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wnderer
08-30-2014, 14:22
I'm thinking at getting some snowshoes. There seems to be a wide range of prices. Any suggestions?

Thanks

kayak karl
08-30-2014, 15:02
where and for what are you using them?

wnderer
08-30-2014, 15:20
I'm moving to Moscow Maine. So I guess I'll be trying get around the yard mostly but I might do some day hiking on the AT or some ATV trails.

Tianto
08-30-2014, 15:39
Where our winter home is we average 30-40 ft of show annually. So we do use snow shoes however, I am in no way an expert on the subject. I do use them, but only when the snow pack is at least 2ft. I have also gotten pretty good at judging the type of snow cover and whether or not I need to make use of them. They take considerably more energy to use and I have been known to avoid their use in exchange for a large puffy pair of older snow boots I own (similar to mukluks only puffier). I can only get away with this because of my unusually large feet that displace my weight.

With all that said, I have snow shoes that are shorter and smaller in length for when I am simply out doing chores. I also have a longer larger pair for packing gear and when I pull a pack raft in the snow (as a sled). The larger the shoe the more you will expend energy and the more difficult they are to maneuver it areas that are tight, like the woods but, you are able to carry more weight with the larger shoe. The smaller the shoe the less energy you will expend hiking and in turn your hike will be more pleasurable in my experience.

Either way, snow shoes take time to get accustom to and find your rhythm. I would recommend a cheap pair at first to see if this is the type of exercise that you enjoy. This will also give you time to learn when and how to use them.

Hope that helps and wasn't too verbose :)

Another Kevin
08-30-2014, 16:00
What kind of conditions are you anticipating?

First off, are you hiking in the East or the West? The conditions are quite different between the two. In the East, the snow is usually wet or packed, and the trails are narrow because they're not built for horses. You don't need the flotation that the catalogs say you need, and you more manoeuvrability. In the West, you can encounter deep powder on broad trails, and need longer shoes. On the other hand, if you're hiking the Rockies or High Sierra, you might need a size larger than the catalog says, to deal with powder that offers about the same level of support as soapsuds.

Then, what sort of hiking are you contemplating? You want a lighter shoe with a less aggressive crampon if you're tooling along on a lowland trail than if you're going peakbagging.

Me, in winter, like a lot of Northerners, I turn into a peakbagger. The bushwhack peaks come into reach They're so much easier when you can snowshoe over the hobblebush and blackberry thickets! So I'm needing to stay stable on quite steep slopes. I find that the MSR Lightning Ascent suits my needs admirably. It's got just about the most aggressive crampon configuration out there - lateral, instep, and toe points - and it's lightweight as such things go. The heel lifts really relieve the calf muscles and quads on a long pull uphill.

I got a pair of 25 inch with the flotation tails. That gives me some versatility. If there's really soft snow or I'm carrying a heavy pack, I can snap the tails on and have another 45 square inches of flotation on each foot. Or I can leave them off and be able to kick-turn with considerably more agility. I'm about 190 pounds, so with a full load of winter gear, I'm a little off the high end of the weight that MSR recommends. But as I said, on the wet snow we get in the East, you don't need the size of shoe the catalogs say you do.

Of course these are expensive - they're top-of-the-line ascent snowshoes. If you're going into conditions that really need ones this aggressive, you also need crampons and ice axe (and the training to use them safely) and may need probe, shovel, and avalanche beacon if the slopes are steep enough. On the other hand, these shoes will eat the easier trails with ease. You'll never outgrow them. If your attitude is "buy the high-end gear rather than replacing as you learn," these are the shoes for you.

If you foresee only hiking on gentle slopes on well-maintained trails - the sort where in the summer you'd never even think of having your hands on the rock - then you can get away with considerably lighter and cheaper snowshoes. Atlas 925 and Tubbs Frontier are popular among beginners, and they're both all right for the sort of conditions that you'll find on much of the southern A-T or at your local cross-country ski area.

Of course, you'll need poles. Most guys can get by with cheap women's ski poles. You generally need a shorter pole for snowshoeing than skiing. I wind up using the same Komperdell trekking poles on snowshoes that I do in the summer. I replace the trekking baskets with snow baskets.

