I'd like some advice about snowshoes.
I'm 220#+ gear, and would like to use the shoes for both recreational and hunting use.
I'll be in both open and brushy country. I'm not sure about water content of the snow. I'm sure there will be powder as well as hardpack. I like the "traditional" look but maybe technology is the way to go?
I know little, so any advice will get me started.
Well, a bit of good news is that we're just about to launch a new snowshoe/backcountry skiing forum here in the next few weeks.
I'm no expert on snowshoes, but here is what I can tell you. Traditional snowshoes are great at keeping you afloat, but due to their size they can be tough to navigate in the thick brush. Furthermore, the new styles have cleats on the bottom that are worth their weight in gold when you get into icy conditions, especially on hills and mountains.
I have a pair of Tubbs that are 30" long. I like them pretty well, but when the snow is really light and fluffy I find myself wanting a bit more. I'd like to upgrade to the 36" model as soon as I can find a decent deal. The 36" is the one I would suggest to you. It should be enough to keep you afloat in most conditions, and easy enough to manuever in the brush. That being said, you should try them out before buying. Are you a member of REI? If so, they rent different models out to members pretty cheaply. They also have community demo nights from time to time in Anchorage. Check the outdoors section of the paper when the snow falls - they usually post the demo dates in there.
As for brands, I prefer the Tubbs because of their binding system - tough and very easy to use - but there are plenty of good brands out there.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
You might need a couple different pairs. For deep soft powder you need the biggest showshoes you can find. I once made a pair our of birch that were 6' long by 12" wide. They were amazing on the powder. But they weren't stong enough and I broke them bridging across a gully.
I have several pairs of the modern snowshoes. I would get the largest pair of modern showshoes you can find that are a reputable brand. They are a lot easier to use in brush. But you will find yourself sinking past your knees in the real deep,soft powder.
If you find you need something bigger you can find some traditional snowshoes on the net. I'll look up the link for you later but getting geared up for a camping trip now (not calling it a moose hunting trip :-)
My favorites are a pair of indian made snowshoes that are 5 feet long with thin caribou lashings. They are real light and great in the powder. But they really belong in a museum so I don't use them anymore.
By the way, it takes about 5 minutes to learn about all there is to know about using snowshoes... As I get older, and fatter, I'm starting to use ski poles with them.
I'll ask around and keep checking back here too.
I'll also see if'n I can get my hands on a few different types and see what works for me. Gotta wait fer the white stuff tho'.
I have an older set of Tubbs 36" and a newer set of Atlas 36" shoes. I love the Atlas binding and that sets the two apart. Sidehilling is much better with the Atlas binding, and so is the occasional off-camber footing you get from covered logs and hummocks. BTW, Atlas and Tubbs are both owned by K2, but they don't share technology or manufacturing facilities.
Tubbs and Atlas both make general-use snowshoes as well as specialty shoes for jogging or for serious mountain climbing. I don't need the aggressive climbing binding and I don't jog, so my choice was easy. Just don't buy too-small platforms or you won't have any fun. Even the 36" shoes are light and easy to maneuver in with good bindings.
Synthetic snowshoes are far superior to traditional shoes in the overflow. High tech bindings are far more convenient than lace bindings. Snowshoes are so much better now than 15 years ago that most people who claim they don't like to snowshoe probably haven't done it with today's shoes. It's a blast.
I'm about the same size as you, hike up into the Chugach a few times a week, sometimes more.
The best bet for one pair for big guys are the Iroquis type from L.L. Bean. They WILL hold you up, and the bindings feel good with many boots. I take mine through alders, banging a lot, but I stay on top. Ice fishing I'm still on top. Rabbit hunting the same. And they have tradition.
Iroquis are the birch tear drop. Good price and they come with a life long LL Bean warranty.
I've got the aluminum ones too, which work well with the crampons, but in most snow, they're not enough. I'd rather ski down a little, than not be able to stay on top.
Hope that help. Us big guys gotta stick together.
Moved to AK in 01... bought a pair of shoes from Sams Club (read: Inexpensive, meaning: Cheap!).
Amazingly enough - I still had a great time. And I still have those shoes even after all the miles logged on them -- they are now my emergency backup... leave them in the truck all winter - just in case I gotta jet across the snow.
Moral of the story - get something (recommend rentals to try quality shoes - it really DOES matter), and give it a whirl... learning to snow shoe is probably one of the easiest winter sports you will every try out.
MSR makes an excellent snowshoe. You also have the option of buying detachable flotation tails to fit the conditions. Excellent shoe and a decent price. http://www.msrcorp.com/snow/
I rode for a giant south florida ranch and it was at a flea market in Ft. Myers that I saw my first snowshoes!!! crazy but true....we would often run the ac or at least windows open in the winter...great forum, very interesting jd