Which Shoe For Someone New?

 

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By Jill Nazeer, Atlas Marketing Specialist

Hello out there in snowshoe land. You don’t know me. I’m the marketing specialist for Atlas Snowshoes. I have the best job ever—getting to help people explore the outdoors. I have a secret to admit though… I’m from a large city where snowshoeing was something you did once a year, on vacation, which inevitably was a 2-hour drive in any direction.

When I came to work here I immersed myself in snowshoes, sitting with our engineers for hours hearing about recreational crampons and Nytex decking. I thought, “Wow, this technology is awesome!” (which it is). Next thought was, “But how does this translate to an average Joe or Jane?” As much as we wish we could build holograms of our engineers and send them out to the public, we don’t have the ability (yet).

If you’re an experienced snowshoer or someone completely new, do you REALLY know the meaning of all of these trademarked technological names? How would you find the shoe for you?

The only way to solve the dilemma was to take it to the hills! We’re honored to be located in Seattle, Wash., where snow and mountains are only a short drive away. So I packed the car with every snowshoe that would fit (including some non-Atlas shoes, to be fair to everyone), picked up our Sales Manager and a new-to-snowshoeing (read: unbiased) friend, and we trucked out to Snoqualmie Pass.

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And so we walked. We walked up, we walked down, we walked flats, we walked hills, we walked through rain and snow (because…Seattle) and we compared. Want to know what we found out? Our snowshoes are pretty darn awesome. It was really hard to determine which we liked more based on comfort, so we had to get picky.

Here is the process we recommend as you consider a snowshoe:

1) Conditions

Our engineers (like I said, they’re really smart) have determined the perfect conditions for every snowshoe. There are categories of shoes called Backcountry, Peak Series, and Trail Walking. The category you pick means you’ll have the right crampon (traction) for your activity.

Q) But what does that mean?
A) In Laymen’s terms:

  • Backcountry = You’re hiking to the top of a summit or on very technical terrain and need something light, durable, and with really solid traction.
  • Peak = You are to a—you guessed it—peak. Still technical, but you don’t necessarily need death-grip levels of traction.
  • Trail = You need shoes that will get you around on flats or moderate hills.

Once we picked the right category of shoe, we looked at what was within that category. The choices might seem overwhelming, but stick with us here.

2) Bindings

Atlas has several kinds of bindings with fancy names, but really you can see the difference by looking at them. Do you like a few fabric straps? Would you prefer only two straps with a single pull cord? How about a Boa closure?

Q) What’s Boa?
A) You may have seen their products in other places like cycling shoes, golf shoes, snowboard boots, or helmets. Check them out here: https://www.theboasystem.com/

3) Suspension

Atlas has a few names for suspension abbreviated with SLS and LRS, but really they might as well be titled “more snowflip” and “less snowflip”.

Q) What’s snowflip??
A) Don’t worry, I got you. Snowflip is how much snow the shoe digs up and flips back at you as you walk. Ever walked through a lot of mud and realized it was all over the back of your legs later? Snowflip my friends. Some people don’t notice this at all, but some are bothered by it. It’s all about personal choice.

Q) Wouldn’t I just always pick less snowflip?
A) Not necessarily. There are other differences between SLS and LRS. SLS lets the crampon sink deeper into the snow, so it absorbs impact and is easier for you to walk on technical terrain. LRS is great for mellow terrain since it allows for a more natural stride.

4) Size

Snowshoe sizing has little to do with your shoe size, or height, or gender. It’s really all about load, aka how much weight the snowshoes will be carrying. And not just your weight, but the weight of your pack, or snowboard, or picnic basket lunch, or whatever you’re carrying as you walk on those shoes

5) Color

JUST KIDDING, YOU SHOULDN’T BUY ANY TECHNICAL SHOES BASED ON COLOR! Don’t worry, though, all of our colors are pretty great.

In the end, we all liked different shoes for different reasons. And that’d be the same for you as well. You might love a certain binding because it’s easiest to use, or you know you’re walking to the top of Mt Baker and need something technical, or you want to buy a gift for Granny so she can walk to the end of her driveway to get the mail. It’s always best to go into a shop, or attend a demo event, and look at the shoes, touch them, play with them, and ask the employees for help if you need it. But I hope this helps decipher some of the lingo. And hey…don’t you feel just a little bit smarter now?

Need help finding a local dealer? Here you go! http://en-us.atlassnowshoe.com/dealers

Have shoes but don’t know where to go now? We’ve got your back. http://snowshoes.com/

Q) Wait, I’ve read to the end and you haven’t told me which snowshoes you liked best?!
A) Nope, sorry. That’s like asking us to pick our favorite child. It really just depends on the day. Happy snowshoe hunting!