Snowshoes

2:02 a.m. on October 11, 2009 (EDT)
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188 forum posts

Hi everyone!

Ok...I got back into backpacking late this year, and now with all the snow that has fallen in the mountains here in Colorado, I am damned if I am going to wait for summer. Soooo....I am thinking of getting into snowshoeing. I used to do it years ago, but the products have changed a lot.

The MSR's seem to be what everyone is recommending, because of the feature where they have the removable tails. However...they are made of plastic. What do all of you recommend and why?

I will be hiking trails, but not camping, doing mostly photography, and would like something that is not so specific, and wonder what is a good all around shoe.

 

Thanks...

3:40 a.m. on October 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Nothing wrong with plastic these days, friends swear by the MSR's. I use the Atlas BC24's for backcountry snowboard trips and general getting around in knee deep powder snow. I like them as they're strong enough to take me (6'2", 190 pounds) and a 25-30 pound pack up and down some steep terrain without letting go. For me they're a good size to strap onto the pack and light enough not to bother me on the way down. There's a few choices out there so maybe hire some first cos like boots, what's good for one might not be for another. Grab a good set of collapsible poles with big powder baskets as well.

6:19 a.m. on October 11, 2009 (EDT)
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I have done a lot of snowshoe camping in B.C. and used "misery slippers" for work for years, starting in 1958. I have owned/used a LOT of pairs and currently have three.

My favourites, by far, are the "Crescent Moon" Golds from Utah and the Faber models from Quebec. I also like the look of the "Northern Lites" shoes and suggest checking into these; I do not care for the MSRs as I find them too small and very noisy.

8:10 a.m. on October 11, 2009 (EDT)
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I agree with Dewey. The MSRs are a good starting snowshoe for people walking on beaten trails (read: where you don't need snowshoes) or as an emergency item and around camp for skiing trips. If you want to go backcountry, you won't get very far. And keep in mind they are impossible to put on below -25C unless you take off your mitts and prepare for a good fight.

After trying a dozen different types as part of a course the ones i prefered the most were the GV 36 Wide Trail. Easy to put on, good grip and you don't sink much. Awesome for general bush work and to carry a heavy pack, but you'll notice they're not cheap at over 300$. You get what you pay for!

8:17 a.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I don't want to ignite a skis vs snowshoes argument -- each has a time and place, plus it's quite reasonable that some people prefer one or the other.

That said, Colorado's open forest and high country seems like an excellent environment for cross-country skis. In many conditions skis are faster than snowshoes; however, there is a learning curve and one does fall down. Snowshoes are easier for a beginner to get around on but harder on his inner thigh muscles.

Incidentally, last time I checked both skis and snowshoes could be rented for a relative pittance. One could check out the brands offered by gear rental shops and get a feel for what the trade-offs feel like at snow level before buying your own gear.

2:18 a.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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OEJ,

Yeah...REI here rents the snowshoes and I will do that. I have also thought about cross country, but like you said...learning curve. I have a Nordic Track and I am barely coordinated enough for that. :)

9:41 a.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Snakey -- Sure, I dig. Plus snowshoeing seems like a good mode for photographers, being slower-paced and perhaps more contemplative. I remember renting a variety of skis back in the day, and learning quite a bit about the different types that way. I dunno how much variety there is in the rental snowshoes available where you're at, though.

11:49 a.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I used to snowshoe a lot until I discovered weird things for the feet called croos-country skies!

http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/101764446yARQiX

1:03 a.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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I ski as you can see from my avatar pic, but, if you are off track, the snow is fluffy and deep and you don't have super wide tele skis, which mine aren't, then you will have a problem. I had this happen in Yosemite of all places last winter after a huge storm before the snow hardened up. Snowshoes worked a lot better.

My skis are only 60cm underfoot, which are fine for hard snow and roads, but off track in the soft stuff, they are a bit too narrow and I don't weigh all that much either.

9:37 a.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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One other unexpected consequence of snowshowing vs. skiing: it's extremely noisy on packed snow.

When I got my long-awaited chance to snowshoe out to Dewey Point at Yosemite the expereince was awesome in every way except for the crunching of those snowshoes.

Not a deal killer by any means, but if you prize the silence of a snowed-in forest, you're in for a surprise.

7:19 p.m. on October 19, 2009 (EDT)
RETAILER
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I really like my Crescent Moon Gold Snowshoes. We do a lot of snowshoeing here in Utah, and the bindings on these are fast and easy to put on and take off.

12:46 a.m. on October 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I've snowshoed and skied out to the Dewey Point turnoff and skied and snowshoed most of the way there. The road gets really packed solid, so I think that's why it is so noisy. Plus once the off track snow hardens up, it gets pretty crunchy.

Last year in Feb., there was a lot of new snow, so I didn't notice a lot of noise and I used snowshoes part of the way back before switching back to my skis.

11:23 a.m. on October 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Having been a professional Mt. guide I've use ski's and snoeshoes. In Colorado you will see longer periods of powder snow, a longer ski or snowshoe will give you better floatation. The shorter length accels in thick brush, that is common to the coastal mountains. I have the Sherpa snowshoes a aluminum framed snowshoes with a synthetic binding, there are several copies of this design out. I also have the MSR, they all work fine. I also carry a rescue/repair kit in the backcountry spare ski tip or slotted for skis aluminum tubing or angled aluminun alloy with a tarp that has special straps that convert the skis into a rescue sled some screws, quick epoxy and a short hand driven screw driver/drill with bits, and 100 mph tape and stainless steel wire.
Anyone new to winter backcountry travel should learn about avalanches, and cold weather injury prevention and self rescue.

December 20, 2014
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