[at-l] Snowshoes?

Tom McGinnis sloetoe at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 22 19:18:28 CST 2010

Well, I post-holed the Nantahalas in "the usual" 48 hours, crashing the downhills with 6' footsteps (that was *awesome*), and just taking my time on the uphills (a zen, slow-it-down-there-brother exercise, to be sure). If a shoe is really needed, it seems like LeeIJoe's thoughts are spot on..... (My vote, any whey.)


--- On Wed, 12/22/10, Frank Looper <nightwalker.at at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Frank Looper <nightwalker.at at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [at-l] Snowshoes?
To: "Tom McGinnis" <sloetoe at yahoo.com>
Cc: l.clayton.parker at gmail.com, "at-l" <AT-L at backcountry.net>
Date: Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 8:08 PM

Not moving. Backpacking AT in January. Terribly snowy Winter in the South this year. Like last year. Maybe more.

Heck, we're even having a white Christmas!

I expect deep snow in the Smokies.

On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 6:55 PM, Tom McGinnis <sloetoe at yahoo.com> wrote:

That first question is a biggie, there, Frankenshoen. Shoes for down south?!? For *powder*?!? The last time I was able to do Fontana Dam to Springer, I started out wading drifts of oatmeal snow up to my hips, and finished in shirtsleeves on Springer. When I lived in New England, I made neoprene-decked jobs (they're right inside, and despite lots of Wisconsin use, look new at 30 years old)  You planning on a move soon?

--- On Wed, 12/22/10, L. Clayton Parker <l.clayton.parker at gmail.com> wrote:

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 crampons.

 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.





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