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Gear Talk, The Lowdown

How to Choose the Right Snowshoe

November 29, 2011
Iverson Snowshoe

Winter in the north woods is on the way. Don’t let this mild weather fool you, before you know it we will be up to our knees in the white stuff. And like true Minnesotans once winter arrives we will be ready to go play in the snow.

Last February I posted an article on the differences between wood and aluminum snowshoes. As you are looking to buy snowshoes this season it might be a good idea to go back and review a few of the pros and cons of each type. In this article I would like to examine the wooden shoes from Iverson Snowshoes a little more, and talk about how to choose the right pair for you.

As with anything, examining how you will use your snowshoes is the primary factor in determining the best style for you. Is this a recreational snowshoe that might be used in tight spaces or wooded trails? Or, are you a pretty serious snowshoe traveler that will be going great distances on primarily open terrain?

Let’s start with the former; you are a recreational snowshoer who will be traveling wooded trails on a regular basis. A smaller rounded shoe like the Green Mountain will give you great maneuverability in the tight spaces. It is also an excellent shoe if you plan on carrying it as a back up on your snowmobile, or dogsled.

If you are going to be breaking trail and headed into deep snow there are two good choices. The Modified Bearpaw and the Michigan are both good straight-tracking shoes for the deep stuff. The Bearpaw will be a little bit more maneuverable at 35 inches long with the Michigan at 46 inches creating a nice blend for use in moderate wooded areas as well as wide-open spaces.

And for the adventurer who is going to travel long distances with deep snow the Alaskan or the traditional Ojibwa will be the shoes for you. The Alaskan was built for Artic Adventurers going out to trek across the tundra in deep powder and drifted snow. The Ojibwa is similar to other cross-country shoes, but the long pointed nose will cut through deep snow and any underbrush that might get in your way.

Of course if you want to talk to somebody about the difference between a Bearpaw and an Ojibwa, the snowshoe experts at the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park can answer all your questions. They have been all over the north woods on many types of snowshoes and will find the pair that’s right for you.

Next time: which binding is right for your new snowshoes?

Gear Talk, The Lowdown

Snowshoes: Wood vs. Aluminum

February 28, 2011


Minnesota has snow this season, lots of the white stuff. Going out and breaking trail in your boots will be hard work, and you might find some snow as deep as your waist. Snowshoes are your best bet to get out and enjoy hiking through the powder.

You have two primary choices to make when deciding upon a pair of snowshoes: wood vs. aluminum in the make up of the frame.  Wood will then have rawhide or neoprene lacing and aluminum shoes will have a vinyl body section, which provides flotation over the snow.

First, let’s look at aluminum shoes. The advantages of aluminum shoes are they lightweight and smaller than their wooden cousins. The smaller size makes them a better choice for tight spaces like heavily wooded areas. Many aluminum shoes will also have a crampon on the sole of the shoe designed for traction in the hills and slopes of the western U.S.

The disadvantages of aluminum shoes are primarily durability; in extremely cold temperatures the vinyl can become brittle and crack or break. Additionally, many users have found wooden shoes can take more bending or flexing over uneven ground or rocks. And lastly, those crampons have a tendency to collect slush and freeze into a ball on the sole of your shoe.

Second, let’s look at the advantages of wooden snowshoes. Wood shoes are more traditional and date back many years. We all have been to a cabin or outpost where there is a pair of wooden shoes, most likely Iverson Snowshoes, hanging on the wall. They are larger than their aluminum counterparts thereby providing more flotation and making crossing of wide, flat, open areas easier. They are perfect for the dry, light snow of the Midwest. And very well suited for the extreme cold of Minnesota.

The disadvantage of the wooden shoe is that they are heavier than an aluminum shoe, and are generally more expensive.

Best bet is to come to the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park, where there are plenty of snowshoes to choose from, and have one of the extremely knowledgeable staff help you with your choice.

Above all, get out there and enjoy all that snow.

Post By: Brad Putney - Captain Brad Putney considers himself an inland waters guru, having been at the helm of everything from a ten foot inflatable to an America’s Cup yacht. In the summer the Captain works as an outfitter in Ely and is presently a sales associate at Duluth Pack in Canal Park.


Gear Talk

Just Another Walk in the Woods…in Japan?

February 12, 2010

Shirakoma Pond, JapanHere are some photos from one of our favorite dealers in Japan! Mr. Takashi Isaka from the company Country Breeze.

These photos were taken on Shirakoma Pond at Kitayatugatake in Japan.





japan-ramblerFeatured in these photos are our waxed Rambler Pack, Canvas Anorak, Plunge Mitts, Duluth Pack Snowshoe Bindings, Iversons Snowshoes, and our famous Red Toque!



Thank you for the great photos! We love to see pictures of our packs from all over the world so send them in!snowshoe-toque