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Snowshoe length/size for mainly New England
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Steven Adeff
(TinCanFury) - F

Locale: Boston
Snowshoe length/size for mainly New England on 10/04/2011 18:28:54 MDT Print View

Looking for some advice on what size to go for. I'm thinking one of: MSR Lightning or EVO Ascents, or Northern Lites Backcountry or Quicksilver 30. My thoughts are if I get either of the MSR's what length I should get (knowing I can also add the tails so I can have a a shorter length for day hikes). My concern is with the type of snow I'll encounter in New England and making sure I get the right length to ensure the proper float.

I weigh roughly 170 and my winter pack is about 15lbs without food/water so I'm figuring at around 30lbs total.

also, any advice on what other New Englanders are using is much appreciated!


Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Snowshoe length/size for mainly New England on 10/04/2011 19:45:43 MDT Print View

I've never tried them, but the Northern Lites models don't appear to have enough bite for steeper terrain, so I'd choose one of the MSR models. For general Appalachian Mtn. hiking, I chose the Atlas 12 series. They don't have as much grip as the MSRs do, but they're adequate for my trips, and I like how the tails drag so that I'm not lifting the entire shoe.

I'd guess that you'd want a 30-32" shoe on packed to semi-packed trails and a 35" shoe in powder. (You're going to be sinking into powder no matter what size shoe you have though, unless you get a huge traditional shoe.)

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Snowshoe length/size for mainly New England on 10/04/2011 19:55:53 MDT Print View

It's been awhile since I've used snowshoes, but you need to consider the type of terrain. I'd worry less about float, and more about the ability to climb steep slopes and maneuver in thick brush.

Renting will give the option of trying different styles of snowshoes before making a purchase...

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
suggestion on 10/04/2011 20:18:32 MDT Print View

I'd suggest MSR's in the 30" length and purchase the tails, 30" is still plenty small to maneuver and climb easily, but still give 200-ish # the floatation needed

I'm just a little heavier than you and had 25" shoes previously and found them lacking in a lot of snow conditions, went to 30" and was much happier- the tails come in handy for really powdery snow or heavier loads

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Re: Snowshoe length/size for mainly New England on 10/04/2011 20:20:10 MDT Print View

I'll echo John's comment and say that being able to maneuver has been of the utmost importance to me in in Vermont. Most (all) of the people whom I have hiked with in the mountains around here have used 25s. For example, I use the MSR Lightning Ascent 25. I'm sure there are plenty who use 30s, but I've never hiked with them or seen them out in the woods.

I'd go with the shortest snowshoes that can accommodate your body weight. On flat, open fields, I might say you should buy a longer snowshoe. In any event, renting is a great option for seeing what you like in brands and sizes.

MSR LA 25s: "Please note: without tails, recommended load is 120 - 210 lbs., and with 5 in. tails, recommended load is 120 - 270 lbs."

MSR LA 25s: "Please note: without tails, recommended load is 150 - 280 lbs., and with 5 in. tails, recommended load is 180 - 300 lbs.+"

I'm 170 and carry about the same amount of gear.

Edited by vinovampire on 10/04/2011 20:21:22 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
22" evo on 10/04/2011 20:29:21 MDT Print View

i use the older version of the evo ascent which comes in 22" in the coastal BC range

if i need extra flotation i bring the tails in my pack

the smaller snowshoes are very useful for maneuvering on hills and around trees ...

i weight 160-180 depending how fat i get after climbing season ... and carry more or less the same gear

Edited by bearbreeder on 10/04/2011 20:30:14 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
fat on 10/04/2011 20:44:02 MDT Print View

maybe I'm fatter than I think :) could be our snow conditions are differ siginificantly (Rockies)???, but w/ 25" shoes there were many times I was basically post holing (my wife rubbing it in as she glided by quickly on skis!), there were certainly times when the 25's were just right, but that's pretty much all the time now w/ 30"

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: fat on 10/04/2011 21:10:48 MDT Print View

HA! It happens to the best of us. ;-)

I'm not familiar with the type of snow you get in the Rockies, but I'm somewhat familiar with the snow we get here in northern New England. Here's a picture from early February 2011, which shows and area that I was stomping down with my snowshoes and then some (4) post holes when I took my snowshoes off.

