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Re: [at-l] snowshoes.

kahlena wrote:
> recommend trying to borrow a couple pair to try them out.  While I
> loved the look of the wooden type that you can make from a kit,
> (look kindof like a tennis racket) I found them heavier and less stable that
> Than the new metal style.  BTW..my difficulty may be based on my
> gait which is a bit duck footed.  YMMV        Kahley

Both EMS and REI rent snowshoes, so even if you don't have a local snowshoe
club, you should be able to try a pair some weekend for not too much $$$

The issue of snowshoe shape has more to do with where you are using them and
what condition the snow is in then metal or wooden frames. I have over a dozen
pair of shoes (I'm kind of a collector) and they vary from small high-tech
metal Tubbs, to native made, 17-inch nearly perfectly round ash woven with
caribou babiche.

Really cold snow - bottomless powder - takes a large float to keep you on top.
The small, high tech shoes are worthless in this snow.  On the other hand,
kicking steps into a 40 degree hillside to ascend to a ridge is impossible
with the Maine, Alaskan or Ojibway style shoes, and nearly so with the Innu.
Modified bearclaws - oval shaped shoes in wood or metal frames - can handle
both, but none do all things well.  Heavily wooded areas demand a shorter
shoe. Packed trails let you get away with smaller shoes. Long expanses of open
powder need much more floatation.

The best all-around shoe I have found for me in Maine, is the Maine or
Michican style - teardrop shaped with a slight uplifted toe. The toe and heel
sections are laced tighter and with smalled babiche than the body.  My
favorite bindings are simple thong bindings that the Innu use - no buckles,
you can step in and out of them without taking off your gloves. It's best also
to pull your gear behind you in a timber-cruisers sled and not try to carry a
backpack. I weight 250 pounds and a 48" shoe holds me up just fine. If I were
to add a 60 pound pack to my back, I would need 20% more floatation just to
break even. This means flat, open trails, and not ridge running for me.

The weight of the longer wood-framed snowshoes is balanced by wearing mukluks
instead of boots, so my foot weight is about the same as with heavy hiking
boots. The tails of these snowshoes are never lifted off the snow, so I don't
know how much actual weight I lift with each step. The shoes are 2 1/2 pounds each.

Tim Hewitt (Paddler GA>ME 99)
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