Hiking enthusiasts will tell you that nothing quite compares to getting off the beaten track in the snow. The sights and scenes of winter, the reflection of the light against the white, and the sounds of the wind passing through your ears.
If you plan to hike out to the backcountry in snowy weather, you are going to need a little more than just your snow boots. You are going to need to know how to choose snowshoes. Make sure you have a quality pair of hiking sunglasses to keep your eyes protected though.
This snow shoes buying guide teaches you about all types of snowshoes and how to pick the best ones for you.
Types of snowshoes
Before we can even consider the different types of snowshoes, let’s first consider the three main types of terrain that you are going to come across. There is the flat or relatively flat terrain, the rolling terrain, and the mountain terrain.
The flat terrain is as the name states—flat! Or at least slightly rolling. The type of snowshoes that are designed for this type will feature less grip and have less robust bindings that are also easy to adjust. There is no need for tough bindings on relatively flat ground.
Rolling terrain, however, will demand a step up on the type of snowshoes that you use. They need to have more grip and tougher bindings. This allows the hiker to achieve better traction when going up off the beaten path.
Then there is the third type of snowshoes known as mountain terrain snowshoes. These allow the hiker to walk on ice and to have an excellent grip. The bindings and the clip-on are ragged which allows the user to dig into the ice and prevent slipping. After all, it can be a case of life and death if you lose your footing.
While using any of these snowshoes, a hardshell jacket will help keep the moisture and the winds at bay.
Choosing the right size
Several factors need to consider when deciding on how to choose snowshoes for you. Generally speaking, the lighter the snow and the heavier a person is, the broader the snowshoes that they will need to remain above the Ice and prevent sinking.
Gender has a part to play when picking your ideal snowshoes. Men’s snowshoes are designed to handle heavier weights and are therefore larger with a greater surface area.
Women’s snowshoes are a bit narrower, have less surface area, and are designed to accommodate smaller snow boots.
Wearing hiking pants will help to keep your lower body protected.
Some snowshoes are redesigned for kids. These are smaller than the adult sizes but will come in a variety of sizes depending on the age bracket. Snowshoes for larger kids can be the same size as adult snowshoes.
There are two main types of snowshoes based on the material used for construction. These include composite and aluminum.
Composite snowshoes will typically come in one main size which is 8” x22”. The aluminum variety, however, will feature 8”x25”, 9”x30”, and 10”x36”.
The recommended load
This simply refers to the total weight of you plus the load that you are carrying. When choosing the right size snowshoes, the recommended weight is something that you will need to consider. This includes your backpack and any other extra weight.
Another important factor to always keep in mind is where you plan on actually trekking. If there is a lot of bushes and forest cover, then you will need narrow snowshoes. This will allow you to maneuver the tight spaces.
On the other hand, if you are going out in pure open terrain, then broader snowshoes are best. Consider the type of snow. light snow will require broader snowshoes than compact snow as it is much easier to sink.
Your feet should be protected from the cold and a good way to do this is to put on hiking socks. This will keep them warm and boost circulation.
Frame and decking
We noted that there are aluminum frame snowshoes and composite frame snowshoes. The aluminum variety has either a nylon or Hypalon rubber decking. The benefit of this is that the snowshoes tend to be more responsive.
On the other hand, composite frame snowshoes have a hard-decking material. This allows them to handle more weight.
Biding are the straps that secure the snow boots to the snowshoes. Often, they will constitute straps that tie around the heel as well as the front of the feet.
There are two main types of bindings to search for as you decide on how to choose snowshoes. The floating or rotation binding is attached to the decking under the balls of your feet. This allows for a more natural movement when walking over snow. These are called pivoting because they rotate.
The second type of binding is fixed binding. They do not rotate or pivot and will usually feature heavy-duty neoprene or rubber construction. The tail of the snowshoes will come upon you every time you make a step it results in comfortable movement.
With the fixed binding, you can back up on your steps and even get over obstacles much easier. However, they do come with the disadvantage of kicking up snow while you wilt.
Consider using a backpacking backpack for carrying any extra gear that you may need.
When walking on snow, your weight will push the snowshoes down allowing for traction. However, for that extra grip, most snowshoes will feature cleats. The cleats on flat terrain snowshoes are not as big and as aggressive as those on mountain snowshoes.
There are cleats found under the bindings. These dig into the snow and result in an excellent grip. They provide the main form of grip on the snowshoes.
Heel crampons or cleats are as the name implies. These are situated on the heels in a V shape. They help slow you down when coming down a steep ground by digging into the snow.
On the ends of the frame or decking are side rails. These stop you from slipping sideways.
Plastic decking snowshoes feature barking rails. They prevent the user from sliding backward when they are moving forward.
Even with the different types of snowshoes that are designed for different terrains, having a few add ons can make the trek much easier and the snowshoes more effective.
Having heel lifts is one of them. These are wires that you can lift and they allow you to rest your heels. Your calves can rest before the next part of your hike. The second benefits of heel lifts are that they help with traction. This is because the back of the snowshoe is pushed down onto the snow when moving up steep terrain. It explains why you will often see mountain snowshoes with heel lifts.
When walking through very deep snow, you would benefit from an extra float. If you are also carrying a heavy backpack, the float becomes crucial. You can add tail extensions to some snowshoe models. This increases the surface area on the snow and provides more float.
Trekking poles will come in handy when navigating steep terrain. When choosing the right pair of trekking poles for you, make sure they are the right size for your height and that they have a large basket. They will help to keep you balanced when going down slopes and moving sideways on a steep slope.
Globo Surf Overview
Winter season offers sights that could appear straight out of a fairy tale. With your snowshoes, you can concentrate on making that trek to your chosen destination without worrying about the snow slowing you down.
More Snow Reviews:
- Ski Pants
- All Mountain Snowboard
- Heated Gloves
- Beginner Snowboard
- Snowboard Gloves
- Exercises For Skiing
- Types Of Skiing
- Kids Winter Clothes
- Skiing In New Zealand
- Learning Skiing
- Choosing the right size snowshoes, mec.ca/en/explore