Category Archives: Fitness

Staying Outside During “Back to School”

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It’s that time of year again! New clothes, new pencils (or electronic pens and tablets), new backpacks. Some kids are excited, and some might be dreading, the inevitable back to school weeks.

For a lot of families, “Back to School” might also mean more time indoors. As school programs start to reduce, or maybe even cancel, gym and recess, it’s important to make sure your kids are continuing to learn outside the classroom. We at Atlas encourage year-round outdoor adventures, not just for your physical health, but also as exercise for the mind.

According to a study from The Child Mind Institute, “The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen”. This uptick in indoor-time even has a name: Nature Deficit Disorder.

Why is getting outside so important? Can’t kids learn just as well with their screens? The article lays it out for us:

  • It builds confidence. The way that kids play in nature has a lot less structure than most types of indoor play. There are infinite ways to interact with outdoor environments, from the backyard to the park to the local hiking trail or lake, and letting your child choose how he treats nature means he has the power to control his own actions.
  • It promotes creativity and imagination. This unstructured style of play also allows kids to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, design their own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways.
  • It teaches responsibility. Living things die if mistreated or not taken care of properly, and entrusting a child to take care of the living parts of their environment means they’ll learn what happens when they forget to water a plant, or pull a flower out by its roots.
  • It provides different stimulation. Nature may seem less stimulating than your son’s violent video game, but in reality, it activates more senses—you can see, hear, smell, and touch outdoor environments.
  • It gets kids moving. Most ways of interacting with nature involve more exercise than sitting on the couch. Your kid doesn’t have to be joining the local soccer team or riding a bike through the park—even a walk will get her blood pumping. Not only is exercise good for kids’ bodies, but it seems to make them more focused, which is especially beneficial for kids with ADHD.
  • It makes them think. Nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. The phenomena that occur naturally in backyards and parks everyday make kids ask questions about the earth and the life that it supports.
  • It reduces stress and fatigue. According to the Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments require what’s called directed attention, which forces us to ignore distractions and exhausts our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.

We get it, technology is a part of our everyday lives. But we encourage you to make a goal this fall and winter: to get out more or get out in a different way. Maybe this is the time to buy your kids some snowshoes. Maybe it’s getting them so cool new gear that gets them excited about being in the snow. What can we do to entertain our kids away from their screens? The Washington Trails Association has some great games you can print and bring on your hikes. Your kids will have fun, enjoy the outdoors, and YOU get more happy family time. Win win!

 

The Story of Atlas

Photo credit Ian Coble
Atlas Trans-Sierra Snowshoe Trek. Five Days; 45 Miles; 12,500 feet vertical gain; 10,800 feet vertical loss; Symmes Creek (Independence, CA) to Wolverton Ski Area (West side of Sequoia National Park). Trekkers: Daniel Emerson, Peter Chapman, Teri Smith, Cameron Martindell. Support Crew: Karen Righthand, Stacey Lee.
2005 Atlas Trans-Sierra Snowshoe Trek. Five Days; 45 Miles; 12,500 feet vertical gain; 10,800 feet vertical loss; Symmes Creek (Independence, CA) to Wolverton Ski Area (West side of Sequoia National Park). Trekkers: Daniel Emerson, Peter Chapman, Teri Smith, Cameron Martindell. Support Crew: Karen Righthand, Stacey Lee.

No, not THAT story of Atlas, but our snowshoe brand of course!

Ever wonder how Atlas Snow-Shoe Company came to be? Some of you might know the general gist: that the product was born from a Stanford student’s engineering thesis. But what happened between then and now?

Our creator’s alma mater put together an amazing history of the brand. You can read it’s complete version here.

What most people might not realize, that you’ll learn in the article, is that Atlas became so much more than its product. Perry Klebahn helped shape the sport by partnering with like-minded brands,  funding and building out snowshoe trails, and producing how-to snowshoe guides for newbies. Fun fact: “One early fan of the sport, Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Jerry Greenfield, even lent his ice cream company’s credibility by sponsoring midnight snowshoe walks.”

