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Snowshoe Tips & Information
In the beginning snowshoes were used for transportation and were large and cumbersome. Today snowshoes are lighter weight and engineered with modern materials like aluminum, nylon, polyethylene and other specialized plastics which provide a higher level of performance. Snowshoeing has become one of the fastest growing winter sports and it attracts a wide range of consumers who are looking for an inexpensive way to embrace winter and stay active outside.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SNOWSHOES:
When choosing between the many varieties and styles of snowshoes on the market today, the challenge is finding out which model fits your lifestyle and intended use. Snowshoes are generally sold for three different uses : recreational, back country and aerobic or running.
This category appeals to the widest range of users and they are designed for varied terrain, groomed or broken trails and light exercise. These are symmetrically shaped with lightweight aluminum frames, easy to adjust bindings, and good traction. These snowshoes are perfect for beginners as well as walkers and hikers spending most of their time on trails or parks and golf courses.
BACK COUNTRY SNOWSHOES:
This category appeals to a more hard core enthusiast and they are designed for long distance off-trail use in deep snow. These are made of wider aluminum frames with a more rigid binding system and heavier crampons for better traction. These snowshoes are great for winter campers, ice fishermen, and climbers.
RUNNING / AEROBIC SNOWSHOES:
This category appeals to the person who is a runner or jogger looking for a winter training activity or the competitive athlete who wants to enter organized snowshoe races which are getting more popular. These snowshoes are shorter and lighter and designed for use on groomed or packed down trails.
HOW TO PURCHASE THE CORRECT SIZE:
When choosing the correct size snowshoe to buy you need to consider your body weight as well as the type of terrain or snow you will be walking on. One general rule is to select a snowshoe which will allow for up to one pound of body weight per square inch of surface area. So, if you weight 160-pounds you should choose a pair which have at least 160-square inches of surface area per snowshoe. If you are breaking your own trail or walking in deep snow you should buy a slightly larger size for better flotation.
HOW TO DRESS FOR SNOWSHOEING:
Went you participate highly active outdoor activities during the winter, dressing in layers is the best way to stay warm and dry. This gives you the ability to add or remove layers and adjust to changing conditions or body temperature. For most people snowshoeing is highly aerobic activity and perspiration will become a bigger factor than you expect. Therefore moisture management is very important in trying to remain warm and comfortable. A three layer system is best consisting of wool or synthetic base layer, a lightweight fleece middle layer and a windproof but breathable outer shell. You should also choose jackets and pants with articulated shapes or stretch panels which allow more freedom of movement.
WHAT TYPE OF FOOTWEAR IS BEST FOR SNOWSHOEING?
Most snowshoe bindings will accept a wide range of footwear ranging from lightweight hiking boots to heavy insulated boots. The ideal type of footwear will depend on the activity such as walking or running verses camping or climbing. For general recreational hiking we recommend a pair of waterproof hiking boots which are stable and comfortable. If you are going into deep snow a pair of waterproof gaiters can be attached to your lower leg around the top of your boots for added protection and warmth.
DO I NEED POLES?
A specialized snowshoe or trekking pole is highly recommended for most snowshoe adventures. They improve your balance and provide added stability on changing terrain. We recommend a light weight pole with a three section shaft which is adjustable in length. Most of the good poles come with several baskets which can be changed for different snow conditions. The best trekking poles have an anti-shock mechanism built inside the shaft making them ideal for summer hiking or exercise walking on hard surfaces.
CARE FOR SNOWSHOES:
Today's modern snowshoes with aluminum frames and synthetic decks require very little care and maintenance. It's best to dry them off after each use and keep them in a protective storage bag to prevent their sharp crampons from damaging other possessions. The best snowshoe brands offer a custom made storage bag made of heavy nylon material with shoulder straps.
March 19, 2018