[at-l] Snowshoes?

L. Clayton Parker l.clayton.parker at gmail.com
Wed Dec 22 15:29:57 CST 2010

It would help if you told us your intended usage. Packed vs. loose
powder, trail vs, backcountry; walking, hiking, running, etc. 

That said modern snowshoes fall into four broad categories, Mountain
Hiking, Backcountry, Trail Walking and Speed. Classic metal and older
wood framed snowshoes fall in the first two categories while plastic and
composite framed snowshoes can be found in all four categories. Almost
all snowshoes (with one exception) include some sort of built-in cleat
similar to a crampon. The sole exception is made to wear with regular

 Classic snowshoes are typically a bit heavier, more rugged, provide
greater flotation and are usually more expensive.  

Plastic and composite snowshoes are smaller, lighter, less tiring to use
and generally much less durable. Some trail runners cost more than
classic snowshoes (isn't carbon fiber wonderful?), but in general they
are usually cheaper.

I own a pair of Atlas Backcountry 33s made to integrate with Black
Diamond Sabretooth crampons. They no longer make them but you might find
a pair on eBay. They are for serious winter mountaineers, not for casual
backpacking and camping. Atlas snowshoes can be viewed at
http://atlassnowshoe.com/snowshoes . At the other end of the spectrum
are offerings from MSR
http://cascadedesigns.com/msr/snowshoes/category . These are good
choices for the average backpacker who is going to be mostly on trails.

That said, even the classic snowshoes can be overwhelmed in deep enough
loose powder. If you look through the sites, you will see that the
largest shoes are in the 24 inch range, I have postholed with the Atlas
33" snowshoes on the Three Sisters in the Rockies, on Mount Washington
in New Hampshire and on Mount Mitchell in North Carolina! In each case
there was over 6 feet of loose powder *on the trail*. If the Atlas
snowshoes won't stay afloat, the plastic ones definitely won't.

Lee I Joe

On Wed, 2010-12-22 at 15:20 -0500, Frank Looper wrote:

> I need a recommendation for snowshoes. Light and cheap would be nice,
> but built-in crampons or similar and the ability to handle powder is
> more so.
> Alps? Ajax? MSR? I have no idea.
> Thanks!
> InsaneLunaticWalker 
> _______________________________________________
> at-l mailing list
> at-l at backcountry.net
> http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/at-l
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