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Want to venture out into the great outdoors in winter? To enjoy the snow without skiing? Then get yourself some snowshoes, and check out our tips for choosing the right ones.
When you like being outdoors, you want to be able to choose your equipment to enjoy it to the full. Do you know what matters when choosing your snowshoes? The most important thing is to feel confident, with showshoes that let you enjoy great hikes in safety. And to find this little gem, nothing beats following these tips on how to choose your snowshoes. Follow the guide!
Snowshoes were born from necessity: to get around more easily on snow, without sinking in with every step. Particularly widely used in frequently snowy areas, in the Far North, snowshoes were traditionally made from wood, the only material able to withstand temperatures of less than 0°. In Canada, this type of wooden snowshoe is still used.
Today, we have aluminium showshoes, called tubular showshoes. They’re light, perfect for wide, flat spaces and very deep layers of fresh snow. They also come in plastic, more durable, perfect for more rugged terrain, hilly and steep, like the Alps here in France. These are the most widely used.
To fully understand your snowshoes, and therefore choose the right ones, it’s important to get to know them properly. Here is what a snowshoe is made up of:
That's it, you know everything about snowshoes and their construction. Shall we help you find the one that best suits you now?
1. MEN, WOMEN OR KIDS: CHOOSING THE RIGHT MODEL OF SNOWSHOE
Snowshoes are designed so that everyone can use them and have fun. So women's models generally have a thinner decking and lighter frame to adapt to the female body shape. The bindings are also suited to thinner, smaller feet. Snowshoes for kids provide lighter bindings, are of a more suitable length and usually have a nice, fun look.
In any case, even though the models are adapted according to weight and morphology, snowshoes are designed to be used by different people, in particular thanks to their bindings, which are adaptable and easy to use.
2. THE RIGHT LENGTH: CHOOSING SNOWSHOES TO MATCH YOUR WEIGHT
Like skis, snowshoes have to support your weight and offer lift on snow, so you don’t sink in too far. And like skis, the principle is simple: the greater the weight, the longer the snowshoe should be, each one being designed to be effective for a given weight range. The decking will also be adapted in width for adequate lift according to the weight.
Models are generally ranked as follows:
15 To 50 kg: kids’ model
40 To 80 kg: small to medium decking, mainly for women
60 To 120 kg: large decking, mainly for men
Remember that you may also be carrying a backpack filled with equipment, so take this additional weight into account when choosing your pair of snowshoes.
1. WHEN WALKING ON FLAT OR HILLY TERRAIN, DISCOVERING NATURE AND WIDE-OPEN SNOWY SPACES
When walking near the chalet, on flat or hilly terrain, you’ll need easy-to-use snowshoes with normal lift. As for traction, it needs to be sufficient to take on small gentle slopes safely, but doesn’t need extreme grip.
Walking or hiking snowshoes, without heel wedges, are perfect. A small claw at the front, a strap attachment with rip-tab tightening for ease of use are the things you need to look for. It's the perfect snowshoe for beginners or occasional trips out, easy to use and affordable for any budget.
As for the decking, these snowshoes are generally wide enough to let you walk easily in any type of snow.
2. IN MOUNTAIN ADVENTURER MODE
If you want to go on an adventure in the mountains, defy gravity and take on powder descents, you need to go for a snowshoe that’s a little better "equipped": a heel lift is essential, crampons under the snowshoe, a claw, possibly blades, which already feature on our snowshoes, all for good grip and good traction.
And if you love powder, you'll find snowshoes with wider decking, for greater buoyancy in powder, both uphill and downhill. But greater width also means a little more weight under your foot.
3. THERE ARE EVEN SHOWSHOES FOR RUNNING!
You can even get snowshoes designed specifically for running, whether for competition or for those who simply like to up the pace a little. Intended for flat, groomed terrain, these snowshoes are in no way made to float in powder... Instead, they’re light, short and narrow to support the movements of runners in a fluid way and help you work out on the snow without becoming too exhausted. Isn't that great??
Whatever your preferences, whether an introductory walk or an adventure in the great outdoors, remember to stay safe. To do so, nothing beats setting off in the company of an expert or mid-mountain guide (AMM – you’ll find them at the guide office or via the tourist office), who can show you incredible routes in complete safety, as well as giving you tips to progress further. Some have many stories to tell, a wealth of knowledge on the surrounding nature, can explain the subtleties of the snow and snowshoeing, and will help you track mountain animals...
Start by finding the right size to match your weight
then find the right compromise for a snowshoe that can take you safely on the terrain you use at your own pace
don’t forget your poles, essential for improved stability, because without them, there’s no snowshoeing
Now you know how to choose your snowshoes, have you thought about what you’ll wear? We have tips to help you choose that, too! And as for places to go snowshoeing, we’re always on the look-out for ideas, if you have any? A favourite hike to share?