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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 22, 2011
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.
I'm a complete beginner to any of the winter stuff. My wife and I are moving to the Front Range in a month or so and we're interested in doing some snow shoeing. I'd really like to get something that will serve me well in both day hikes, backcountry snowboarding, and mountaineering approaches, etc. in case I ever decide to get into that. I haven't done any ice climbing or anything like that yet but I could see doing it in the not to distant future and would like to not make double purchases.

The only information I've read on them is from REI and that there are three styles- flat, rolling terrain, and mountain terrain. Also that your weight matters. I weigh about 190 in street clothes so I figure I need a set good to 220 or so. Also, what type of boots are needed? I have a pair of Asolo TPS520GV boots and/or snowboarding boots. Would I be able to switch between these two in the same snowshoe? I'm assuming gaiters are recommended with hiking boots. Sorry for all the basic questions, I did a search here and didn't come up with much.

Thanks
Nick

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By Jace Mullen
From Oceanside, Ca
Oct 22, 2011
Go for MSR snowshoes, especially in the Front range.

As far as boots, I have snowshoes in my trail runners and in my mountain boots in the same pair. I would recommend against snowshoeing in your snowboarding boots unless your going backcountry, then by all means go for it.

If you can walk you can snowshoe.

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By Jon H
From Boulder
Oct 22, 2011
At the matching crux
Whatever you do, make sure you get a pair of snowshoes with heel elevators. It makes ALL the difference on steep terrain.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Oct 22, 2011
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
Nick, think about what you are going to do with them and where you are going. If you are just going to hike not-so-steep trails on a day trip with the wife, then the $99 specials you could get at Wilderness Exchange or whatever should serve you well. That's the route I went and I am not disappointed.

If you on the other hand want to upgrade your shoes to something more durable, the MSR shoes are for you. The standard tube aluminum with rubber straps over it tend to wear out the rubber at the point it wraps around the tube. This happens when you end up on rocks and dirt, which you can't avoid unless you take your shoes off and put them on all of the time. The MSR's construction fixes that.

Also, I prefer a foot strap system that doesn't have a lot of molded plastic and will lay flat against the side of your pack when you don't need them. Mine lacks that.

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By Wyatt H
From Casper, Wy
Oct 22, 2011
Buy a splitboard kit and turn an old snowboard into a splitboard. It will weigh the least, float the best, and be much faster and more efficient. It will also save you from doing a double purchase cause as soon as you find out how much snowshoes suck, you will want a splitboard anyway.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Oct 22, 2011
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
All told, I prefer a light touring ski with kicking skins over snowshoeing.

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By Ben Beckerich
From saint helens, oregon
Oct 22, 2011
About half way up the East Arete on Illumination Rock
for all of you who hate snowshoes so much... if skinning is not an option, would you take snowshoes over barebooting it in post-holing snow?

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By dorseyec
Oct 22, 2011
If snowshoeing is the only option Id rather stay home.

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By S Denny
From Carbondale, CO
Oct 22, 2011
Stich wrote:
All told, I prefer a light touring ski with kicking skins over snowshoeing.

Eric Dorsey wrote:
If snowshoeing is the only option Id rather stay home.


Yes and yes. Skis are soooo much faster, up and down.

If anything buy a pair of MSR Denali snowshoes (the red plastic ones) for times when terrain is too steep to skin but soft enough to posthole.

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By NickinCO
From colorado
Oct 22, 2011
after the hard stuff, into cruiser hands.
thanks for all the advice, I'll have to give it some more thought. (This was the wife's idea after all LOL)

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By Kevin Craig
Oct 22, 2011
KC on Fields (medium).  Photo (c) Doug Shepherd
If you don't want to invest at least $1500 in rando or tele gear plus a few years (more if tele) learning to be a good enough skier to do ski mountaineering, get a pair of MSR Lightning snowshoes appropriate for your weight. Yeah, the cool kids call 'em "slow-shoes" (all snowshoes, not just MSRs), but if you HATE post-holing as much as I do and want to get into the mountains with little investment in equipment and time, they're hard to beat. The Lightings will do all the stuff you've mentioned well and are pretty light. Yes, you can wear pretty much any kind of boot with the MSR bindings (and most, if not all, other snowshoe bindings).

  • *DO** get avy education and gear if you plan to go anywhere near the steep and deep.

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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Oct 22, 2011
Stabby
With both snowshoes and XC skis, rent them first for a few outings before you decide if you even want to continue. And stay on the tourist trails at first, then only go deeper once you hook up with a knowledgeable local.
Snowshoeing is not bad if your point is being out and getting some exercise, but if the point is actually getting anywhere you'll be disappointed. Its like .5 MPH.
There's some beginner trails on either side of Guanella Pass.
But beware, it is super easy to wander into avy danger up here.

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By ChrisJoosse
Dec 1, 2011
on Pack Animal Direct
Nick Mardirosian wrote:
I'm a complete beginner to any of the winter stuff. [...] I'd really like to get something that will serve me well in both day hikes, backcountry snowboarding, and mountaineering approaches, etc. in case I ever decide to get into that.


