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#108677 - 01/02/09 08:44 PM Advice Concerning Snowshoeing
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
Well, recently decided I needed to start snowshoeing so I can do a little more than just ski during the winter. I'm not really looking for advice or anything on winter camping. I had my winter survival training while stationed in Alaska so the cold and how to get by in it is nothing new to me. But, my father has also started expressing an interest in snowshoeing as well, so I figured all the more reason to get some reliable and experienced information about snowshoeing instead of me out there experimenting.

I live in SW Idaho by the way, just to give an idea of the winter conditions I'd be playing in. I'm also not really looking to do any winter camping at first either, that'll come later. I'm just looking to get out there and do some day stuff and enjoy the scenery and cold.

I guess my biggest question would be what kind of snowshoe I need to be thinking about? Obviously at first I'll probably just stick to trails, but I'd like the option to get through powder without much problems either. I know length important when it comes to powder and the deep stuff, but I'd like something that has some diversity. I've seen MSR seling snowshoes with floaters, but I'm not sure how those'll hold up and if they're worth the money. I'd kind of like to get this as right as possible the first time around.

Boots would be my next inquiry. I have 1 thousand grain thinsulate hunting boots and more then enough extreme winter clothing to deal with the weather. But would those boots work or would I need something a little more specialized? Or is it one of those things that should be decided by what works for me and my snowshoes?

I've got all the necessary gear beyond all of that thanks to my years in Alaska and its lovely winters that get down to -65 F, lol. And since I know someone will suggest looking into the archives, I'm already intending on doing that, but any new advice I figure is best. Thanks. smile


Edited by MattnID (01/02/09 08:44 PM)
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#108679 - 01/02/09 09:04 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

There's nothing wrong with MSR denali type snowshoes + tails. I've had them for several years and haven't busted them. There are lighter and sexier (and more expensive) options out there - norther lites, for example, but it depends what you're after.

You could always try renting them a few
times first before deciding to buy.

As for boots, depends on the temperature. in warmer stuff, insulated hikers with a gaiter works fine. In deep cold I use a sorel/kamik type insulated boot with removable liner.


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#108684 - 01/02/09 09:42 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: phat]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I agree with Phat, rent some shoes then see what you like. Up your way, someone should have rentals. There are lots of different types of snowshoes. Here is a good site to look at
www.snowshoemagazine.com

You should see some good deals now as retailers are already looking at Spring. I had a pair of Atlas 1025 shoes. I liked them, but that doesn't mean other brands and styles aren't just as good if not better.

As for boots, you don't need anything special-just some thing that will fit in the bindings and keep your feet warm. An insulated hunting boot will probably work fine. Get gaiters if you don't have them. Cheap ones will work fine. You could even wear NEOS overboots with a running shoe inside them. I think BMISF does that on occasion.
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#108712 - 01/03/09 02:40 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
jasonlivy Offline
member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 654
Loc: Colorado
Just to add to what's already been said...

My preference on boots is going uninsulated. I usually use an expedition weight sock, but my feet very seldom get cold with a normal pair of heavy duty backpacking boots (I wear Montrail Morane ATs or if I'm in less challenging terrain Kayland Vertigos) rather than a heavily insulated boot. I also like a stiffer boot rather than a Sorel-type because the bindings can be secured much more than if the outer boot is soft which tends to squeeze the foot. A stiffer boot makes it easier to climb up hills as well. I personally use the MSR Denali Evo or Lightning Ascent snowshoe.

One of the beauties of snowshoeing is that you don't need alot of specialty gear. Most people already have a pair of backpacking boots, a base layer both top and bottom, a shell or insulated jacket, warm merino wool (my preference) or synthetic shirt, beenie, a pair of light gloves and warm mitts, gaiters, trekking poles, sunglasses, and thick merino wool or synthetic socks. Even if someone doesn't, this isn't a huge burden to buy (obviously depending on the quality of the items purchased). Even if you buy the most expensive of the items listed above, your still spending less than if you were outfitting yourself to go skiing.

