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Thread: Snow Shoes vs. Cross country skis

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    Default Snow Shoes vs. Cross country skis

    I am looking at getting some cross country skis this year for hunting. I do have some snow shoes. I am wondering if cross country skis would enable me to move faster and quieter than my snow shoes. I am also looking for ways to lighten my pack weight; so do you think I could get skis+boots+bindings in the 5-8 lbs region. (My snow shoes+ boots weight about 10 lbs.). And what about snow conditions. PS. I dont not life in Alaska but rather the Upper Midwest. SO its rather rolling plains/ag. fields. (hopefully one day Alaska )

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Generally, I would go with snow shoes over skis for hunting int he snow. Skis to me only speed things up when you have a packed trail of some kind. If I'm in the powder in the back country, I do better with snow shoes. YMMV.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Depends on the terrain. In hilly, brushy or heavily forested areas snowshoes are likely easier to use. On flatter ground, more open terrain and particularly on any sort of utilized trail the skis will be faster, easier and use somewhat less energy. Backcountry skis (wider, waisted, metal edged skis) do better in rough trail/ no trail conditions and somewhat bridge the gap between the two but are no replacement for snowshoes in very deep or very steep condistions.

    I use both and in my area I go with backcountry skis about 90% of the time- I have a lot of snowmachine trails that I use as well as going off trail a fair bit. The area is primarily boreal forest and tundra.

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    I would almost always break my own trail. And snow conditions i have vary from deep powder, to deep and crusty. (as wells as some lighter ares) a good range would be about 1-6 ft.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    Depends on the terrain. In hilly, brushy or heavily forested areas snowshoes are likely easier to use. On flatter ground, more open terrain and particularly on any sort of utilized trail the skis will be faster, easier and use somewhat less energy. Backcountry skis (wider, waisted, metal edged skis) do better in rough trail/ no trail conditions and somewhat bridge the gap between the two but are no replacement for snowshoes in very deep or very steep condistions.

    I use both and in my area I go with backcountry skis about 90% of the time- I have a lot of snowmachine trails that I use as well as going off trail a fair bit. The area is primarily boreal forest and tundra.
    +1 Not much I could add. Bottom line, this is about the most accurate answer you're going to get.
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    Really it depends on how fast you want to get somewhere. Skiis are way faster than snowshoes...In tough conditions/terrain, snowshoes (depending on the size and type of snowshoe you have) will generally do better...I'll often put a new trail in with ss and then use skiis the rest of the winter...Salomon makes the lightest BC boots and also makes a good BC binding....

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    It depends on the conditions, and your ability as a skier. In the right conditions and experienced skier can cover ground quickly. Conversley, being an inexperienced skier in bad conditions can be one of the most frustrating situations you encounter in the woods.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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  8. #8

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    Paul can you elaborate. What are good/bad conditions for cross country skiing? What do you mean by competent skier? I know how to downhill ski fairly well and have cross country skied when I a little kid. I am hoping to get some knowledge from some of you guys who are experienced with newer equipment and from those who break their own trail. From my online research I canít find what snow conditions allow cross country skis to move faster than snow shoes. DO you guys know? When you guys say deep how deep is deep? Haha. I also havenít found really anything about trail breaking with cross country skis. Is it---trail breaking--- easier/harder with snow shoes vs. Cross country skis?

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamma time View Post
    . From my online research I canít find what snow conditions allow cross country skis to move faster than snow shoes. DO you guys know? When you guys say deep how deep is deep? Haha. I also havenít found really anything about trail breaking with cross country skis. Is it---trail breaking--- easier/harder with snow shoes vs. Cross country skis?
    On a packed trail- or one where the snow has settled due to freeze/thaw the skis will smoke snowshoes. If the skis don't sink over top of your boots they will likely be faster as well. Dry powder snow works best.

    If the snow is wet, heavy, and over about 8 or 9" deep- what in ski slang I've heard called "mashed taters" you will be looking for your snowshoes. You'll work yourself to death just keeping them parallel.

    In bottomless powder 3' plus, nothing works well- even XL snowshoes.

    Hope that helps.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    I have a pair of Tubbs Mountain 36 snowshoes (was their top of the line). These are not snowshoes for hunting and are only needed for extreme elevation with the crampons that these snowshoes use. The problem with these is that the plastic is NOISY. When hiking around in the woods for rabbits, ptarmigan, or to a spot to call predators, a nice set of wooden snow shoes are just as stealthy as when our ancestors used them to hunt. Nothing has changed. Of course, you can't bridge a low spot with em, and you have to care for them, but at least they aren't noisy. Now about to hit 30 yrs. old next month, I'm beginning to have a resurgence back towards more traditional things. I look back at the ridiculous $400 purchase of these "highspeed" snowshoes that were supposedly going to be for hunting and wonder, what was I thinking!?

    The Cabelas Alaska ll were similar to what I grew up using as a kid, I'm going back to them this year.

    http://www.cabelas.com/product/Footw...3Bcat104771880

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    Member Gr is for Greg's Avatar
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    As most folks have replied, the snow conditions will play the biggest role for whether snow shoes or skis are optimal (on the assumption that you do not have steep terrain). My advice - just get yourself the skis, try them out, and you'll find out when it's best to use them. You say you already have snow shoes, so it's not a "choose one" situation. If you are worried that you may not get a bunch of use out of your skis, I would not worry about that. Rolling, open terrain can be AMAZING for cross-country skiing when the snow conditions are right. You will have much more fun gliding around than clomping with your snow shoes. Enjoy!

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    Member muzzyman87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamma time View Post
    PS. I dont not life in Alaska but rather the Upper Midwest. SO its rather rolling plains/ag. fields. (hopefully one day Alaska )

    Please specify where you live and what you are hunting... Also, What are you hunting? Where you live is the biggest deciding factor.
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    Member byrd_hntr's Avatar
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    Ive had a lot of fun that last few year on a telemark set up. I usually use them for ptarmigan hunting in moderately steep terrain. But with that being said if I had never tele skied before I would rent first and get a lesson. Its not all that hard but its not as easily learned at normal downhill skiing. With a good pair of fishscaled skis skins are hardly ever put on but in tough conditions they sure can help if you want to climb. Snowshoes are always hooked to my snowmachine but Ive found over the years I use them less and less. It sure is fun at the end of a hunt to toss my shotgun into my Elberlestock and rip turns back to the snowmachine or truck. The dogs know exactly what the skis mean now when I drag them out and wax them at the beginning of the season. Im skiing a pair of Madshus Annums Scarpa T2s and some cheap binding that I cant recall the brand right now.
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