I won't take a position on whether snowshoeing is worse than staying at home on the couch, but I will recommend skis with skins as a much, much better option.

If you're really new to winter backcountry, do go get yourself into an avy course. And read Tremper's Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain
Having read that, you'll probably want to invest in a beacon, probe, shovel, maybe an avalung or airbag system.

Also, when I started getting into backcountry foolery, I discovered that my Gore-Tex outerwear was a disaster. I had just bought all this new AT ski gear and my avy gear and discovered that I was a sweaty mess in my old inbounds ski shells. If you don't have softshells and a good layering system, you'll want to invest in that stuff before investing in snowshoes or skis.

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By Woodchuck ATC
Dec 1, 2011
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
What's with all the snowshoe haters out there? I love mine and have enjoyed long treks in them for decades.

Does anyone still crave for the neoprene or rawhide laced snowshoe? The good old 46 inch Michigans or 56 inch Yukons, both with a nice tail for tracking? Except for the awkward binding system on my 40 yr old snowshoes, I still love the way they push through the snow instead of pushing forward or lifting up the foot to make progress. Nothing like a pair of wooden framed ones for a nostalgic backwoods outing.
But for a beginner, I also suggest a pair of Atlas, MSR, Red Feather or similar aluminum short snowshoe to start with. 24 inch seems to be a good length, and a comfy winter hiking boot is better than a stiff snowboard or ski boot. Don't forget a pair of hiking poles or even cheap ski poles too.

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By trailrun.reynolds
From Seattle
Dec 1, 2011
Woodchuck ATC wrote:
But for a beginner, I also suggest a pair of Atlas, MSR, Red Feather or similar aluminum short snowshoe to start with. 24 inch seems to be a good length, and a comfy winter hiking boot is better than a stiff snowboard or ski boot. Don't forget a pair of hiking poles or even cheap ski poles too.



+1. I have a pair of Atlas BC 24 (similar to the current Aspects) and a pair of MSR Denali Ascents. Both are excellent, versatile snowshoes. I prefer the Atlas over the MSRs because of the spring-loaded suspension stuff. Basically it keeps the snowshoe from dragging in the snow and closer to your foot for using the crampons when it gets steep. And you can usually find MSR and Atlas for sale on various forums pretty often for about half what they cost new: turns-all-year.com/skiing_snow....

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By Dobson
From Butte, MT
Dec 1, 2011
I agree that snowshoeing does suck, but it can get you to some awesome places with minimal investment in time and money. Some of the best climbs I've done were approached in snowshoes. It's also the only way to move through postholing terrain with lots of deadfall, (try mantling over a doug fir log in skis).

I like my Denali Ascent EVOs about as much as possible. Traction is good, and the heel lifters are surprisingly useful.

Whatever you do, don't be the guy hiking a bootpacked trail in your new snowshoes. It's just a plain sad sight. Find some country they're actually useful for.

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By trailrun.reynolds
From Seattle
Dec 2, 2011
Dobson wrote:
Whatever you do, don't be the guy hiking a bootpacked trail in your new snowshoes. It's just a plain sad sight. Find some country they're actually useful for.


Precisely, and from the prospective of others, its really, really annoying to hear someone trouncing around with snowshoes on hard packed snow. Nothing worse than hearing someone approach from 10 miles away in the backcountry. Simply lame. I think that has given snowshoeing a bad wrap all on its own. Kind of like mountain biking with the guy that has the shitty, squeeky bike. By the end of the ride you almost kill the guy and yourself for bringing him along and swear to yourself he will never come with you again.

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By Corey McCarthy
From Redmond, OR
Dec 2, 2011
the beginning of the crux, bring your foot to left hand and heel hook, get solid and stand as high as possible, powerful crossover with your left hand, grab the sidepull, reset hands and dyno to huge jug. <br /> <br />Photo by Brain Mosbaugh <br />
Woodchuck ATC wrote:
What's with all the snowshoe haters out there? I love mine and have enjoyed long treks in them for decades.


No kidding! Snowshoes serve their purpose and they do it well. They don't belong on established(packed) trails and they don't belong on flat ground when you would rather be moving fast. I basically think of my snowshoes as a way to go hiking in deep powder. I always get off the beaten path and I'm usually climbing a hill of some sort. They also are great when there is enough snow to jump off of small cliffs or boulders. When I want to go fast or get an aerobic workout I pick up the cross country skis instead. But for a stroll in the snowy wilderness, nothing beats a snowshoe.

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By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Dec 2, 2011
downclimb off the First Flatiron <br />photo by TooTallTim
JLP wrote:
People are pretty gung ho around here and on the trails 24-7, all year long. They're generally pretty packed out. I'd say don't bother with snowshoes unless you want to be that guy breaking trail right after a snowstorm. It only takes 1-2 days after a storm for the trails around here to pack out and be walkable with just a pair of boots. You might posthole here and there, sometimes, but this is generally going to be far less work than having a snowshoe strapped to your foot.


Having lived through 2 winters in Boulder I can attest to this. Not once did I bother to haul out my snowshoes for the trails above Boulder, around Lyons, or Walker Canyon. I did, however, use them for mountaineering approaches, but skiing is a better option.

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