Try your snowshoes on in the store, and make sure the bindings are secure with the boots that you plan to use. One reason I got the Lightning Ascent as opposed to some of the 'boutique' brands is that you don't need to use hardshell mountaineering boots with them. Make sure that whatever you get, you can do up the bindings with gloves on. I find that what works best for me on snowshoes is either old-school clunky leather boots, or Sorel pac boots for longer treks. Learn how to do your bindings properly. The pivot of the snowshoe should position right at the ball of your foot, and the front points need to come past your toe. (When I tried one pair of snowshoes, I found that the forefoot part of the binding was simply too short for my size-12 boots.)

It's pretty much true that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, but it's still a good idea to get someone more experienced the first time or two to show you the basics. Ask them to show you:

How to get back on your feet when you fall in deep snow. (Roll on your back like a stranded turtle. Take your wrists out of your pole straps and make an X on the snow, and use that as a platform to get up, first to a kneeling position, and then standing one foot at a time.) Practice this. Because you'll have ample opportunity to demonstrate it on the trail. Falling down is part of snowshoeing.
How to step-turn and kick-turn. (If you ski, these techniques are the same as on skis.)
How to stamp uphill, kick steps, and edge uphill when the slope is steep.
How to self-belay with a pole or ice-axe on a traverse.
Descent: knees-flexed stepping, plunge stepping, and long-striding with the weight back.
As you get more advanced, you will probably want to learn how to do a Telemark turn on snowshoes, since a long-stride descent can turn into skiing accidentally and you need to control it.


In general, make sure that you ease into winter hiking, with more experienced people to guide you. It's serious business Up North. The accident reports from Mount Washington (http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/search-rescue/incidents-accidents/) are filled with tales of traction gear gone wrong.

Above the timberline, the wind tends to sweep the snow clear, but you get a heavy layer of ice and "snowcrete" on the trails. You need crampons for that. Crampons are a double-edged sword. Most seasoned winter mountaineers can show you the scars on their legs where they tripped on a front point. And they tempt the inexperienced into places where they have no business going. If you need crampons, you need an ice axe and the training to use it safely. You need to work with an instructor on that. You simply cannot pick it up on your own and expect to be safe.

wnderer
08-30-2014, 17:30
Where our winter home is we average 30-40 ft of show annually.

30 or 40 FEET???


I would recommend a cheap pair at first to see if this is the type of exercise that you enjoy

Cheap sounds good. I was looking at TUBBS FLEX TRK (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006O1FNWE/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=OXKE2FJWNJ17&coliid=I1ZQKCM6IJ197E) or EASTON MOUNTAIN ARTICA (http://www.amazon.com/Easton-Mountain-Lightweight-Ergonomic-Snowshoes/dp/B007UO7E3A/ref=sr_1_15?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1409434041&sr=1-15&keywords=snowshoes).


What kind of conditions are you anticipating?

Moscow Maine, so the east coast. The previous owner said he got about two or three feet of snow. I have about 5 acres of woods behind the house to practice in before heading for the hills.

rocketsocks
08-30-2014, 18:04
I have a pair of the Tubbs flex treks, they work fine for me.

Another Kevin
08-30-2014, 18:14
Moscow - that's right by Skowhegan, isn't it? You'll probably find those Tubbs Flex are fine for navigating your back yard - or even for well-graded trails - but you'll get beyond their capabilities pretty quick if you try to do serious winter hiking in northern New England with them. (Rocketsocks is in New Jersey, and he hikes in considerably more benign conditions than you will get in the mountains in Maine.)

Tianto's 30-40 feet doesn't shock me. Where I am in northern New York, we get ten feet some years even down here in the valley. Very seldom more than two feet in any single storm. Up in the peaks, it may be about the same, but the snow doesn't melt until spring, so 6-foot snowpacks below timberline are pretty common. Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt Washington is in a wind shadow and gets a 40-50 foot snowpack in a decent year.

When the time comes, I recommend you check out AMC's course in winter mountaineering. AMC has good instructors, and you'll learn a lot, and get really good advice about gear suited to your local conditions. If you're moving from Maryland you are going to discover that the New England winter is a whole different beast.

rocketsocks
08-30-2014, 18:38
Moscow - that's right by Skowhegan, isn't it? You'll probably find those Tubbs Flex are fine for navigating your back yard - or even for well-graded trails - but you'll get beyond their capabilities pretty quick if you try to do serious winter hiking in northern New England with them. (Rocketsocks is in New Jersey, and he hikes in considerably more benign conditions than you will get in the mountains in Maine.)

