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Choosing and sizing Snowshoes

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Hey guys, was wondering how many of you have had experience with snowshoes, for what purpose and where you’ve used them. Also if you own a pair speak up and let us know what you got.

I have the “Atlas Access 30” Snowshoes and use them primarily for walks in the woods, small hikes and often will use em at the outdoor archery range during the winter, mostly in eastern Ontario and in the Tremblanc region in Quebec.

I recently put together a video on the subject; breaking down many of the different options available and how to size em appropriately. Check it out and let me know what you think.

https://youtu.be/mdcfO9JEEsY

- Cheers


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no mention of the various shapes of traditional snowshoes
While I use the modern abhorrents as the terrain is hilly icy and usually heavy snow many in other parts with the remains of 20 feet of snow are better served with traditional shoes
 
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Kathleen and I bought these snowshoes in 1998, from Craig MacDonald, in Dwight, Ontario. They are made by Avery & Sons in Whitney, Ontario. We used them on nearly a daily basis when we lived in a one-room cabin in the Northwest Territories, 100 km (60 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, from January 31 to breakup in 1999. My understanding is that their shape is the traditional "Maine" or "Michigan" shoe, designed for hauling toboggans along water ways, which is what we used them for.

We also spent a lot of time breaking trail through deep snow, without hauling. If I were to do this again, I think I would prefer an "Alaskan" or "Ojibwa" shoe, which are longer, narrower, and with a more upturned toe, which would be better for "breasting" or "clearing" deep snow. Indeed, when some native people were inspecting our snowshoes, one man remarked, "How you chase moose through bush on these?"

I accepted his point. The narrower, longer shoe would have been faster.

I can't really respond to your presentation regarding "modern" shoes, Eric. I don't know anything about them. Primarily because for personal aesthetic reasons, I would only consider traditional, wood/babiche shoes. I just love the way they look. I also took pride in making my own shoeshine bindings out of lamp wick!
 
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no mention of the various shapes of traditional snowshoes
While I use the modern abhorrents as the terrain is hilly icy and usually heavy snow many in other parts with the remains of 20 feet of snow are better served with traditional shoes

Fair criticism, thx for the input. I will admit this video is more oriented towards modern snowshoes, although I do briefly make reference to the Huron / Algonquin style of snowshoes as well as the “bearpaw” and ojibwe styles.

I personally prefer the modern options, much better at handling hills along with ice, but traditional options do have more floatation in deep powder, along with being less noisy underfoot. It all depends on your needs and preference.




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I own around ten pairs of snowshoes, they all have a different purpose. Snow shoe sizing is really a bit of exaggeration piled on top of some wishes. I always recommend the largest snowshoe people can handle and still be somewhat agile. Once you hit around 190 pounds, the idea of floatation in powder is more of an idea than a reality. I still use my five foot alaskans for breaking trail, but sometimes if I know I'm breaking trail in areas with lots of blowdown and hazards, I will wear my GV widetrails. I have broken a couple of sets of alaskans trying to bridge fallen trees, etc. My daily use shoe is a GV Snowtrail, 10 x 36, they are about 15 years old with many miles on them, and even some axe cuts, but still going strong.

You will find winter campers often polarized around the debate over modern vs traditional. Many serious winter trippers will not have anything to do with modern shoes. I usually use the best of both worlds, depending on conditions.

As far as the video goes.....I teach video, at the high school level. Slow down, don't try to cram so much into one video. Make several 2 or 3 minute videos, that's about the most people will commit to youtube, unless it is gripping stuff. People want to see experiences and actual trips, not so much the info stuff. That's just my opinion, take it with a grain of salt.
 
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Eric like with canoes your best selection depends on the environment
I wont use a traditional shoe in the White Mountains with their icy chutes but I wouldnt use my alu framed shoes for powder either
Funny story Years back we were on an icy pitch on the shoulder of Mt Waahington
My friend loved his traditional Huron shoes. He managed to make it up 1000 feet over two km
but lost it going downhill

He had to use an ice axe to self arrest. The trails are heavily forested and glissadng can be dangerous to the jewels
 
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I use modern snowshoes only in really wet conditions, other than that I'm all traditional snowshoes with traditional "lamp wick" bindings, I can get in and out of my snowshoes w\o using my hands and while standing up, takes me less time to put them on and take them off than people with modern shoe can put theres on. I can climb hills with them, I can side hill with them and I can certainly go down!! They are not great on ice but who need snowshoes on ice that is what crampons and cleats are for!

But I always keep my old Tuubs just in case...
 
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One important thing that is left out of choosing the size snowshoes is the type of snow you are shoeing on. On packed trails, small shoes are the best. In deep soft snow they are useless. You need several sizes. Your weight is not the most important factor-flotation is. I like to shoe off the beaten track and My favorite deep snow snowshoes are my 10X56 wood/rawhide Alaska style. People shoeing with me make fun until I have to break trail for them so they can go. I also use a traditional loop binding which enables me to step in and out of them easily-a real plus.
 
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I have snowshoed in different traditional snowshoe styles. The Huron (Michigan) or the Ojibway styles seems to me to be the best all-around compromise between flotation on powder, weight, and maneuverability. The Alaskan gets you better flotation but its heavier and less maneuverable. The bearpaw/modified bearpaw is more maneuverable and lighter but has less flotation. The modern style aluminum shoes are definitely lighter but I don't have much experience with them.
 
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Here ya go Eric....the current selection. left to right....Chestnut 14 x 48, Chestnut 11 x 50 ( GF's ) Snowtrek 10 x 36, Bastien Bros 14 x 42.

I have a set of military issue bindings on the Bastiens, they work really good, the Snowtrek have an interesting style and the other two have traditional style leather bindings, just not installed at present. I use the Bastiens a lot and if in the bush I use the Snowtrek as they are narrower to get between trees. They dont support as well as the Bastiens but pretty close. Like Mem says once you get up around 200 lbs there is a lot of optimism happening.

If you look at tracks you can spot the experienced showshoer fairly easy....the track sort of overlaps. Alot of people try to waddle along with the wide parts across from each other. Thats tough on the hips.
I only get out a handful of times a year as I have a rule of a minimum temp of minus 15, and warmer is better yet. It is usually too damn cold here to be out messing about.

Christine
 

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If you have not tried the Monoline traditionals from Snowshoe Sales and repairs in Sudbury then you have missed out. They weave the shoes with 400lb monofilament. They are lighter and the weave does not stretch if it gets wet. Plus any ice comes off much more easily. I have a two pairs including a pair of Bearpaws shod with a modern ratchet binding. The binding comes with a crampon though I didn't bother to install it as it is never that big an issue round here.
 
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