Trying to pick out a set of snowshoes

3:07 p.m. on December 2, 2007 (EST)

a.k.a. Ben, Ben M

Hey everyone. I'm looking to purchase a set of snowshoes that will mostly be used on the mountain during winter hikes and such. any suggestions of some smallish/lightweight snowshoes that are great for moderate to steep ascent?

5:13 p.m. on December 2, 2007 (EST)
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Smallish snowshoes and deep winter snow don't really go together, you need flotation in early snow and cold weather powder.

For a SMALL person, the MSR Lightning series is good, noisy and pricey; they are best in alpine snow after weather plus time has compacted it.

I am a big guy, carry a large pack and have a lot of mountain snoweshoe miles on my elderly bod; I prefer Crescent Moon Expedition Gold shoes and Faber of Canada shoes to any others. Google these and see what you think, look at MSR, as well.

For MOUNTAIN, as in Rockies, Selkirks, so on, you cannot get far with cheap snowshoes, something to consider before buying.

12:17 p.m. on December 3, 2007 (EST)
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As kutenay says, for mountain conditions, "smallish/lightweight" won't cut it. We have 5 pairs of snowshoes in the house currently, including the 2 pairs of old classic wood frame and rawhide ones (one of those is hung over the mantle, along with my old wood-handled ice ax - great decoration, not very useful compared to the modern ones). Barb has a pair of "smallish/lightweight" shoes that were sold as women's racing snowshoes. They work great on trails, but not so great if there is any depth of soft powder or even soft wet snow.

We lead snowshoe hikes several times a winter for youth groups and outdoor organizations. Most of these are on pretty gentle trails (although Castle Pass on the way to Peter Grubb Hut is fairly steep if the trail hasn't been broken yet). I see all sorts of snowshoes on these hikes. As kutenay says, you won't get far on cheap snowshoes. I always take a repair kit, and end up repairing at least one snowshoe that has broken, even on hikes of a couple miles.

My personal snowshoes that see use for mountaineering expeditions where they have to support loads of my weight plus 60 pounds or so of gear and food for 2-3 weeks of travel that totals 8-10 thousand feet of climb (plus the downhill return) are Atlas heaviest duty shoe. The particular pair I use is close to 10 seasons of heavy use. They have never broken. I have had Atlas replace the bindings twice with newer versions that are easier to use and faster to put on (but have never had a failure - I just like the ratcheting buckles better than the older style of fabric straps).

I have also tried both versions of the MSR snowshoes. The type with the perimeter toothed frame seems to work a lot better for steep ascents. I find the carbon fiber platter style to be rather noisy, especially on icey or crusty surfaces, but they also seem to work well on steep ascents.

I'm not familiar with kutenay's favorites (Crescent Moon and Faber) - k, are these sold only in Canada? I haven't seen them here in Calif.

The ones I have mentioned are not cheap. Atlas (now part of the same company that owns Tubbs, which I have seen many problems with on the hikes I lead) makes several less expensive lines, which I would not suggest for what you say you will use the shoes for - they are intended for the casual snowshoer, going on trails already broken and now loads.

1:24 p.m. on December 3, 2007 (EST)
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Crescent Moon is from Colorado, IRRC, Google them and find out; these are BETTER then any Atlas shoes I have seen, but, they are NOT "cheap".

In cold, deep powder snow as in the East Kootenays or central-northern BC, I would look at Northern Lites, as well. But, IF there are better over-all snowshoes than CMEGs, I have never seen them.

6:03 p.m. on December 4, 2007 (EST)
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Having now looked at a pair of Crescent Moon Gold 17s, the basic construction and the binding are very close to the expedition Atlas that I have - same frame material, same decking, same TIG welding, and same price range. Atlas lower ranges have not been the same since Perry sold his interest and moved on to other things (usual story of a startup selling to a Big Corporation). Most of the lower ranges were introduced after he left the company, but at least the expedition version has remained much the same. Perry first did the design as a grad student project with my next-door neighbor as his advisor, which is how I got acquainted with them. Over the next few years, he and his company re-did a number of things in the design (notably the bindings) to get to the version I have. At which point, he sold to the company that also owns Tubbs, K2 Snowshoes. The lower models of the Atlas shoes are an epoxy rather than TIG welded. I haven't seen any of them come apart at the joint, though.

11:20 p.m. on December 5, 2007 (EST)
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Anyone know anything about Arctic Trekker? They look nearly identical to the old Sherpas, which I really liked, and claim to have some interchangeble parts. They're also pretty pricey but if they hold up like the Sherpas did that might be OK. They're at

8:55 a.m. on December 6, 2007 (EST)
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Consider Northern Lites. Living in New England, we do not have a lot of deep snow, so my snow shoes spend most of the time in my pack when hiking on trails that are mostly packed. I have used them to prevent post holing, and have also used them breaking trail with others and some climbing when bushwacking. I have not had a problem keeping pace with others who have been using shoes with more aggressive claws, as MSR models. Here are some photos:

January 19, 2020
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