REI put’s together a great article on how to choose Snowshoes. Of course one of the important things to consider is; what am I going to use the snowshoes for.
With a little knowledge, buying the right snowshoes is a walk in the park.
- Designed for easy walking on flat to rolling terrain; ideal for families.
- Includes entry-level models that offer good value.
- Easy-to-adjust bindings and less aggressive traction systems.
- Designed for hiking on rolling to steep terrain; suitable for all but very steep or icy conditions.
- A step up from entry level, good for hiking off the beaten track.
- Designed with more aggressive crampons and beefier bindings.
- Designed for icy, steep terrain.
- Aimed at snowshoers who want to blaze their own trails for day hiking, winter summiting, backpacking or backcountry snowboarding.
- Made with climbing-style crampons and rugged bindings that can withstand harsh conditions and terrain.
While most snowshoes fall into these 3 categories, a few models are designed specifically for trail-running, fitness or climbing.
Find the Right Snowshoe Size
Aluminum-frame snowshoes come in multiple sizes, usually 8″ x 25″, 9″ x 30″ and 10″ x 36″ or something similar. Composite snowshoes come in one size (typically 8″ x 22″) and offer the option of adding 4″ to 8″ tails to help you stay afloat on snow. Why does size matter? It’s a key factor in getting the right amount of flotation.
Step 1: Narrow by Gender (or Age)
Snowshoe sizes and shapes vary as follows:
- Men’s snowshoes are designed to accommodate larger boots and heavier loads.
- Women’s snowshoes tend to feature narrower, more contoured frame designs and sizes down to 8″ x 21″. Their bindings are sized to fit women’s footwear.
- Kids’ snowshoes vary by intended age. Smaller sizes are intended for casual snow play, while larger models offer the same technical features found on adult snowshoes.
Step 2: Consider Snow Conditions
Recommended loads are based on light, dry snow conditions. But consider that on powder snow you need bigger snowshoes to stay afloat than you would on compact, wet snow. In other words, a powder-happy Utah snowshoer may want a larger size than a same-sized snowshoer in the wet snow of the Pacific Northwest.
Packed trails, brush and forest call for more compact shoes, which are easier to maneuver in tight spaces. Steep or icy terrain is also best explored with smaller snowshoes. Open areas with deep drifts require larger snowshoes.
Tip: Get the smallest size that will support your weight for the snow conditions and terrain in your area. As long as you have adequate flotation, smaller snowshoes will be much easier to handle.
Step 3: Determine Your Weight with Gear
Your weight, including equipment, is referred to as the recommended load or carrying capacity on snowshoe specs. This is a major factor in determining the right size. In most circumstances, a heavier person or one with a heavily loaded pack will require larger snowshoes than a smaller person or one carrying gear just for the day.
Read the rest of the article at REI.com