View Full Version : snowshoeing question

short cut sally
10-29-2007, 08:24 AM
OK folks, I need to ask for some advice on something. I am intersted in snowshoeing to supplement the x-c skiing. I however, don't know anyone that is "into" the recreation to get a good answer. I have been looking on line and in catalogs at different shoes. I have noticed that there are 2 styles. One that is a "V' shape and the other more like a "U" shape at the backside of the shoe. What is the advantage of either shape/style. Is one supposed to be better than than the other? I've asked for some info at a sporting dept. store but they only sell men's shoes, which they state are 'unisex".. and were trying to sell their item as it works for everybody. I have read that womens are more narrower and a little lighter than the men's as to why I wasn't buying the speel about unisex shoes. Or are they right? Any pointers, advice, reccomendations you could give me, it will be greatly appreciated. Thanks..

10-29-2007, 08:51 AM
What type of snowshoeing do you plan to do? Flat terrain, steep mountains, deep powder, packed trails, icy conditions? Do you want to slog along with a heavy pack or skip lightly and quickly over the snow?

I started snowshoeing in the 70s, climbing the steepest mountains of New England on flat wooden Bearpaw snowshoes. Todays snowshoes are far lighter and more specialized. So I'm somewhat skeptical of all the specialization, but the lighter weight shoes and newer bindings are very good. I'd look at snowshoe function (floatation, stability, crampons, bindings) before worrying about whether they are specifically made for females. If you'll be on unbroken or rough terrain, then any small design differences to make snowshoes female would, imo, be irrelevant. If you plan to shoe only on already-broken and well-packed trails, then perhaps the differences would be noticable, especially if you are a small woman.

10-29-2007, 09:20 AM
I have the U shaped variety - and I do mostly heavy snow, breaking trail type of snowshoeing. Otherwise, I just hike with my hiking boots !!!

Anyway, I'm no expert, but some of the shoes are designed to run in, i.e. shorter and a little narrower (don't know about the v shape on the back, i.e. what it is designed for)

10-29-2007, 10:26 AM
Hi Shelly,

By the way, there is a snowshoeing thread here on TE already, where you can ask questions or read up on others' info and suggestions:

I have U shaped shoes. As far as I could see, the narrower-back shoes were supposed to be better for snowshoe racing or running. Though they can be used for regular walking too.
Women's snowshoes are designed for smaller people with shorter stride so that we don't step on the sides of our own shoes so much while walking- apparently the shoe is set a bit inwards of center so that the wide parts of the flat frame are not so close together when we walk, and less likely to clack together. Men have longer strides and further apart feet because they are larger in general.
If you look on the Tubbs snowshoe website you can read a lot of good info about snowshoes in general, and fit, and design features for various types of shoeing...
Here's another site with some good articles:

short cut sally
10-29-2007, 11:24 AM
I plan on being on some snowmobile trails that go thru the woods, but I would have to slug up a hill and over a field on fresh snow to get to the trail. From there it's pretty much a flatter terrain. My riding partner wants to use them more for a speed type of thing. She wants to incorporate this into our workout in hopes that it will keep us in shape over the winter and get to work different muscles. So i would probably be using them more for speed than enjoying the scenery. (shes like a drill sargeant when it comes to sports-I think she would make a great coach!) and I might get the hang of it when spring gets here. There won't be any backpacks or such, just going out my back door, up the hill and to the trail and back home for lunch type of thing. We started doing stairs and hilly trail walking at a local park but that will be closing soon so we were looking for something to do to mimic that. Hence, snowshoeing came to mind. HOpefully we will be blessed with lots of snow..However, she's never done the sport before either so we are both trying to find info out. Lisa, I had read that post and that's what kinda got me excited about trying that sport. I will check that site you posted, thanks. DebW-never thought about conditions, I assumed all the shoes were versatile for every condition. I didn't realize that there were different crampons and different shoes for different terrains/conditons, I did do some reading about bindings and such for over your shoes and what others had told me to look for..SEE that's why I came to ask you ladies..always full of knowlege and information to keep one on the right path..Thanks

10-29-2007, 01:48 PM
Hi Shelly,

Just like the problem of finding one bike that "does it all" (road bike or mountain bike??)....a snowshoe built for speed is not going to be just like a snowshoe built for steep trails in deep snow.
I like a trail near our house that goes up STEEP woodland trails and DOWN steep trails- uneven terrain with hidden hazards. That's why I got shoes with pretty big steel crampons. I'm so glad I did, or i would have fallen many times in the woods.
I suggest when you and your companion start on the hilly part of your trail in fresh deep snow- tell her to race on ahead of you and you'll meet her at the end. I guarantee she will not be flying up that trail! :D :rolleyes: Snowshoeing in fresh deep snow uphill is hard work.
When I did a 2 mile steep hilly woodland trail in 10 inch fresh snow, it was the hardest workout I had ever done in my life! OMG I thought I might collapse right there and croak. :eek: Way harder than any hill on my bike ever had been. Then, on the way back I could follow in my own shoeprints and it was WAY easier.

