Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter Hiking: Traction in Snow and Ice

Before I started winter hiking, I thought that I would need the best crampons/snowshoes/ what's a majig. Turns out after years of sliding around on that white stuff called snow I learned that I really didn't need all those things. Here is a brief overview of winter traction such as snowshoes, crampons, and other traction devices.


Snowshoes are great if you can be the first one out to break the trail. Most of the time, I can't make it out first and since all the other snowshoers have already broken the snow down significantly- I hardly ever get to use my snowshoes. A few times I've made it several miles down a trail to find that others had not hiked the whole trail- then I wished that I had brought them along. So the verdict- they're handy to have- but they may not get a ton of use.


If you are above treeline frequently in the winter- crampons can be a nice addition to your winter gear. If you're more of a small to medium size mountain person (which I'll confess to being most days) than you might only use them a handful of times a year.


This is where I would put my money if I wanted to start winter hiking more. I use my YakTraks all winter long. YakTraks are great for hitting well worn winter trails- the kind where the ice has almost turned to ice it has been so well packed. They're also perfect for that in between snow and ice zone-- not enough ice for crampons and not enough deep snow for snowshoes.

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