Finding the Right Snowshoe

Finding the Right Snowshoe This season head outdoors and discover snowshoeing. Our wide selection of gear is guaranteed to stand up for years of winter fun, whether your adventure takes you into the backcountry, or just out in your backyard.

Finding the Right Snowshoe
Selecting the right snowshoe can be overwhelming. Once you read through these pages regarding size, shape, and bindings, it should help you narrow down your choices and make your selection process easier. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our product experts at (920) 465-1510. Or email us at info@incompetition.com.

Determining the right snowshoe specifically for you is based on three factors:

  • Your weight plus clothing and equipment.
  • The terrain and snow conditions.
  • The activity you plan to enjoy in your snowshoes.

SNOWSHOE SIZE

Weight
We don't believe you will be snowshoeing in your birthday suit, so you need to calculate your total weight when loaded with all your clothing, gear and food. So make sure you are allowing for the few extra pounds when you pick your size!

Snowshoes typically come in standard sizes:
8x25 120-200 lbs.
9x30  170-250 lbs.
10x36  220-300 lbs.
Women's Snowshoe Sizes:
8x21w   80-150 lbs.
8x25w 120-220 lbs.
Children's Snowshoe Sizes:
 7x18  up to 80 lbs
7x19 70x130 lbs.

Terrain
There are two terrain and snow condition categories:

  • Flat terrain, rolling terrain or deep powder, where a larger snowshoe does a better job of keeping you on top of the snow.
  • Mountainous terrain, dense brush or packed snow, where you are less likely to sink into the snow. A smaller snowshoe makes it easier to maneuver and have a quicker pace.
    Remember you can snowshoe anywhere there's snow. Parks, winter ski resorts with designated snowshoe trails, even your backyard!

Activity
How you plan to snowshoe is as important as weight and terrain when determining the snowshoe size you need. To make it easy to choose, snowshoes have been broken down into three basic categories:

  • Recreational snowshoes for moderate length snowshoe walks, up to 3-5 miles over gentle to moderately steep terrain. They are fine for broken out or groomed trails and some off-road use.
  • Mountaineering snowshoes are designed for all the rigors of long distance travel, steep snow climbing and extended off-trail use.
  • Aerobic/Fitness snowshoes are designed specifically for running and exercise and are not recommended for trail use or the backcountry.

SNOWSHOE SHAPE

Today's snowshoes are smaller, lighter, stronger and much more maneuverable than their older counterparts. Traditionally, snowshoes were large and oval. Now the size has been reduced and the shapes more streamlined.

There are two main shapes of snowshoes:

  • Rounded Tails
  • Pointed Tails

The Rounded Tails are designed to give you maximum flotation and stability. By having a rounded tail, the snowshoe is more balanced and has more surface area to keep you "on top" of the snow. The disadvantage to the rounded tail is the loss of maneuverability. You have to make your stride longer and your stance wider to not trip on your snowshoe tails.

The Pointed Tails make the walking process easier. By cutting some of the snowshoe off the tails, you can take a more natural stride without having to worry about tripping on your snowshoes. You legs can be closer together, more like a normal walking position. The disadvantage to the pointed tail is the loss of some flotation in deeper snow.

SNOWSHOE BINDINGS

The binding is what holds the foot and snowshoe together. A good binding should be easy to use and stay properly adjusted until you take it off. It also should hold your foot comfortably, but securely, so there isn't any slipping. Another component of the binding is the type of rotation in the hinge.

There are two rotational styles in hinges:

  • Pivotal Hinge
  • Spring Loaded Hinge

The Pivotal Hinge:
The pivotal hinge is a free-floating hinge. This means that the tail of the snowshoe will fall away from your foot with each step you take. The binding is attached to the snowshoe with a metal rod, which allows the shoe to pivot 90 degrees.

Advantages: The snowshoes don't follow your foot when you step, so you shed snow from the tail with each step, reducing leg fatigue. On very steep terrain the low tail helps massively going up hill.

Disadvantages: When the tail is dragging on the ground, it is very hard to make any sharp turns and virtually impossible to walk backwards. Since the binding is stiffer, the snowshoes will have a less natural feel as you are walking.

The Spring Loaded Hinge:
The spring-loaded hinge is like a massive rubber band. The spring will bring the snowshoe tail back up to your heel after each step rather than letting it drag like the pivotal hinge.

Advantages: Since the tails spring back up to your heels, these snowshoes offer a more natural and comfortable stride. The spring hinge makes it much easier to climb over objects, maneuver in tight situations and moving backwards is not difficult at all.

Disadvantages: Since the snowshoe tail springs back up, it's very common to have a back full of snow after your day of snowshoeing. They tend to fling snow back up as they spring. On steeper slopes, the spring hinge can get in the way and make walking a little more difficult.