Snowshoes

I was out in the woods yesterday in my snow shoes when I got home they were quite muddy…

Been looking for snowshoes for the gf for christmas, as well as a compatable set for myself. I know there are some lurkers on here that are into that scene; so im looking for some advice. I had a look at the cheap ones on sale at Kent this week (thanks Ken), along with MEC, Costco, and Sportscheck. Been reading online all afternoon as well but seem to be no further ahead and dont really know what im looking at. She wants to hike here and Northern NB and I want to backcoutry hike with the rifle and dog, and tamp down local trails. Trying to keep a reasonable budget (i have other expensive hobbies already or i wouldnt be here) but i dont mind buy what needs to be bought. Zellers bicycles come to mind here. Thanks.

From my experience a cheapo pair of snowshoes will work just fine.
Don’t get sucked in by all the brand names.
That being said durability may become a factor, but just like a Zellers bike it may get you through a season or two and help you determine if snow-shoeing is for you.
I have used many different brands and styles over the years and just last year bought a pair of MSR’s.
They are very durable, repairable, easy to get in and out of and light. Plus they are adjustable for different snow depths by adding tail length.
The down side is that they can be noisy on crunchy snow due to the construction materials and tend to be a bit on the pricey side.

What Troy says is true, but as a woman I would like to suggest that the way we’re constructed generally makes wide and bulky snowshoes very uncomfortable. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but do look for something that’s not overly wide and not overly huge. By spending less you might compromise on the ease of use of the bindings or the durability of the shoe, but if you have to compromise on how comfortable they’ll be for your GF, don’t, because if they’re cumbersome to use she’ll end up hating it.

I have the MSRs as well, and I love’em. I used to have a much cheaper pair of Atlas shoes. The bindings were a pain in the ass, but once they were on they were quite comfortable to use.

I’d avoid the wooden ‘tennis racket’ type as they are kind of old school and uncomfortable. Durability is an issue in my experience. The $40 pair form the department store just don’t last and it’s a real drag when your bindings fail in the middle of your hike. Pay for a brand name like Tubbs, Atlas or MSR and you’ll be pleased. My Atlas pair are going on their tenth year, and I use them regularly every winter.

Like Bikergrl said, for whatever reason, all brands do have some very strange binding variations. Check them out with your options and imagine trying to operate the mechanism with your mitts on in the cold.

If you’re interested in running, get ones with a tapered back end. If not, get the full round back end. They are sold based on weight ranges, be sure to consider whether or not you’ll be carrying a big pack with you if you’re already on the upper end of the reccommended weight range.

A word of caution on some of the MSRs, especially the fully rigid kind: while they are perfect for NS winters, I’ve always found them to be a bit minimalistic with respect to surface area. If you’re planning on going out in Northern NB in the back country, then you’ll be in snow that will be as deep as you are tall. You’ll want big shoes with the canvas-type base over a frame.

Not sure about anyone else, but I’ve never really felt the need for poles nor have I ever been out with anyone who does use them. I’d decline that sales pitch if it comes… especially at first. If you give it a try and think you might need them you can always go back.

thanks for the info. Im going to avoid the Kent ones that are on sale. It appears most quality designs use some sort of steel pivot, less a few types that use leather or (co)polymer straps for the hinge. The cheap ones use vinyl straps. My experiences with vinyl flexibility + cold + durability has been unfavorable before. Looking for brands suggested now. If anyone knows of a good hole in the wall that carries shoes let me know. I was impressed sportcheck in HFX shopping centre had the selection it did. I typically avoid places like that. thanks

I’m partial to the Trail Shop on Quinpool Rd. and again either Tubbs or Atlas for the brand.

Most local bike shops will stock snowshoes for the winter months also.

I bought my Missus some decent GV ones last year. They float good for her weight, they have crampons and heel steppers, along with a steel hing. They seem to work good. Just gotta make sure the harness is tight and tucked out of the way. MY shoes, however, are indeed antique. I have beavertails from Chestnut Canoe Company with the traditional babiche (spelling???) of caribou hide. They have been “upgraded” to rubber harnesses, which actually work quite well with my boots and mitts in the cold. I have no crampons, which makes up hills , er, FUN, but you can’t beat them for glissading down a steep hill like you are on slowish skis. That said, they need upkeep and proper storage. Barbara can come in and throw hers wherever, the crampons make icy and hard snow irrelevent and the heel steppers keep her feet flat and planted on the steeper climbs. She likes hers, and I like mine.
Sue is right about comfort. MEC has ladies-specific ones. Just like bikes, all our bits and pieces fit different. Anatomically speaking, of course. Best of luck, and like mentioned, get a bit more than a bit less. Both in terms of money and floatation. If you get in some deep, dry light stuff with a heavy pack and a few layers, it will be SO worth it. And some gaiters/leg warmers are nice to go along with. I find a lot of them newfangled shoes flick snow at ya.
Sue is also right about comfort.

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Whoops, sorry about the blank post.

I’ve been considering snowshoeing this year for a winter workout. Also something the wife and I can do together, as she is not a cyclist.

Where do you guys/gals go for hiking/snowshoeing in the greater HRM area?

Thanks for the advice.

The best thing about snowshoeing is you can go ANYWHERE! I think that the best way to snowshoe is to avoid beaten trails at all costs - the beauty of them is that once the ground is covered you can bushwhack through the woods and see things you never see when you’re following a trail. There are some beautiful wooded spots in the Waverly area and also out around Herring Cove / Purcells Cove (MacIntosh Run). Even Whopper and Spider Lake have lots of woods that you never seen when you’re on a bike trail so snowshoes make them idea.

BTW, for anyone who likes to travel a bit farther afield, I’ll give the heads up that Bridgetown in the Valley frequently has 3 or 4 feet of snow when there’s nothing in the city. There’s a beautiful Provincial Park up there with great snowshoeing and XC skiing, and Two Lakes Chalet Resort is attached to the park - a great place to go if you want to rent a cabin and spend the weekend in the woods. We go up there a lot.

Picked her up a pair of Tubbs women specific shoes yesterday. Just gotta find myself a pair now. I was planning on going to the Highlands once too, but Bridgetown could be squeezed in too now that i know of it.

Bridgetown is great! There is a firetower that is kind of neat, and some good shoeing to be had out behind it to the lake and surrounding trails. Great place to boil up some tea in the winter. Also near there is Roxbury at Paradise. What a cool spot to ride/shoe.
Here is a project a buddy of mine did on Roxbury. http://www.cogs.ns.ca/cartography/projects/2008/lundrigan/ROXBURY.swf It’s a climb up, but the ride down is great. Snowshoes are the only way to go here in the winter. Bring a lunch!

Whoops, sorry about the blank post. I’ve been considering snowshoeing this year for a winter workout. Also something the wife and I can do together, as she is not a cyclist. Where do you guys/gals go for hiking/snowshoeing in the greater HRM area? Thanks for the advice.
After it snows we go to Spider Lake in Dartmouth and The Wrandees in Halifax.

Basically anywhere there is snow, you can snowshoe. Parks are nice once you get off the beaten trail. Long Lake, (watch for doggy doo-doo), Spider Lake,(Please DO beat down the trail), Whopper and Fight Trails for more climby-intense 'shoeing. Some of the abandoned roads you see about are great to tramp around on and explore. Basically anywhere. And as cool as it is to 'shoe across swamps and ponds and the like, be mindful of ice thickness. That being said, the entire woods is your highway once it’s froze up and snowed up.

I agree the winters ain’t what they used to be

I remember feet of ice on lakes now I’d be very cautious crossing a lake since the cold fluctuates so much here