by Staff Writer
Snowshoeing is is an easy winter sport to pick up. With the loft snowshoes provide, you can trek to snow-covered areas you wouldn't be able to hike to during winter with hiking boots. Snowshoeing also allows you access to a solitude that you simply will not experience on crowded trails during warmer months. It's also a challenging winter exercise that is easy on the joints because of the cushioning provided by the snow. These facts can help you prepare for your own winter excursions and help you choose snowshoes that will be comfortable.
Construction types differ in design and materials. Modern snowshoes are constructed using two basic designs: solid platform and aluminum frame. Solid-plastic platform snowshoes are created from one molded piece of plastic to which binding and traction components have been attached. An aluminum-frame snowshoe stretches a fabric skin over a lightweight metal frame, with the binding and traction components attaching to the frame.
Men and women use different snowshoes. Women and men often vary widely in their height and stride length, which results in women's snowshoes being designed to be shorter than, and not as wide as, men's shoes.
Snowshoe sizing depends on your weight, not on your shoe size. The heavier your frame, the wider the snowshoes will need to be in order to support you. Snowshoe sizes cover a range of weights, with a little overlap between weight classes.
Under 150 pounds: 20 to 22 inches in length.
140 to 190 pounds: 25 to 26 inches long.
190 to 230 pounds: 30 inches long.
Over 230 pounds: 35 or 36 inches.
Snowshoeing is one of the easiest winter sports to learn. It is almost the same as a light hike, though you do need to be more aware of your foot placement and the terrain. As long as your shoes fit snugly and you avoid dragging your feet, you can fall into a good rhythm without losing your balance. Turning around is one of the trickiest maneuvers to complete, but can be avoided if you have enough room to walk in a small semicircle.