Like me, my dog Loki is now completely addicted to backcountry snow sports. As I write this gear review for my Wildhorn Outfitters Delano Snowshoes I can sense Loki’s intent as his eyes burn a hole in the back of my head: lets go shred.
Unfortunately, we’re currently stuck in a cycle where the skiing sucks and avalanche conditions are dangerous. The overnight temps have been too high, the total snowpack is too low, and the threat of wet slide avalanches is all too real. Also, I have this thing called ” work” to do today, so despite Lokidog’s desires I can’t justify getting fully geared up, loading up the truck, driving to a trailhead, and devoting the whole day to a big backcountry ski adventure. Luckily, I can get out for a healthy stroll through the backyard woods (and keep my dog satisfied) thanks to my pair of Wildhorn Delano X2 Snowshoes.
There is a wonderful foothill overlooking Alpine, Wyoming that we call Dogwalk Mountain. You won’t find it on any map, and the only trail up has been beat in by our feet. The forest is too dense to safely and enjoyably ski, but it is a perfect place to snowshoe. It is pretty steep in spots, but the view from the top is well worth the effort. Parking and crowds are not a concern: the trail begins next to a trash can in our cul-de-sac.
We always ascend Dogwalk Mountain via “the north face” route so even during a skinny winter (like this one) the snow is deep: right now there is 24″ of rotten slush up there. Earlier this season it held 48″ of bottomless sugar snow. Before I had a set of snowshoes I never braved the slopes of Dogwalk Mountain midwinter, but now Loki and I make the trek several times per week. It is a great workout, mentally engaging, and I enjoy making the trail a little bit wider and smoother with each expedition.
I am 5’11”, 210lbs, with a size 11 foot so I opted for the 28″ model (Wildhorn also offers a smaller 22″) model designed for folks under 160lbs. While breaking trail through deep powder — and now deep slush — these snowshoes do a good job of keeping me on top, but I must admit that *occasionally* I did sink in to the top of my boots on my “first ascents” of the season. Now that the trails have been stomped in that is no longer an issue. Even with the rotten slush conditions my Wildhorn Snowshoes make enjoyable what would otherwise be impassible.
I like how light and nimble these Delano X2 Snowshoes feel. They easily attach securely to my boots, and I can walk normally in them without having to widen my stance or adjust my gait. The pivot system built into the binding seems sturdy and works well to keep the snowshoe platform flat on the snow surface throughout my stride.
These snowshoes have a heel riser system which is nice to deploy on the steep sections of the trail, and the metal traction teeth on the bottom are big, properly positioned, bite well, and inspire confidence even when the slope is steep and the snow is crusty.
I can fit my snowboard boots into these Wildhorn Outfitters Snowshoes, and they are easy to securely strap to a backpack so they work just fine for setting a backcountry snowboard bootpack up a slope that isn’t too steep. If I didn’t have several sets of touring skis and a splitboard I would probably bring these snowshoes with while snowmobiling in case my sled broke down way off the beaten path.
The binding system works very well, but I am impatient (and not very flexible) so I find it a bit annoying to take the time to put them on, adjust them properly, and take them off after every hike. Fortunately, I figured out a simple solution: I just keep an old pair of Bogs winter boots mounted to the snowshoes. Now all I have to do is slip my feet into the Bogs, give the front straps a quick tug to snug them up nice and tight, and I am on my way.
One word of caution: these shoes are designed for use on snow and they are lightweight construction. One day I put them on in the garage and took a few dozen steps on the pavement before hitting a softer surface. I bent one of the traction teeth that day, but was able to fix it by gently clamping the snowshoe into a benchtop vise and using a pliers to torque the metal tooth back into the proper position.
All in all the Wildhorn Outfitters Delano X2 Lightweight Snowshoes ($159.99) are pretty sweet, and I hope to get several more seasons of backyard strolls out of them. Lokidog feels the same way.