The Atlas Range-MTN
– Price: $320
– Length: 26” (66cm) – also available in 30” (76cm) and 35” (89cm)
– Max recommended load: 200lbs (91 kg) – 250lbs (113 kg) for 30 in. and 300lbs (136kg) for 35 in.
– Weight per pair: 4.2 lbs (1.9 kg)
– Snowshoe terrain: Technical/all-mountain
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
This is our test and review of the Atlas Range-MTN, the latest-and-greatest all-terrain snowshoe from one of the biggest names in the sport.
When a company like Atlas (which has been focused on nothing but snowshoes for the past 30 years) drops a brand-new flagship product, you’d do well to take notice. The Range-MTN snowshoe is just that product, and while it’s been a long time coming, some things are well worth the wait.
The results in the verdict among our testers is unanimous: The Atlas Range-MTN is one of the most impressive pieces of gear we’ve tested to date. Atlas absolutely knocked it out of the park with their new all-terrain shoe, and we were impressed by pretty much every aspect of the brand’s latest design.
You’ll likely be wanting a detailed explanation right about now, so here are our notes from the field.
Atlas Range-MTN Snowshoes: Our Detailed Evaluation
In our snowshoes field testing, we seek to evaluate each pair of snowshoes on each of the metrics that make any pair worth buying. This includes everything from direct feedback on how they perform over specific types of terrain to big-picture themes like their overall comfort and day-to-day walkability.
We aim to put each snowshoe through its paces in everything from steep and technical off-trail exploration to groomed-and-packed hiking trails to give you an accurate depiction of what to expect day-to-day. What follows are our team’s first-hand impressions after spending a few weeks walking in the Atlas Range-MTN.
The Atlas Range-MTN scored among the highest in our testing for flotation, and our testers all gave it high marks in deep powder whether climbing, descending, or traversing flat terrain. This was interesting to note as the Range-MTN has a much narrower and more strongly tapered shape than other shoes we’ve tested.
You’d think less width would translate to less flotation, but Atlas makes up for lost surface area by adding extra length to the shoe. The Range-MTN starts at 26” long in men’s sizes, whereas other modern performance shoes typically start between 21-23”. Our testers reported the Atlas never seemed oversized, however, and noted that because most of the total length of the shoe is carried behind the foot itself, flotation was improved even further when hiking with a focus on heel striking.
We have zero complaints with traction on the Atlas Range-MTN, and our testers all felt it was either the best they’d tested to date or tied for it with a few select models. Atlas’ latest traction system held firm on steep and icy climbs, loose descents, and packed trails all with aplomb, and we can’t say we’re surprised.
The new system creates traction in three ways: First is the frame-integrated traction rail, which incorporates serrated aluminum teeth throughout the frame’s perimeter with the exception of the very ends of the toe and heel.
These perimeter teeth are backed by a single traverse traction rail, which helps prevent slippage on steep inclines. Lastly is the crampon at the toe of the hinged binding, which employs multiple sections of serrated teeth arranged in four different directions for added bite and stability over sketchy melt-freeze snow.
Truth be told we were worried the Atlas Range-MTN might actually be too aggressive at first glance. We’ve had similar-looking shoes actually provide too much bite on icy sections, which made each step a bit of a chore, but we’re happy to report this shoe feels about as natural as we’ve experienced over even the slickest surfaces.
Once again, the Atlas Range-MTN knocked this one out of the park. This was a bit surprising considering the Atlas’ overall length, which can make a shoe feel cumbersome over certain terrain (Atlas’ own Montane snowshoe is a great example), but once again, we have no complaints to share, and this thanks to the narrow shape of the snowshoe.
It seems Atlas has found a sweet spot with its new “long but narrow” shape, which delivers the best of both worlds in terms of flotation and a natural-feeling walking experience. Our testers also noted that like the similarly-designed (and similarly high-performing) MSR Lightning Ascent, the Range-MTN’s frame-integrated traction rails make for a secure yet smooth-feeling footfall on harder terrain.
This start-and-stop feeling over ice is a common complaint on more traditional tube-style snowshoes that rely on ultra-aggressive crampons for traction, so we were pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t an issue here. We also felt that the Range-MTN’s flexible fabric decking delivered some extra flexibility and cushion over hard terrain and packed snow, which added to our walking comfort even more.
