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GearSnow Sports
Gear Guy

Are snowshoes or skis better for a winter trek in Yosemite?

Which do you think would be better for a backcountry winter camping trip in Yosemite: snowshoes or a ski like the Karhu Morph (which looks like L.L. Bean's Boreal and features a built-in climbing skin)? Tom Marina del Rey, California

A: That's an interesting question. The Karhu Morph ($230; is properly dubbed a "skiboard," a ski-snowshoe hybrid that floats and glides like a ski but is maneuverable like a snowshoe. Easier to use than a ski, too.

I've never used one, but the idea of a dumbed-down ski isn't immediately appealing. The Morph really doesn't have the binding to "ski" well, and is still much longer than a snowshoe. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd tend to recommend either a true cross-country ski (such as the Fischer Outbound Crown, $179;, or a good backcountry showshoe (the Atlas 1030, $259; The choice you make will probably depend on the terrain and your skiing skill level. Over rough, steep, tree-covered terrain, snowshoes will work much better. But, if you're in a gentler portion of Yosemite—maybe skiing up the road to the Tuolumne Meadows area, for instance—skis might work nicely and allow you to cover more ground more quickly.

Of course, for the sake of science, you could also buy a pair of Morphs, use them, and then report back to us. They'll probably work perfectly, and you'll e-mail me and insist that the Gear Guy is full of you-know-what. Which, sometimes, I am.

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Filed To: Snow Sports