What to look for in a pair of snowshoes | SierraSun.com

What to look for in a pair of snowshoes

Peter Fain
Running on Snow
Submitted to swright@sierrasun.comThere are a surprising number of snowshoes on the market. Do some research to find out which are best for you.

Even though Iand#8217;ve been snowshoe running for nearly 12 years, I can only speak with limited authority on what is best. I know what I like, Iand#8217;ve seen what others like and Iand#8217;ve done some research. With that in mind, there are many snowshoe brands out there, far more than you would expect.

It is important to buy for your needs and uses. If you plan to be on groomed trails 90 percent of the time, or if youand#8217;re going into the backcountry blazing your own trail 90 percent of the time, the shoe may be different. The specifics to consider are the size and weight, the binding, the parts and the warranty.

I have two pairs that I rotate between, the Redfeather Vapor and the Redfeather Race. The vapor is an extremely small, lightweight snowshoe that I like for running quickly on groomed trails. The flotation is moderate when dealing with deeper snow.

For those deeper conditions, I like the Race because of the extra flotation. There is a bit more weight and length but well worth it when trying to run on a day with fresh powder. I know, I should be skiing when thereand#8217;s fresh powder and#8230; whatever!

And then there is the Atlas DualTrac. This was my go-to snowshoe for 10 years. It is a very versatile shoe, falling somewhere between the two I just described. For honorable mention, Northern Lights and Dion produce an extremely light and efficient running snowshoe. My racing buddy swears by Northern Lights and Dion is flying onto the scene with great popularity. I havenand#8217;t tried either of them, so do your research.

Another component of snowshoes that I like is the ability to switch out the cleats. They break, and for me I break them often so itand#8217;s best if that part can easily be unscrewed.

The binding is another important piece. You want your shoe to be snug in the biding without restricting circulation. This is where snowshoe companies differ a lot. You want something easy to put on and that doesnand#8217;t easily come undone or loosen. If you really want to geek out, you can mount your running shoe directly to the snowshoe. This is a great idea if youand#8217;re looking to cut a little weight and have had issues with discomfort from bindings.

Last but not least, you want a snowshoe that doesnand#8217;t inhibit your running stride. You want to run as naturally as possible. If you cant, slow down. If that doesnand#8217;t help, you may be in the wrong pair of snowshoes.

With many snowshoe races in the area (nine in Northern California), itand#8217;s a good idea to try a pair of demos at a local race or run into someone like me who will let you try out a pair of mine. And just because the snowshoe is marketed as a racing snowshoe doesnand#8217;t mean you have to race. My wife hates running but now only wears the racing snowshoe when we take the dogs for a hike.

and#8212; Peter Fain is a Truckee resident and 2009 National Snowshoe Champion. He may be contacted at runonsnow@gmail.com.

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