How to choose the perfect snowshoes for your winter adventures

Winter mountains and snow-covered forests are very beautiful, but often impassable due to deep snow. Shoes for snowshoeing will help to extend the hiking season and not sit at home in winter. We will tell you about the best quality snow shoes, how to choose them, what types of snow shoes there are and what kind of snowshoes in Canada, you can buy.

Why do you need snowshoes?

On snowshoes, you can walk through the forest, or you can also walk along steep mountain slopes. To choose the right model, first of all, decide on the purpose – the design and characteristics you need depend on it.

What winter activities can not do without snowshoes?

  1. walks in the winter forest without trails and roads;
  2. mountain hiking in winter and spring. Even in May, there is still a lot of snow in certain mountainous regions: for example, in the Khibiny or in the Western Caucasus;
  3.  mountaineering, and also not only winter. At the beginning of the season in snowy areas, it is convenient to use snowshoes to approach the summit, and they will help solo climbers to cross the closed glacier more safely;
  4.  backcountry: for approaches and ascents to the starting point, this is especially true for snowboarders;
  5.  running and competitions (for example, a snowshoe race is held as part of the annual Elbrus race in May), as well as complex multi-races like the RedFox Adventure Race (there are mandatory snowshoe stages);
  6.  hunting and fishing.

In winter hiking, snowshoes are, in a sense, an alternative to hiking skis. But when the main goal is not skiing, namely hiking, snowshoes are more convenient, and here’s why:

  1. they are lighter, more compact and more convenient to transport, they are easy to attach to a small backpack and transport even in public transport;
  2. snowshoes are suitable for almost any winter terrain: they can go up and down the snow-ice slope, walk through the wild forest without clinging to the bush;
  3.  they have higher maneuverability – this is important in a dense forest, where skiing can simply not turn around among the trees;
  4.  snowshoeing is possible without training, for this it is enough just to be able to walk.

Varieties of snowshoes.

Let’s take a closer look at how snowshoes differ for different types of activity.

● Snowshoes for walking. These are the simplest models. They are designed for walking through forests, fields, and frozen riverbeds – that is, for a flat surface or a slight slope. For these purposes, the design with a frame is best suited, but in any case, be guided by the type of terrain on which you have to walk more. Walking models should be comfortable and securely attached to any shoes, including ordinary winter boots.

● Snowshoes for mountain hikes and mountaineering. Designed for difficult travel in mountainous terrain. In such snowshoes, it should be comfortable to overcome slopes, walk on snow, firn and ice patches. In autonomous trips, reliability is especially important, so the most durable materials people use in the construction. Snowshoes for the mountains are a one-piece deck design, aggressive crampons, good bindings, and a heel is desirable.

Pay attention to the width of the platform and the size of the bindings: they should allow you to securely and comfortably fasten snowboard boots.

You will have to take off and put on snowshoes several times a day, so you should fasten and unfasten the bindings easily and quickly. It is also important to take into account the weight that they can withstand, because the weight of the backpack is added to your own weight, and in winter hiking it is 25-30 kg.

● Running snowshoes. For runners, the most important thing is the maneuverability of snowshoes. Snowshoes for running are lightweight models with a plastic deck, pointed heel and toe, semi-aggressive crampons. Deep snow is not often encountered on the path of runners, so running models are not for it, weight is a priority here. Lightweight thanks to the shortened heel, narrow frame and lightweight fastening.
● Snowshoes for hunting and fishing. A large surface area and the ability to carry a lot of weight are the main requirements for snowshoes for hunting and fishing. For these purposes, durable models with a frame structure are the best ones.

How to buy snowshoes correctly.

After you have decided on the model, you need to try on snowshoes. It’s like with shoes – you have to walk in them for a long time, so the foot should be comfortable. What to look for before buying?

Consider gender and weight.

Snowshoes are available for men, women and universal. The main difference between women’s models is the shape of the platform and the size of the mount. Women’s snowshoes are for smaller shoe size, less weight capacity, and a shorter stride.  A wide platform, long “tails” and a larger boot size characterize men’s models.

Different models of snowshoes are for different load capacities – from 80 to 140 kg. When choosing, keep in mind that the weight on the snowshoes is your own weight. Plus the expected weight of the equipment.

Trying on.

  1. How do you know which mounting system is right for you?
  2.  You can easily tighten or loosen the fasteners, so you can do it even with gloves and in bad weather.
  3. Fastenings are not weakened without your participation.
  4. You can’t feel the binding through the boot – if it presses now, it will only get worse on the route.
  5. The foot sits tightly, does not slip forward or backward and does not dangle to the sides.

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