Jump to content

Snowshoe advice please!

Monkey Junky
Followers 1

Recommended Posts

Hi MJ,


I have been an avid snowshoer for about 10 years now and have had a chance to try just about everything on the market. When I first started out I rented a bunch of different types and brands. If you have a good outdoor or ski shop near by I would defiantly recommend trying a few pairs out before you buy. As I got more into it I finally decided on a pair. I ended up with a pair of TUBBS. They worked well for me and the type of snowshoeing that I was going to be doing. (mostly as seep of terrain as I could find, with a heavy pack to remote areas no body else would even try to go to winter camp in total solitude) A few years latter I got a job at an outdoor shop in Boise and sold a lot of snowshoes through the winter months. At the shop we ran a promotion that if you rented a pair of snowshoes and then purchased a pair within the next month the price of your rental would be applied to the purchase, so ask about these sorts of programs if you find a place to rent from. While I was there I had the chance to buy a pair of snowshoes for my wife on a promotion, so I got her a pair of MSR Denial EVO'sMSR Snowshoe page She liked them so much more than the others I had rented or borrowed for her in the past, and a buddy form the shop had talked them up so much that on our next trip out I checked out a pair. I really liked them, they are supper light and really maneuverable. MSR's stuff is a little none traditional looking but it preforms at least as good if not better than anything else I have ever used.


Good luck. Paul


If you have any other questions email me I love to talk gear.

Link to comment

I rented the MSR Denali from REI a couple of times last year for my first snowshoe hikes. I loved them simple and tough. they were $20.


Unfortunately the closest REI to you is Eugene.


The Denali series are different from most other types in that they are made from one molded piece of plastic and won't break if you were to drive over them. But you may bend the aluminum teeth on the under side. They run lengthwise while many other types are cross wise.


Here is a pic of the ones I wore on a trip with 48" of fresh powder:




You can barely see the teeth that run lengthwise, but you can see clearly the ones that go crossways like most snowshoes have.

Link to comment

Shapes and sizes you may use will vary based on your weight plus pack and type of snowpack you may find yourself in. Styles such as the Yukon snowshoes are typically as long as a man is tall and is meant for very deep and very soft snow. The more surface you have on the snowshoe, the better flotation you have. Teeth on the snowshoe allows you to traverse icy or crusty conditions without adding crampons to your arsenal. The teeth also help to grip the snow when you are traversing a hillside sideways. This is not to say you can use your snowshoes for glacial walking. Use the appropriate gear for the appropriate terrain.


There are tail draggers, which the snowshoe will literally stay on the ground and lifting your foot over a log could be cumbersome. These are most useful in open treeless areas. There are spring loaded where the tail will literally snap to your heel as you lift your foot. This will slap some snow on your backside depending on how aggressive your step is. This style is most useful for areas encumbered with trees and logs.


Some will have a televator, commonly known as a heel lift and these will help to elevate your heel and keep the snowshoe flat on the ground. This is most useful for going straight up a hill and reduces calf strain.


I forgot to add the strapping can be nylon canvas or elasticized rubber. Each has their advantages. The rubber won't be affected by the cold as much as the nylon will and can stand more abuse. The nylon will be easier to repair in case of breakage.


Talk with your local sports sales agent about the types of snow you might encounter in the areas you plan to hike in. They will help steer you to the right style shoe.

Edited by TotemLake
Link to comment

I suggest buying a used pair, dont invest too much for your first season. There will be plenty of folks getting rid of good snowshoes, rarely used, try Craigslist. It is possible you may not use them much either.


You can then determine if you need something fancier as you use your bargain shoes. I have some ancient wide, deep snow Sherpa shoes that work great in backcountry powder, but I lost a ton of time in a race wearing them, not knowing the course would be groomed. Since then I have gotten a second lightweight pair that works well on light snow and crusty stuff.


The thing I've actually used the most with our long springtime thaws are my Yaktracks (a brand of traction device that fits onto the bottom of your boots) on shaded icy trails.




another Oregon monkey whose main addiction is hunting for ammo boxes in the great outdoors.

Link to comment

I liked the rental MSR Denali so much I bought the (upgrade) Denali Evo Ascent. Mine are black but this picture shows them in blue:


The MSR Denali Evo Ascent Snowshoe is incredibly efficient for snowshoeing in steep terrain thanks to its Televator heel lifter. When the going gets steep, just pull up this heel lifter, and your foot will remain flat even when you're walking straight up a steep incline. Keeping your feet flat also reduces the stress on your calves, so you can travel further. Available tail attachments increase flotation in deep snow. The MSR Denali Evo Ascent snowshoe has a powder-coated steel crampon which sheds the stickiest snow and bites into hardpack with ease.


Like TL mentions, the televator lifts your heel so that your foot stays level even though the snowshoe is raked uphill. If you will be hiking on any hills, get a snowshoe with this feature. It takes some practice but you can raise and lower them with your pole, often without toppling over in the snow.


The MSRs also have the (stainless) steel teeth that run the length of the underside of the shoe along with the standard crampon. After snowshoeing with folks who were using traditional shoes (like Tubbs etc.), I really prefer the extra traction you get with the MSRs. If you like to slip and slide on the hills, go with a traditional SS, if you would rather chuckle at your friends while they slip and slide, get the MSRs.


The bindings on the MSRs are excellent and can be fastened and released with gloves on your hands.


If you decide to get them at Backcountry.com, PM me for a 30% off code.

Link to comment

If you like to slip and slide on the hills, go with a traditional SS, if you would rather chuckle at your friends while they slip and slide, get the MSRs.


