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soothsayer
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Posts : 1417
Join date : 2011-06-30
Age : 45
Location : Right here.

PostSubject: Snowshoeing    Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:46 pm

I admit it, I like hiking.  I liked hiking even before I started walking to lose weight.  I also like winter... the shoveling not so much, but just the visual beauty of everything, from the clear star filled nights to the blanket of whiteness within a forest.  This morning I spent a small amount of time trying to find "just the right" tent for winter camping, as well as looking at winter cabin rentals, before realizing that I'd also like to try cross country skiing and / or snowshoeing.  While a winter tent is pricey, a decent one (military surplus 10' by 10', $500) could be used all year long; it's all the extra stuff that'll set you back... portable stove, specialized sleeping bag, liner, flooring, clothing.  I could justify this if I wasn't the only one interested, but since I am, I reasoned it'd be cheaper to rent a cabin.

To get this thread back on track (it is about snowshoeing, after all), my looking at cabin rentals showed me just how beautiful things are, and how I'd love to go walking through those areas.  Cross country skiing would be an experience, but it isn't much for traversing through the woods.  Snowshoeing, for me at least, seems like it's an all around winter activity, or rather an all terrain.  This then led me to learn that there are a multitude of snowshoes, based on type, experience, and terrain.

For starters, there are three main types of snow shoes: recreational hiking, used primarily on flat or gently rolling trails and for the beginner; backpack or expedition hiking, where the terrain is more rugged, more hilly or mountainous, forested, and so on; and running.  I did not look into getting a pair of running snowshoes.

Once you figure out what you want to do with your hiking, you'll want to consider what type of fastener system you want.  If I remember correctly, there were four or five different setups.  Of course, the setup is also dependent on the purpose.  Regardless, you'll want to look at such things as flexibility, movement, the material used in the fastener (nylon, plastic, webbing, etc), the locking mechanisms (lever, a belt like style, dial), and so on.  Then there's the heel bar (or heel something, can't remember what it's called), where it helps in lifting the back end of the shoe for easier walking.  

And on.

And on.

From my research, I found some snowshoes priced under $100 that come with adjustable poles and a carrying case.  Based on the reviews, should you think about this hobby, keep in mind that with these you are getting what you paid for (which is not much).  While the expensive stuff was around $280, most could be had between $150 and $215.  Keep in mind that these are not including poles, which I'll get into later.  AND, as with everything online, if you find what you are looking for, there's a good chance you'll find it cheaper someplace else.  Case in point: I found (and purchased) a pair of Louis Garneau Blizzard II snowshoes which are priced at $200 on up... I got these for $158, with free shipping (new).

The biggest thing you want to consider in purchasing snowshoes is size.  They are not based on your shoe size!  Snowshoes are sized based on your weight.  Also, there is a difference between men's and women's shoes, in that women's shoes, even if the same weight range is used, the length will be different; this is because a woman supposedly has a smaller stride.  For me, because I fall within the 250 to 300 pound range, I wear a size 36.

All told, I went with the backpack hiking snowshoes, as I figured I'd be going through the woods and I would like to get off the beaten path as it were.  I can still go on trails (as with the recreational), it's just that the backpackers make climbing and going through rough terrain easier (when compared to the recreational).  Running snowshoes are just that, runners, used to run or power walk through compacted trails.  OH!  Another that's another thing to consider: snow type.  Fresh?  Compacted?  Ice covered?

Then there's the cleats (or crampons).  There ought to be crampons under the toe of your boot, as this will give you better traction.  Shoe type determines the type of crampon; makes sense, right?  Depending on your purpose, you may also want to see if the snowshoe has heel crampons... not essential, but very handy if you are going downhill (the heel crampon is V or U shaped, with the wider portion facing front).

...

Poles.  Are poles necessary?  Depends on what you are doing.  While I don't use a walking stick for hiking, I have on occasion grabbed a tree or a limb to hoist myself up.  I would not think poles are needed for running (it's flat terrain anyway), recreational maybe, and backpacking probably.  Here are the things to consider when buying poles.

Size.  The internet says you want something that is as long as the distance from the floor to you hand if your elbow was bent at a 90* angle.  For me, this is about 52", so I want a pole that is that length.  However, some sites recommend adjustable poles, as height requirements change if you are going up or down hill... plus, you know, in case someone wants to borrow them.  Anyway, you can buy a set length or adjustable.

Locks.  For the adjusting type, you have two choices of locking the poles in the desired length: lever or twist.  I don't think there's really a difference in performance, but you'll want to check the reviews as some poles are known to slip and would require readjusting.

...

Do you require special boots for snowshoeing?  NO!  Any special gear?  NO!  You can wear snowshoes with your favorite shoe or boot, adjust the fittings, and you are good to go.  Of course, your shoes might get wet, so you may want to look into getting some winter boots.  Some wool socks as well.  Then there's this thing called gaiters; essentially a sleeve that fits over your boot, like an extra pants leg, to help keep snow from getting in.

Here is an article put out by Snowshoe Magazine that helps explain the hobby for beginners (though in truth I checked out a lot of different sites):  First Timers

According to Marinette County's website, there is a cross country association here... but there isn't any information. Click on that link, it takes you to a Crivitz recreational site, where two out of the three map links are broke.

*shrugs*
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