How to Select and Size Snowshoes
Winter will soon be with us. It goes a lot faster if you can get out an enjoy it. So how do you select and size of snowshoes?
It's a difficult question because few snowshoes will not work in some way shape or form.
You want to think about where you are walking. Are you walking in the snow on flat terrain? in difficult scrub?
on a trail? mountain climbing? in your backyard with the kids? do you run races in them?
Our main manufacturer Faber makes a lot of snowshoes that are similar but slightly varied.
Here are some of the differences and then I'll go through what I use.
First if you like walking in the woods in mixed terrain that is not two steep -- wood frame snowshoes are quiet, give
great floatation and offer bindings that will take you through a range of boot sizes. They do require maintenance
in the form of a coat of exterior spar varnish and if the bindings have any leather they require a treatment of neets
foot oil on a regular basis.
If you like walking in those same woods but perhaps up some steeper hills and you are more likely to be on trails
and you want something lower maintenance Faber Aluminum Snowshoes may be for you. The snowshoes and bindings are made to last.
If you do something like the 4000 foot peaks here in the East or you have steeper climbs that you wish to do
MSR mountaineering snowshoes are the way to go. The lack the great floatation that the wood or other aluminum snowshoes have, they can break because you are using them over extremely difficult ground and are often going through and over rock, trees and whatever gets in your way; so you have to carry a repair kit and extra bindings.
I use Faber Mountain Master Snowshoes for trail breaking or just sliding here at home. I'm about 170 but I have
pairs of 9x30 and 10x36 which are way above the weight range but because I'm packing trails which requires more surface area.
So going back to the weight range. The rule of thumb is that if you are off trail you want to go to the largest
snowshoe size that you can walk in.
So when I climb 4000+ peaks I use an 8x25 MSR Lightning Ascent, because I'm short and have short legs. Although I can sink in more bushwhacking they give reasonable floatation, great grip on snow and ice and what I've come to like about this model is they do not slip going down hill like the old Denali version that has been reconfigured as the Revo.
My knees are not so good any more so not slipping has greatly helped. Also it's no fun trying to pick yourself out
of a tree on steeps like the north side of Basin in the Adirondacks.
So in summary try to get a snowshoe that matches your needs and use the size chart as a guide only.