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Find and Fit the Right Snowshoes

For running, racing or recreational touring

Snowshoeing is the fastest growing winter recreational activity in Canada. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to do, and there is something for every age and ability level. From a relaxing snowshoe hike with your family to competing in a snowshoe race, if you can walk or run, you can snowshoe.
 
Finding the right type of snowshoe for your needs can take a bit of homework. The increased popularity over the past five years has led to many improvements in design and materials, so the specificity of snowshoes has increased dramatically.
 
If your main snowshoeing activity will involve running or racing, a running snowshoe is best. They should be no larger than 22 x 8 inches, lightweight, have deep cleats for traction and a stiff hinge to allow a more natural stride. Running snowshoes range from $200 to $350.
 
For hiking in deeper snow a slightly larger frame is important to help you with floatation. Frame size should be at least 25 x 8 inches. If you are planning on backpacking, then a 30 x 10 inch frame will help disperse your weight. Depending on the quality and size, hiking snowshoes run from $150 to $350.
 
For hiking, a pair of winter or hiking boots suffice, and for racing a running shoe works well, though gators or GoreTex trail shoes will further help keep you dry. Be sure to wear layers of loose-fitting technical fabric or merino wool (including socks) to transport heat away from your body. Avoid cotton because moisture is a potential risk in the winter. Half-zip shirts are great for ventilation. Snow may fly up your back, so bring a shell-type outer layer, and of course mitts and hats are standard.
 
- Derrick Spafford, www.SnowshoeCanada.com, www.HealthandAdventure.com
 

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