On the other end of the scale is fun easy shoeing on flat trails, flat fields, or just down the snowy streets- easy and fun! :p
In your situation you'd want shoes that enable you to handle the most difficult situtaion you think you will probably be attempting- whatever level of difficulty that might be. If you can handle the rough trails or inclines and have fun doing it, then it might be worth thinking about getting "fast" snowshoes and doing some shoe racing perhaps. What I "don't" recommend is getting the very cheapest shoes with wimpy or no teeth and then trying to navigate in hilly conditions- you will be sliding and falling. Of course if you like going downhill on your butt, then that's fine! :D ;) Not much fun in a forest full of trees though....:eek:
Just my own thoughts...
I can't wait for our first deep snow!

10-29-2007, 05:22 PM
Women's snowshoes are designed for smaller people with shorter stride so that we don't step on the sides of our own shoes so much while walking- apparently the shoe is set a bit inwards of center so that the wide parts of the flat frame are not so close together when we walk, and less likely to clack together. Men have longer strides and further apart feet because they are larger in general.

I have a longer stride than most men and I'm only 5'7", so height doesn't directly correlate with stride length. The only time this is noticable is on snowshoes. If I'm shoeing with someone else, or following some else's track, I want to step either on their tracks or between their tracks (most often between), and it drives me nuts that my stride is longer and I have to shorten it to match someone else's. On wooden shoes, everyone had to take big gallumpfing steps to avoid stepping on their own shoes and planting their face in the snow. And each snowshoe track touched the next one. With today's small shoes, most people leave prints with a foot of unbroken snow between them, making a trail that looks almost like a series of postholes. But your snowshoeing gait can be almost identical to your sidewalk gait on easy terrain.

For bindings, I suggest the type that pivots freely as you lift your foot. That way the snow on top of the shoes falls off as you step, and you are dragging rather lifting the shoe, so lifting less weight. The bindings that are spring loaded tend to throw snow up your back. In terms of crampons, look for deeper teeth and for side traction rails or at least teeth set in more than one direction. If all the teeth face front/back, then you will slide sideways on sidehills. For snowmobile trails packed by machine, you'll need very minimal flotation and walking will be super easy. Start your snowshoes hikes with an empty pack and water (insulated with an old sock) - that way you'll have a place to put all the clothes that you are going to take off (you will be taking clothes off).

short cut sally
10-30-2007, 12:59 PM
Thanks again LIsa and DebW..for giving me what to look for and what to avoid..I had no idea..the quest is on..;)

10-30-2007, 02:18 PM
For bindings, I suggest the type that pivots freely as you lift your foot. That way the snow on top of the shoes falls off as you step, and you are dragging rather lifting the shoe, so lifting less weight. The bindings that are spring loaded tend to throw snow up your back.

Yes, I agree the pivoting ones are good.
It feels odd at first to think that when you lift your foot up to take a step, the tail end of the snowshoe stays on the ground and drags along the snow at a slant, thereby any snow just slides off it ....instead of the snow getting flipped up onto your thighs with a shoe that flips up in the back with your walking motion.
At first you think maybe it's not adjusted right- the back of the snowshoe shouldn't be dragging on the snow, right? But yes, it's designed that way and works nicely. Also- less weight to lift up with your foot if you don't have to lift the whole shoe straight up off the ground, snow and all! I mean...we're not snow shoveling here, right? :D

11-01-2007, 04:37 AM
I have a pair of Atlas shoes from 5-6 years ago. They're designed for heavy snow/hills, but because I got a small enough women's version, I'm able to use them for running on packed trails. If you're thinking of using them for running, I'd definitely be careful to get them fairly small so they don't bang into each other. Snowmobile trails tend to be packed so you won't need much to hold you up. You may loose a little float in the deep fresh snow, but mine still work well enough for hiking (though that said if I were backpacking I'd probably want bigger ones). As far as the dragging variety versus springing variety- mine tend to spring up- for running I liked it- but I do need to make sure I have a waterproof outer layer of clothing (particularly with running there can be a lot of snow hitting your back).
Have fun!

11-02-2007, 10:04 PM
I do a ton of snowshoeing with my snow dogs, and the MSR Denali Ascent or Denali Evo Ascent are the answer:

http://www.msrcorp.com/snow/ascent.asp or http://www.msrcorp.com/snow/denali_evo_ascent.asp.

They are a bit non-standard, but I love these things for several reasons:

The "Televator" heel bail - Best. Invention. Ever. All my snowshoeing is in the mountains, and this is a lifesaver for going up steep slopes, as it effectively reduces the angle of the slope. If you plan to snowshoe uphill at all, this feature alone is reason to buy one of the Ascent line.
The rubber pull-bindings are *so* much easier to operate than most lacing systems and you can get them on & off even wearing heavy mittens.
The plastic frame sheds snow better than the leather of the more traditional styles, so your feet are lighter not carrying as much snow with them. They are also a little bit lighter themselves than many other snowshoes.
In addition to the toe crampon, they also have side rails which give you extra bite on icy snow, and make traversing a slope a lot easier.
They accept optional "tail" attachments. I rarely use them, but if you felt like you needed more flotation you could pick up a pair of tails for more surface area without additional width.

