My wife and I went snowshoeing 3 times this winter in Shindagin Hollow, here in Central New York. Check out my previous post from mountain biking there last fall a few times.
Click here for more info about Shindagin Hollow, maps, directions, trail routes, etc.
The first few times were in mid January when we had a few nice powder storms. The snow clung to everything. We were tromping through at least 18".
The last time was in late January when the snow was a bit wetter, but still deep and thick. We hiked for at least 3 miles. The snow was around 3' deep.
I prefer snowshoeing over cross-country skiing mostly because of the "off-road" factor. I can go anywhere on snowshoes. Cross-country skis are not that versatile. On snowshoes, I can tromp down a trial, head into the glades, hike up a ridge/cliff, easily traverse hills, and hike into the backcountry to do some downhill skiing/boarding etc. Cross-country skiing is often bound to the trail.
That's my take. Disagree? Sound off in the comments ...
Lowe Alpine, Fall Line 35(L) (I think this is a discontinued model now)
I picked this up on Backcountry.com for a song in 2009. Sweet deal. I use it everyday to go to campus for work, but it really thrives on the trail. It sits well on my hips and hugs my back with some breathing room. It holds 35 liters of gear, so plenty of room for snacks for the trail, an extra layer & fleece, hydration bladder and or water bottles, first aid kit, other miscellaneous gear, etc. Love the pack.
TSL, Take the High Road 25" (The graphics on mine are a little different)
I picked these up in the fall at about $60 per pair. It was such an outrageous deal. My wife and I had been talking about getting snowshoes for a while. This was the perfect time. These have great stainless steel spikes, a quick and simple binding system that fits my Columbia boots (see below) perfectly, and an all around rugged construction. These have held up great (and I haven't be easy on them). I look forward to many more hikes in them.
The bindings on these are a bit weather than the TSL's, but they still hold up and do a great job. No complaints from my wife, she keeps up with me no problem. They are just not quite as aggressive as a design as the TSL Take the High Road 25's.
Tubbs, 2 Section Adjustable Snowshoe/Trekking Poles (Mine are red)
These work great. They are sturdy when at full length. They baskets cup the snow well. They are light weight, and the grip is comfortable. No complaints. Straight quality.
Columbia Bugaboot Omni-Tech (I've got them in brown)
I picked these up last fall as well. They are size 9, and slightly on the big side. They have a lip on the heel, perfect for snowshoeing. They are plenty warm and don't weigh very much. I wear them to work sometimes when the weather is bad.
Suncloud, Outlaw (discontinued, now called Surge)
I picked them up cheap on SierraTradingPost.com 3 years ago or so. Another good deal. No complaints. They are polarized (that's key). The fit well, keep the sun out, and look good. Period. Although, I think I left them in the car on a hot day one too many times, they are a bit warped (plastic frame). So they don't quite fit as well as they used to, my fault though.
Sherpa, Lobuste Soft-Shell Jacket (mine is an older version, this is the latest)
I picked this up last winter on Sierra Trading Post for dirt cheap (60% off at least). It has been great in most respects. The only complaint is the zippers. 2 of the 4 didn't have stoppers at the ends of the zipper track, so I would frequently zip the zipper right off the end into my hand (I fixed that with a little DIY tweak). Other than that, it is lightweight, wind resistant, water resistant, relatively warm, and a slim athletic fit. It is great by itself on a cool day, or as a cold weather layer. This is perfect as a shell for the kind of snowshoeing I do.
I grabbed these on a retail sale when I used to live in Vermont a few years ago. They work out great for any cold weather activity. They can be worn by themselves for a run or snowshoeing (more activity), or as a layer in low activity or extremely cold conditions. Eastern Mountain Sports Techwick is the best.
Snowshoeing is so gnarly. Get outside!
(Next Post: Backcountry Skiing/Boarding)