Snowshoe Advice

Benefits of Snowshoeing

“Snowshoeing is an effective, low impact, and safe form of exercise to change body composition. It burns up to twice the number of calories as walking at the same speed”Dr. Declan Connolly of the University of Vermont

An ideal cross-training activity for walkers, joggers, and cyclists, snowshoeing provides comprehensive form of cardiovascular exercise as well as developing strength in the legs and upper body. Best of all, the only skill you need to learn is the ability to walk.

Snowshoeing engages the quadriceps, hip flexors, and extensors. When poles are added to the activity, increased stability is achieved while conditioning the shoulder and back muscles.

Choosing the Right Snowshoe

When picking out snowshoes, think about the steepness of the terrain and quality of the snow (wet and firm vs. dry powder) where you will typically go, how far you’ll usually hike, how much weight you’ll carry, and how many days per year you’ll use the snowshoes.

The most important factor to consider is how rugged a snowshoe you need. Rugged hiking snowshoes feature bindings, frames, decking, and other parts that are built to endure the stresses of frequent use on long, steep trails. While often made of similar materials as rugged snowshoes, recreational snowshoes are built to specifications that assume the user is heading out only occasionally, on packed snow on flat ground and gentle hills. They’ll last many years of that kind of use, but could fail under harder wear.

Common Features of Rugged Snowshoes:

  • Frame material is made of 7000 series aluminum or stainless steel, as opposed to 6000 series aluminum
  • Decking made of a more durable material
  • Larger teeth on the cleats
  • Cleats are made of stainless steel (stronger than aluminum and resists ice clumping)
  • Binding is stronger and holds your foot more securely

Sizing

Once you have determined how rugged your snowshoe needs to be you will need to choose a size. Each snowshoe model will come in several lengths. Larger lengths will accommodate heavier loads. Take into account your body weight plus your clothing, gear, and/or backpack

General sizing:

  • 21” = up to 150 pounds
  • 25” = up to 200 pounds
  • 30” = up to 250 pounds
  • 36” = up to 300 pounds

Remember that snowshoe length is a balance between floatation (staying on top of the snow) and agility. If you will be traveling in heavily wooded areas, being able to easily maneuver between tree trunks may be more important than staying completely on top of the snow.

Floatation Tails

 

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This accessory allows the user to easily extend the length of their snowshoes to allow for more floatation or more agility as needed. This is very handy for snowshoers that will be traveling in a wide variety of conditions and with a variety weight loads.