We are proud to say that, although changes have been made within the company as well as its product (gotta keep up with the technology), Atlas Snow-Shoe Company will always support the community that supports us. You might see our shoes at your local Nordic center, or on the feet of runners at the US Snowshoe Association’s championship races. We also have the modern-day version of trail guides on our partner site, Snowshoes.com.

It’s fun to look back at our brand’s history, but even more exciting to look ahead at all the possibilities for its future. Thank you for being Atlas fans and continuing on this journey with us!

 

Training For Your Next Great Hike

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Photo credit: Ian Coble

Do you have an adventurous challenge coming up? Perhaps you’re a year-round athlete or outdoorsman (or woman), but some people like to take a few months off to enjoy other activities, spend time with family, maybe you’re busy with work or school. If that’s the case, now is the time to start preparing your body to take on its next hike. If you’re looking to reach a higher peak (literally or metaphorically), Backpacker has some tips to get you in shape and keep you healthy.

THE EXPERT
Jordan Smothermon,
head coach at StrongSwiftDurable in Jackson, WY
“We understand that mountain athletes put their bodies on the line,” he says, explaining his coaching philosophy. And you’ll never hear him ask what you bench. “The way to test our fitness is: If the weather changes, can we get down or out quickly and safely?” That’s the true measure of mountain fitness.

If You Do Nothing Else to Get in Shape for Hiking, Do These

1. Crunches.
2. Squats.
3. Lunges.
4. Push-Ups.
5. Step-Ups. 
Weight a pack (20 lbs. to start) and step onto a park bench 16 to 18 inches high. Add 5 pounds a week until you’re at 40 lbs. Add to your workout three times a week until you can do 700 steps in less than 30 minutes.

Three Best Exercises to Get in Shape for Hiking

1. Lunges
Hold equal weights in both hands (pro tip: buckets of nails look tough). From a standing position, step forward until both legs are bent at 90 degrees. Push up, bringing rear foot forward. Repeat with the other leg.

2. Poor Man’s Leg Curl
Lay flat on the floor and scoot your hips toward an elevated bench. Place your left foot on the bench. Lift your right leg up as high as you can bear. Press lefty down into the bench, clench your glutes and hammies, and raise your hips off the ground. Do 10, then repeat for other leg.

3. Band Walks
Tie a resistance band around your legs, mid-shin, so there’s tension while you stand with legs at hip-width. Stand straight, tuck abs, put hands on hips, and walk forward while maintaining the band’s tension between your shins.

The One Thing You’re Doing Wrong

MAKING SO MUCH DARN NOISE!
Athletes sometimes express emotion by yelling or grunting. That can be detrimental to their performance, because if They’re grunting, they’re thinking, This is hard, how am I going to make it? They’re already losing the mental game. Better bet: Focus all your output into the exercise, and none toward the noise.

5 Helpful Things to Say to Someone Trying to Get in Shape for Hiking

1. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be. Smothermon: Pacing is key here.
2. Suffer in silence. Stoicism is much more badass (see above).
3. One rep at a time.
4. Keep going. More of that.
5. THE MOUNTAIN DOESN’T CARE.

Plus one thing not to say: Good job!
Smothermon: Good job means ‘good enough.’ That’s not the goal.

Basic 9 Week Early Season Training Calendar

Smothermon advises building a good, early season strength base. When the season gets on and you need more endurance, you can easily trade short-burst power for long-burn performance. Think of your muscles as a savings account for fitness. As you move from segment to segment, build on the fitness and strength gains you’ve made.

Weeks 1-3
STRENGTH ➞ 3 days per week, 1 hour/session. “Put on strength now and you’ll have muscle that you can later sacrifice to build up your endurance.” Keep rest periods to a minute or two: “No time to flex in front of the mirror.”

Weeks 4-6
ENDURANCE ➞ 1 day per week for 45 minutes at moderate intensity (e.g. jogging, hiking)

Weeks 7-9
INTENSITY ➞ Increase weekly endurance workouts to 1.5 to 2 hours, and add 1 day of high intensity exercise with high output but less weight (e.g. speed hiking).