Vermont, February 2011

Here's another picture, which shows the snow, in an area that has been repeatedly walked over, and a pair of Ascent 25s.


Like I said in my last post, I'm usually between 170 and 175, plus gear. I'm not arguing against using 30s if that's what a person prefers, but again, in the areas where I've traveled, the standard seems to be 25s. In the lower areas, for walking across farmers fields and such, people may be more likely to use a longer snowshoe or skis.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
fatter on 10/04/2011 21:13:36 MDT Print View

i remember once being "stuck" in a "blizzard" in canmore ... there was a few inches of "snow" on the ground ... it was like cotton candy ... drove anyways to the climbs with all seasons, no issues

i lived in calgary for a winter, the snow there is basically soft fluff from what i remember

now it doesnt snow much in vancouver ... but when it does its thick and wet, and freezes ... and comes down in spades ... and "firmer" IMO than what i encountered in the rockies

i have no idea what new england is ... but listening to some people i know and cars/houses being buried, its probably not fluff ;)

and yes ya prob do need to layoff the cheesy poofs =P

Edited by bearbreeder on 10/04/2011 21:14:27 MDT.

patrick walsh
(apbt1976) - F
Northern Lights on 10/04/2011 21:43:39 MDT Print View

I got the northern light 25's last year and had no problems with them. I am 5-10 140 lbs i sneakers and clothes.

Everyone i see in New England seem to use the Evo Accents though. To be honest i don't find much use for snow shoes most of the time unless you like too get out the morning after big storms and break trails. Otherwise most trails see so much use in New England snow shoes really are not needed? I see people wearing snow shoes in New England all the time when some micro spikes would do just as good if not better a job!

I do love the workout you get breaking trail in heavy mountain boots and snowshoes all day though!

The Evo's seem really sturdy in comparison to the Northern Lights. I thought to myself when i got the northern lights "these things are gonna get trashed in half a season" then they didnt and i love em!!

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Atlas 12 Series on 10/04/2011 22:41:13 MDT Print View

My opinion is that in New England your snow has much heavier moisture content and therefore flotation can be achieved with less length than true dry powder. I would think 25" would be plenty. Having said that I personally own the Atlas 12 Series in the 25" length. I chose them over the MSR brand because Atlas have an incredibly easy single strap for tightening and releasing. You will very much appreciate that when it's extremely cold and/or windy and don't want to remove your gloves to remove or put on the snowshoes.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
snowshoes on 10/05/2011 02:08:32 MDT Print View

I agree with Patrick's assessment. It largely depends on when you are heading out to the trails, or if you are traveling on trail. More often than not, I find the snow already boot packed and firm, with a trench forming where people have clearly traveled. I don't do bushwhacking, and I tend to stick to the more popular trails. Thus I get away with 25's (I also only weight 140, w/o a pack). Again, more often than not, my snowshoes stay on my pack because I can bareboot it up the well traveled and packed trails. The only times I post hole are when I go out and off trail to find a campsite, but that's usually only a short jaunt.

I use lightning ascents. Pretty overkill, but I scored a good deal on them. I will say this, if you buy MSR, purchase a model with the heel Televators. It's a bar that you flip up, which supports your foot when walking up a steep hill. Kind of like high heels for makes climbing dramatically more comfortable.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 10/05/2011 02:13:20 MDT.

Steven Adeff
(TinCanFury) - F

Locale: Boston
awesome response all! on 10/05/2011 11:28:16 MDT Print View

That's why I love this place. It sounds like in New England 25" will be fine for me.

Patrick: I've seen that too, and have actually done some late winter hiking in my Sanuk sandals because the trails were so packed. That said, while x-country skiing last winter I also saw a lot of areas that snowshoes would have been nice to have, quite a few folks hiking around leaving post holes. For this reason I'd like to have a pair.

Mike: I'm probably fatter than I think in the winters too! Let's hope having snowshoes gets me out more so I'm not!

Tommy/Eric: thanks for the info! Eric, let's say I were to head out your way and want to do some winter hiking, do you think the 25's+tails would be enough?

Konrad: Looks like both the Ascent and Axis of both the Lightning and EVO series have the Televators.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
fine on 10/05/2011 11:59:29 MDT Print View

youll be fine with 25" here in coastal BC