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Now that you have some basic information about the types of snowshoes, scroll through this information for more details, or review this information by selecting a topic then click your Back button to return to make another selection . . .

   Frames & Sizes  Bindings  Hinging vs. Fixed Bindings
Crampons & Claws  Which One Should I Buy?

Frames & Sizes . . .
In general there are three different sizes of sport snowshoes commonly used: 8" x 25", 9" x 30" and 10" x 36". Most sport snowshoes are symmetrical, where both sides are identical and the foot is located on the center of the shoe. Asymmetrical shoes are shaped according to the foot they are laced on, feet are generally closer together, (off-center) and the tails may be cut away to allow for high stepping or a running stride. All sport snowshoes (or western shoes) will have turned up toes which make them easier to move forward or downhill.

Traditional snowshoes come in two different basic shapes: elongated teardrop or oval. Teardrop shapes tend to be long and narrow and have names such as Yukon, Alaskan, Michigan or Maine snowshoes. Teardrops will often have a large turned up toe. The Ojibwa shoe is similar to the Alaskan shoe but with a pointed toe that is designed to cut through deep powder easier. Oval shoes are called "bearpaws" and are wider and shorter than the teardrop styles. The bearpaws will sometimes have a small turn-up at the toe. Modified bearpaws, called Green Mountain Bearpaws, are most popular due to their larger turned up toe.

Bindings . . .
Traditional snowshoes are frequently held on to your foot with neoprene or rawhide harnesses called either "A" or "H" type bindings. "A" Style bindings mimic the more popular sport snowshoe bindings while the "H" style bindings are the most simple.

The more advanced sport snowshoe bindings work in association with a hinging or pivoting point on the snowshoe frame. The basic sport shoe models will be fixed to the frame similar to their traditional cousins.

Features to look for in bindings are durability, ease of use and secure positioning of the foot.

Hinging vs. Fixed Bindings . . .
The swing or forward motion of a foot in a snowshoe binding is effected by the type of pivot point or "hinge" that is designed into the shoe frame. "Hinging" bindings have an axle that is attached to the sides of the snowshoe frame which the binding is then attached to. These types of bindings are frequently referred to as "free rotation" or "rotational" bindings. Free rotation bindings allow the heel of the snowshoe to drop freely from your foot and allow the front of the shoe to rise up sharply shedding snow from the toe and tail. "Fixed" bindings are bindings that are attached to the snowshoe framework with stout rubber or plastic straps or decking. Fixed bindings are often referred to as "non-rotating" or "stationary" bindings. Fixed bindings are ideal for packed trails and runners because they prevent the snowshoe tail from dropping away from the foot as the foot rises from the snow. Fixed bindings can be more maneuverable in tight areas.

Crampons & Claws . . .
All sport snowshoes come equipped with some type of crampon or claw. These provide traction on icy or crusty surfaces and are necessary on steep terrain for both ascending and descending. Long serrated teeth are frequently added along the length of the frame to provide stability while traversing.

Which One Should I Buy? . . .
What type of snowshoeing will you be doing and where will you be doing it? How much do you weigh, and how much will your pack weigh while snowshoeing? How much does the snowshoe weigh and how is it shaped? Most specialty outdoor stores will have charts on recommended snowshoe sizes by load weight. Discuss with the sales person your interests and requirements.
Snowshoes on the move  
Snowshoe closeup  
Joe Klementovich Photo    

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