Tianto's 30-40 feet doesn't shock me. Where I am in northern New York, we get ten feet some years even down here in the valley. Very seldom more than two feet in any single storm. Up in the peaks, it may be about the same, but the snow doesn't melt until spring, so 6-foot snowpacks below timberline are pretty common. Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt Washington is in a wind shadow and gets a 40-50 foot snowpack in a decent year.

When the time comes, I recommend you check out AMC's course in winter mountaineering. AMC has good instructors, and you'll learn a lot, and get really good advice about gear suited to your local conditions. If you're moving from Maryland you are going to discover that the New England winter is a whole different beast.Absolutely, I've just used em for flat land stompin around, no hills really, mine don't even have that bar across the back to deploy while taking on grade.

..and should you go with the flextreks...bring some tye-wraps with ya to make repairs if need be....I'd say they're about a basic entry level snow shoe.

peakbagger
08-30-2014, 18:56
MSR Denalis are quite popular for hiking in the whites and NH. If you are hiking cross country breaking trail, you generally need a larger pair.

Walmart usually carries Yulon Charlies that are Sherpa copies, they vary in quality but are cheap for a beginner

wnderer
08-30-2014, 19:29
Moscow - that's right by Skowhegan, isn't it?
Yes. North of Skowhegan and about 15 miles south of where the AT crosses the Kennebec River. I lived in Manchester NH for a while and walked a mile to work everyday, so I know something about the winter. Being out in the woods will make it different.

Feral Bill
08-31-2014, 17:41
LL Bean has a nice selection at various prices. If the ones you get do not suit you just return them.

Venchka
08-31-2014, 20:17
Is renting first an option?

Wayne


Sent from somewhere around here.

Traveler
09-03-2014, 19:11
For what its worth, using price as a guide for snowshoes is false economy. Trail snowshoes, open country snowshoes, and woodland shoes are all different. They each have specific floatation requirements (snow conditions) and maneuverability. I have several different types of shoes for different conditions. I would recommend you see what others are using in your area for the different conditions on trails or cross country and get what they have.

Keep in mind, snowshoeing is a lot of fun an you can cover a lot of ground in a fairly short time. That equates to getting into serious trouble very quickly if you blow a cheap snow shoe out while on a 6' snow pack.

Dogwood
09-03-2014, 20:13
For what its worth, using price as a guide for snowshoes is false economy. Trail snowshoes, open country snowshoes, and woodland shoes are all different. They each have specific floatation requirements (snow conditions) and maneuverability

+1 Do some more research. Cost should not be the sole basis for purchasing snowshoes from a basically zero showshoeing knowledge base. There's even a Snowshoeing mag that helps fast track the knowledge gathering for newbies. This article has tons of links to snowshoe manufacturers that also offer how to pick snowshoes advice.

http://www.snowshoemag.com/first-timers/

Several snowshoe companies offer how to chose snowshoe articles. Here's one from Tubbs that helped me.

http://tubbssnowshoes.com/support/snowshoe-selection

I've read yearly snowshoe articles in Outside mag that offered some good advice on picking snowshoes and what to look for that helped me. They had one article for beginners but still applied to more advanced snowshoers form I think 2013 that really went into good detail.

Plus some of the outfitters have snowshoe choosing advice. REI, EMS, etc have some basic info.

Mags
09-03-2014, 20:13
...and carry a repair kit! :)

http://www.pmags.com/backcountry-ski-repair-kit (meant for backcountry skis, but can easily apply to snowshoes, too )

Something else I wrote, too
http://www.pmags.com/intoduction-to-snowshoeing-basics

rocketsocks
09-03-2014, 21:35
Keep in mind, snowshoeing is a lot of fun an you can cover a lot of ground in a fairly short time. That equates to getting into serious trouble very quickly if you blow a cheap snow shoe out while on a 6' snow pack.


what a great point. +1

here's a book I bought that came with my shoes...it got me pointed in the right direction.

http://www.amazon.com/Snowshoeing-Mountaineers-Outdoor-Expert-Prater/dp/0898868912/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_3