Snowshoe Time of Year!
OK, the XC skiing is turning on fire right now with worldclass conditions. But we're also about to be pounded with supposedly a foot of snow tomorrow. That will bring on two wonderful more things: backwoods tele and snowshoeing.
As regards snowshoes, I have 2 pair. One is my usual Michigans, which I really like, 14 x 48. They're held together by zipties in a few places -- but zipties are the modern "babiche" -- rawhide -- so no worries (just bring spare zipties, in case). They trounce the modern types for pure tasty float.
The last time I used my woodies with several folks who had moderns I floated TWICE as good, easily. I was a feather and they were slogging, even though they claimed theirs were working. It depends on what "working" means!
Say, here is the first of three YouTubes I put up comparing the main types of snowshoes (woodies, moderns, shoe-skis). So you can see for yourself. No doctoring needed:
The hardcore pros agree with me. Moderns are best for scrambling and mountainous crust. Traditionals are NOT old-fashioned -- and are best for float and cruising and moderate tree action -- which is 90% of the best shoeing!
Check it out:
I also have a brand new pair of Alaskan longies 10 x 56 -- similar surface area to the Michigans but better for distance. Perfect, in fact, for distance and straight running. But I'm thinking of selling them ($75 -- new is $130; Iversons are $220!). The Michigans give equal float and I stride 'em just fine -- just swing one past the other, no sweat. If I got some Alaskans or Ojibways with their sexy pointy snouts, in 10 x 60 or bigger, now you'd be talkin'. I do really like the tail-drag feature of long shoes -- it really helps with the straight runnin' and trackin'.
Just remember: if traction is a major angle or tricky sideslope squareness a factor, then moderns are best. If pure beautiful flotation is the main goal (plus good all-round performance) then woodies are your friend. It's a bit like nowax vs. glide, only more so.
The Michigans are a worldclass device -- evolved over 1000 years. Like the kayak. Can't be improved.
Now, if they'd start making moderns in the Michigan or Alaskan shapes, that would be fine. Those groovy modern bindings and pivots are sweet things, no doubt. The lightness of super-tech is not to be smirked at. Still, tied hide and bent wood is on the level of the highest attainment of humanity -- same as with skin kayaks. They have traits that have not been matched. They keep on giving and have all the bonuses known. Also, they ain't poison. Sustainability and repairability are key. Don't forget it!