9 responses

  1. marco
    February 18, 2011

    Sometimes the width will also make a big difference in getting around. A narrow shoe will let you weave in and out on a rough path, say the ADK High Peaks. But you loose floatation without extra length. Many variables here. Generally there were reasons for the various designs you see in history. Modern designs generally do not follow the regional characteristics so a local guide in one area will often give you a different piece of advice than one in another area. Neither is wrong.

  2. Earlylite
    February 18, 2011

    A compelling reason to buy local, no?

  3. Victor
    February 20, 2011

    This certainly points up the fact that there's no one answer. This wonderful winter here in New England has made that clear. I've seen people snowboarding in glades that have never been usable before, and I've waded through waist deep drifts of powder on the Holyoke Range.

    I use a pair of Atlas shoes that I've had for years. But i only use them when the snow gets over a foot on the ground. Otherwise, and for any packed and icy cut trails, i prefer some kind of crampon or cleat. Most recently, Micro-Spikes.

    That said, as the season warms, our unusually snow covered trails here will become difficult. As the pack softens, there is still over a foot of snow under it. Standard shoes like the Atlas won't work well, so I've been looking for alternatives. Right now I'm liking the MSR EVO. Those sharp metal side runners look like just the ticket.

  4. Steve
    February 20, 2011

    Reading these posts points to the need for a new (?) product–narrow snowshoes that have an adjustable length. One could then "tune" it to the conditions they are hiking through.

  5. marco
    February 20, 2011

    Yeah, MSR was getting to that with the tails you could add. But the entire shoe was still a bit on the heavy side. Coupled with heavy boots, it was almost self defeating, but a good thought.

  6. mike
    December 10, 2011

    Bought new shoes about a month ago. Wish I had read this first. Love my shoes, but still. Also, turns out, Tubbs repairs a lot of the stuff that breaks on them – which would have been useful to know last year before I threw the broken ones out!

  7. Benjamin Burner
    December 10, 2011

    I purchased enormous snow shoes a few years ago, before reading this article. I'd have to agree, though, it depends on the conditions. I'm often breaking the trail in deep powder, so I usually enjoy the extra size / flotation.

  8. Andy Kowalczyk
    December 11, 2011

    We first tried snowshoeing (after a bad day of trying to learn to cross country ski) at the Nordic area at Gunstock. We did that a couple of years and decided to buy our own – low and behold they were clearing out rental stock that weekend and we got a good deal!

    We came to the same conclusion you did about a smaller size – especially since our intent was just for fun trips in the woods. We used them all the time in the conservation lands when we lived in Lexington ( very much like pocket sized versions of the Middlesex Fells)

    I have gone overnight with the smaller shoe – but stay off the mountains and aim for frozen lakes and woods. I put all my gear on a sled to keep the weight off the shoes.

    This is my favorite sled
    http://www.emscogroup.com/products/product?id=31
    it has holes along the side to thread in a rope that can be used as a pull handle and to tie in the load. I bring the pull rope up to my back and stretch both sides around to the front where I clip them together with a 'biner – makes a thoroughly serviceable harness.

    If I was doing a serious expedition I would look into the purpose built pulks – but this is perfect for a weekend or for winter camping with a scout troop.

  9. David Priester
    October 5, 2012

    Thanks for this post. I am in the market for some modern snowshoes. I had suspected from other readings that the recommended sizes might be too large for my uses. My size and weight is about yours and I am not likely to be breaking trail in deep snow so I will be looking for a 25″ pair. Very useful information.

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