Not Your Grandma’s Showshoes

If you’ve never lived in the North Woods or a similar climate, it would be understandable if when you hear the word “snowshoes” you picture the old-school kind with wooden frames and latticework, the kind you might see in movies about mountain men or something. So, my dad suggested I should snap a photo of the snowshoes I use for work.

Not quite what you imagined? Modern snowshoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on personal preference and their intended use. Snowshoes for bushwhacking in deep snow are going to look quite different from snowshoes for racing (yes, competitive snowshoe racing is a thing!). These are basic, all-purpose shoes, made of rubberized plastic with bindings that strap across the top of your feet and behind your heel.

Underneath there are metal crampons that give them better traction than any hiking boot. Not only can you walk across slippery patches without fear, you can walk straight up and down pretty steep slopes. You just have to stomp your feet with each step to drive the teeth in! The binding part rotates up and down freely of the deck of the snowshoe so that you can walk fairly naturally.

In these, no real skill is required: if you can walk, you can snowshoe. We don’t really need them to hike on well-packed trails (although we put kids in them anyway just for the experience). In the deep snow back in the woods, they’re genuinely helpful, and we do have some deep drifts despite the mild winter.

Have you ever been snowshoeing?

8 thoughts on “Not Your Grandma’s Showshoes”

  1. I saw some people showshoeing in the woods around here last winter, and I marveled at how easily they were getting around, instead of climbing through the thigh-deep snow banks like I was doing. :P (That’s fun, too, but pretty time- and energy-consuming!) I do love the woods in the snow, and I was actually considering buying some snowshoes this year, but… no snow! Maybe another year, though. They look like fun and useful things to have!

    1. These don’t COMPLETELY keep you from sinking down into the snow, but the extra surface area does help you walk. Even sinking down a bit with each step, you’re still saving a lot of energy compared to just plowing through drifts.

  2. Now I want to see pictures of you contorting yourself to get these pictures! I would definitely like to play in those someday. I bet they help avoid a lot of that snow-down-yer-ankles that still makes the back of my neck crawl just thinking about it!

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