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Check out our advice to help you choose the appropriate equipment and outfit for your snowshoe excursions!
Flotation refers to a snowshoe's ability to stay on top of the snow and is dependent on the weight of the walker (plus the weight of his backpack). It's the first criteria that you need to consider when choosing your pair of snowshoes.
Next, to help you decide between the various snowshoe models, you need to think about your level, the intensity of your practice and the type of terrain you'll encounter. Every model offers different advantages, depending on your particular requirements: support, ease of use, comfort, safety, low weight etc.
Please ask for advice to help you find the ideal pair of snowshoes!
If you're hiking on groomed slopes, you can use a model with a smaller racket head (which will be lighter and easier to manoeuvre) as you'll need less flotation compared to walking in powder snow, off-piste.
Some pairs of snowshoes have a left and a right shoe (so the 2 snowshoes are not interchangeable). This means that the shape of the inner foot can be smaller, making it easier to walk.
For better support, some models are fitted with an integrated boot and tightening straps. Check that the boot is the correct size for you.
If you're planning on walking in hilly terrain, opt for snowshoes with heel lifts (such as the Inuit 450): this equipment, which is inspired by ski touring equipment, compensates for the gradient of the slope, up to an angle of roughly 10 degrees. The result: you'll feel like you're walking on the flat and will expend less energy.
We strongly recommend using a pair of poles to improve your balance. Especially, if you're planning to go walking on uneven terrain, which may be slightly steeper, or in powder where you risk sinking into the snow more.
When walking on snowy terrain, remember to use large baskets so they don't sink into the snow.
Adjustable height poles can be useful for adapting to different snow conditions. There are also poles with longer handles so you can adjust the position of your hands, depending on how far the poles sink into the powder. This is true of the all season Forclaz 550 poles.
Although you're in the snow, snowshoe hiking is an activity where you heat up quickly so there's no point dressing in clothes that are too warm.
The best thing to do is adopt the "3-layer technique" and regulate heat supply in accordance with energy expenditure: removing an item of clothing when it's warm and putting it back on when it's colder or when you stop for a break. If you're too hot, you will produce more perspiration which will cool you down when you stop.
First of all, wear a base layer close to the skin, made from a warm, breathable fabric that will wick away perspiration and help keep you dry. We recommend that you take spare base layers so you can change at the end of your outing.
On top, you need a warm layer that is easy to take off, like a zip-up fleece in brushed fabric which will help retain the heat or a compact padded jacket.
Finally, you need a protective waterproof layer - ideally with ventilation.
When it comes to bottoms, ideally you should have a pair of warm trousers with brushed inner fabric for example, made from a stretch, water repellent material for enhanced freedom of movement and to help protect you from the snow. Some trousers have integrated gaiters which prevent snow getting into your shoes. We recommend that you wear trousers with ventilation zips which are very useful in case you overheat! And you'll really appreciate waterproof inserts on the seat if you sit down in the snow for a short break. You can also choose classic hiking trousers with some leggings underneath to stop you from getting cold.
We lose 8% of our body heat through our head, hands and feet, so remember to keep them warm. We recommend choosing warm, thin gloves that won't hamper your dexterity if you want to adjust your snowshoes or hiking shoes, or open your backpack.
On your head, ideally you should wear a thin hat or headband which offer protection without making you too hot.
For your feet, choose warm, breathable socks designed to wick away perspiration and keep your feet dry.
When snowshoeing, you need high-cut hiking shoes that are warm, breathable and waterproof and offer good support. Choose shoes with a good grip for when you're not wearing your snowshoes (in the car park, stretches of road or if there's too little snow etc.)
We recommend SH520 X-WARM hiking shoes fitted with "Snow Contact" soles, made from a component specially designed to grip snow with 5mm lugs for enhanced traction.
For excursions in powder you should also consider gaiters to ensure the snow doesn't get in to your shoes.
First of all, remember to take a sufficiently large backpack (30 litres is ideal) so you can store any clothes that you may need during your outing.
Some bags have features that are particularly attractive for snowshoe hiking like, for example, an integrated insulated pad which will protect you from the cold and damp when sitting in the snow or a showshoe carry system, and sometimes pole holders, which can be very useful when you're not using them or if you decide to go back down by sledge! Otherwise, opt for a snowshoe carry case.
It's better to get a 20 to 30L backpack that is big enough to carry everything you need.
There are also backpacks that are specially designed to carry snowshoes.
Take something to drink in your backpack, either water or a warm drink stored in a vacuum flask. Depending on the length and intensity of your hike, you can also take a snack or a few cereal bars.
Don't forget the traditional sun cream and sun glasses. UV radiation is stronger at high altitude and the sun's reflection on the snow can even cause conjunctivitis.
Finally, it's always important to take your mobile phone so you can call someone if necessary and, of course, take selfies or family photos! Remember to store it in an inner pocket of your bag, to keep it warm and prevent the battery from running down too quickly.
For off-piste hiking, take maps, a compass and/or a GPS device, as well as an avalanche transceiver (ARVA), a shovel and a probe. If you're caught up in an avalanche, these three items will help locate you or help you search for a victim.
And don't forget to review the basic safety rules.
Whether you're a beginner or more advanced, it's important to prepare for your snowshoe hiking excursion properly and take the appropriate equipment. Remember to ask for advice from our experts and share your hiking tips for a fun, safe introduction to snowshoeing.