One of the misconceptions with snowshoes is that one size fits all. One of the greatest aspects of the sport is how snowshoes are made to fit everybody according to their weight, sex, ability and age (wooden-frame snowshoes don’t generally apply).
This “have it your way” concept is what makes the sport so appealing. In fact, some snowshoes can be made to fit your every specification – down to the ounce and rivet. The snowshoeing audience is so broadly based…options are made to be available. This also includes a choice in color, materials, binding, crampons (the metal cleats underneath the snowshoe) and more.
“Weight” – From Nimble to Lumber
It’s time to get over your weight issues – if they exist. Working with a salesperson – if it’s with a retailer or with the manufacturer directly – they will need to know your exact weight to determine what size of snowshoes you need to wear.
The sizes range from 25-inch in length, 30-inch and 36-inch. Salespeople will also try to determine if you will be wearing a backpack during your snowshoeing excursions – so be prepared to know that before hand. Usually, a daypack is smart to have when snowshoeing anywhere (carrying, water, food, extra clothing and a first-aid kit is necessary). Obviously, carrying a pack will increase your weight by 10 to 50 pounds.
A great way to begin snowshoeing is to purchase a pair that fits your weight exactly. Don’t worry about the pack. For beginners, it is smart to stick to a trail you are familiar with…something that isn’t too deep and difficult. In the case you want to get off the trail and go more backcountry snowshoeing, purchasing a shoe that fits your weight and pack weight is suggested. Plus, don’t buy a beginner shoe if you think you will be doing a lot more than just strolling down the snow-laden passages of your local Nordic center. Go for the more expensive and tougher-made shoes.
Research the snowshoe brand as well. Although I do not promote one brand over the other, your preference will certainly matter after visiting a retailer in person or visiting their Web site.
Here’s a list of the different manufacturers and their Web sites:
Atlas Snow-Shoe Co. – www.atlassnowshoe.com
Crescent Moon Snowshoes – www.crescentmoonshowshoes.com
Dion Snowshoes – www.dionsnowshoes.com
GV Snowshoes – www.gvsnowshoes.com
Havlick Snowshoes – www.havlicksnowshoe.com
Mountain Safety Research – www.msrcorp.com
Northern Lites Snowshoes – www.northernlites.com
Redfeather Snowshoes – www.redfeather.com
Tubbs Snowshoes – www.tubbssnowshoes.com
Yukon Charlie’s Snowshoes – www.yukoncharlies.com
Study their offerings and snowshoe design. There are so many different brands available. But, I will go into more detail on brands at a later date.
“Sex” – Mars and Venus Certainly Apply
Nowadays, women can find a snowshoe especially tailored for their abilities and finesse. Although a snowshoe series hasn’t been devoted specifically to men, what’s available nowadays is all about choice. Women called for it, and they received it.
Manufacturers have designed snowshoes with a woman in mind. From its lightweight frame that fits woman’s natural stride to the bindings that fit a woman’s boot efficiently, snowshoes are no longer limited to length and size.
This new and ergonomic way of designing a snowshoe is allowed for women to pursue the sport in comfort. The manufactures made a more ergonomic approach – now women have something that fits their abilities and wishes.
This is all just another reason why snowshoeing is such a great sport.
“Ability” – To Run, or Not to Run…That is the Dilemma
Snowshoers range in ability. Some like to run and compete in races. Others like to walk leisurely on a trail. And, some snowshoers pursue backcountry hikes that are physically demanding.
When choosing a snowshoe, not only will size apply…where you’re going will as well. A salesperson will generally ask, “Where would you like to snowshoe?” Or, “Have you been snowshoeing yet?”
Keep in mind, after the first 15 steps on snowshoes…you’re a pro; don’t let the sport fool you, it’s pretty easy. So, if you want to pursue backcountry hikes and take deep plunges in the snow, don’t be sold on something more first-time level. Try a something that’s manufactured to go the distance – a backcountry model. Ask your salesperson, but don’t allow them to sell you something you want to take back three weeks later. Snowshoes usually last a lifetime if cared for properly.
“Age” – The Kids Can Snowshoe Too
If you want the whole family snowshoeing, there are shoes available for kids. What’s available is pretty simple – nothing too fancy.
However, there are snowshoes available for kids that are shaped like bear paws and dinosaur feet. This really makes the whole experience fun for kids – especially if they’re leaving a unique footprint in the snow.
by Ryan Alford – Snowshoe Magazine