Walking in the snow in your sneakers or high heels can be impossible!
Snowshoes are the way to go; they are lightweight, compact, and pretty firm. They are perfect for winter hiking or a simple tour in the wild. But, looking at it from a different light, snowshoes can be a load to deal with.
After hiking through the snowy outdoors, you finally get to flat ground, here, you gotta take the pair off- nobody likes to carry snowshoes. Suddenly, that lightweight pair becomes heavy, but they are yours so you have to endure.
But do you really have to endure? Well, if you choose to, yes, but if you don’t, there’s a trick; attach them to your backpack. It won’t take the load off you completely but attaching snowshoes to your backpack is better than walking around with the pair in your hands.
This idea is probably new to some, it might even sound weird, so, we’ll get down to explaining.
How do you attach snowshoes to a backpack?
Get the snowshoes onto the pack with the cleats free- they can be facing the pack or away. Loosen the straps and align the crampons, they should face each other. Now, all you gotta do is stiffen the side compression straps and maybe tuck in whatever is hanging out.
With that aside, let’s expound a little further on snowshoes. We’ll tell you what they are, how to strap them on, and mention a thing or two about the physics behind their ingenuity.
What Are Snow Shoes?
These are special shoes designed for walking in winter conditions. They are built with a large surface area that distributes your body weight over the base; this enables you to ‘’float’’ over the snow.
Their strong build earns you a more solid footprint and some much-needed traction-this is about all you need to get by in snowy terrain.
The best part about it all is that anybody can use snowshoes; from kids and adults to the elderly- manufacturers have made them so functional plus with them all over the stores, their prices can’t be any better.
How To Attach Snowshoes To Your Backpack?
There are several ways to do it (we’ll mention most) but there are a few facts about carrying this footwear class that we think you should know.
- When stacking snowshoes, always put the cleats together to avoid damaging the pack’s fabric- the abrasions sometimes leave permanent marks.
- If you can’t get the cleats together, make sure they are facing away from the pack.
- If your pack lacks the right side compression straps, a short bungee cord should do the trick, if you’ve got two, even better.
Carrying Them On The Side
This is the most common method; secure the footwear on the side of the backpack and use the pack’s side compression straps to hold them in place.
You can do it however way you like; with both shoes on one side or with one snowshoe on each side. We recommend the second way though; it reduces the load on either side and offer a method to carry snowshoes easily.
This side carry method reduces the stress on your back by keeping the shoes firmly strapped against your body. It works much better if the weight is distributed over both sides.
Another benefit is the less interference with your arms as you walk and maybe the fact that it does not block other areas of your bag like the zips and top opening.
The only downside with strapping snowshoes this way must be the trouble you’ll face when determining the best way to attach the pair without straining either side or scratching the backpack.
The scratching issues will mainly affect light-build backpacks. Take for example these snowshoe brands that come with extra-bulky bindings, if you make the mistake of strapping this pair with the cleats facing inwards, you risk damaging the pack’s fabric.
Turning the cleats outwards will solve this problem but at the same time get you on to another; outwards facing cleats can hook onto small trees or undergrowth if you are walking through thick forests.
Another thing, carrying snow shoes on the side allows easy access to the pack’s main areas but not to the side pockets and other sleeves on the side- we’ll offer a good solution for this though.
Without agonising over the details, the side-carry method is an efficient way to attach shoes. These few limitations can be curbed by simply attaching the right shoes to the right backpack; if your snowshoes are large, get a larger pack size. And also, if you prefer this carrying method, we advise that you get flat snowshoes; these have less ”aggressive” bindings.
Carrying Them On The Front
This is another very popular way to carry snowshoes. The method is easy plus it works with most packs. You can hold them in place using the compression straps, the accessory straps, or simply put them in the front pocket .
The main advantage of carrying snowshoes this way is the versatility and flexibility; its works with many packs and it is convenient most tours; night and day trips.
This method also holds the pair close to you; this way, they won’t get tangled in shrubs and tree branches as you walk.
With the shoes on the front, you get easy access to the pack’s main pockets; this is a consideration you should take into account.
Well, the front method is fun and easy but we must mention that snow shoes strapped this way are not as secure as others, at least potentially.
Another area of concern is the front stash and bottle sleeves’ light fabric; the snowshoe crampons and bindings can easily scratch these parts of your backpack. You can however get a well-built backpack with a more resilient fabric.
Additionally, this method might require you to employ homemade attachments which are usually not so good.
The shift in weight from your backpack to the external attachment can cause an imbalance especially if you are going uphill- this is a recipe for back aches.
However way you choose to employ the front carry method, keep the mentioned pros, cons, and considerations in mind to avoid over-straining your spine and pack’s compression straps.
