Have you broken a snowshoe by bridging?

10:35 p.m. on January 10, 2003 (EST)

Yesterday I stepped a little to the left of the path and my foot went through the snow, but the front of my Redfeather Back Country 30" snowshoe, and probably the rear, were well supported. This is called bridging. The front of the shoe bent almost vertical. I bent it back, but eventually the tubing on both sides broke.

I'm casting no aspersions on Redfeather because snowshoes can be expected to fail when bridging. HOWEVER, I've snowshoed a lot of peaks, some as total bushwhacks, and it seems like I must have bridged across rocks/blowdown without knowing it, yet this never happened before.
I'd like to get this in perspective, so I'd like to know if you've had this happen (to any brand), OR, if you've done a lot of off-path snowshoeing and HAVEN'T had this happen.
To end on a good note, I did not come out of the Redfeather ratchet bindings even once, not even after the shoe broke!

7:25 p.m. on January 11, 2003 (EST)
37 reviewer rep
749 forum posts


I'd like to get this in perspective, so I'd like to know if you've had this happen (to any brand), OR, if you've done a lot of off-path snowshoeing and HAVEN'T had this happen.

I do a lot of bridging in my snowshoes - crossing streams, walking amongst boulders where I don't belong. I can bounce on mine with only the ends supported and I weigh say 220 with gear. I've done it between 2 by 4s just for a test.
However - I made my own snowshoes thirty years ago and they are still going strong. I use an Alaskan Indian hitch made of elk hide to tie them to my feet - they feel a tad loosey goosey compared to the modern jobs but people get used to them quickly. Mine are a Green Mountain type snowshoe - that is with both ends rounded and parallel sides. They are brazed together from light electrical conduit and they are about as light as modern snowshoe.
Since I'm writing about snowshoes - I have learned a few things. The old style basket weave allows fine snow to go through them making the snowshoes too heavy. In most conditions you can remove all of the weave and the shoes will work just as well, be lighter, pick up less snow, and not hold snow as it falls through. Also the front and rear can be filled with any stretched material laced to the frame but if its slick material you won't climb well in them.
Jim S
disclaimer - electrical conduit has zinc on it. Remove the zinc from the joint area and braze outside in a wind. The gas is very toxic. Weld in one or two cross pieces. You might put them under the ball of your foot and under the heel.

1:01 p.m. on January 13, 2003 (EST)
4,404 reviewer rep
6,007 forum posts

Like Jim S (and sometimes with him) I have used snowshoes for years, both commercially made and home made. I have never broken the frame on a snowshoe, whether using them in the Sierra, Alaska, New England, Canada. I have often "bridged" crossing streams and going up trails. This applies for both my old classic wooden snowshoes and Atlas metal (and Tubbs, Sherpa, and several other commercially made metal shoes borrowed from other people, plus aluminum conduit ones). I have broken leather bindings and rawhide lacings when they got too old, but not the frames of the shoes. At this point, I have over 500 miles on my oldest Atlas (about 15 years usage, mostly with heavy packs up to 60 pounds and hauling sleds up to 80 pounds - the adult leader on Scout trips ends up carrying at least one spare tent, spare sleeping bag, spare clothing, and spare cook gear).

I would suspect you either got a defective shoe or perhaps unknowingly overstressed it when piling your gear in the trunk of the car. Redfeather is a reputable company, around for many years. Contact them directly and see what they have to say.

I do prefer skis, however, and have many more miles of backcountry travel on them than on snowshoes - easy to do since you go a lot faster.

11:07 p.m. on June 15, 2003 (EDT)

a.k.a. martin dinelli

yes and no. i have broken a pair of grivel promenades on a lot less stress. don't buy them. they just don't make it with adult weight. i have had it happen w/redfeathers and tubbs, but never, never with atlas. you can't get better than atlas. but you have to stay within the weight parameters or forget snowshoeing. m3x/

May 27, 2018
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