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newbie snow shoe advice
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Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
newbie snow shoe advice on 02/05/2011 16:15:45 MST Print View

I have a set of 30" lighting accent. I wore a liner sock, a thicker hiking sock, trail runners, and a 40 below over boot.

I strapped in as tight as I could without hindering circulation (at least I think).

My problem is when I am running 90 degrees to the fall line on a slope. The down hill foot seems to slip seriously in the snow shoe and cause a ton of pressure and pain on the front half of the foot.

I did about 3 miles and got a serious blister under my arch and my feet felt like they were run over with a truck.

I honestly am not even sure whether the buckles should be on the inside of the foot, or the outside of the foot (opposite end of the rubber strap from where its attached permanently to the shoe).

I moved my foot as far forward as I could so that my toes just went down the webbing cut out, and shortened up the back strap and that seemed to help, but no where near eliminate the issue.

Do I have them on correctly, should I bag the trail runners and go to a stiffer boot and gaiters?

What am I doing wrong?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: newbie snow shoe advice on 02/05/2011 16:25:17 MST Print View

The first thing that I had to learn on snowshoes was to not try to follow the cross country skiers. The skiers will contour around, back and forth, or zigzag their way up a slope and across it. That doesn't work so good for snowshoes. You are better off going straight up or straight down the fall line. The whole complication is in how your snowshoes are constructed with a "claw" to act like a crampon. Some have a complex claw to minimize sliding, some have a simple claw, and some have none at all. Personally, I would never use snowshoes without a halfway substantial boot in order to stand up to strap compression. If your feet feel the abnormal strap pressure, then you are likely to get blisters.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
THE answer to snow shoes on 02/05/2011 18:06:01 MST Print View

Get skis, maaaann!


'shoes put a ton of leverage on your feet. Period. Stiffer shoes help, but only so much. Sounds like you had some pretty hard snow conditions? In those cases I try to, as Bob said, avoid extended high angle traversing. On lower angle traverses, use the ankel flexibility of trail runners to bend at the ankle and put the whole shoe in contact with the snow.

Or get skis and really have fun.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
boots on 02/05/2011 18:12:03 MST Print View

Mark- I have the same shoes (snowshoes that is :)) and I use lightweight, insulated boots (Merrell Isotherm) and haven't had any problems. I've been tempted to try trail runners, but these boots have worked out well enough that I haven't tried.

My Lightnings have three forward straps (do yours?), on the MSR site (or in the instructions) they mention the option of just using two- it may be worth giving that a try (my old Lightnings only had two forward straps and I never felt like I was missing anything).

I agree w/ Bob that often it's best just go straight (or near straight) up.

Dave is always wanting to get us slowpokes in skis :)

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: newbie snow shoe advice on 02/05/2011 18:49:46 MST Print View

Mark, I think you had a couple of things that together might have caused your problem:

1. Hard snow- by what you described the snow must have been hard putting the snowshoe on the angle of the hill but your body had to compensate for gravity and your ankle took the force of the bend causing your foot to twist in the binding and train runner.

1a. Soft snow allows for the foot to make a firm footing at the proper angle of the body, making it easier on the ankle and the foot tract as you would like. Try and find better snow. Sounds dumb I know but instead of following an established trail (hard pack) walk a few feet away (or yards) and the snow is usually better. If you are in an area you know make your own trail, that is the fun of snowshoeing, you can go pretty much where ever you want. Also see angle of approach below

2. The angle of approach, you said you were walking at 90* to the fall line.

2a. If you change the angle of approach your foot will track better. I had this issue last weekend when walking on a steep hill (45 degree +) on hard packed snow 90* to the fall line, my trail runners we not giving me the best support and I knew that if I continued things would get worse for my feet. I changed my approach angle to a 45* up hill approach and did much better. You could go straight up as suggested but unless you have super thighs you won't last long, using the heel lifts helps here.

3. The trail runners don't give a lot of support when traversing a slope (though I like the flexibility over a boot). If there are no other options and all you can walk on is hard pack, and walking 90* to the slope then boots might be a better option.

Other thoughts, on the MSR's the loose side of the binding strap goes on the outside. It shouldn't make a difference for you runners though, maybe try and tighten them up a little and see how they work, or even loosen them up (along with changing them way you walk).

This might all be a bunch of hyper-bull and I am totally wrong with what you were experiencing, but it also might help.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
buckles on 02/05/2011 18:50:44 MST Print View

see it answered, thanks for the tips guys.

Yes and I wont even tell you guys how many times I stepped on my other snow shoe and did an immediate face plant :)

Edited by vesteroid on 02/05/2011 18:57:08 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
slope on 02/05/2011 19:26:29 MST Print View

i've posted these before but in case they were missed ... i prefer facing in and traversing if the angle is steep

falling in the wrong place is bad in shoes ... in the wrong place it can be quite dangerous ... icy slopes even more so

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
thanks on 02/05/2011 21:20:30 MST Print View


Those blogs were right on. Now I see exactly what I was doing wrong. It was a steep slope, it was icy snow, and it was a trail I have done many times in the summer and never considered might be dangerous in winter (the trail filled with snow and it took on the same slope as the rest of the mountain vs the flat spot I hiked all summer). The track I was following was never seemingly wide enough to get two shoes side by side.

Learned a lot by reading that.