How to Choose Snowshoes
If you've never experienced the beauty or serenity Of the Hayward Northwoods covered in freshly fallen snow, you are in for a treat! Snowshoeing is easy to do, fairly inexpensive and provides a gateway for all ages.
Snowshoes provide "flotation" by spreading your weight evenly over a large, flat surface area. This flotation allows you to hike, climb or even run. Snowshoes makes your hike in the woods so much more enjoyable.
Types of Snowshoes
Most snowshoes fall into 2 basic categories: Walking and hiking on packed or unpacked snow. A few models are designed specifically for trail-running, fitness or climbing
Walking and Hiking
From beginners to expert backcountry. Snowshoes are designed for easy walking on flat to rolling terrain and are ideal for families and casual snowshoers. Some models provided added aggressive crampons and beefier bindings. This category is a step up from entry level and provides a snowshoe that can take you into the back country’
Snowshoe size is a key factor in getting the right amount of flotation. Generally, the heavier the person or the lighter and drier the snow, the more snowshoe surface area is required.
Aluminum-frame snowshoes come in multiple sizes, usually 21”, 25", 30" and 36" or something similar.
Your weight, including equipment, is referred to as the recommended load or carrying capacity. You can find the recommended load for different snowshoe lengths on the Specs tab on snowshoe product in the store. This is a major factor in determining the right size.
We encourage people to size up the more they want to venture into deeper and unpacked snow.
Easy to use and the ability for a binding to stay firmly connected to your boots is the biggest key to snowshoeing happiness.
Rotating (or floating) bindings pivot at the point where they attach to the decking—under the balls of your feet. This movement allows you to walk naturally and to climb hills. This motion also stops the slapping sound and from tension kicking snow up the back of you.
The binding itself is very important. Many have goofy strapping and buckles and lead to frustration getting them on and keeping them on. The better binding systems have very easy in and out ability. They also allow you to set them up for your boots once and not have to continually adjust the fit. They also stay on your foot and down loosen or worst yet fall off in the middle of your hike. We have seen and heard it all.
Snowshoe Traction Devices
Although your weight provides some traction by pushing snowshoes into the snow, snowshoes feature tooth-like crampons or cleats for greater grip. Most of the better models provide both toe and heel crampons to allow you to walk from snow to packed or icy conditions and still maintain excellent traction.
Heel lifts: Also known as climbing bars, these wire bails can be flipped up under your heels to relieve calf strain on steep uphill sections and save energy on long ascents. This feature gives the feeling of walking up steps and prevents exaggerated calf and Achilles strain.
Most snowshoe bindings are built to accept a variety of footwear, from hiking boots to snow boots. We like boots that have a few key features.
First, the higher the boot the less likely you are to get snow over the top. Gaiters can be worn to also help protect from filling your boots. Winter boots with water proofing like GoreTex will also help keep your feet dry in wet and sloppy conditions. Look for a heel strap knob, some boots are made with a small ledge on the back of your heel and helps to keep the snowshoe strap from slipping down over your boots heel.
The right socks are the last important step. Don’t double up, that will only help create blisters. Instead, use a quality merino sock of an appropriate weight in order to keep your feet warm but also allow sweat and moisture to wick away.
Snowshoeing is an excellent way for the whole family to get outside and enjoy the winter. By following a few simple rules, your adventures will be warmer, fun and headache free. Enjoy!