Snowshoe Selection Guide

Sizing your Snowshoes
sizematters2When it comes to efficient snowshoe use in deep soft snow, size really does matter.  Traditional snowshoe designs reflect this fact well, and tend to be much larger than most modern shoes. We typically recommend people use the largest shoes that their gait or stride can accommodate.

[Note: Find all of our snowshoes and kits here.]

Snowshoe Styles
From L-R: Bear Paw, Huron and Cree snowshoes

From L-R: Bear Paw, Huron and Cree snowshoes

There are a wide variety of traditional snowshoe styles that have evolved to fill the needs of their users and to fit the landscape in which they were used.  We recommend two basic styles of snowshoes that do well over a wide range of conditions:

1. Huron/ Algonquin Snowshoes
Well sized snowshoes are essential to enjoyable toboggan hauling.

Huron snowshoes are the perfect choice for a long haul in deep snow!

Available sizes (in inches) and recommendations:
16 x 48: most men and tall women;
14 x 48: smaller men and most women;
14 x 42: smaller women or youth;

Huron/ Algonquin Snowshoes have a classic “teardrop” shape with a rounded, up-turned toe and a long tail. They are both wide and long, and are our favourite “travelling” snowshoe. That is, they do well in open country: on lakes, rivers, marshes and fields. The tail serves two functions: it stabilizes the shoe to keep it from twisting on your foot, and also acts as a counter-weight so that the toe naturally crests deep snow.
2. Bearpaw Snowshoes
toboggan_portage

Bearpaw Snowshoes are our most maneuverable snowshoes – great for portage trails or around camp!

Available sizes (in inches) and recommendations:
16 x 30: most men and tall women;
14 x 30: smaller men and most women;
12 x 30: smaller women and youth;

Bearpaw snowshoes are short and wide, with a round toe and no tail. These are our favourite “bush” or “camp” shoes. They do exceptionally well in forested country – and are great around camp, or when trapping, hunting or gathering wood. Without a tail, these shoes are much more evenly balanced than Huron shoes. Thus, the toes do not crest deep snow as well, but it is much easier to lift the heel of the shoe to turn or back up.
3. Cree/ Ojibwe Snowshoes
Dave on Lake Superior - Winter 2014.

The Cree/ Ojibwe snowshoes were fantastic on the windswept snows of Lake Superior – Winter 2014.

Available sizes (in inches) and recommendations:
12 x 60: adults;
12 x 48: small women or youth;

Cree or Ojibwe snowshoes are easily recognized as a snowshoe native to much of northern Ontario. These shoes are long and narrow, with both a tail, and a pointed, up-turned toe. These shoes can be great for fast travel in open country, however in our experience the commercially available frames in this style are all too narrow. Very narrow frames lack lateral stability (ie. they tend to dive sideways into the snow) and do not pack a great “float” or trail for a toboggan to follow in. While travelling along the James Bay coast of Northern Quebec we witnessed native-made Cree-style snowshoes which were wider than commercial frames, and did not seem to suffer this disadvantage.

2 thoughts on “Snowshoe Selection Guide

  1. Thanks guys,
    I’m teaching a snowshoeing lesson soon and thought “I bet LOTN will have some great into” and sure enough, I find a great practical review of traditional snowshoe types. Cheers!

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