The benefits of snowshoeing are undeniable. As long as there is snow, anyone who can walk can do it, anywhere. It is wonderful, low impact, aerobic exercise that tones muscles, builds strength, and increases stamina. It gets you out, into the fresh air and sunshine, providing opportunities to see nature in all its glory, while many choose to stay inside and ignore it. It can be shared with loved ones of all ages, in groups of nearly any size. Once you get them into snowshoes kids want to spend all day outside. Snowshoeing can be a great first date – a real icebreaker, if you will – or enjoyed in solitude. You can rent a set of snowshoes and poles, or buy all-inclusive snowshoe kits.
If you are just getting started, you may have questions about which type of snowshoes are right for you. Traditional snowshoes have been around for thousands of years. Modern technology has provided the cutting edge to this staple of life, combining solid historical service with scientific advances to create the perfect human powered, all terrain, snow-going vehicle.
What’s so great about aluminum snowshoes?
Light Weight, Compact, and Tough Less weight always equates to easier travel. Compared to traditional, wooden framed snowshoes that were as much as fourteen inches wide, five feet long, and weighing in at over 10 pounds per pair, modern snowshoes are a maneuvering dream-come-true. Made with hollow tubing and lightweight synthetic components, aluminum framed snowshoes can weigh as little as 2.2 pounds per pair. They come is standard widths from 8 to 10 inches and lengths from 24 to 36 inches. Traditional snowshoes are somewhat more flexible than aluminum, but backcountry trails can be brutal. The aluminum frame and composite decking will endure abuse that would splinter wood and unravel rawhide lacing. An aluminum snowshoe is easy to maintain on or off the trail, in or out of season.
Made to Fit Aluminum snowshoes come in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes, with dimensions roughly based on the weight of the user plus gear. Although women’s snowshoes are narrower to accommodate a typically smaller stature, they are otherwise virtually identical to men’s. Either gender may choose either type, based on personal experience or preference. The snowshoes kids wear are more than scaled down versions of adult models. Some have solid decks or non-rotational toe cords that keep little legs from working too hard. They offer easy-operating rip cord bindings so that parents or kids can make necessary adjustments with gloves on. They are also designed to grow with your child, so you get years of use from one set of snowshoes.
Terrain Specific Modern snowshoes are individualized for various snow conditions, topography, and specific activities. Categorized as recreational, mountaineering, and racing, each style is designed for an intended environment. Recreational snowshoes are short and narrow. They are easy to maneuver, “all purpose” snowshoes that can be used for strolling in the park or on established trails. Mountaineering snowshoes are longer and wider to maintain flotation in deep or powdery snow, when breaking trail, and on steep terrain. Racing snowshoes are the shortest, narrowest, lightest made, and are designed for running in snow.
Updated Features Modern snowshoes come with some updated additions. Nylon ratcheting straps have replaced clumsy leather straps and buckles. Rotating bindings on pivoting axles allow you to walk more naturally, causing less fatigue, and without flipping snow down your neck with every step. Toothy metal cleats and crampons attached to the bottom and sides of the snowshoe provide traction on hills. Fatigue reducing, flip-up heel lifts may be integrated into the snowshoe to take the strain off of your calves when traveling on steep terrain.
Low Cost Compared to many sports, gearing up for snowshoeing is relatively inexpensive. Snowshoe kits that include snowshoes and poles in a storage bag can cost less than a night on the town. They will last much longer, offer great health benefits, and may provide an energized outlook on life. If you decide this is the sport for you, even high-end, professional snowshoes cost less than a weekend in Vegas! With so many great benefits and so few drawbacks, aluminum snowshoes are a very good gamble.