Snowshoes are the unavoidable tool for hiking the great outdoors as snowshoeing is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the phenomenal panoramas of the French mountain ranges. Properly choosing one’s equipment will guarantee that a snowshoeing outing does not become the hike from hell.
The choice of a snowshoe will depend primarily on the terrain and the snow conditions: flat terrain, rugged uneven terrain, hard-packed snow or powder, short hike or trek. The following advice will help you find the appropriate compromise for most snowshoeing outings.
There are 6 primary criteria to keep in mind:
· The size of the snowshoes’ decking: a narrow width (up to 8 inches) will allow you to walk easily and is efficient for short walks on easy terrain. For hikes in powder, opt for wider decking (10 inches) for better flotation.
· The length of the snowshoe depends on the hiker’s weight. The heavier the hiker, the longer the snowshoe. Typically 22 inches for those under 175 pounds (12 stones) and 25 inches for abominable snowmen!
· The construction material: snowshoes can be either plastic or aluminium. Plastic is the more widespread, the least expensive, the most hard-wearing and suitable for all types of snowshoeing. Aluminium frames are more common for those who want greater performance in extreme conditions.
· Crampons : generally, snowshoes have tooth-like crampons or cleats at the front of the shoe, toe crampons, but heel crampons are also available and placed under the decking for greater traction on steep slopes. Additionally, side rails or traction bars will provide greater stability in more extreme conditions.
· Heel lifts also known as climbing bars are placed under the heels and can relieve muscular strain. They allow the foot to remain flat while getting more benefit from the thrust. They are a must-have. These heel lifts can be flipped up on uphill section and flipped back down afterwards: an interesting option.
· Bindings come in two types: rotating or floating binders which allow the ball of the foot to pivot or fixed bindings held with straps which do not pivot as much. To best choose the proper binding, it is recommended to bring the shoes you will be using with you to the store to see which is better adapted to your shoes and the type of snowshoeing you expect to enjoy.
You now know everything you need to know about snowshoes; you may choose with confidence.
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