by Craig Blake
Strapping on a pair of snowshoes opens up a whole new world of winter adventure. Once you have a pair of snowshoes, you can boldly go where you have never gone before. Because they spread the surface area of your footfall, snowshoes prevent your weight from sinking into the snow, so you can get around, even in deep powder. From the first wooden snowshoes, snowshoe designs have expanded to work for a wide range of adventurers. Now you can find many snowshoes for sale, from backcountry snowshoes to running snowshoes. However, snowshoes won't do you much good without binding attachments to keep them on your feet. There are two main types of snowshoe bindings: free rotation and fixed rotation.
Free rotation: Free-rotation snowshoe bindings pivot freely on a rigid crossbar. This allows the tail to drop and dump the snow that falls on top. When a shoe has free-rotation snowshoe bindings, the tail drags in the snow, but loose snow isn't kicked up from the tails like many fixed-cord bindings. Free-rotation snowshoe bindings can be less maneuverable, however, since attempting to take a backwards step sends the tails driving into the snow. Although it shouldn't be too difficult to pull your snowshoes out of the snow, it might get a little irritating if you do this a few times.
Fixed rotation: Usually, fixed rotation offers versatility, convenience and a pretty stable binding system. Fixed-rotation bindings use a "spring" rubber binding, which allows the snowshoe to lift or pop out of the snow with each step. This gives better clearance, especially while in deep snow. Unlike free-rotation bindings, though, fixed rotation will sometimes cause snow to be kicked against the back of your legs with each step.
Adjustable: Some snowshoes allow you to adjust the bindings into either a fixed or free rotation. This might be a perfect choice if you just got a pair of snowshoes and aren't exactly sure which type of snowshoe binding you will prefer. Instead of getting stuck with a binding you don't like, get an adjustable one so you can figure out which works best for you. Unless you have bindings that work well for you and your snowshoes, snowshoeing can be a difficult enterprise. Using an adjustable binding might give you the best opportunity to figure out what are the best snowshoes and bindings for you.