Atlas specs their new Range-MTN with a BOA binding system, and as is typically the case with BOA bindings, we’re big fans. Combined with Atlas’ typical rubber cam-buckle heel strap, this is one of the quickest and easiest binding setups we’ve used, and just what you’d expect in a premium snowshoe with true all-terrain performance.
Once again, we don’t really have any complaints to share here. We could split hairs and point out that TSL’s three-way adjustable system feels a bit more secure, or that Atlas’ own traditional Wrapp Swift webbing system is a bit quicker getting on and off, but the differences are so slight we could just as easily chalk them up to personal preference.
Apologies in advance for the lack of variety here, but the Atlas Range-MTN cuts no corners in the durability department, earning it high marks here as well. It’s clear Atlas was gunning for the upper echelon of quality and performance with this model, and everything about it feels both ultralight and overbuilt.
Some of the highlights here will be obvious, such as the 1-piece solid aluminum frame, the rugged steel crampon, and the familiar quality of a BOA binding, but it’s the Atlas’ “ Infinity” decking that really got our tester’s attention.
That’s because the material is made from a woven Nytex nylon material, which our testers said provided the flexibility and cushion of a traditional tube frame shoe without the potential liability of the wrap-around attachment. Atlas’ Infinity decking is riveted directly into the underside of the frame itself, a design that our testers felt confident would stand the test of time regardless of conditions.
The Atlas Range-MTN is definitely expensive with an initial asking price of $320, but considering both the premium competition and what this particular shoe brings to the table, we believe the MSRP is justified.
After spending a few dayshiking in the Range-MTN, we’re convinced this shoe goes toe-to-toe with the most technical and sophisticated models on the market, but delivers a better overall experience than anything else we’ve tested to date.
Traction is top-notch over any terrain, walkability is among the best on the market, and the BOA binding is comfortable, secure, and easy to use. True, the Range-MTN is one of the most expensive snowshoes on the market, but it’s also worth pointing out that the Atlas is actually $30 cheaper than the popular MSR Lightning Ascent, while delivering the same level of performance and an even better binding in our opinion.
What We Like
What do we like about the Atlas Range-MTN? In short, everything. Sure, we could complain about the $300+ price tag, but we have yet to poke a single hole in Atlas’ latest and greatest design, so there’s no denying it’s worth the money.
Reliable all-terrain traction, solid flotation, outstanding walkability, and a premium binding to boot? All in a package that weighs just over 4 pounds? Some may want to split hairs about the BOA binding or the extra three ounces the Range-MTN has over the MSR Lightning Ascent, but for a snowshoe this good, it just seems like a waste of breath.
What We Don’t Like
While finding at least one minor thing to nitpick at is custom here at The Wise Adventurer, we’re at a loss when it comes to this snowshoe. Atlas has truly raised the bar with the Range-MTN, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the competition rolls out next season to keep pace.
Again, price is really the only drawback here, but even in that regard, it’s tough to fault the Range-MTN. Casual snowshoers who aren’t interested in tackling more challenging terrain, be it steep angles, icy conditions, or deep snow, will no doubt find all the performance they need for a good $100 less, but even beginners stand to benefit something from a design this effective.
- MSR Lightning Ascent: The same outstanding traction and versatility, but sacrifices a premium binding for a focus on ultralight simplicity. Read our full test and review of the MSR Lightning Ascent…
- Tubbs Flex VRT: A close contender in all-around performance for a few dollars less. Read our full test and review of the Tubbs Flex VRT…
- TSL Symbioz Elite: Same great traction and build quality, but with a unique design that focuses on flexibility and speed. Read our full test and review of the TSL Symbioz Elite…
The Bottom Line
Atlas’ new Range-MTN is a raging success. We believe this model raises the bar of performance and quality from where MSR’s Lightning Ascent left it back in 2019, and that’s high praise indeed.
These shoes lack nothing in terms of traction, comfort, walkability, or build quality. The Range-MTN costs a pretty penny, but they’re an excellent value in terms of performance for the money. These snowshoes may be overkill for some casual hikers, but if a no-compromise, go-anywhere shoe is what you’re after, this is officially the snowshoe to beat.