Equip Yourself with Snowshoes this Vacation

September 17, 2007 by  
Filed under features

Your winter vacation may involve snowshoeing or walking and hiking in the snow. The terrain that you will walk on depends on the vacation destination and your desire for adventure. People on their first winter vacation in the snow may find it more conveneient to rent snowshoes till they can find something suitable and comfortable. Tubbs, Sherpa, Atlas and ORS are leading manufacturers of snowshoes.

Traditionally ethnic races living in the snow had wooden shoes with leather laces that served as snow shoes. The use of the modern snowshoe grew with the recreational winter sports of racing and hiking in Canada. The manufacture of snowshoes for recreational purposes began in the late 19th century with the spread of winter recreation. Snowshoes work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person’s foot does not sink completely into the snow, by the principle of flotation.

Snowshoes are designed to keep the wearer secure and comfortable on the mountains. Most modern snowshoes are made of light metal such as aluminium or stainless steel or a single piece of plastic that require little maintenance and usually incorporate crampons. Snowshoes distribute the weight over an area wider than the sole of the foot when worn and are generally raised at the toe for maneuverability. Latice work prevents accummulation of snow and they require bindings to attach them to the feet.

Now some snowshoes use no metal at all and have detachable tail extenders. Newer models have heel-lifters, called “ascenders”, that flip up to facilitate hill climbing. Neoprene/nylon lighter materials such as polypropylene decks have superior water resistance.

Snowshoes today are of many types dependingon the use during the vacation. The simplest ones are aerobic or running types which are small and light and are not intended for backcountry use. Another type is the recreational which is larger and meant for use in gentle to moderate walks of 3-5 miles. The sturdiest and largest are the mountaineering style which are meant for serious hill-climbing, long-distance trips and off-trail use.

Sizes are often given in inches and mountaineering shoes can be at least 30 inches long by 10 inches. A lighter pair of racing shoes can be slightly narrower and or shorter.