Dissecting the Modern Snowshoe If
you live in Minnesota and you don't currently own snowshoes it's time
to think about correcting that oversight! Even if you won't become a
diehard snowshoeing fanatic, you should at least discover the
enjoyment and practicality of owning them in a state that averages 3 to 6 feet of snow
every winter (and often more). They give you the ability to comfortably
walk about anywhere, through deep drifts, across lakes or marshland and
isolated swampy or brushy areas that cannot be reached in summer.
Beautiful areas in the refreshing cold of winter. The other common option for winter travel is a pair of
cross country skis with x-c boots, bindings and poles, but snowshoes are such a simple solution in
comparison, with less specialized equipment, lower cost, greater
flexibility and maneuverability in tight areas.
Most people have an image of the
traditional wood-framed, rawhide laced snowshoe, with a pair of worn
leather bindings. Because of their size these snowshoes did provide excellent floatation in deep snow and they did serve people well, making the winter wilderness accessible for centuries. But their size and weight and poor binding designs made them a poor choice compared to the ease of the modern snowshoe.
So what makes today's snowshoe work so well?
Aluminum Frame High durability and low weight are the big advantages.
Solid Decking This
allows for good floatation with a smaller snowshoe. Solid decking has
high durability and the smaller size snowshoe it allows results in
Crampons for Traction Solid deck, aluminum-framed snowshoes would not have as much traction
as the older laced models were it not for the crampons that come standard on these models. Carbon
steel teeth bite solidly into hillsides, even into
Rotating Toe Cord This
is the preferred method of attaching binding to snowshoe for
recreational and mountaineering designs. The binding pivots forward as
you walk, allowing the tail of the snowshoe to drop. It results in a
very natural, easy stride. It keeps the snowshoe lighter as snow spills
off with each step and it allows the crampon teeth to pivot downward,
biting into the hillside for traction. Some snowshoes have a "limiter", a
prevents the binding from pivoting too far forward, avoiding "shin
bang". This is found on Tubbs Wilderness and Flex models.
Heel Lift Lifts are found on better recreational
and mountaineering models. For prolonged climbs you can engage the lift
to keep your boot at a more comfortable angle and relieve stress on your
and ease of use through better binding design. These are probably the
biggest improvements over traditional snowshoes. The old leather
bindings did rotate, but that is where the similarity ended. Modern
improvements in control are dramatic, giving you a solid connection with
the snowshoe and allowing you to be comfortable on uneven terrain and
sideways on slopes. Strapping
into a modern snowshoe couldn't be easier. In most models now sold at
Hoigaard's, once you adjust the binding for your boot it's a simple
"click and go".
Fitting Snowshoes Each model of snowshoe comes in a range
of sizes, with fit based on
weight. Snowshoes don't know how tall you are, but they do know what
you weigh! Most adult models come in lengths of 21", 25", 30" and
sometimes 36". Most women fit 25" snowshoes, most men fit 30", with
lightweights going smaller and heavier individuals sizing bigger.
Women-specific snowshoes have smaller volume bindings to accommodate
women's smaller boots. They also
have narrower tails. Kids snowshoes range from 14" to 21".
There is one other important factor to consider when
fitting snowshoes: Where will you use them? Soft, off-trail snow (up at
the cabin or out west) requires a bigger snowshoe than a packed urban
trail. If you get too small a snowshoe for your purpose you end up
working harder and sweating more as you sink deeper. Don't under-size your snowshoes.
The staff at Hoigaard's
are experts at fitting snowshoes, many of us have been snowshoeing for
years. Some of us started on the old wood-framed models. Stop in and
talk with us!