TSL Outdoor Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct Snowshoe Review
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First thoughts On The TSL Outdoor Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct
These TSL Outdoor Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct arrived early November. Not quite ready for venturing out on snowshoes, but it got me excited for the upcoming winter. The title and name for these snowshoes is quite long and overly technical in my opinion. In all honesty, they truly are all that from an engineering and design standpoint. That said, I do think the naming could use a refresh to maybe create an image or branding that resonates with the intended crowd.
Neither here nor there on the naming thing. I honestly can’t wait to explore the features to see how they perform out on the snowy trails. I am a trail runner, and these TSL Outdoor Instinct snowshoes weren’t necessarily intended as runners. The target user of these is more the multi-terrain hiker with a focus on a natural gait. For what it’s worth, TSL Outdoor does make a small and light version called the Symbioz Racing model. With the size and weight of the Instinct snowshoes being on the small and light side, I’ll likely put them to the test while traversing the more run-able sections of the trail.
For the past 10 years, I have participated in a local snowshoe race in Nederland, Colorado. This provides for a perfect opportunity to put these to the test during training as well as the actual race. Now, I had a bit of a family flu crisis, and missed the race. Hence, I decided to go out on my own to run the course a few days later.
Features And Technical Details
I really want to highlight the features right off the bat as the three main elements really caught my attention; the molded frame, the steel crampons, and the bindings.
First of all, the structured molded frame with its crossbars provide control and traction on a variety of snow surfaces. The hour glass design makes for an easier stride when walking (or running). It’s a complex design with lots of notches to provide that flex and ease of walking. All the other components are attached in such a manner as to really integrate and function as one.
Secondly, the steel crampons play a critical role to provide balance, traction, and stability. Generally speaking, all the teeth, grips, crampons, or whatever you want to call them, are legitimately impressive. Sharp and spaced out in such a manner that I will not have a problem with secure footing on the wide variety of conditions I encounter. They are intended to cut into the snow and then expel that snow as you transition into the next step.
I worry a little about any hard surfaces I might encounter like rock slabs, stones, or any trailhead parking lots that might be paved. I am not concerned that they will fail, break or anything like that, but I will use caution. More so, it’s that the teeth will dull over time, or create for some sliding or slipping challenges. My main snowshoes (before these) have seen quite a lot of use, and the teeth are worn down significantly. I have thought of taking the grinder to them, but that’s for another story.
The front grips are great to help me dig in especially when the slope pitches to more aggressive. I found myself digging in nicely when walking and running without fear of slipping or sliding back down. The lateral grips are located around the edges of the frame, and really splay out that grip and balance throughout the snowshoe. In addition, these provide stability and control on the down hills as well.
The bindings are something else, and I am really excited to play around with them to make my transition into them as smooth as possible. The BOA dial creates for a uniform tightening that is supposed to wrap the shoe without slipping. BOA is a mainstay in my cycling world, so I’ve experienced a variety of nuances there. I will be curious to see how that BOA system will perform in snow and icy conditions. Thus far, in hard-packed and icy surfaces, I have found that these snowshoes do really dig in to provide confidence with every step while my foot stays put in the bindings.
There is a lock adjustment that memorizes the shoe fit. I’m still playing around with this as I’ve used several running shoes with variable sole thicknesses as well as hiking boots. What I really like about this Boa Fit System on the Hyperflex Instinct is the ability for me to tighten quickly and be on my way. There is a claim by TSL of a sound and shock absorbing system. I’m all about peace and quiet out in the woods (except for my labored breathing). The clicking and clacking of snowshoes are part of the experience, and provide me with a rhythmic propulsion for a longer enduring effort. And in this case, it is supposed to be a little less. All good in my book either way, but thought I’d mention it.
Taking the TSL Outdoor Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct Snowshoes Out
These snowshoes are French Alp inspired. They know a thing or two about winter sports and mountaineering. Hence, I want to take that spirit and ingenuity into my backyard wilderness up some high alpine Rocky Mountain trails and passes.
The Rocker serves a critical purpose to help cushion every step. It helps to guide the foot through the walking process on flat surfaces as well as inclines. The photo below shows how easy it is to adjust the heel portion to allow for a different size shoe (or user).
By simply tightening the BOA® Fit System, your shoe and the binding become one. Your heel is freed of any pressure point. The heel lift, which is under the heel no matter the shoe size, avoids any punching effect. All this for 150 g less than a pair of traditional bindings. Once tightened, you can’t dial it back a notch to loosen. You will need to pop it up to release the wire, and retighten. That’s one thing I might look at for future iterations for the BOA system.
From a size standpoint, these fall on the spectrum of small. Hence, great for trails that have minimal snow, or have been compacted. The times I encountered deeper snow, I did sink a bit. Not enough to make me turn around, but something to be aware of. Mind you, they still worked as I was able to make forward progress until I got to more manageable terrain. I accept the fact that snowshoeing is going to be a challenge, and that I will encounter a host of conditions. Hence, I am not complaining, but merely pointing out that I did not float on top when I hit deep snow conditions.
I managed to run on these snowshoes quite well. If you’ve never run on any kind of a snowshoe, it does take some getting used to. It’s like wearing size 30 shoes, but once you find that rhythm, it is a perfectly solid way to get through the snow. There’s a learning curve there to keep in mind. These are not marketed as runners, but I feel like they served me just fine when I hit a nice flat compacted section of the trails.
Final Thoughts On The TSL Outdoor Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct
I can really appreciate the technical design and innovation that has gone into developing these snowshoes. When I’m out and about, I completely forget about that as I am battling the snow, the trail, the conditions, and my body’s ability to push to the limit. That’s where all those features simply need to do their job to perform. The weight of these snowshoes is phenomenally light at 150 grams. There are lighter snowshoes, but those don’t pack this kind of punch.
All in all, I am quite happy with how the TSL Outdoor Symbioz Hyperflex Instinct have performed. These “Snow Sharks” can serve as a lightweight option for whatever ability snowshoe hiker, walker, or runner you may be. Maybe, that’s a good name or brand message, but I’ll leave that to the experts. One can certainly tackle a wide variety of terrain which opens up the amount of exploring I am able to do. For more info on this model and plenty of other options, visit www.amazon.com/tsloutdoors.