Ready for more? Check out our complete training archive for hikers of any age here.

Prepare for National Trails Day

backcountry-avalanche-safety-snowshoers-940x564Looking to get out on snow while you still can? In the Trails.com Snowshoeing section you will find everything from easy snowshoe trails to overnight backcountry snowshoeing and winter camping trips. They have winter trails everywhere from sno-parks and winter playgrounds to remote backcountry lakes, canyons, and mountain peaks – something for snowshoers and “winter hikers” of all abilities and experience levels. Each snowshoeing trip is a complete chapter from a snowshoeing guidebook and includes a detailed trail map, driving directions to the trailhead, and a clear description of the route, all produced by well-known outdoor guidebook publishers. Every snowshoe route is linked to USGS topographic maps from the trail overview page, and many also offer a host of additional features like photos, regional locator maps, and avalanche danger assessments. To find a great snow trail for you, just click on the link. Then browse by selecting a specific region or “Top Trail” from the list, or by simply clicking on the interactive state map. Get out, enjoy the trails, and tag us in your photos!

National Trails Day is Coming!

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Photo credit: adventure cycling.org

June 3, 2017 marks the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day. You might be asking, why does a snowshoe company care about a trails celebration when there’s no snow?

Well, we’re so glad you asked! It’s because we’re not just here to talk snowshoes, we’re here to encourage everyone to get outside, get active, and explore their surroundings. The outdoor community is, let’s face it, an awesome one. But, there are people who just don’t have the resources to get out and take on new adventures. We want to encourage newbies and experienced explorers to get out as much as possible, get healthy, involve their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Snowshoeing is a great way to stay active in the winter, and is friendly to all ages and athletic levels, but there’s  also a lot to do once the snow melts.

We asked our Atlas athletes to share their favorite trails and tips. Sarah McMahan and her family have an incredible place to explore all year long. Here’s what she shared with us:

The reason we live where we live (in Lake Tahoe, elevation 7,500ft) is there are trails abound!  Year round, we can head out straight from our front door to run, bike, or snowshoe.  And our goal is always to climb, high above the trees, to soak up the views.

In Tahoe, we love the Incline Flume and Rim trail, which is great for our whole family- 3 boys ages 6 and twins 11.

Just about every vacation we go on we explore trails, and climb our way to bliss.

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family bikes

Feeling inspired? Check out the American Hiking Society’s website to see how you can get involved in National Trails Day.

Getting out on your own? Share your photos and stories with us @atlassnowshoes to keep the inspiration rolling!

Celebrate Earth Day! Free Snowshoeing During National Park Week, April 15-23, 2017

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National parks all over the United States offer some of the best snowshoeing and hiking opportunities in the country.  Celebrate with a snowshoe hike at one of these 10 U.S. National Parks during the free National Park Week, April 15-23, 2017.


YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Yosemite National Park is famous for more than just its spectacular scenery — it’s also home to the oldest downhill ski resort in the state of California, Badger Pass. The park includes miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoe hiking trails that are usually open from December to March.


MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is one of the most popular destinations for outdoor family fun in the northwest.  Snowshoe hikes bring fresh insight into how plants and animals cope with the park’s frigid winters and warming springs.

SEQUOIA & KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS

California’s Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks offer great opportunities, and snowshoes are conveniently available for visitors to rent daily in both the Grand Grove and Wolverton areas of the parks.


YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Lots of roads and trails in Yellowstone National Park are open, but be sure to check the regulations before you go.

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

The spectacular winter landscape of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming makes the park a picture-perfect destination for sightseeing, wildlife-viewing, and photography. The park’s main roadways are plowed and maintained year-round while many back roads are reserved for snowshoe hiking and cross-country skiing.


LASSEN VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK

The backcountry of Lassen Volcanic National Park in California provides an ideal place to experience the solitude of the outdoors. Camping has become increasingly popular at this park, since regulations here only require each visitor to obtain a free backcountry wilderness permit. With the record snowfall this season, make sure to check the park’s website for road and trail access.

VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK

Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park have miles and miles of lake trails to explore, so pack your snowshoes and your hiking gear for a weekend tour.


ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is home to some of the best snow activities and free ranger-led programs in the country. Many park roads are open, providing easy access to scenic mountain views and great wildlife-watching opportunities.

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

Cross-country skiing and Snowshoe hiking brings thousands of visitors to this Montana park during the winter and spring, but use caution: Glacier National Park’s terrain can be unforgiving, and the difficult conditions mean even experienced backcountry hikers can run into trouble if unprepared.


ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Camping is available in Maine’s Acadia National Park for any daring souls ready to brave the park’s wild temperatures.  NOTE: The park’s carriage road system is currently closed for ‘drying out’.  If you are headed camping this weekend to Acadia, wear hiking boots and carry snowshoes on your pack.


SHOP ATLAS SNOWSHOES

Ramakko’s & Atlas Donate Kid’s Snowshoes to Kivi Park Outdoor Classroom

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On top of being a recreational getaway and haven for wildlife, Kivi Park can now call itself an outdoor classroom.

Ramakko’s Source for Adventure and Atlas Snowshoes donated 40 brand new pairs of #snowshoes to Kivi Park this winter so local kids could experience their fabulous #snowshoeing trails. The park started a snowshoe-lending program for schools, to get kids outdoors and into the fresh air.

James Moody of the Sudbury Star reported in February 2016 that the new park near Long Lake is inviting Sudbury schools to sign up for its Get Healthy, Get Active program, which covers transportation costs and outfits kids with snowshoes for a day of fresh air and exercise in the woods.

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“It’s to get the schools back out, to get the kids active and encourage healthy living,” said Melissa Sheridan, a member of the Kivi Park development team. “Nowadays the majority of schools don’t have snowshoes because of budget cuts, so the kids don’t partake in that because of the lack of equipment.”

Sheridan said any school board wishing to participate is welcome to register for a snowshoe day at the park.

Staff from the park greet the school groups when they arrive, she said, and ensure each kid gets a pair of suitable snowshoes. The park also boasts outdoor rinks, and larger groups may wish to break the day into a half-day of skating and half-day of snowshoeing, she noted.

Ramakko’s provided 40 pairs of premium Atlas snowshoes, in a couple of different lengths suitable for youth. “They’re lightweight and easy to use,” said Juliana Weaver, a manager at Ramakko’s.

A parent herself, with kids in Grades 5 and 7, Weaver said she appreciates how important outdoor experiences are for kids, as well as how tricky they can be to finance through the school system.

“I know there’s only so much money that can be spread out for field trips, even if parents are pitching in for whatever the amount is,” she said. “So it’s great when something is as easy as this.”

She said a snowshoeing program at her children’s school was cancelled a couple of years ago and it’s a loss a number of families have felt.

“It does make me excited that kids in our geographical area will be able to get out snowshoeing again,” she said.

Kivi Park reported that the program was completely oversubscribed within 48 hours.  “Amazing program for an incredible cause! Our children, our students, our teachers and our schools need and want this type of outdoor active program. Thank you Atlas Snow-Shoe Company and Ramakko’s Source for Adventure for making it possible Kivi Park!


Atlas Snowshoes offers a variety of models and sizes, including men’s snowshoes, women’s snowshoes and kids snowshoes.  SHOP ATLAS SNOWSHOES.

 

Gear Review: All-around Recreation with Atlas Elektra Women’s Snowshoes

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By Briana Valoros, Outdoor Gear Lab

The Atlas Elektra line of women’s snowshoes has a femininely designed decking paired with anatomical frame shapes that join to create an excellent all-around pair of women’s snowshoes.

#GearReview
The Atlas Elektras brings some backcountry technicalities to an all-around recreation snowshoe. The crampons fall between semi-aggressive and aggressive traction. Zodiac toe crampons are on a fixed rotation traction system while the Stabilock bindings grip beneath the heel. The frames are constructed of 7075 aluminum, which is the lightest framing material of any of the other pairs in our review. Technically advanced features from the reputable brand, Atlas, paired with a stylish feminine design make the Elektras an excellent selection for on and off trail snowshoe hiking for someone with a narrow gait.

