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Thread: Advise on Snowshoes for winter backpacking

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    Junior Member Deematic's Avatar
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    Advise on Snowshoes for winter backpacking

    Does anyone have any input on the type of shoe needed for North east winter hiking?

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    Banned stoopid's Avatar
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    MSR makes great shoes. You'll want something with decent grip/crampon action because the trails (assuming you're not making your own) get hard after just a few weeks of use. You no longer float on the snow, and when it gets steep the tendency is to slide without solid traction. By February the trail from the loj to the top of Algonquin was so hard I used crampons the entire way and didn't post hole a single time (were it in any way soft I'd never do that, but the trails warranted crampon use!). I also had shin-splints from the descent (leaning back with my feet pointing forward/straight down the hill)... I almost put on my snow shoes to slide down, but didn't realize until almost all the way down why my shins were getting sore, and by then it was too late .

    I've seen 2 pair of Tubbs break in just a few snowshoe trips this past winter. I wouldn't personally buy them because they broke at the same joint in each pair (ie -- design flaw). I use some cheap Yakima brand shoes, which are relatively light and have great traction. I'll likely buy MSRs next spring after getting another year out of the Yakimas, but I can't complain...
    Last edited by stoopid; 07-10-2004 at 10:30 AM.

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    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    If the trail is well used I'd go with a smaller flotation area and thus a lighter shoe. Of course if it snows 2 feet the night before you go any route you choose will be new. If breaking a new trail or in late spring when the packed trail gets rotten I would want something a little bigger. You can get snowshoes with different sized tails that snap on and off. For sure you want metal crampons. Check carefully the harness re: ease of getting in and out of, how securely it holds your foot, will it absorb water and then freeze?

    I'm sure subsequent posts will have lots more info.

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    snowshoes

    Deematic--

    Northern Lites Backcountry. Both light and durable. Worth the money.

    Walt

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    Re: Advise on Snowshoes for winter backpacking

    Originally posted by Deematic
    Does anyone have any input on the type of shoe needed for North east winter hiking?
    I like what are sometimes call mounaineeering shnowshoes. The ball crampon axle spins freely. That is, with snowshoes on, if you pick up your foot, the tail rotates down until it is straight up and down. Other shoes there is some sort of restraining device so that the shoe stays mostly level. These latter are much better on flat trails. On steep trails where you need to kick in, or breaking trail, the free-swiveling ones are far superior.

    The size of the shoe depends on your weight (with pack) and type of snow. Almost all the "size charts" available will give you much too big a shoe.

    I weigh 240 and have two pairs, a 36" Tubbs, which I rarely use and are best for trailless walking, and a 30" pair of Redfeathers. These are great. I've had them about five years and cannot say enough good things about them

    They are a bit large for packed trails, but I often used Grivel crampons on heavily packed trails anyway. Those big shoes are awkward in tight turns, narrow trails between trees, etc. It's a drawback of my choice in shoes (too big)

    On the other hand, last March on an outing to the Kinsmans, I could have used larger shoes. I broke trail across Lonesome Lake teh last morning coming out. About three feet of newly drifted snow and a 45 pound pack. WHoo-ee. Took half an hour and even stripped down I was sweating like crazy. By the time I hit the trail on the other side of the lake I was exhausted. The trail had maybe a foot of fresh snow and my shoes were just right. Halfway down, I met a party of eight coming up, and they had packed the trail, and then my shoes were unnecessarily big and clumsy.

    You'll never have exactly the right size for every situation, so my advice would be to figure out what you will be doing most and buy accordingly.

    Steep trails? Get free-swiveling style.
    Very rarely leave packed trails? Get smaller than you think you will need.

    And a pair of G-10's in the pack aren't too heavy and is a welcome change sometimes.

    Frosty

  6. #6
    Senior Member peak_bgr's Avatar
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    Atlas are by far the best. In my opinion anyhow. There fairly lightweight and very aggressive.
    "Woods are not like other spaces.Their trees surround you, loom over you, press in from all sides.Woods choke off views and leave you muddled and without bearings.They make you feel small a confused and vulnerable.Stand in a desert or prairie and you know you are in a big place.Stand in a woods and you only sense it.They are a vast, featureless nowhere.And they are alive."Bill Bryson"

    Cheers
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    Senior Member snowshoe's Avatar
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    I know this has been brought up quite a bit. You may want to look it up for more info. I personally think the MSR's are the way to go for several reason.

    They have a very easy binding system that alowes you to put them on with gloves and put them on fast.

    You can change the length for different conditions.

    They have great traction up and down hill.

    If you have the Acents then you get the heal lifter which helps when climbing up hills.

    If you want to use them in deep powder they dont float as well but how often do we get that. . Trails usually get packed down within a few days. For Deep powder I love my wooden shoes The MSR's tend to be more noisy but you get use to that. You will get different opinions from everyone. SOme love the Tubbs and others hate the MSR. All snowshoes will have their problems. Thats why I have afew pairs. The Msr classics for packed conditions or if I am doing a lot of climbing. I have 30 inch Tubbs I use more on my local trails and when there is more than a foot on the ground localy. Then I have the 36 inch wooden shoes. I use them for those big Nor easters when we get 20+ inches.
    Last edited by snowshoe; 07-10-2004 at 08:54 PM.

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    Member escapee's Avatar
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    High Peaks snowshoes

    I have a pair of Tubbs Sierras, which I thought were just fine until I saw a pair of MSR Denali Ascent snowshoes. I think that these are the best all-around snowshoes for the trails in the High Peaks. Great crampon system; I carried but haven't used my 12 points on a trail for two years. SO far, the MSRs handle all the trails where I might have considered the 12 points. (I now carry 4 point insteps, just to save wear and tear hiking frozen & rocky stuff like Ausable Club lake road.) "Televator" climbing bails are a little awkward to flip up & down, but save a lot of strain on longer steep uphills. Shorter and more maneuverable with optional tail extensions that give more flotation for less-packed snow, but don't work quite as well as a shoe built longer to begin with, like my Tubbs Sierras. I got the 8" extensions, & probably the 4" would work about as well, and balance better.

    Price is right on the MSRs and warranty service is good (the first couple of years of production can best be considered as still experimental). A few seasons of hard use will probably wear a pair out, but you'll get your money's worth.
    "Open the pod bay doors, HAL."

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    I dont know much about the MSR system. I stopped to chat with a lady on the way to lonesome lake hut, and she told me the scratched bases of the MSRs were picking up snow. We agreed a silicon spray or pam or maybe even a glide wax would fix that problem.

    I have 36 inch Atlas 10s and Grivel Violinos. I only chose Atlas over Tubbs because Tubbs would not promise they would work with Koflachs via email. Violinos were purchased on an impulse with a 30 percent off coupon.

    If I am going to be in deep snow, or snow is forecast, I take the big ones. If Im going to be on well packed trails I take the violinos. The violinos work well if you have crampons; otherwise they need frequent adjustement, especially going down hill.

    With a 40 lb pack my gross weight is 230. I really appreciate the 36 inch shoe if I have to break trail. On a packed trail, they are unnecessary and awkward.

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    Senior Member shadowcat's Avatar
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    eww thinking of snowshoes already?

    but since you are, here's my 2 cents. msr's get a lot of rave reviews altho i don't have them. i know someone who has northern lites and loves them but struggles with all the straps in the cold and they don't have very good crampons on them.
    tubbs don't always get the best reviews here, but i have 2 pr: the pinnacles which have a real easy to use binding, closes similar to the strap on a pr of rollerblades - set it once and never again (unless you change boots) they also have very aggressive crampons some of the biggest i've seen. i can tear up the mountains while others struggle for a hold in the snow. now is a good time to look you may find a pr on sale. my 2nd pr are tubbs adventures that i grabbed for $40 about this time last year, use them in early and end of winter when the snow is lighter and you may need to carry them on your pack. because of the "bear hug" binding on the pinnacles they are a bit more of a pain to pack.
    you can ck them out at tubbs site:
    http://www.tubbssnowshoes.com/pinnacle.php
    http://www.tubbssnowshoes.com/adventure.php
    also ck sierra trading post they often have some great deals on snowshoes.
    my best advise is: get something easy to get on and off (you do not want to mess with hard to close straps when its freezing out) and get a crampon suitable for your intended use.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ripple's Avatar
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    Msr Denali ascents. Simple binding, easy to use with gloves. The heal evelvator makes climbing steeper slopes a breeze. The option of adding the tails is a nice feature so one could taylor your shoe to conditions. The shoes have great traction. If you are a bigger person the tails are a must. The price on the MSR s is reasonable, so they don't break the bank.
    Once in a while you get shown the light
    in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
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    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    MSR Denali EVO Ascents. The plastic used is reported (by the manufacturer) to be stonger than in prior models. The bindings have lots of straps, but once you have them on, you are done with them for the day.

    From years of being a confirmed Sherpa user, I finally saw the wisdom of the MSR Evo's. They are one of the best hiking investments I've made for hiking the trails in the Northeast. As for deep unconsolidated snow, I think they are too small, but we don't get a lot of that out here.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Rob S's Avatar
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    Rented Atlas & Tubbs 5 or 6 times, don't remember the models, but they worked fine in most conditions. Have also tried Yukon Charlies with satisfactory results. Then a few years ago I borrowed a friend's MSR Denali Ascents. They performed so well and were so easy to adjust and use, I had to buy a pair. They have unbelievable traction, and the flotation tails can be added for deep unconsolidated snow. As Snowshoe mentioned they are noisier than other snowshoes, and some people will find this annoying. Never bothered me, though.

    Everyone is different and opinions vary with usage, body weight, etc, ........ your best bet is to rent several different models and see what works best for you.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rtrimarc's Avatar
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    snowshoes

    I climb with the MSR Denali Acent. I race with Norhtern Lites. I love them both for their intended use, and have used the MSR for racing and the Northern Lites for climbing and both worked great for their alternate use.

    Can't go wrong with either brand, or most of the other major brands as far i as can tell. Rent/borrow until you find a weight, binding and agressiveness that fits your use and budget.

    RVT
    Too sweet to be sour to nice to be mean.

  15. #15
    Registered User DeadFred's Avatar
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    My vote is for MSR Denali Evo Ascents.

    An aggressive climbing shoe. A little heavy and loud, but very durable. Some shoes offer better floatation platforms/footprints, but you can add tails to the MSR's that will help a little in this area.

    I love 'em!

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