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Any suggestions of what kind I should look for?

We just got hit with 25 inches of snow. Made me a little crazy trying to plod through it (especially with cross country skiers zipping by). Had the same problem last year. Went to find the cache on a hilltop. No snow in town but as I went up the hill I crossed a line where the snow started. Weird, on one side there was no snow and on the other lots of it. As I was plodding up the hill saw some people in snowshoes zipping along. I think if I'm going to do any winter caching I might actiually get some use from snowshoes.

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I'm going snowshoe caching today, woo hoo! Already been a couple times this winter, it's a great year for snow in the Cascades, and some nice snowshoe / XC ski caches out here. My favorite so far was Grumblecache IV.


There are various considerations when buying snowshoes, but I wouldn't sweat it - getting the "perfect" pair is not nearly as critical as when buying skis, e.g., as most anybody can get around on almost any snowshoes.


Getting the right size for your weight is probably the most important factor. I also look at the type of bindings (are they easy for you to take on and off, esp. when your fingers are frozen), the material of the frame and claws (aluminum claws bend more easily on rocks than steel, e.g.), how the claws are positioned, how often will you use them (don't spend a lot if you aren't going to use them much, not worth it).


I'm definitely no expert, tho. I went to REI and got the sales guy to help. REI also has a nice "buying snowshoes" handout that lists considerations and compares various models. If you don't have one near you, check them out online at REI.com; you may be able to get the snowshoe fact sheet there.


I love my snowshoes, but I'm going to have to swap them (gotta love REI's always-returnable policy). They fit great, nice size, good bindings, steel claws, great price.....but some design flaw in the tail makes them flick snowballs onto my butt with almost every step. ;) Very annoying when it sticks, and hilarious for those behind me.

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Atlas and Redfeather make good snowshoes. Those are two brands I would look into. I would stay away from Tubbs because their bindings stink. I had heard this from many people and ignored the advice when we brought my daughter's Tubbs and when we're out, sure enough, she has trouble with them slipping and falling off. Yakima uses the same binding system as Tubbs so I would avoid those as well.


Some Tubbs now come with a plastic ratchet style binding and I haven't heard good or bad abouth those.


MSR also makes showshoes that are a bit different than most, being made out of a solid sheet of plastic. At one time their bindings had issues with breaking when it was very cold, but I assume that has been addressed (that was when they first came out about 10 years ago). Some people love the MSR shoes and some don't, so they are a matter of taste. One nice feature of the MSR shoes is that you can add length if conditions require. They come with detachable tails and you can use different sized ones.


Some other things to consider. Your weight. The heavier you are, the longer the snowshoe. The kinds of conditions and snow you will be traversing. If you will be mostly on trails that are somewhat packed, you can get away with the smallest shoe in your weight range. If you will be mostly going off trail in deep powder you'll want the longest shoe in your weight rage.


Of course longer shoes will provide more floatation, but you don't want to go longer than necessary because they you will be carrying uneeded weight.


The final consideration is the type of terrain you will be travelling on. Mountaineering shoes are necessary if you will be going off trail a lot or traveling difficult terrain, but if you're just crossing golf courses and flat hiking trails, you can get away with recreational snowshoes. The difference here is money. The recreational shoes are considerably cheaper, but not as strong (or as heavy) as mountaineering shoes.


For good prices on snowshoes check Sierra Trading Post.

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Around here there are plenty of places that rent snow shoes so you can try different styles (aluminum frame, wood frame, etc.) before you buy. Renting might be a good option if you only need them once or twice. We have the wood-frame style.


Today we snowshoed to an island cache that was nearly a three mile walk round trip. Snowshoes are much cheaper than a boat! ;)

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As usual, Briansnat provides the most on-target and cogent gear advice... you can buy the best snowshoe for your size and if the bindings don't work all you'll feel like doing is beating the snowshoe against a lightpole when you finally stagger back into the parking area....


We use snowshoes here a lot. We like it when there's snow... and it's great practice for what your legs will feel like when you go on vacation to somewhere that'll require a nice slog through warm sand to get to the cache! Best of all, I like strapping my snowshoes to my snowmobile (useful for those 'doh' moments when you get stuck, or in the worst of all cases, when the manmade snowgo thingy dies and you gotta walk out or die in place too...) and zooming off across miles and miles of terrain that you can barely cross in the summer. We're hoping to place more caches here via snowmobile this March... already done some nice far-off-road recoveries hereabouts with the mechanized gear.


I'd say, get your snowshoes before buying XC skis... but we've got some really nice caching routes laid out along our city's hundred-plus miles of groomed / lighted XC ski trails too!

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