Adventure How To: Snowshoe Shopping Suggestions
Today’s post was inspired by my friend Dave, who is looking to buy snowshoes for his family so they can get outdoors and on the go this winter. Dave wanted some info to help him make an informed decision considering this is his first time purchasing and this is a big investment. To help him out, I outlined the features of snowshoes for general understanding, then outlined what to look for when purchasing. Hopefully many of you also find this helpful!
Frame: It all starts here. The frame is the foundation of the snowshoe. It dictates the size, is where the decking attaches and are now designed specifically for men, women, and kids. The frames shape factors in where stride and snow type are concerned.
Decking: This allows you to float on the snow. Today, most manufacturers use synthetic rubbers or plastics and this is where you want to consider durability as this area is most prone to tears and punctures.
Crampons: These are under your foot and provide traction on hard packed snow or ice. Either made of hardened aluminum or steel and vary in placement and size depending on the intended use. Traditional “Bear Paw” snowshoes do not have crampons.
Bindings: These attach the snowshoe to your foot. There are many types of bindings, so try a bunch and decide what style you prefer and will be easy to use with thick mitts or gloves.
Rotating vs. Fixed Pivot Points: This is referring to the foot/ binding in relation to the frame/decking. If there is a pivot pin, when you pick up your foot to take a step, the back of the snowshoe stays on the ground and sheds snow from the snowshoe, reducing fatigue. If there is no pivot pin (the pivot point is fixed) and you take a step, the snowshoe comes completely off the ground.
Choosing the Best Pair for YOU
Step 1- HOW you will be using your snowshoes.
Recreational use would be weekend warriors, going on trails or romping around the woods on flat or rolling terrain.
Performance use would be trail runners, mountain climbers, and backcountry multi-day trekkers who want to go fast, climb high and endure all types of terrain.
Step 2 – WHAT type of material/features are best for your use.
- Recreational snowshoes can be made of plastic, lightweight aluminum or wood and Performance
snowshoes are usually lightweight aluminum.
- Plastic quality varies widely. Make sure it is thick and well moulded. If you decide to go plastic, spend the extra cash and buy from a quality brand.
- Lightweight aluminum is the most commonly used material because it is light yet very durable and holds up well under cold temps. Most aluminum snowshoes then have a decking made of synthetic rubber or plastic like material that is cold resistant.
- Wood snowshoes are obviously made of various types of wood and the decking could be made of hide or synthetic material.
- Recreational snowshoes can be either pivot or fixed, have less aggressive crampons or none at all, come in many shapes and with many styles of bindings. Get what you think will work best for you.
- Preformance snowshoes should be lightweight, pivot systems are important to reduce fatigue, consider the heel risers and aggressive crampons with bindings that will fit the specific type of boot you will use with them.
Step 3 – WHAT size do you need.
- Sizing is based on 3 factors;
- Weight – Your body weight plus any equipment equals the total weight needing to be distributed by the snowshoe.
- Snow Density – will you stay on packed trails (can use narrower snowshoes) or spend most of your time in deep, fluffy snow (will need longer and/or wider snowshoes). This will help determine the size but also the frame shape.
- Maneuverability – smaller snowshoes are easier to move around obstacles (when bushwalking) where larger snowshoes allow for optimal floatation in wide open spaces.
- Sizing the Bindings – Bring the boots you want to snowshoe in to make sure the bindings fit snug.
Step 4 – Price
- We all have budgets so based on the above needs, you can start to see what is in your price range.
- Expect to spend $100CAD+ for a pair adult snowshoes and $60-$130CAD for a pair of kid snowshoes if buying new.
Kid Specific Considerations
- Go for small frames for maneuverability for young kids.
- Get easy to use bindings (and make sure they can use them with mitts on).
- Let them pick the colour (unless the price is significant!)
- Tubbs Snowshoes – www.tubbssnowshoes.com are very popular and can be purchased locally in Corner Brook at Sportcheck, Cycle Solutions and other outdoor retailers.
- MEC has lots of quality brands AND has the best return policy AND free shipping in CAD for purchases over $50!!
- I personally use GV Snowshoes – www.gvsnowshoes.com and they have endured a LOT! This is a Canadian company, manufacturing in QC for over 50 years.
- I know lots of people who use Mountain Safety Research (MSR) – www.msrcorp.com and speak highly of them. MSR tends to focus on performance style snowshoes.
With many factors to consider, it is worth the time to do some extra research, read reviews and ask people you know who snowshoe what they like and why.
If you’re purchasing locally at a store, ask the sales rep lots of questions, have them show you the different features, try lots on, and don’t feel obligated to buy right away!! For ordering online, just use the sizing guidelines available on the retailers website. Either way, watch for sales and keep an eye out for good deals. Remember to check return policies and warranties!
You can also consider looking on kijiji/ NL classifieds (especially for kids) and just have a good look at them and make sure nothing is broken and the bindings still work good – Kids grow out of stuff and don’t use things quite as hard as adults so this could be an option to save some money and save a perfectly good pair from going to the dump.
Now you’re armed with some basic knowledge and tips on what to look for and consider. Get on the go and get ready for an epic snowshoe season! See ya on the trials!
What type of snowshoes do you like and why?
No Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. This disclosure is provided in accordance to the FTC’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”