Snowshoe Running 101: Know the Lingo

Key terms to learn before heading to the store

The parts of a snowshoe.     Photo: Whitney Dreier/Dion

Snowshoes are pretty simple contraptions, but you should know a few terms before heading over to your local sporting goods store or attempting to purchase a pair online.

  • BINDING: The device that attaches your shoe to the snowshoe. Bindings are usually rubber, fabric, or velcro straps, and should be tight for maximum energy transfer. Once you figure out that perfect fit for your bindings, mark them with a sharpie, so you’ll know exactly how to lace up.

  • CRAMPONS: Also referred to as cleats, these are the jagged traction devices found under the toe, ball of the foot, or heel, and are designed to grip steep or slippery slopes.

  • DECKING: The flat surface of the snowshoe that attaches to the frame and provides floatation. Decking allows you to walk on top of the snow by spreading your weight across a greater surface area. Usually made from a plastic or synthetic material, although the original snowshoes used rawhide lacing.

  • DIRECT MOUNT: These step-in bindings allow you to attach your running shoe directly to the snowshoe. Usually this is accomplished by bolting the sole of the running shoe to the toe bed or by inserting special rods into the sole of the running shoe, which allows the shoe to easily clip in and out of the snowshoe. Many racers opt for direct mount bindings to reduce weight.

  • FRAME: The aluminum skeleton of the snowshoe to which the decking attaches.

  • TAIL: The back of the snowshoe behind your heel. A V-tail is a frame design where the tail thins into a V shape and helps with tracking.

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