Of course even the MSR's will let you slip and slide if you don't step in the right place:




One misstep and Criminal was in a deep hollow. We had fun watching him struggle to climb out. The MSR's did help with footing climbing back up (and a couple of helping hands too).

Link to comment

To find the right pair of shoes you need to consider yourself (size, stride length, weight, etc.) and the terrain your plan to travel (powder, ice, mix, wet or dry snow). There are snowshoes made specifically for women and men to match our strides. There are shoes made for every kind of terrain, too.


I would advise you to look into local snowshoeing groups. Believe it or not, there are a lot of organized groups that hike, snowshoe and cross country ski all over and they're often very happy to help you find equipment that works for you.


In case you can't find a group, what can you tell us about your stride, height and terrain? Have you hiked around much in the snow in your area? Do you have a long, loping stride or a short, mechanical stride? How steep/shallow is your terrain on the typical trails you enjoy? Do you walk groomed and packed trails or enjoy setting out cross-country? Depending on the terrain you might actually need something like a crampon more than a snowshoe. :D

Edited by fox-and-the-hound
Link to comment

Anyone know anything about snow shoes? I've never had a pair and have just started looking but I am baffled by the range in shapes, materials and cost. Any suggestions? I don't plan on climbing, just regular ol hiking... but in the snow!


I would reccomend the aluminum frame snow shoes. Check L.L. Bean or Cabelas. Should be able to pick up a pair for less than 100 dollars.

Link to comment

Anyone know anything about snow shoes? I've never had a pair and have just started looking but I am baffled by the range in shapes, materials and cost. Any suggestions? I don't plan on climbing, just regular ol hiking... but in the snow!

The best ones are the ones that have bindings that move with your footstep. Usually they are lightweight and are less cumbersome than the old fashioned snow shoes to walk in. The main thing I would say is to make sure you can get in and out of the bindings easily. You might even try it with your mittens or gloves on. Some shops allow you to rent a pair and try them out first. I have been snow shoeing for a number of years and the bindings available now, on the whole, are so much better than when I purchased mine but I have friends with newer snow shoes who find their bindings are very difficult to get in and out of, especially when they are out in the cold.

Link to comment

I have a pair of salomon snowshoes. I really like the bindings. Very easy to get in and out of. Unfortunately, I don't have anything to compare them to nor do I find myself hiking in fresh snow that is deeper than 2 feet. So I don't know how they would be in fresh mountain snow.

Typically, the softer the snow, the more shoe you need to stay afloat. There is a technique you can use though to help make up for the difference.


Take a small step forward and step down slowly. it's also suggested to hesitate for a second or two half way through the step down. Allow the snow under the shoe to have time to compact and bind without being crushed. You'll save yourself some depth.


I'm anxious to try this technique after having been part of a group that stomped through 4 feet of fresh powder last year. It'll be interesting to see the difference.

Link to comment

I agree with the others, that if it is possible for you to rent some different kinds, it will help you figure out what you like and what you need. When you are ready to buy, this place often has good deals: ORS Snowshoes Direct Their best deals are often after Christmas, but that may be longer than you would like to wait.


We have Atlas snowshoes. They have some that are designed for a woman's stride and they seem to work well for both of us. But we also have friends who are loyal to some of the other brands mentioned here.


Good luck!

Link to comment

First thing to remember is that each snowshoe comes with a weight range that it will support. This is generally tied to its size. Larger shoes offer more flotation.


You don't want to go to big or you will be carrying unnecessary weight on your feet, but if you chose a shoe that is too small you might sink in too deep. So consider the kind of snowshoeing you will be largely doing. If you will be sticking to trails, that tend to be somewhat packed down, go for a smaller shoe where your weight is at the high end of the stated range. If you will be mostly going off trail in deep snow then you want your weight to be at the lower end of the stated range.


Also consider the type of snow in your area. If it's usually dense, wet snow, you can get away with the smaller shoe. If the snow is usually light and dry, you'll want to go larger.


Next consider the terrain. If you will be mostly sticking to walking over fields, golf courses and on easy terrain, a cheaper, recreational model will do nicely. If you are trekking into the mountains you want a high end snowshoe.


As far as brands I've tried quite a few. I personally dislike Tubbs because of the binding system. It stinks! When I've used Tubbs I've had problems with them coming off or my feet shifting in the binding, requiring constant attention to the binding. Despite this I purchased Tubbs for our daughter because we were in a hurry and they were the only brand the store carried. She was so frustrated on our first hike with the shoes coming off and/or shifting in the bindings that she was near tears. I also used my brother's Yakima shoes and they had a binding system identical to Tubbs', so I recommend avoiding them as well. I have seen some Tubbs with a plastic ratchet style binding (similar to a snowboard binding) that differs a great deal from their traditional bindings. As I have no personal experience with this binding I can't say whether or not it is an improvement.


I settled on Atlas and have been very happy with them. The bindings work as well with running shoes as they do with bulky pac boots. My wife has Redfeather shoes and is extremely happy with them. Atlas also stands behind their shoes. I had a plastic piece that broke off the binding after 10 years and Atlas fixed it free of charge.


I haven't tried them but I've heard a lot of good things about MSR snowshoes. Early on there was a problem with binding breakage in cold weather, but I assume (I hope) they have addressed that. One nice feature of MSR shoes is that you can adjust the length by adding/removing tail extensions. This can allow you to use them in a variety of conditions.

Edited by briansnat
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Followers 1
  • Create New...