December 2, 2004 at 7:55 a.m.
If your “old school” memory of snowshoeing is an ungainly pair of wood framed behemoths and unreliable buckle-style bindings, you’ll be pleased to find the high-tech materials employed to create today’s snowshoes are light, dependable and simple to use. Solid, co-polymer decking material is riveted around aluminum frames that are ergonomic and easily maneuverable, and aggressive front and rear crampons make traversing over steep terrain a breeze. Bindings are constructed of adjustable webbing material that is extremely stable and will accommodate a wide-range of footwear.
With a number of manufacturers out there building top quality snowshoes and vying for your business, now is a great time to obtain equipment for a very reasonable price. I recently visited a number of websites that offer a variety of quality snowshoes for well under $100, so outfitting yourself (or the entire family) to tromp the snowy backcountry is an inexpensive proposition.
If you do decide to give snowshoeing a whirl this winter, it won’t take you long to discover that it’s definitely an aerobic activity. It’s essential to dress in layers that can be added or removed as your body’s temperature dictates. Wearing a moisture-wicking top and bottom next to your skin as a base layer will aid in keeping you dry while allowing perspiration to evaporate. Also, the use of zippered, mid and outer layer tops that utilize lightweight insulation will enable you to better regulate your body’s temperature changes throughout the day. Keeping yourself hydrated, particularly in the dry winter air, is also vitally important, so be sure to bring plenty of water and some high-energy snacks along. I like to use a large fanny pack to store these essentials, and the pack also comes in handy for storage when I decide to shed an outer layer.
Over the years, I’ve found snowshoeing to be a very enjoyable and healthful activity. If you’d like to get out of the house and into the woods this winter, give snowshoeing a try. The exercise and fresh air will do you good.
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