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June 28, 2022
Snowshoes have evolved vastly over the years. The journey started with the traditional wood and raw hide snowshoes your grandparents would have worn decades ago. The aboriginals were using designs similar to these traditional snowshoes for thousands of years. You might still see them in a museum or on a wall of a ski lodge for decor as they are pieces of art and a piece of Canadian snowshoe history. There may still be a very small percentage of snowshoers that prefer the traditional design but with the advancement of modern materials and technology there are many more practical options. With so many snowshoe brands available it can be difficult to navigate the snowshoe market and select the right snowshoe for you.
In this blog I will try to break down the key features you should be looking for when purchasing your next snowshoe package. After reading this article you will easily be able to grasp the differences in the various brands and realize what sets Powder Paws Snowshoes apart from the big box store snowshoes such as Costco Snowshoes.
Aluminum snowshoe frames started replacing the traditional wood snowshoes in the 1960’s. Now it is the standard frame material used for the current snowshoe available on the market today. Aluminum works great for snowshoe frames as it is light with a great weight to strength ratio.
In choosing the decking material, you want a decking that is lightweight, scratch resistant, tough and will not get hard and brittle causing the deck to crack in the harsh cold weather conditions. There are several different materials you can find on modern snowshoes. We find that HDPE (high-density polyethylene) checks all the boxes and that is why we incorporate this material into all of our models.
Unlike the traditional snowshoes that we mentioned earlier all modern day snowshoes have incorporated crampons underneath the snowshoe to aid in traction for when you are in steeper terrain or encounter icy conditions. Not all crampons are created equal and with many hours of snowshoeing in different conditions and reading many reviews of other companies crampon choices we decided to use only steel crampons on all our adult snowshoe models. Steel is the preferred choice as it can handle the abuse in harsher conditions. The aluminum crampons typically have been known to bend or break in cold temperatures rendering the snowshoe completely useless. With the steel crampons this is a non issue and gives you the peace of mind when out in the backcountry.
Bindings are a critical part of your snowshoe. It’s extremely important that you have a binding that can adjust to a wide variety of footwear you might be wearing as well as being very easy to take on and off.
Rotating bars attached to the binding allows you to maintain your natural stride when snowshoeing and allows the snowshoe to drop away from your foot when you take a step. It also prevents the back of the snowshoe from flicking up snow on yourself as you walk. These are highly recommended and we have incorporated them into all our adults snowshoes.
When constantly climbing in mountainous terrain the heel lifts aid in the incline. It is an elevated resting place for your heel, so your heel does not come all the way back down to the snowshoe with each step. This helps prevent fatigue in the muscle of your calf.
No snowshoe package can be complete without the trekking poles. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of trekking poles for balance and stability while snowshoeing.
When purchasing snowshoe/trekking pole packages I highly recommend finding out the grade of aluminum the trekking poles encompass. As trekking poles are very small in diameter it is essential that the more expensive 7000 series aluminum is used. The cheaper, weaker 6000 series aluminum trekking poles are prone to breaking on the trail. The aluminum level locking system we use is also a much more reliable locking system than the twist locks. The twist locks have been known to fail causing the trekking poles to collapse when weight is applied. This has never been an issue with any of our trekking poles we have sold. Cork grips that come with higher end trekking poles are a lot more comfortable than the plastic grips that are common with the less expensive trekking poles on the market. All of the Powder Paws trekking poles come with quality cork grips and foam grip extensions for steep terrain. A quality carrying case complete with the different trail attachments is a must as this increases the diversity of usage and allows you to easily swap out the tips of the trekking poles on your favorite hiking trails in the summer.
Our snowshoes are not gender specific. Instead of designing gender specific men’s snowshoes and women’s snowshoes we designed our snowshoes to have a tapered end to accommodate a narrower stride.