Under The Lid
If you own a top-loading pack, this is the style for you. You see, these packs come with a perfect snowshoe attachment area right under the lid. This method works with almost every snowshoe brand, even those with larger-than-normal bindings.
The whole concept is kind to your backpack too; if well done, you can do it for an entire season and the shoes won’t ruin your pack.
This method allows you to strap the snowshoes with the crampons facing each other and under the lid; this is the safest area to hang your pair on the pack. Most top-loading packs have compression straps and a lid, this combination plus proper balancing offers a high-quality carry for you and rids your backpack’s fabric of unnecessary strain.
The under-the-lid method is also fast and works well for short winter hikes where you will need to remove the pair every now and then.
Additionally, this method creates a balanced feel on your back thus preventing any form of back strain.
Lastly, with the snow shoes in this position, the straps pull them close to the body and away from the loose tree branches and shrubs which tend to get hooked onto the binding and crampons where the shoes sag.
The under-the-lid snowshoes’ attachment method attracts a few pitfalls mainly, the hindered access to the top compartment. Almost every avid hiker who employs this method can attest to this; you can’t get anything out of the main compartment without first pushing the shoes aside or removing them if the item is large.
Another pitfall is the horizontal placement of the snowshoes right under the lid. The idea might seem ok until you have a really long pair that has its edges protruding on the sides.
This method might not be the most ideal for hikers using roll-top bags but if you secure the snowshoes correctly, you can reap the same benefits as top-lid pack owners. Also, some roll-top backpacks have special lid straps that you can use to hold snowshoes and be on your way.
How to Put On Snowshoes
Snowshoes are fun and very fit for their purpose but they can also be hell if worn incorrectly. To get the best out of your snowshoes, wear the right size and straps them evenly to maintain comfort all through.
In this section, we’ll outline a step-by-step guide you can use if you are wearing your snowshoes for the first time or if you feel you don’t quite get the ultimate experience.
Step 1: Identify The Left And Right Sides
Most brands label their pairs; left and right but if you can’t find the ‘’R’’ and ‘’L’’ around the binding area, worry not as there’s a way to get around it.
If the shoes are not marked then they must be the universal type; these fit in either foot. The rule with these is; ensure the shoe you wear on each foot has its binding straps facing outside or away from the other foot.
We do this to curb the constant tangling and to reduce whacking when walking; it can be rough on the ankles.
Step 2: Align Your Foot With The Bindings
Open up the straps to create a safe landing for your foot. Align your foot with the crampon and slide it through up to the footplate.
If that sounds confusing, you can always use your pivotal points for clues; the goal is to lay most of your weight in the shoes’ center as that’s where the shoe has the most traction.
Finally, as you slide in, ensure you do not overlap the shoe’s deck; your feet should pass right through it.
Step 3: Buckle Up
You must know; different snowshoe brands have their unique strapping methods, some brads offer three straps, and others more or less. The three straps option confuses beginners, so you might want to avoid it.
We recommend starting with the toe strap, tighten it just enough to remain in place without digging into your skin. With the toe well secured, proceed to hold the heel in place and finally, grab the instep strap. Now, your foot should be comfortably rested on the snowshoe.
An extra tip; ensure the metal teeth and the straps are all aligned- this prevents them from getting loose as you walk.
Step 4: Test The Snowshoes
We do this to verify that the task is done correctly. Wiggle your foot to check for loosely strapped areas and maybe the too-tight ones as well. If the shoes are loose, you will easily slide out and if they are too tight, the straps could interfere with circulation.
If you have everything in check, proceed to walk in your snowshoes and maybe make your first visit to the white mountains.
The Physics Behind Snow Shoes
The snowshoes’ concept comes off as complex but in reality, the idea is pretty straightforward; snowshoes work by increasing the surface area under your feet.
It works by distributing your weight over a large surface area; this prevents you from falling on the snow or sinking in. When a load is distributed over a larger area, the effect on each section of the larger area is reduced, this way, the bearing surface can withstand without caving in.
As the concept employs the pounds per square inch principle for weight distribution, it goes without saying that the heavier you are, the larger the snowshoe you’ll need. By heavy we do not mean higher body weight only; the weight of your ski pack plus other gear can also add to the overall load. If your snowshoes are not wide enough, avoid carrying too much in your backpack.
Another consideration with snowshoes is the condition of the bearing surface; it is easier to walk in snowshoes on packed snow than on freshly fallen snow.
A snow hike without snowshoes can be boring; sinking into the icy snow with every step is the last thing you want.
This simple invention transformed snow hiking and made them less tiring and messy. With the many available attaching methods, you can strap your pair on your back pack at any time and get the load off your hands.
The article above tells it all; how to attach snowshoes to your backpack, how best to wear them and how their engineering works to serve you.