I received new back country skis and snowshoes for Christmas and took them up to the Maine cabin last week for a test drive. Both performed exceptionally well.
Fischer OTX Back Country Skis
These have a metal edge (which is typical of back country) and NNN bindings, compatible with my existing boots. J has had back country skis for several years and whenever we would venture off the groomed areas, I struggled to keep up. These are game changers. It had snowed a few inches in Maine the day before we went up, then turned to rain, then froze. We headed over to Bethel Inn to the Inland Woods + Trails (https://woodsandtrails.org/trail-maps/) cross country area. They told us the conditions were bad, unless we had skate skis – we said that was OK, we had some equipment to test.
The tracks were frozen and unusable so we skied the area groomed for skate skiing. The metal edges were a game changer. For the first time I was able to keep up with her. In fact, going uphill, I was in the lead. The next day I took them out on some snow mobile trails. They performed spectacularly and I highly recommend them. However, be aware that they are slightly wider than a typical cross country track ski that you would use at a groomed area and may not fit well in the tracks.
Atlas Helium Trail Snowshoes
I am no expert at snow shoeing, in fact the opposite is true. The few times I tried, it was a wrestling match with the straps and walking was awkward. After much online research I ordered a pair of the Helium series, Trail model. (www.atlassnowshoe.com)These are also a game changer. The straps are a miracle design. The front straps are interconnected and loosen/tighten with one pull. The rear strap just pulls tight and finds the right hole, with a strap holder for the excess. They are, as the name implies designed for trail walking, and at that they excelled. I walked across the pond, up and down the snow mobile trails and cut through the frozen swamp back to the pond. It felt so natural I often forgot they were down there.