Category Archives: Fitness

New to Snowshoeing Series, Part 1: Get Suited Up

Perhaps you received some fancy new Atlas snowshoes as an awesome holiday gift… Maybe you’re making a New Year’s resolution to spend more time outside (even in the winter)… Or you could be trying to win the office step competition for bragging rights… Whatever your reason, snowshoeing is the answer.

And Atlas is here to get you started (and win that competition). Our ambassadors have loads of great advice for all abilities and fitness levels so you can get out on the snow safely to walk or run in potentially cold, wet, weather. Trust us, it’ll be great!

First: Commitment

Sometimes it’s hard to make yourself go outside in the winter. But the first step is making the proactive decision to just do it. Do you need motivation? Join a hiking group or sign up for a snowshoe race. Having something on the calendar will give you the extra motivation to train.

Pro Tip: It’s okay to feel awkward on snowshoes at first, but just commit to it and you’ll love it in no time!

Second: Gear

It’d be really hard to snowshoe without snowshoes, or a good jacket, or the right shoes. Every one of our ambassadors will tell you that the most important thing to them is quality gear. (We don’t pay them to say that, we swear!)

Snowshoes

Consider the type of terrain you will most often be exploring and factor in your weight to get the right amount of float on the snow.

Pro Tip: The filter on our website is a huge help. Simply select the gender with which you identify, where you’ll be using your snowshoes, and your desired terrain for a customized recommendation.

Footwear

Atlas makes great products, but you still need quality footwear to go into the bindings. If you’re using a speed series snowshoe, you can wear normal running shoes (our athletes recommend adding gaiters for extra protection). If you’ll be hiking, pair some thick socks with good hiking boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Nothing will cut your day short faster than cold, wet, toes.

Atlas Snowshoes - How To Dress

Clothing

Every one of our athletes had one word on when asked about clothing: LAYERS. The general rule of thumb is:

  • A high-quality breathable base layer
  • An insulating layer (thermal top, vest, jacket)
  • A waterproof shell

Remove a layer if the weather is warmer or dryer. Some people get cold easier so don’t base your needs on what your friends are wearing.

If you’re running or aggressively hiking, bring layers that are easy to remove and store. You’ll need those clothes to stay dry later on the way back down or if you pause to take a break. It also helps to have a lightweight pack to stash your layers, snacks, and HYDRATION (more to come on that in Part 3).

Pro Tip: If you’re dreading the cold day, Atlas athletes recommend putting your base layers in the dryer (if it’s safe to do so!) for a few minutes to warm them up.

Extras

A face buff is a great extra piece of gear to carry. Use a buff to warm your neck, put over your mouth to warm the air before it gets into your lungs on extremely cold days, or use it as a headband/hat or pirate headpiece (wanted to see if you’re paying attention).

Eye protection is often overlooked when snowshoeing but sunglasses are another great piece of equipment to stash in your bag. You think you’ll be in the woods the whole time or that it will stay cloudy, but if that sun comes out and reflects off the snow, you’ll want to save yourself from the glare; they can also protect your eyes from the wind and cold.

And don’t forget your gloves!

Safety

If you’re going to be running or hiking in low light or darker conditions (we don’t recommend it, but it happens) make sure to wear reflective clothing and bring a light with you. For just a few dollars at running stores, hardware stores, or even larger pharmacies, you can add this to your kit for great piece of mind. If you plan to spend a lot of time on the trail after dark, a reliable headlamp is a must. Make sure you’re seen out there!


Coming Soon, Part 2: Training Your Way to a Happy Day

Getting Off the Beaten Path on Mt. Hood

Photo Credit Jamie Mieras
Photo Credit Jamie Mieras

By Adam Chase, Atlas Team Captain

Even though Mt. Hood is just a 90-minute drive from downtown Portland and considered PDX’s playground, the amount of snow the upper regions of the volcanic and glacial mountain receives keeps the hoards away, leaving its open wilderness and National Forest areas wide open for exploration.

You can gain serious elevation by starting from Timberline Lodge, a beautiful 1937, Depression-era Work Projects Administration structure six miles up the access road from the town of Government Camp. Climber’s Trail is an obvious option for those wanting to head directly toward the rather daunting yet alluring summit. In other words, it goes straight up the mountain. The going isn’t easy but the views earned from ascending with every step are well worth the effort. Timberline Lodge sits at 6,000 feet above sea level while the summit of Mt. Hood is at 11,245 with the terrain getting rather technical above 9,500.

We did a four-mile out-and-back on snowshoes on a mostly sunny yet breezy day with temps in the high 30s and low 40s. It took more than 90 minutes to ascend 2,500 feet and less than 30 minutes to descend on the soft snow. We saw skiers and boarders who took two lifts to get to just above our turnaround point and plenty of climbers who were headed to make a Saturday night high camp before going for an early Sunday summit and the return home.

Unless the temperature is just right, you’ll need snowshoes, skis with skins, crampons or other traction device and maybe an ice axe or poles. It is a great calf workout and for those coming from sea level the altitude is sure to get the heart and lungs pumping hard.

It was tempting to turn around to check out the view of Portland, below, as the views were spectacular. But we were less than 3,000 feet from the top of the peak that is marveled at regularly by Portlanders, the way Seattle residents are in awe of Mt. Rainier. The ridge line of the summit and its snow- and ice-encrusted crown, like a white saw against the blue sky it cut with its teeth, is so compelling.

 

An Ode to the Local Shop

Oh, Mom & Pop Shop!

Thank you for being you.

You support our adventures. You don’t laugh when we walk into your store and tell you our dreams. You hi-five us and lend us advice.

Thank you for being you.

You empathize with us. We share stories of victorious climbs, and commiserate when a goal goes unreached. You encourage us to keep moving.

Thank you for being you.

You educate us. When we don’t know what gear to bring, or want advice on your favorite products, you provide the guidance we need to begin our journey outside of the store’s walls.

Thank you for being you.

You bring us together. Be it the local community or connecting us to outdoor enthusiasts across the globe. You work long hours putting on events, giving us advice, teaching new skills, keeping us safe on our journeys, and bringing together new friends.

Thank you for being you.

Signed,

The Atlas Snow-Shoe Company

We encourage everyone to shop local this holiday season. Your local Atlas dealers can be found on our homepage. These dealers are leaders in your outdoor community and we are proud to direct you to them for your purchase needs, customer service, advice, or just to have a community of like-minded enthusiasts. Happy shopping everyone!

 

 

Long Distance Runners Can’t Jump

By Adam W. Chase, Atlas Team Captain

Adolescence is an intimidating enough period of life as it is, especially for runners, who tend not to “blossom” until much later in life . . . like our 40s or 50s. Add to that the awkwardness of growth spurts, cracking voices, acne, hair or glandular sprouting, and the angst of Holden Caulfield or Napoleon Dynamite the fact that we had to take the Presidential Fitness Award tests in junior high or middle school gym class and you have a veritable crescendo of humiliation.

I can’t say that I had really begun puberty by the eighth grade, or the eleventh grade for that matter, but I did suffer the embarrassment of having that delinquency made all the more apparent by forced showers every first Monday of the month, following the mandatory “20-minute run” in gym class. One first Monday we didn’t have the usual run. Instead we got to go through a battery of tests for the Presidential Fitness Award. Our gym teacher, who was the quintessential gym teacher who was only there to coach football and wore the obligatory polyester shorts, knee socks, polo shirt, whistle, and baseball cap, announced that we would be doing eight different tests and that would be scored against National standards. Before you read the next paragraph, quiz yourself to see how many of the tests you can dredge up from those awkward days.

The tests were: the mile run, 100-meter dash, shuttle run, curl-ups (sit-ups), push-ups, pull-ups, sit and stretch, and vertical leap. Girls did the “bent arm hang” in lieu of pull-ups. How would you fare if you were to perform those tests today? They will likely throw you right back to junior high or middle school days and make you feel humble. Hitting the 90th percentile or above in each of the seven graded tests – for some reason, the sit and stretch isn’t counted in the final tally – is a worthy goal because to do so locks in the Presidential Fitness Award.

As a runner, meeting the standard is relatively easy in the mile. The pull-ups, curl-ups, and push-ups may be more of a challenge. For push-ups the rule requires that you touch your chest to a three-inch pad for it to count and the women are allowed to do them with their knees on the floor. The shuttle run is harder than you’d think. The trick is to wet the soles of your feet for greater traction on dusty gym floors. Long-distance runners may be challenged by the 100-meter dash.

But, for endurance folks like me, the sockdolager of the Fitness Challenge is the vertical leap. Is this a test for basketball players? Hell, I skip rope and do squats on a regular basis. As a snowshoer I have to regularly leap over logs, small dogs, and other obstacles that block the path. And I’m not a heavy guy either. What’s the story?

I was bemoaning this fact to Nikki Kimball, who was on the podium back at the first snowshoe National Championships and was a member of Team Atlas, and is a physical therapist, and she told me that the book she was reading had the perfect explanation. Bernard Heinrich’s Why We Run, does indeed put it quite nicely: “One cost of aerobic running fitness is loss of explosive muscular strength.  When untrained, I normally bound up three stairs at a time, but I know I’m becoming trained for long-distance running when I can do only two at a time.”

Well, I suppose that after more than 30 years of training my body to run long distances, there just isn’t much spring in my skinny little legs. At least my voice doesn’t crack, I don’t have zits, and unlike some of the big guys out there for the Fitness Challenge, a mile run is merely a warm-up.

Meet The Team

We here at Atlas Snow-Shoe Company feel incredibly lucky to have people who love our product. Our engineers spend years working on perfecting something as large as a crampon and as small as a buckle, and it’s pretty cool to see our fans out in the real world using the snowshoes to tackle a mountain, a race, or a family hike.

The benefit and the drawback of outdoor adventuring is that it’s often done in less-populated, quiet, areas. We want to show how much fun everyone is having on their snowshoes, but it’s hard sometimes! That’s where our ambassadors come in.

We are happy to announce our 2017/2018 Atlas Athlete Team. We received a LOT of applications to join this adventure and racing team. Our ambassadors reach far beyond this group; we welcome everyone to continue getting out there and sharing your adventures with us by tagging us on social @atlassnowshoes.

The Atlas Team represents people of all ages, geographic areas, skill levels, and they all have different goals for the next winter. Follow them on our blog, and on our social (@atlassnowshoes), to see where their snowshoes will take them.

Meet the Team

Adventure On Atlas Fans!

Staying Outside During “Back to School”

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

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.

pic 1

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!