11-03-2007, 04:11 AM
I have Denali Ascents also and love them. I usually prefer them with the 4" tail attachments for better fore-aft balance and more flotation, but go without if I'm likely to be carrying them on my pack part of the day. The only thing I don't like about them is that they can be noisy on crusty or icy trails.

11-11-2007, 01:45 PM
I am a super nerd. I admit it. but seriously, these are the best snowshoes I've ever seen let alone used. There is one downside. With teeth like these they are not for packed snow, as you end up walking on the teeth a lot. :)


11-11-2007, 03:19 PM
Wow, and I thought mine had big teeth!:

11-11-2007, 05:21 PM
heh, lisa, those are big teeth too! Tubbs makes nice shoes and are pretty popular this side of the country. I have had a few different brands via purchase or rental so I like to try out different kinds.

I just have fun with this picture because it shows off two big features of the shoes, their teeth and the sweet rotation....

GV makes a full range of snowshoes for anyone interested (meaning there are more recreational ones as well).

11-17-2007, 05:54 PM
I have been snowshoeing for past 5 years..since moving to Vancouver (from Ontario). One would be an idiot not take advantage of several local ski mountains here to do great workouts in snowshoeing that keeps you fit. You do notice that cycling fitness helps immensley to do mountain snowshoeing. There is wonderful local scenery where we are. Grouse Mountain may not have much snow now, but Whistler has a healthy dump right now (and it would be cheaper to go now instead of being price-gouged at Christmas at Whistler).

For past few Christmas holidays we have vacationed at mountain provincial park or ski resort and go snowshoeing for 10-15 kms. each day for 5-7 days straight.

I use MSR Denali Evo Ascent snowshoes. The rubber bindings are more practical and less likely to break over time. I wear heavy snowboots, not hiking boots. And wear orthotics inside my boot,..same pair I wear inside my running shoes (for walking) and my cycling shoes.

No, I don't do snowshoe running, but see lots of people do that. I'm not a jogger...find it hard to get enthused about jogging/running.

11-20-2007, 10:06 PM
I purchased a pair of redfeather race snowshoes last summer. It was the opposite season and so the highend pair of snowshoes cost about $50. I hope they work out.

I am worried about the kick up ability. At first it sounded like a good idea because then I would be dragging my feet less. But the more i hear about it the worse it sounds. I purchased them in a size up then what I really needed so that I wouldn't sink too much. Even so they are really light- I think the lightest pair out there. Maybe that is due to the titanium crampons.

I don't do really crazy snowshoeing and I usually rent, but I decided that for $50 I couldn't say no. Hopefully Minnesota gets an early snow fall and I can play in the snow while I am home for Christmas. I'll let you know what I think. REI and Sierra trading post always seem to have them on sale. (Maybe that is a bad sign?)

Has anyone tried the Electra snowshoes?

11-21-2007, 05:58 AM
Shootingstar- wow I'm impressed by the major snowshoeing you do! :)

Madscott- I will be interested in finding out how those redfeather race shoes work for you- do keep us updated.

Here in central NY we've had only a couple of dustings of snow so far. I look forward to shoeing with the first big snowfall (assuming we get one!)
I am anxious to see how much a year of steady biking has helped my stamina and leg strength. I know I can actually see more muscles on my legs than I had this time last year. Woo-HOOOO!....not too shabby for a 53 year old former couch potato. :cool: I love my new healthier life. :p

11-21-2007, 04:23 PM
I used to do a lot of snoe shoeing before I got proficient with backcountry skiing. DH and I used to go out on both days on the weekend and go 6 to 12 miles. We are lucky enough to live in CO where there are so many places to explore. I have the atlas shoes with the ratcheting adjustments. These are great and I can get them pretty tight on my boots. I wouldn't recommend tightening them too much if you wear leather boots as you can cut of your circulation a bit and your feet will get cold. I wear plastic boots that I use for ice climbing. My feet have never stayed so warm:D

short cut sally
12-14-2007, 05:18 AM
OK ladies, it's official. I am the proud owner of a pair of showshoes. Thanks for all your help and suggestions. I wasn't sure if this sport was going to be for me or not. I debated, after all I have xc skis and wouldn't that be enough? Do we really get that much snow to warrant both the shoes and skis? Would I like this activity? Do I really want to spend the money? SO, after having my shoes for a month, I pondered all these things. They sat in their box, all wrapped and just stared at me everynow and then. I had them all pkged back up to return. It FINALLY snowed yesterday. I am now itchy to try these things and curiosity got the best of me. DH carefully removed the twist tie thing so it could be reused, he taped the crampons and put a garbage bag over the shoes so in case I was going to return them they would'nt look like they were used. Well, the bag came off as I finished my first trip around the hills/yard. It was great fun and a workout. Much better than being indoors on my elliptical anyday. So, I am the proud owner and can add another activity to my boring winter. Now if the snow would just stay it would make it so much nicer.