Showshoes have been an integral part of winter transportation for millenia. In recent years snowshoes have ceased to be thought of as an annoying winter necessity and have been popularized for recreational and aerobic use. Their relative lightness and compactness compared to cross-country skis also makes them the transportation choice of winter backpackers and campers.
By spreading your weight evenly across a large, flat surface area, all styles of snowshoes will let you travel across the snow without sinking or struggling. However, certain factors need to be taken into account before purchasing a pair, including the type of snowshoeing you plan to do, your budget, the size you need and the special featuers that are important to you.
Types of Snowshoes
Frames and Decking
The development of new high-tech products and composite fibers has produced highly efficient shoes.
* '''Frame Materials'''
is the most popular frame material in today's shoes.
** Frames may also be made of wood or highsnowshoes'>carbon fiber.
** Wooden snowshoes
perform well, but require a lot of maintenance and are prone to breakage.
* '''Frame Shape'''
***Bindings and Hinge Design
attach your boots
to your snowshoes and they determine how much control you will have. They consist of nylon straps that go over the foot and around the heel. Most bindings are capable of accommodating a wide variety of shoes and boots.
** '''Choose by stiffness''': rigid, flexible or semi-rigid.
*** Flexible bindings allow for a wider range of foot placement on the shoe.
*** Rigid bindings are the best for continuous overall control.
*** Semi-rigid bindings keep the foot in line and provide control and a limited range of foot placement.
*** Bindings for running shoes tend to be lighter.
*** A more heavy-duty shoe will have much more durable bindings.
act as the link between your bindings and your snowshoes.
** '''Choose by hinge design''': freerotation or variable rotation.
*** Rotating bindings
pivot where they attach to the decking, under the balls of the feet. This allows you to walk easily and climb hills.
*** Fixed bindings are connected with rubber or Neoprene bands that spring back up with each step, allowing for a more comfortable stride. They are perfect for stepping over obstacles and going backwards. They are suitable for racing and recreational snowshoeing.
*** Variable rotation is the most versatile because it can be adjusted depending on what type of snowshoeing you participate it.
are toothed traction devices on the undersides of snowshoes. A few large teeth provide traction by gripping onto hard-packed, icy and steep terrain while many smaller teeth provide the best grip on packed snow.
* Located at the frame length
** Recreational snowshoes are light on traction, which is usually located at the forefoot.
** Mountaineering models have aggressive traction at both forefoot and heel to assist in climbing.
** Aerobic snowshoes have extra cleats at the toes for traction when pushing off.
* Toe or instep crampons pivot with your feet and dig in as you walk or climb, while heel crampons are shaped like a V and slow your descent by filling with snow.
* Traction bars provide lateral stability, and help reduce side slipping when traversing hills or uneven terrain.
* As a general rule, size depends on the size of the user, terrain and snow conditions.
** The heavier the person or the lighter and drier the snow, the larger the snowshoe needs to be.
** Get the smallest size that will support your weight.
* '''Five standard sizes (based on weight)''' bigger sizes are more buoyant: