WinterTrekking.com Forums - Your source for traditional winter trekking and camping information.

Snowshoeing => Snowshoeing Discussion => : Okanagan March 09, 2018, 10:11:12 AM

View the most recent posts on the forum.


: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 09, 2018, 10:11:12 AM
First post.  I am tired of postholing off trail in snowshoes and joined this forum for the wealth of knowledge here re finding some BIG snowshoes or wide ski solutions.  Suggestions?  Cautions?  Mistakes you learned that I can avoid?  Info on my intended use below.

I'm 225 lbs. and often carry a 20 lb. pack for a 250 lb. total.  As I age my snowshoeing consists of short forays off of plowed logging roads in Interior and coastal BC, often only a few hundred yards but in deep soft snow usually on steep ground.  My longest trek in the past 2 years was 5 km, and most are under 500 metres distance.

I have an old pair of wooden/rawhide longish bearpaws 11x30” that I put a lot of miles on when I was younger and currently am using a pair of Yukon Charlie 930's that were a gift to me. 

From reading archives it looks like the GV Wide Trail 12x42 is the largest mass produced snowshoe available that has aggressive snow teeth, which I like.  Maybe I should buy a pair of the magnesium military surplus and put my own bindings with crampons on them. 

What is the quality of Bigfoot snowshoes?  They have a 40”x 11” on sale for $199 CDN right now. 

On a long day of winter game tracking up and down over small ridges decades ago I designed in my mind a wide short ski with retractable crampons, to climb hills and slide down.  I have never found such an item and wonder if any here know of something similar.  I have looked at the Altai Hoks online, and wish that they had more aggressive climbing traction but have never tried them.

Two recent anecdotes:
1.  Climbing a hill in waist deep snow I fell through the top of snow covered brush.  I was armpit deep in snow, snowshoes tangled in brush. :P

2.  In waist deep snow with a light crust under two inches of fresh snow, I punched through on a slope and found myself head down hill on my back, with hefty day pack, snowshoes extended under the crust, and any attempt to push up merely plunged my arm into the snow up to my shoulder. :)
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: kinguq March 09, 2018, 10:29:04 AM
I would recommend a large pair of traditional style snowshoes, preferably with mono lacing.

If as you say you are travelling in soft snow, you don't need crampons. They don't do anything in soft snow. I had them on my traditionals and I took them off. Snow sticks to them under some conditions and they become a problem. And lacing grips surprisingly well in soft snow.

I have a pair of 16 x 48 Hurons that I got here http://www.snowshoesalesandrepairs.com/?action=products

These are pretty much the largest snowshoe in terms of surface area that you can find. I love them. And I weigh about 160 lbs. They are fantastic in deep soft snow. Size is everything with snowshoes under those conditions.

Many people prefer the Bearpaws to the Hurons and I wouldn't argue much over that. The Bearpaws are certainly better for deep bush.

As to skis, I use pretty standard touring skis with a narrow, full length climbing skin which are removable in the field. These give more than enough grip. Personally I think flotation in skis is vastly over-rated under most conditions. Most of the time you will be pushing any ski through the snow, and a narrower ski pushes through snow more easily than a wide one. That is why I am not a fan of super-wide skis like Hoks. I should note that this is very much a minority opinion, but it is based on quite a lot of experience.

Kinguq.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Bioguide March 09, 2018, 11:28:25 AM

On a long day of winter game tracking up and down over small ridges decades ago I designed in my mind a wide short ski with retractable crampons, to climb hills and slide down.  I have never found such an item and wonder if any here know of something similar.  I have looked at the Altai Hoks online, and wish that they had more aggressive climbing traction but have never tried them.


I bought the Hoks with the idea they would be useful in touring around the rolling terrain but for me they were too fast under my feet and not wide enough for floating my 235#s. I was often left supine on the snow and cursing while trying to get back up and bending my ski poles in the process. I'm 60 years old and I'm not a long distance trekker but I do get out quite often and when I do get out and need something on my feet for the snow conditions my first choice now are my wide custom made trekking skis' (a few others had them made this year as well). They are modeled after the Russian hunting skis and have full skins on them which help tremendously on the incline and, more importantly for me, aid in maintaining a controlled descent. The skins also give me the ability to haul a sled as well.

I've produced a couple of videos of them and the links to the videos can be found in the forum discussions about the skis below:

https://www.wintertrekking.com/community/index.php?topic=4013.msg36246#msg36246

https://www.wintertrekking.com/community/index.php?topic=4415.0
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: AunNordDuNord March 09, 2018, 11:29:18 AM
What Kinguk said!!
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Dave Hadfield March 09, 2018, 02:08:54 PM
I rarely walk on a packed trail, and am often in the bush in deep snow. I want very large snowshoes and I don't like modern ones.

I bought these...

(http://www.hadfield.ca/Bush/huron%20snowshoes,%20sm.jpg)

... which are 12 x 60 frames from Faber that Lure of the North strings with monofilament. It makes them lighter, and there is not much reduction in the flotation.

I like them.

Dave

: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: gnatwest March 09, 2018, 03:41:04 PM
I agree with traditionals.  My wife and I purchased some modern styles and found there was no difference between wearing them and not wearing them for post holing.

We got 60x30 huron and bearfoot styles with mono and they work great.  I also have a pair of the magnesium.  Not as much float but still very good I pack them as a spare set or if I need less float.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: scouter Joe March 09, 2018, 04:37:01 PM
I agree with Kinguq in reply #1 . I recently got a pair of 14" x 30"bear paws from snowshoe sales and repair . I've tried them out off trail and really like them .  They also have a larger pair of bear paws that may work for you .  The 400 lb. mono line is really tough and does not soak up water in wet conditions . I have a pair of 16" x 48" traditionals  with babich that work well in deep powder . They do not really work that good in wet snow when the temperature is above freezing . scouter Joe
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Old Guide March 09, 2018, 07:01:34 PM
gnatwest...did you err in the size of your snowshoes at 60x30's? Or am I misreading it?
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: memaquay March 09, 2018, 07:01:51 PM
I'll be the fly in the ointment.  At your weight (very similar to mine) floatation is more of a dream than a reality.  Sounds like you need something that won't break when you might come through some rough terrain.  I've broken two pairs of 60 inch traditional alaskans, and a couple of traditional 48 inchers.   I have never broken my modern GV's, and I've been running them for 14 years now. I've got a standard pair of 36 inchers and I've got the big wide trails, 12 x 42.  The wide trails are the way to go.  Ditch the heel strap though, I've only found that to be annoying.  I take the wide trails over the traditionals most times.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 10, 2018, 09:58:07 AM
Wow!  You all speak with the authority of experience.  Thank you.  What a difference from most outdoor sites where the universal advice is to buy cute little snowshoes that are easy on the legs when playing on groomed trails off a parking lot.

I wish I could try some wide 60 inch long traditionals.  They appeal to me for deep powder and moderate slopes.  I have bad memories of slipping on steep crusty ice with my traditional bear paws, however, which is why I went to the early Sherpas when they first came out (yes, I am that old!)  I suppose I really should buy two pairs:  one a huge traditional pair for powder and the other big synthetics with claws for icy crusts over soft coastal snow.  At this point, the GV Wide Trails sound like   maybe the best compromise for my use, still pondering.

Very good info and I am still learning.  The mono lacing is a new wrinkle to me, and sounds like a good one re my memory of rawhide getting wet and stretching.  I have used snowshoes every winter but have not kept up on tech/material advances for the past 20 years.

Again, thank you for posting such excellent info, and keep it coming as you think of pros & cons and things to add.  I am checking out the sites and specific snowshoes each of you has mentioned.  Where has REI and MEC been hiding these items?

Added re skis:   Bioguide, love what you are doing with the wide skis.  I posted on your thread showing the custom skis.

I used to love cross country skiing and was amazed at how many miles one could cover easily on groomed trails or merely following snowmobile tracks.  However, my experience with skinny skis was that I floundered in off-trail powder as bad or worse than with boots alone. 

: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: gnatwest March 10, 2018, 12:37:00 PM
gnatwest...did you err in the size of your snowshoes at 60x30's? Or am I misreading it?

I might have it wrong. The largest size from lotn
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 11, 2018, 11:34:36 AM
Am zeroing in on the Lure of the North 16x48 Hurons laced with monofil, and the GV Wide Trail 12x42 and want both of them!

You folks are a bad influence on my budget!

Do the GV Wide Trails ever go on sale?
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: memaquay March 12, 2018, 12:24:41 PM
I have never seen the GV's go on sale, and they are certainly pricey.  Too bad you didn't have access to a bunch of different ones to try before you pull the trigger. For instance I'm not a fan of really wide snowshoes, they don't work well with my short legs, lol.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 12, 2018, 12:55:06 PM
I have never seen the GV's go on sale, and they are certainly pricey.  Too bad you didn't have access to a bunch of different ones to try before you pull the trigger. For instance I'm not a fan of really wide snowshoes, they don't work well with my short legs, lol.

Thanks re sale on GV Wide Trail.  I suspected that.

Yes, wish I could try several.  It is late already this snow season in my area, and I'm still pondering.  I think the 12x60 monofil laced traditionals would be good for travel on unbroken trails and unplowed logging roads but for my use maneuvering in timber and brush, shorter seems wiser.  I often travel from a logging road into timber and there is always a border of deadfalls in the edge of the trees, before you get into open forest. That transition zone has been the worst for me, falling through, bridging snowshoes across logs, poking a shoe into the snow void under a log, etc.  I have done the falling through and falling down and crawling over snow covered logs and am ready to try struggling with less wieldy wide and long shoes that keep me on top more.  Once inside the forest travel is usually much easier, though the undisturbed snow is often soft and calls for a big shoe.



: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: kiggy March 12, 2018, 04:17:33 PM
Not sure where are you located but in canada we have GV on sale now
https://www.sail.ca/en/winter-clearance-1?brand=19290
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 12, 2018, 09:06:16 PM
Thanks!  I clicked on the link instantly.  Great price... but the GV Wide Trail 12x42 is not available online from SAIL, the linked seller.  I'm in Abbotsford, BC, (SW corner of the country) and the SAIL brand apparently only has stores in the East.   I will phone them tomorrow and see if they will sell me a pair and ship.

The GV Wide Trail 12x42 is also sold out or not available on several other online retail sites I have checked today.  I phoned GV headquarters to ask what is up and a helpful man told me that it is out of stock this time of year for many retailers and they don't want to restock till closer to next winter.  He also told me that they almost never put that model on sale, maybe once every four years.  He said that most discount sales are due to cosmetics, and that the GV Wide Trail never changes. Outdoor workers are a major market for the basic big GV Wide Trail.

: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Fowler March 13, 2018, 12:50:45 AM
According to the altai site you can get some wider ski crampons to work with the hoks:

https://us-store.altaiskis.com/product/adapter-plate/

I'd sure like to try some, I was having some climbing troubles last time I took mine out.

I think the magnesium snowshoes are great value and a good place to start just to see how you like the form factor of larger shoes, and might give you an idea of how much would be gained from going with a larger more expensive pair later. I did a little playing around and found the maglines to have almost identical floatation to my 145 hoks in the snow of that particular day:

(https://i.imgur.com/NwgX4VS.jpg?1)

I'd really like to get some 60" ojibwas next, but I wish there was an easier way to calculate surface area across different shapes.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: trapmusher March 13, 2018, 07:18:35 AM
I hate snowshoes with tails. I have several pairs of them, natural and plastic, that I would gladly sell. It seems that whoever wears them gets tangled up and falls. The tail is a real nuisance. I prefer elongnated bearpaws or bearpaws. I also have a pair of mountain masters that work well but they are noisy.

Faber is a snowshoe company worth checking out. Good gear and prices.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: FlatbowBC March 13, 2018, 08:11:29 PM
According to the altai site you can get some wider ski crampons to work with the hoks:

https://us-store.altaiskis.com/product/adapter-plate/

I'd sure like to try some, I was having some climbing troubles last time I took mine out.

I think the magnesium snowshoes are great value and a good place to start just to see how you like the form factor of larger shoes, and might give you an idea of how much would be gained from going with a larger more expensive pair later. I did a little playing around and found the maglines to have almost identical floatation to my 145 hoks in the snow of that particular day:

(https://i.imgur.com/NwgX4VS.jpg?1)

I'd really like to get some 60" ojibwas next, but I wish there was an easier way to calculate surface area across different shapes.

I was in Princess Auto (in Coquitlam) the other day and noticed that they have the surplus magnesium snowshoes on sale for $ 50.

That is quite impressive that the 145cm Hoks are able to match the floatation of the surplus snowshoes.  I recently got the 125cm Hoks and am just familiarizing myself with them (have only been out with with them 2x so far).  I'm wondering if I'd have been better off going with the 145s
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Fowler March 13, 2018, 08:20:30 PM
It certainly wasn't scientific, but very similar. My buddy was with my on the same snow with 125s, and I think I would have needed a ruler to quantify the differences in floatation, I wouldn't worry about it. I'd say most people are better off with 125s in general.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 14, 2018, 01:27:31 PM
FWIW update on finding GV Wide Trail 12x42 snowshoes on sale:  Three retailers offer them online at lower cost than the factory site, one of them a very good sale price...  BUT none of the three has any to sell.

One outfit back east will not sell them online, only in their store, and the others are all out of stock, etc.  Bummer.  GV headquarters has them for their full retail price but at this point in the winter season I think I will wait until closer to next winter rather than pay full price and have them sit for months. Wish I had them today because I'm heading out to the snow for the rest of the day.

I have learned a ton from you all.  Thank you.



 
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Dave Hadfield March 15, 2018, 09:36:32 AM
I hate snowshoes with tails. I have several pairs of them, natural and plastic, that I would gladly sell. It seems that whoever wears them gets tangled up and falls. The tail is a real nuisance. I prefer elongnated bearpaws or bearpaws. I also have a pair of mountain masters that work well but they are noisy.

Faber is a snowshoe company worth checking out. Good gear and prices.

I agree about Faber.

I very much like and prefer the tails when I'm going somewhere, mostly straight-line. The tails are like a rudder. And for straight-line travel it is CRITICAL for me that the snowshoes "nest" as you step, so you don't have to keep your legs far apart.

But for camp-work, or setting traps and that sort of thing, where you're turning around a lot, I wear the bear-paws (which are in the photo).

You can dance in those...
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Bkrgi March 22, 2018, 11:46:34 PM
I have never seen the GV's go on sale, and they are certainly pricey.  Too bad you didn't have access to a bunch of different ones to try before you pull the trigger. For instance I'm not a fan of really wide snowshoes, they don't work well with my short legs, lol.

Thanks re sale on GV Wide Trail.  I suspected that.

Yes, wish I could try several.  It is late already this snow season in my area, and I'm still pondering.  I think the 12x60 monofil laced traditionals would be good for travel on unbroken trails and unplowed logging roads but for my use maneuvering in timber and brush, shorter seems wiser.  I often travel from a logging road into timber and there is always a border of deadfalls in the edge of the trees, before you get into open forest. That transition zone has been the worst for me, falling through, bridging snowshoes across logs, poking a shoe into the snow void under a log, etc.  I have done the falling through and falling down and crawling over snow covered logs and am ready to try struggling with less wieldy wide and long shoes that keep me on top more.  Once inside the forest travel is usually much easier, though the undisturbed snow is often soft and calls for a big shoe.

Have you pulled any triggers yet??
I would say a pair of Bear Paws from LoTN would be a good choice
Really Really happy with mine (bought in kit form from LoTN) and here is a vid of them in action in 3-4' of powder in everything you describe for reference
https://youtu.be/ShGb2S_A5HE
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 26, 2018, 05:56:16 PM
No, haven't pulled the trigger on buying snowshoes yet.  I have been travelling to family commitments etc. and kind of set aside the snowshoe quest for now, and unless I run across a great buy, will probably wait till next Fall.

Loved your video!  That mess of logs and brush in deep snow is exactly the scenario.  Beautiful country.  Great floatation on those big snowshoes.

I sure wish I could try the GV Wide Trail 12x42 and the LoTN Huron 16x48. 

I have liked the claws on modern synthetic snowshoes and found them helpful on icy patches and sometimes in grabbing brush tops or a log when going up a steep spot, so if I buy without trying, have decided to make it the GV Wide Trail 12x42 even though I wish they were longer.   Their strength when bridging logs is another factor in my choice. 

(Deleted an irrelevant bit).   

: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: kinguq March 26, 2018, 06:04:09 PM
If you feel you must have a claw, you can have one on any snowshoe with this binding:

http://www.snowshoesalesandrepairs.com/?action=racheting

I have them on my 16 x 48 Hurons and I like them. The claw is removable with a couple of bolts and I took mine off years ago because they are just more trouble than they are worth most of the time. In icy, settled or crusty conditions I use a smaller modern shoe.

Kinguq.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Old Guide March 26, 2018, 08:16:58 PM
I started snowshoeing about 1970. I have had and used most styles, except Cree, and many sizes from 30's to 60's... wood and metal, with and without crampons.
I prefer modern metal with crampons and the new BOA system is pretty awesome.
Many of the modern crampons don't ice up much or hold it because their shape. I'll get more ice under the foot then in the crampon.
I'm big and heavy and always carry a minimum of 20lbs in my pack...so figure with clothes and boots my snowshoes are carrying a minimum of 275lbs.
I've never broken a wood or a metal shoe but have busted modern and old webbing.
I'm careful when going over logs or rocks but will push to the max going up or down steep terrain, usually needing a long handled ice axe, and do far more bushwacking than trail work.
I'd love to try the 12x42s. I normally wear 36'ers.
In powder over 3 feet the big long wood Fabers are great.
In steep mountain terrain, especially on icy trails, one needs crampons front and rear.
Wire, plastic ties and/or duct tape are real smart items to carry when snowshoeing 'cause once you break a shoe you either fix it or struggle to get home.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Old Guide March 27, 2018, 08:58:27 AM
I should add; I Really prefer snowshoes with toe cups on hilly terrain. They truly prevent much shifting of the foot and the then necessary adjusting of the foot straps/harness.
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan March 28, 2018, 01:33:16 AM
If you feel you must have a claw, you can have one on any snowshoe with this binding:

http://www.snowshoesalesandrepairs.com/?action=racheting

I have them on my 16 x 48 Hurons and I like them. The claw is removable with a couple of bolts and I took mine off years ago because they are just more trouble than they are worth most of the time. In icy, settled or crusty conditions I use a smaller modern shoe.

Kinguq.

Thanks for the link!  That is valuable to know about a claw that will fit on any snowshoe.

Re claws for icy conditions, I have my modern 9x30's, but too often I find myself moving from ice or crusty snow to deep soft snow conditions within a few steps, getting out of the mess of a plowed logging road in a canyon or changing back and forth from south slope to north slope on small steep ravines.  North face shaded ravines are the pits, literally, as you know.  They often are filled with much deeper and softer snow than what got me to that point.   I am seeking the impossible I know, one snowshoe to fit all these conditions on one short trek, so will put up with larger than needed part of the steps.

Since I am often hiking a short distance from a logging road into forest, I spend a ridiculous percentage of my snowshoe time in the horrible transition zone of down trees along the edge of nearly every forest cut line.  Very different application than trekking distance in unbroken forest, which I really enjoy but don't do very often. One day that I did some distance in quite open country, I stayed on top of windswept ridges as much as possible in a series of parallel ravines.  I could take off the snowshoes and backpack them on the ridges, put them on and flounder in snow four feet deep on the lee when I had to cross a ravine, and snowshoe easily on top of firmed up snow on the windward and sunnier side of the slopes.  Just writing about it makes me wish I was out there now!



: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: jerryswiss November 17, 2018, 12:11:19 AM
I have tried and own many different styles of traditional snowshoes and live in an area with extremely dry snow so you sink easily. In my experience the best design for staying afloat is the Alaskan model. 60 x 12 is what I use. After that the Ojibway, also 60 x 12. These snowshoes work better than xc skis for floatation and stability.  :o
: Re: Looking for advice re large snowshoes
: Okanagan February 11, 2019, 02:58:57 PM
FWIW update.  I bought a pair of GV Wide Trail snowshoes in 12x42.  Have only seriously used them once and I like them.   I had no trouble with the width, nor with length.  Wish they were longer, :) but think that they are the best compromise for my use.

Really appreciated the knowledge folks on this site shared with me.  Your hard won experience saved me much of the hard part.