I also like to bring a winter pack complete with a shovel, avalanche beacon and/or a PLB (depending on where you go), first aid kit, extra layering pieces, extra socks, extra gloves, food (my favorite is an MRE or a meal that can be chemically heated like Alpine Air Inferno), a thermos full of my favorite warm beverage, and Fig Newtons. The latter items really make it a more pleasant outing.
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#108713 - 01/03/09 02:49 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I've had my Sorel's for over 25 years, should be worn out pretty soon I hope. Anyway, they have been used around my place in the winter, snowmobiling and now for snowshoeing the last four years. I bought some Atlas 1025's, with them being used for snowcamping, I wish I had purchased some 1030's. I think if the powder is really fresh, not much of anything is going to work too good, just observations from snowmobiling in powder. If the snow has set some, but still soft, go with a longer snowshoe from what I have seen. If you can rent first, that would be great. If buying locally, try them on your boots to see how long it takes to get them on also. Over New Year's Eve on a trip in Yosemite, I followed Frank who had on some MSR Ascent I believe they were, they sure made the snow squeak a lot after the shoe was put down and the foot rolled forward before being lifted for the next stride, you know how the snow squeaks when you pack it some then pack it more.

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#108715 - 01/03/09 04:17 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
bmisf Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
Take a look at the snowshoes from Northern Lites, too - they'll work with your current boots, as well as with most any other style of shoe (I just used them with Karhu Tele boots on the same New Year's trip Duane was on).

http://www.northernlites.com/

They're lightweight (makes a big difference with every step), give good flotation, are quiet, and have adequate traction. I own the MSR Denali Evos and Lightning Ascents, and prefer the Northern Lites to both of those (with the Denalis in second place, and perhaps more suited to icy and mountaineering uses). I also own some Crescent Moon Magnesium 9 snowshoes - good choice for trail running in snow and ice, probably not what you're looking for at this point.

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#108988 - 01/08/09 01:41 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
Well thanks for all of the advice thus far. All very helpful. I may consider the renting idea a few times since the University Rec. Center here rents out all sorts of outdoor equipment luckily. Thanks again and keep it coming. The more the better. smile
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#108997 - 01/08/09 04:22 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

If you have a University rec centre that will rent you outdoor gear it's a goldmine for you. Try their stuff (even if it's just different than the stuff you have) just to try it out. Often it will be bombproof and beat up - but it will give you an idea of what you are interetsted in and what you like/hate about a piece of gear so you can buy something yourself with a lot more knowledge.
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#109237 - 01/12/09 11:20 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
So I did a whole lot of store hopping this evening on a mission to find some new apline ski poles and decided to check out the snowshoes while I was out and about. After playing in a pair of snowshoes from my university's rec. center, I kind of had an idea what I was looking for.

I think I spent about 4 hours wandering through as many of my local sports stores as I could think of. Then I hit REI last and saw a set that I'm thinking really hard on that would kind of fit what I'm looking for. I think I stared at these MSR Lightning Ascents for 20 minutesm lol. They're a little pricer than what I considered at first, but they seemed to kind of fit everything I was looking for. I especially like the fact I can have a shorter, lighter shoe than normal and still stay up in deep snow.

I'm of course still doing my research and looking around, but I think I've fallen in love, lol. Was kind of wondering if anyone had ever used or known someone who used a pair of these. Or hell, just had an obersvational opinion based on your experience concerning these MSR Lightning Ascents.
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#109254 - 01/13/09 08:54 AM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I have been told that people never use their extensions, seems they were never in snow that required them.

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#109258 - 01/13/09 11:40 AM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: hikerduane]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

yeah.. right...

Hello... I use my extensions. You won't need them in heavy wet or icy goo, but you will in fluffier stuff..

Unless you weigh like, 90 lbs.

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#109270 - 01/13/09 02:27 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: phat]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
As a former 97 lb. weakling I resent that remark.:) I'm up to over 160 now. Just what I'm told, but I will say though, that a heavy snowmobile is a bugger to get out of the deep stuff when stuck.

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#109276 - 01/13/09 04:24 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
bmisf Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
Matt - I have a slightly used pair of 25" Lightning Ascents I'm going to sell, if you're interested.

