slip.

    Still use the bag to store my new MSRs though!

  3. The foot position is the first thing I noticed in one of the photos from the Amazon link. The photo shows the crampon much too close to the arch of the foot. Hard pass. Thanks for the info!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *