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Thread: snowshoes

  1. #1
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    snowshoes

    I know it's a little early for this post, but I am buying a new set of snowshoes and need advice.
    I snowshoe in AK wilderness, varying terrain. There are no trails. Currently use Tubbs Mountaineering, 30 inch. This is sufficient most of the time, but when we get really dry, fluffy snow I occasionally sink in up to 18-20 inches. I am thinking of getting the same snowshoe in the 36 inch length. My dilemma: will the increased surface area equal the increase in floatation? In other words, if the 36 inch shoe has, say 25% more area overall, will I sink in 25% less? If I buy these and only sink a couple of inches less, then it would not be worth it to me. I weigh, fully clothed, about 180 lbs., but that should not factor into the calculations. I'd like to hear from experienced snowshoers who have had experience with different size shoes.

  2. #2
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    One year, I actually tried this in my backyard. I couldn't find the empirical results with a quick search either I weigh just south of 200# before the pack goes on and best I recall there was 18" or so of champagne powder. I tried all four pairs of snowshoes, including 8x22" Denali EVO, 8x24" Tubbs Flex Alp, 8x28" Tubbs Flex Alp XL and 9x30" Tubbs tubular (non mountaineering) and while there was a measurable difference, it wasn't enormous. I take the MSRs hiking if the trails are known to be packed or I will be carrying them for a known portion, and I take the Flex Alp XL if I know for sure I will be breaking trail in over a foot. Otherwise I take the regular Flex Alp 8x24. For sure, breaking trail with that extra 4" inches helps, if only that it packs down 4 more inches with every step.

    I will try to find the data but best I recall it showed that even with the biggest shoe, I still sunk a fair amount, but never as much as bare booting.

    Tim
    p.s. It is not at all uncommon to get the first snowshoe post in a year around now
    Last edited by bikehikeskifish; 10-05-2021 at 04:29 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Given the predicted supply and logistics issues, my guess is the early bird will get the worm when it comes to equipment.

    I find that my wider surplus US military snowshoes are far better in unbroken powder. than narrower shoes. The trade off is they are far less agile heading up steep grades.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/37259538690...hoCuq0QAvD_BwE

    BTW, the military bindings are crap.

    These Iverson bindings are a nice replacemen,t they are the ones I use https://www.boundarywaterscatalog.co...-binding-12250
    Last edited by peakbagger; 10-05-2021 at 05:51 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Do we have people who use skis and snowshoes?

    From Peakbagger's findings it would make sense that if the extra surface area is closer to the weight, then the distribution of the weight should be more effective. (If they were 25% wider, they might be better than 25% longer as most of your weight is near the front or middle. .hence the shape of the real old fashion ones.)

    Having extra wide shoes though make walking cumbersome and in trails packed down with narrow shoes, it's a pain in the..... hips and knees
    Last edited by Mike P.; 10-07-2021 at 06:02 PM.
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  5. #5
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    These folks are worth a look http://www.mgsnowshoes.com/Products2.html

    I have seen them at the Fryeburg Fair in the past and really want a pair of rabbit hunters, but just have too many others already. They look ideal for walking around in circles, which is my favorite activity.

    I bought a snowblower for my tractor last week that I saw on an old listing from a dealership; I don't think they had a chance to update the listing for increased prices for this season as the salesman was surprised that it was $900 cheaper than he expected.

  6. #6
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Is the snowpack in AK similar to the generally heavy snowpack here in the northeast? We rarely need lots of floatation here because the snow is generally pretty dense.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    Do we have people who use skis and snowshoes?

    From Peakbagger's findings it would make sense that if the extra surface area is closer to the weight, then the distribution of the weight should be more effective, Having extra wide shoes though make walking cumbersome and in trails packed down with narrow shoes, it's a pain in the..... hips and knees
    I do agree, that using my Mag shoes on trails broken out with "skinny" snowshoes is not pleasant. Given OPs stated use this is probably of less concern to him.

    Of course I will point out the NH Fish and Game still seems to stick with 20 plus year old Sherpas when they roll out for rescues. IRL in Canada still makes a clone version of the Sherpas for pros that need to depend on them but they are pricey. https://www.irlsupplies.com/0/0/prod...97575&cat=5846. That design is proven to be just about bullet proof.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    FWIW, I just got the last pair of REVOs from the Albany EMS, and they do not expect any more 'soon'.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Scubahhh's Avatar
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    Getting back to the original question just for a moment: greater surface area means greater flotation, but in my experience it's not even close to a 1:1 correlation, that is, 25% greater surface area won't translate to 25% less sinking. And now, back to our commercials: you might want to take a look at MSR, which have detachable tails to add length and flotation. I love my 30" Lightning Ascents (36" with the tails, I think), and am on my third pair in the last ten years. I guess that doesn't say much for their durability and at $300+ a whack they ought to last a little longer than that, but in their defense I'm hard on them. Have fun!
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  10. #10
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    When I first got into Winter hiking several years back I really had no clue how to buy snowshoes so I went by the typical website recommendations to go by weight with gear. I'm 6'3" and tip the scales at about 230 lbs and went with a 36" Tubbs Flex Alp(?) based on the height/weight charts not comprehending how incompatible this is for trail hiking in New England, with the steep terrain, narrow trails and generally packed and often icy trails. The first year I did Winter hiking I dislocated my shoulder in a fall. These stories may be related...

    I do recall when I first got my 36" shoes we had a good blanket of powder in the yard from recent storms and was pretty disappointed when I strapped them on and drove them into the snow more than half way up my shins. I agree with what others have said that the surface area/float correlation ratio is probably not a useful metric for comparison. I've since done a lot more Winter hiking on different lengths and types of snowshoes and do feel the longer length definitely helps in really fluffy snow but I'm not sure you'll see a huge difference going from 30" to a larger shoe. Incidentally, my current snowshoes are the Tubbs Mountaineer 25 in model.

    You may be better off looking into tail extensions for your existing show shoes if you want to add some float without the expense of a brand new set of snowshoes. I know 6 inch extensions are a popular accessory with MSR snow shoes but I don't recall if Tubbs made tail extensions or not. or whether the MSR version would be compatible. The MSR extensions are $45-$50 on Amazon. I didn't immediately find a Tubbs version but I didn't look very long.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Question: Do you know hinters that run trap lines in the winter up there? If so find out what they use to get around.

    My guess is off trail in AK in winter requires BIG shoes. And going up 25% in size will not yield a night n day difference from your 30 inchers IMHO.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKMIKE View Post
    I know it's a little early for this post, but I am buying a new set of snowshoes and need advice.
    I snowshoe in AK wilderness, varying terrain. There are no trails. Currently use Tubbs Mountaineering, 30 inch. This is sufficient most of the time, but when we get really dry, fluffy snow I occasionally sink in up to 18-20 inches. I am thinking of getting the same snowshoe in the 36 inch length. My dilemma: will the increased surface area equal the increase in floatation? In other words, if the 36 inch shoe has, say 25% more area overall, will I sink in 25% less? If I buy these and only sink a couple of inches less, then it would not be worth it to me. I weigh, fully clothed, about 180 lbs., but that should not factor into the calculations. I'd like to hear from experienced snowshoers who have had experience with different size shoes.
    I had 36 in way back when first starting. They were monsters. Just not the deal for my type of hiking in the White Mountains. Maybe out on the flats. Clumsy and hard to hike up and down any trails with steepness,etc.

    I went to 30" Tubbs Mountains with the very aggressive teeth and never looked back. I now use Tubbs 24in flex alps since I don't hike unpacked trails much anymore or the highest summits in winter. Love the Alps bindings and build.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubahhh View Post
    Getting back to the original question just for a moment: greater surface area means greater flotation, but in my experience it's not even close to a 1:1 correlation, that is, 25% greater surface area won't translate to 25% less sinking. And now, back to our commercials: you might want to take a look at MSR, which have detachable tails to add length and flotation. I love my 30" Lightning Ascents (36" with the tails, I think), and am on my third pair in the last ten years. I guess that doesn't say much for their durability and at $300+ a whack they ought to last a little longer than that, but in their defense I'm hard on them. Have fun!
    I tried the extenders, but they shift the center of mass/gravity so much that they are pitching you forward. A bad idea if going down hill!
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  14. #14
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubahhh View Post
    Getting back to the original question just for a moment: greater surface area means greater flotation, but in my experience it's not even close to a 1:1 correlation, that is, 25% greater surface area won't translate to 25% less sinking.
    I think this is a very good point while given persons weight pressure exerted on snow surface is inversely proportional to surface area, I am quite certain that snow compaction is not a linear function of pressure unlike the spring model that we got to learn in high school physics. I was trying to find some plots of snow compaction rate as a function of pressure but I did not come up with anything that looked relevant. Still I'm pretty sure that this has been studied before and someone out there knows exactly what that relationship is and possibly how it depends on type of snow and temperature range.

    My very limited Alaska winter experience (some 15 years ago) is that it was pretty cold - temperatures hovering just above 0F in Anchorage and the snow wasn't really that soft but then it was not really snowing much at the time. Going up on a side of Flattop Mountain on the outskirts of Anchorage there was actually not that much snow and whatever I remember was hard crust. Yet in a city park when I took a hiking pole and tried to reach hard ground I think it went in at least 3 feet.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by iAmKrzys; 10-08-2021 at 09:01 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Freshly fallen snow is extremely non-supportive, whereas compacted snow at the end of the year can easily hold me up w/o snowshoes.
    Tom Rankin
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