Performance Comparison
The Atlas Elektra Snowshoe line has a feminine design combined with technical features such as a semi-aggressive traction system and the lightest frame weight.

Flotation
The size-to-weight ratio of the Atlas Elektra snowshoes equate to excellent flotation. The Elektras have a narrow frame shape designed for the narrow gait of a woman’s stride and therefore have less surface area. More surface area directly relates to better flotation, and if they had a slightly wider frame, they may achieve better flotation. The Duratek nylon decking and aluminum frames maintain the best flotation in recreational terrain. The narrow gait of the women’s specific Elektra snowshoes is ideal for striding forward.

Traction
These snowshoes have fixed rotation bindings with Zodiac crampons beneath the toes and Stabilock crampons beneath the heels. The crampon orientation and design is semi-aggressive. They have the best traction on packed snow that is flat to moderately steep.

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No Hands, No Poles
Atlas Elektra Snowshoes have semi-aggressive traction that straddle the line between an ideal recreation specific model and an ideal backcountry snowshoe.

Ease of Use
The Wrapp Pro bindings on the Elektra snowshoes are unique in design and function. Silicone straps that look similar to rubber bands cross over the top of the feet and through a low friction buckle system that secures closed with a flip of the handle. Silicone bands secure the bindings of the Atlas Elektras. They look like rubber bands but offer the security and flexibility of durable rubber straps.

Security on Foot
The easy-to-use Boa® Closure system bindings secure the boots onto the snowshoes and remain fastened while active. The length of the tails add security and stability, but we found the most comfort with poles. Security on foot is excellent on packed snow as well as fresh snow. We didn’t experience any issues concerning the bindings or traction systems loosening.

Best Applications
Atlas Elektra snowshoes are ideal on intermediate trails and in moderate backcountry conditions including some mountainous, non-technical terrain. They are suitable for novices and experts, but excel in the middle space between the two extremes. They have semi-aggressive traction systems that are appropriate in some backcountry applications such as moderately steep terrain and snow. They are ideal for petite women hiking on intermediate terrain.

Conclusion
Atlas Elektra women’s specific snowshoes ideal in the moderate range of terrain conditions, offering a balance between on-trail and off-trail snowshoeing.

SHOP WOMEN’S SNOWSHOES

Atlas and SnowSchool team-up to get kids outside!

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Guest writer Kerry McClay

Do you remember the first time you ventured out into the forest to explore the quiet wilds of winter? For some, such memories conjure up a sense of wonder at the fascinating mysteries locked in snow and ice. For others this experience is forever linked with a sense of freedom and the inherent joy in a snow-cushioned romp with friends. Snow connects kids to nature like few things can, and for thousands of students across the country the SnowSchool program is their first introduction to winter wildlands. Providing students and educators with the necessary snowshoes, science curricula, equipment, training and wild winter places to explore is the purpose of Winter Wildlands Alliance’s innovative program. Having added a stream of new sites every winter since 2001, SnowSchool is now 55 sites strong and engaged 29,500 students last winter!

Winter Wildlands Alliance’s SnowSchool program is built on a partnership with Atlas Snow-Shoe Company and collaborations with dozens of non-profits organizations across the US “snow-belt”. For example, one of WWA’s newest SnowSchool sites is in Nederland CO at Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center.  With Atlas’ generous SnowSchool program discount, Wild Bear’s Executive Director Jill Dreves was able to purchase youth snowshoes and worked with WWA to launch a new SnowSchool site in late 2014. The new sites’ momentum has continued to “snowball”, and this winter Wild Bear got the entire Nederland Elementary school outside on snowshoes near Mud Lake to explore their local mountain snowpack! During their adventure the kids learned about winter adaptations, followed animal tracks and studied snow science.  And because SnowSchool explorations are hands-on, fun and connect back to further learning in the classroom, participants are transformed into passionate student scientists and snowshoe explorers!

To find out more information about SnowSchool, how to establish a new site or get involved visit www.snowschool.org.