Minnesota's frozen, snowy landscape invites us to explore areas that cannot be easily traveled after the spring thaw. Wetlands, bogs and little backwaters offer new surprises at every turn and snowshoeing is the way to go. In the land of 10,000 lakes, forests and fields, the opportunities are endless.
Everyone who tries snowshoeing enjoys it. There's a freedom in walking through the silent winter world, creating your own little adventure as you go. You could do this on cross country skis, but snowshoes are so easy. They offer much more control and maneuverability when walking through brush and stands of cattails or on slopes in the woods. Snowshoes fit easily in the trunk of your car - when you happen on that perfect spot of winter scenery, take 'em out and go for a stroll. No advance planning required.
SNOWSHOES: We are all familiar with the traditional wood and rawhide snowshoes with leather strap bindings. They are beautiful designs that served many generations of winter travelers. In recent years their primary use has been to adorn the walls of lodges, cabins and bars. Snowshoes built with aluminum framing and modern plastics have taken over the sport.
Modern snowshoes are light and strong. The solid decking is tough and offers good support on the snow, allowing a smaller snowshoe than wood and rawhide designs required. Traction is provided by claw-like crampons on the bottom of the snowshoe that bite well into snowy or icy terrain. The most important improvement over older designs are the bindings, with the excellent control and ease of use that they provide.
Snowshoes are sized by weight, with sizes and models for kids, women and big guys. Hoigaard's carries Tubbs brand, the biggest and best known manufacturer of snowshoes in the world. Tubbs makes a full range of models, each in several sizes. There are moderately priced models for casual snowshoers, high-end mountaineering snowshoes for the wilderness adventurer, and several models in the middle.
FOOTWEAR: Snowshoeing footwear consists of lightweight winter boots or waterproofed hiking boots. Stiffer soles provide better control. You don't need an extra warm "snowmobiling " style boot - you stay pretty warm from the exercise of snowshoeing. Adding a pair of gaitors will keep snow out of your boots and keep your feet dry.
POLES: Many people prefer the additional balance and power provided by poles when snowshoeing. They are not usually necessary on gentle terrain, but as conditions get more challenging, poles are a good addition. Hoigaard's sells adjustable length poles from Tubbs, Leki and Black Diamond, as well as cross country ski poles.
Stop at Hoigaard's snowshoe department. We'll fit you up in the perfect pair and send you out on a winter adventure of your own.
Want to learn more? Click on Dissecting the Modern Snowshoe.
Hoigaard's also rents snowshoes. Click here to learn more.