[Cdt-l] snowshoes

Paul Magnanti pmags at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 6 10:31:39 CST 2010

I won't bring up my preferred mode of winter transportation again. ;)

If you are thinking for the CDT, they may be more of a PITA even in June with the on again/off again snow.

Having said that, what kind of snowshoeing do you plan on doing?  Mainly packed down trails? Off-trail? Day use only? 
Do you have CO-type snow (light, fluffy and deep) or more the "Cascade Concrete"-type that is very dense? 

The first thing to think of is how much you weigh WITH your gear and the type of snow conditions you'll see.

The popular 8x25 snowshoes are ones I think of as day use for most people. They are easy to maneuver, fairly light,
and hold up to 180-200 lbs WITH gear (depending on snow conditions and weight load as stated by manufacturers).  
If you stick to mainly packed down trails, don't wander into the deep powder, and are relatively light even with
gear, they are a very useful all around size.

OTOH, if you wander off packed trails, tend to go into deep and fluffy powder and weigh over the 180-200lb mark with
gear, you'll probably want 9x30 (or, if you are really big guy and/or wandering into REALLY deep powder, 10x36).
These bad boys are heavy, a bit clunky to use and overkill if you do day outings...but sinking up to your knees (or more)
in small snowshoes ain't fun. 

Now that we figured out the size, time to pick a brand and mdel. 

Like skis, there are different snowshoes for different jobs. I wouldn't bring my touring skis into steep mountain terrain. Nor would I bring
my short and wide tele skis for touring. :)

Mainly climbing steep mountains with mixed powder and crust conditions? The MSR Denali Ascent are quite nice. They have extra flotation
tails to extend the weigh range avail and really large crampons for aggressive climbing. Somewhat heavy if you stick to packed down trail, tough.

Sticking to rolling terrain and packed down trails? The Northern Lights are a good, all-purpose snowshoe that can be used for the steeper mountain climbs
as well if need be.

Flat terrain? Atlas and Tubbs (for example) both make snowshoes with a less agressive crampon that are lighter than the above types. Think Minnesota..or a modern version of what a "Coureur de bois" would use. Red toque optional. :)

There are other brands and models (Tubbs, Redfeather, etc.) and variety in the above brands I mentioned,  but honestly, I tend to think of TYPES rather than specific brands and models. I gave the three broad examples above. 
The best bet is to go to your local outdoor store and check out the wares.

Finally, I wrote this little doc for Intro to Snowshoeing. Though written for snowshoeing, 80%+ of this info can apply to any backcountry winter activity:

Winter is not a time to sit on our rear-ends..but a way to experience the mountains in a different way. Come worship in the Temple of Snow! 
Besides being fun, you'll be in great shape come hiking season!

The true harvest of my life is intangible.... a little stardust 
caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched

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