Crunch Time

Stomp into winter with the year's most versatile snowshoes

Jan 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

IT WASN'T LONG ago that any winter athlete worth the stench of his polypropylene was likely to pan snowshoeing with the disparaging one-liner "Why snowshoe when you can ski?" Simplicity was the obvious retort. Strapping snowshoes to an approach shoe, hiking boot, or snowboarding boot freed you from castlike ski boots, stuck-together climbing skins, and the alchemy of ski-wax selection.

Luckily that argument still stands—as do the inherent joys of snowshoeing for its own sake. Walk into any outdoor shop, though, and the first thing you'll discover is that there's nothing simple about buying the latest snowshoes, which come in a mind-boggling array of styles. Indeed, in response to the demands of this burgeoning sport's devotees (who drove annual sales from 13,500 pairs in 1996 to 160,000 in 2000), manufacturers now offer deft and grippy models for transporting climbers and backpackers into mountainous terrain that even skiers would have trouble skinning up; lightweight, versatile systems that are luring trail runners and fitness junkies into snowshoe racing; and stiff, compact designs that offer snowboarders the solid toe-holds they need for climbing steep chutes. All of which means that the only question you need to answer about snowshoeing is "Where do I want to go?" Our best advice for gearing up: Define your interests, and the right shoe will take you there.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Need a Gear Fix?

Open email. Get latest gear. Repeat.

Thank you!