Well, hiking season is winding down, sadly. But on the bright side, that means snowshoe season is on its way!
I’m not so into skiing of snowboarding, even though the “cool factor” for those sports may be higher than snowshoeing. But I’m an avid snowshoe fan!
If you haven’t snowshoed before, you’re in for a treat. Snowshoeing is pretty much like hiking, except your “hiking shoes” are extremely big and clunky. It takes some getting used to, and you may trip over your snowshoes a few times at first. But after a few minutes you’ll be clomping along just fine.
And it’s so much fun to hike through the snow! The best scenario is when you snowshoe on a sunny day with fresh, fluffy snow. It’s like being a kid again, squishing through the fresh white landscape. Or if you come across a well-traveled trail, try bum-sliding down a hill! Just be sure the end of the slope doesn’t take you off-trail (or worse yet down the mountainside).
This brings me to why I adore my snowshoes, which are Women’s MSR Ascents. I’ve tried a wide variety of snowshoes, but I haven’t found any snowshoes that can match MSRs for versatility, useability, and grip.
The key with MSR Ascents are that they have a unique metal frame around the edges, with lots of grippy teeth, as you can see in this photo:
Other snowshoes have metal tubing for a frame, which are lightweight, but don’t have any grip. The only teeth are in the center of the snowshoe, which makes it harder to trust that your foot will stick when you place it on a slippery, icy patch of snow.
Ascents also have easy to use bindings to strap in your boots, and heel lifts. If you’re thinking of getting a pair of snowshoes that don’t have heel lifts — believe me, it’s worth the extra $$ to get a pair with heel lifts! They make those uphill slogs much more pleasant.
My MSRs work great, whether I’m frolicking through fresh powder, or across icy stuff. And believe me, I’ve tested these puppies. My friend V and I once got stranded on the backside of a mountain after sliding off-trail. We had to literally climb back out, kicking out footholds for our feet with our snowshoes! I was very grateful for MSR’s extra grip.
I honestly can’t think of any downside to MSR snowshoes. Perhaps it could be nice if they somehow included a hot chocolate dispenser feature. But MSRs are lightweight, perform great, and include special snowshoes designed for women or those with narrower gaits. Plus, MSR hails from my hometown in Seattle, Washington
Whatever snowshoes you end up with, I hope you’ll get a chance to get out to the mountains this winter! (And my sympathies to those that don’t live near any snowy mountains).. Just remember to stay safe. Stay on trail, be prepared for the elements, bring a map and emergency numbers, and hike with others!
P.S.: Check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes for more flavor ideas to spice up your meals this winter!