February 19, 2012 in Outdoors

Tips for buying modern snowshoes

By The Spokesman-Review
Rich Landers photo

Modern snowshoes have easy-to-use binding systems and some sort of aluminum claw on the bottom for traction, even on ice.
(Full-size photo)

 Modern snowshoes with light aluminum frames and easy-entry bindings with crampons for traction are a pleasure to use with virtually no maintenance.

 Here are some factors to consider when buying new snowshoes:

Size: The bigger the snowshoe the more flotation it offers for staying on top of deep, soft snow. Heavier people or hikers wearing backpacks need larger snowshoes.

 Smaller snowshoes allow easier, faster walking on shallower snow and packed trails. They usually are preferred by dayhikers.

 Serious snowshoers will want at least two pair of larger and smaller sizes for best performance in various conditions.

Traction: While most modern snowshoes have crampon bindings for traction, higher-end models also have sharp traction teeth in the bottom of the aluminum frame. This feature is worth gold on a steep, boiler-plate slope.

Bindings: Spring- action bindings keep the tail of the snowshoe from dropping too far with each step for easier maneuvering and stepping backward. The downside is that they often flip up snow with each step to wet your backside.

 Free-hinge bindings won’t flip up snow, but they make backing up more difficult and allow the snowshoe tail to drop down and possibly trip the wearer while taking forward big steps downhill.

Poles: Ski poles that can be adjusted for length in various snow conditions are a wise accessory for snowshoers, offering better balance and more power.

Rich Landers

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