Choosing Snowshoes and Accessories
Snowshoes offer gender, age and weight-specific designs so that everyone can get a custom fit. Plus, today's snowshoe technology has yielded a wide assortment of lightweight materials, easy to use bindings and effective crampon systems for traction. Just like with skis, one size does not fit all—improper appointed snowshoes can ruin anyone's day out on the trails. You'll find a narrower nose on women's designs and some children's models offer easy-to-use straps and an adjustable footbed that can grow the shoe as the child does and last many years. You also need to take into account the snow conditions you're likely to encounter before you head out to pick up your snowshoe equipment.
Once you've narrowed down the assortment for your gender, you're going to want the most accurate size. Snowshoes are rated by weight, which includes your gear, so make sure to take that into account.
Depending on the type of snowshoeing activity you participate in and the snow conditions, you have a choice of footwear. Rubber boots or waterproof backpacking or hiking shoes/boots are a popular choice, especially if you're going to be in wet snow or powder. On packed snow, you might choose waterproof athletic shoes. In the backcountry, insulated and waterproof hiking boots are your best bet. Whichever boots you choose, wear them with moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet warm, dry and blister-free.
These are waterproof covers that wrap around your lower legs and cover your boots, keeping snow out of your socks, and your legs warm, dry and protected from the elements. Gaiters are a definite plus for your snowshoe wardrobe, especially if you're going to be out in the powder or wet snow conditions.
These will help your balance, alleviate bodily stress and provide necessary traction as you trek along, especially up and downhill and on steep slopesand rough, icy terrain. Using poles can also add a rhythm to your snowshoeing, not to mention an upper body workout. Many snowshoers will use ski poles made from fiberglass, graphite or aluminum. Telescopic backcountry poles are also becoming a popular choice for snowshoeing because they're adjustable, accommodating the ever-changing terrain you may encounter. Plus, they're light and easily collapsed and stored in your pack when they're not needed.
Knowing the type of snow that you'll encounter will help guide you to the appropriate style and size of snowshoe. The experts at your local ski shop will make sure to take your destination into account. In heavy wet snow or ice, you'll want smaller shoes with increased traction from your crampons. Firm, packed conditions call for a smaller shoe with basic traction. Lighter, drier snow or fresh powder calls for a bigger shoe that will yield more flotation.
Check out Snowshoe Magazine's Gear Reviews to learn more about snowshoe equipment.
Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and Snowlink.com.