Snowshoes seem to have become much more popular these past few years and since I am not a skier, snowboarder or skater, this year I thought I would check out a new way to get outside and have some fun in the winter by getting a pair of snowshoes. Little did I know that before buying snowshoes there are a number of things to consider to ensure you are getting the right pair for you. I sort of thought they were a one-size-fits-all-adults sort of thing, goes to show you just how little I know. Because I was so clueless and had to seek out advice both from the Internet and the kind folks at Sport Chek in order to decide what sort of snowshoes would be best for me, I thought it would be worthy of sharing the five things to consider when buying snowshoes so you can make an informed decision.
Who Are They For?
Is the person who will be using them a man, woman or child?
Women’s snowshoes tend to be narrower (as we have a narrower stance and gait) and have more contoured frame designs making them easier for us to walk in. Does that mean a woman can’t use men’s snowshoes or vice versa? Not necessarily, but generally speaking we will find it more comfortable to walk in those designed specifically for women. Children will obviously require smaller snowshoes than adults, and depending on the child may need to move up to an adult size sooner than expected depending on their height/weight.
How Much Does The Person Weigh?
Don’t get upset if the salesperson in the store asks you how much you weigh. Because snowshoes are made to allow you to walk on top of the snow, there is a weight distribution factor that needs to be considered. Most snowshoes have the load listed on the packaging and remember we are talking the weight of you + your gear. If you will be hiking for a few days with a heavy pack on your back, you’ll need snowshoes rated for a higher load than if you are just going to be out and about for a few hours or a day. Snowshoes tend to have a pretty wide weight range so it’s important to check, but shouldn’t be an issue.
Where Will You Be Using Your Snowshoes?
Will you be using them mostly on flat packed trails or will you be hiking up icy and/or steep terrain? The type of snowshoes you need will vary depending on where you will be using them. The people I talked to recommended choosing the smallest snowshoes for your total load as smaller snowshoes are lighter and easier to manoeuvre in.
The traction devices on snowshoes also vary depending on what type of terrain they are made for, those made for icy and steep trails will be made with more cramptons for traction than those made for packed and flat trails.
What Type of Bindings Do You Want?
There are two common types of bindings, rotating and fixed. Rotating binding pivot where they attack under the balls of your feet allowing you to walk naturally and allows you to climb hills more easily. They also make it easier for making your way through deep snow. But because they pivot, they can make stepping over obstacles and moving backwards more difficult.
Fixed bindings allow you to easily step over things and backup, as well as provide an easy stride and will be the preferred type of binding for mot recreational snowshoers.
What Will You Be Wearing On Your Feet?
Whether you have waterproof hiking boots or winter boots that you’ll be wearing when you are out on the trails, it is important that you consider your footwear when purchasing snowshoes. Your best plan is to bring your footwear along with you when looking at snowshoes to make sure the pair you choose will work with your footwear. Most snowshoes work with most types of hiking and winter boots, but depending on the soles of the shoes and the type of binding you have chosen there can be some incompatibilities. So make your life easy and just take your footwear along with you to the store.
After much consideration, I decided on the Tubbs Xplore 25 Women’s Snowshoes from Sport Chek. Since this is a new adventure for me I thought a pair of fairly basic, trail snowshoes with fixed bindings would do the trick. Let’s be real here – I have no intention of climbing any icy mountainsides anytime soon!
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Sadly, since they arrived we’ve had very little snow for me to try them out, but the forecast this week looks promising for snowshoeing (not so much for being a fitness instructor, haha) so I’m sure that I’ll get to take them out for a “real” snowshoeing adventure soon!
Thank you so much to Sport Chek for partnering with me on this post. I am excited to be bringing you another post on winter sportswear essentials in the coming weeks after I’ve gone out on my first real snowshoe adventure!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Sort Chek, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.