I prefer the Northern Lites - lighter and have adequate traction for most of the places I go, so I'm looking to pass these along to someone who'll get more use out of them.

Whether that's of interest or not:

The Lightning Ascents are nice snowshoes with an aggressive bite; the bindings are easy to use (much better than the ones on the Denali Evos, for example). Same with the Televator bar, which is really well done in this model. The paint chips off the frame fairly easily, so if aesthetics are a concern, keep that in mind.

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#109664 - 01/19/09 08:57 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: bmisf]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
Well, thanks for the offer. However, I put out the word well before Christmas and got enough REI giftcards to buy snowshoes and a little more, lol.

I actually went out in them today for the first time. The weather was great, 55 degrees @ over 5k feet(30 degrees just below 3k feet) due to this cursed inversion we've got hanging over us. But I was very happy with them and they worked well on untracked snow that, after sticking a stick down as far as I could get it before it broke, turned out to be over 40 inches deep. Granted this snow was settled so I'm guessing I walked on top as well as I did due to that as well as the high temps.

But, my next goal is to hopefully go and do a little playing in the Sawtooths here in the next few weeks after doing a little research just so I can hit up some guaranteed colder temps and virgin snow.
_________________________
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle

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#109685 - 01/20/09 02:49 AM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Don't forget, get yourself a pair of trekking poles to use with your snowshoes. You can use ski poles or like I do, put snow baskets on your trekking poles. I have Leki's but you can pretty much use anything. Collapsible poles are nice. Black Diamond makes some nice ones that telemark skiers tend to like. You don't need something expensive either, but you do need ones with snowbaskets on them.

The first time you almost fall over with a pack on, you'll understand why poles are so helpful. You'll fall over sometimes anyway, but they do help.
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#109722 - 01/20/09 08:04 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: TomD]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
Way ahead of you, lol. I already had my collapsable Lekis for backpacking, I just went out and bought some powder baskets for them and I was good to go. They did indeed help, especially when I went off trail. The snow was fairly easy to walk on top of though so I really want to hit powder where I am assuming it is more difficult and makes poles even more necessary.
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In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle

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#109723 - 01/20/09 08:14 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Sounds like my set up. I use mine for skiing now since I gave up snowshoes. The BD's are supposed to have better locks, but mine work okay.
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#109780 - 01/21/09 05:07 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
So, what snowshoes did you end up purchasing?

MNS
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#109795 - 01/21/09 07:17 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: midnightsun03]
MattnID Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/07
Posts: 317
Loc: Idaho
MSR 25" Lightning Ascents. Have only gone on one trip thus far but they seemed to work quite well, and I've got no objections to anything about them yet despite my lack of experience in the snowshoeing department.

Though, I'm not quite so skilled on the downhill descents that tend to be fairly steep. The two I encountered were small but steep and I just side stepped down them as best I could given my new big feet. I didn't fall so I couldn't have done too terrible, lol.
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In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle

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#110863 - 02/08/09 12:09 AM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing [Re: MattnID]
bmwrider Offline
member

Registered: 07/31/08
Posts: 94
Loc: Michigan, just N of detroit
I started out with the tubbs then went to MSR evo asent, and used them for a few years with my friends, together we've tried atlas, easton, redfeather and now picked up MSR lightnings in all kinds of snow and the biggest thing I learned is all the snowshoes with tubular frames have two weaknesses when bent the tube colapses and are recked two the wraped over tube deck can be rubbed through to the frame, doesn't make them bad just a little less durable, in the end I think love the MSR stuff, my new lightnings are very light but the EVO's are the most versatile.

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#111145 - 02/12/09 02:57 PM Re: Advice Concerning Snowshoeing(MSR Lightning) [Re: bmwrider]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
I personally own Atlas snowshoes but found that on steep angle traverses I slide sideways downhill too much. I've seen MSR Lightning snowshoes work better than my Atlas 'shoes on "sidehill" snowshoeing because of their grippy perimeter frame. Plus they have the Televator heel lifts for steep ascents so I'd get them if I was buying again.

Eric
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