GearSnow Sports
Gear Guy
Q:

What's the best footwear for a winter approach hike?

I need something to go over snow terrain in the most efficient way possible for a winter approach/ascent of Split Mountain in the Sierras. Instead of clunky snowshoes, what do you think about the Yupi Skishoes? Or the Salomon Meta Skis? Between the two for rough, snowy terrain, which would you recommend? By the way, I'm a VERY novice skier, so something easy to learn is important. Jake Kim Irvine, California

A: I guess I'd have to dispute the philosophical premise of the question. Snowshoes aren't clunky, in my view. No, they're not ballet slippers, either. But they work well, are easy to learn, adapt to a wide range of terrain, and are proven technology.

As for the Yupi Skishoes ($179) and Karhu Meta Sweeper Skis ($299; compatible with Salomon boots), they represent an effort by a few companies to broaden the snow-sport market. In other words, an effort to offer a product in the hope people will figure they need them. I wore the Sweepers at a winter demo a year ago, and confess I couldn't quite see the point. They were neither as agile and all-terrain friendly as snowshoes, nor as efficient for fast travel as XC skis. I expect the same is true for the Skishoes. Plus, both require at least modest ski-travel skills, while snowshoes really require none. But certainly, they work, and in the right conditions do seem to offer more speed than snowshoes while requiring less skill than skis.

So I have to come down on the side of snowshoes. Try some Redfeather Backcountry 10X36 snowshoes ($279) —- light, tough and versatile.

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