Over the last couple of years, I have found that I have had to abandon, or cut short a number of walks in the winter due to the depth of snow found. I am sure other people have found walking in knee deep snow hard work and slows you up no end. As I only get the weekends in the winter to go walking, it is annoying to find that after driving 2/3 hours to the walk that you have to turn back or cut short struggling through the snow.
There was so much snow, on a walk up Great Knoutberry, that my son and I had to abandoned our walk and were able to dig a snow cave to shelter from the wind.
With this in mind, I started to think about the purchase of snow shoes , but thought I would wait until the winter of 2010/11. A couple of weeks before Christmas I received my Kahtoola Mountain Snow shoes in time to do some initial testing in our field at home and on a walk in the Lincolnshire Wolds before a more extensive walk up Buckden Pike (next post coming up).
Kahtoola are an interesting and forward thinking company. I already own a pair of Microspikes and I have found these exceptionally useful over the last 8 weeks with all the snow and ice, not just for walks but for everyday use. I was interested therefore in Section Hiker’s post on the new Kahtoola Mountain Snow Shoes. I don’t currently own a pair of crampons however Kahtoola have combined what they call a trail crampon with 8 points which then clips into a snow shoe deck. When the going gets too difficult for the snow shoe, you can clip out and use the crampons. They are not a full crampon, but I think that they would be suitable for the type of winter walking I currently do.
The following photos show the trail crampons and underside detail of the snow shoe.
Underside of the snow shoe deck showing the anti – balling material and crampon teeth
You simply step into the deck with the trail crampon and it locks in. You use the T handle to release the crampon from the deck.
My Experience with the Snow Shoes
Walking with snow shoes is easy. Just start walk normally with treking poles and you are snow shoeing. It is great fun and you can get quite a speed up after awhile. I lean back when going downhill and find I can go down quite steep slopes, with the crampons on the snow shoe digging in. I went for the larger snow shoe deck, as this would mean I was less likely to sink in soft snow. Even with snow shoes you will sink down a bit when using them, I estimate 3-4 inches , but it stops you going down to knee height in deep snow.
I have found a few times that the crampon has come out the deck, I am not quite sure why and I will discuss this with the supplier to see if it is something I am doing or if there is a problem with the shoe. Going uphill is quite fast if tiring at times, but I am sure less so than trying to go up hill in deep snow. You get additional grip from the front points of the trail crampon. Clipping out of the deck is simple and the trail crampon is good on ice. You do need to remember that this is not a full crampon as there are no points on the heel, but by putting a bit more pressure on the middle part of the foot you can make sure traction is maintained.
The snowshoes fit easily into the side pockets of my Golite Pinnacle backpack, with room for other items as well.
Another innovation product from Kahtoola. I have used the shoes on two trips so far, they are a lot of fun to use. To see further details on the product, click on the following link http://www.kahtoola.com/mountain.php
Excellent. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve just ordered Kahtoola Microspikes and they will arrive just in time for the snow and ice, which has covered this area since 27 November, to have thawed! Here’s hoping for more soon (though not all will agree with that view!)
Gibson – here in the Lincolnshire Wolds the snow has now just gone in the last week. Going to be quite mild this week, so I will need to get to higher ground to find some. I am sure you will find the Microspikes excellent.
My Name is Hilary and I work for Kahtoola. In the case that you are stepping out we suggest wearing the T-handle on the outside. At times when inside you can step and release.
Hope this helps and please contact us with any further questions!
Hilary, thanks for your comments, I will certainly try this out.
Thanks for taking the trouble to let me know.
I like the look of these Mark and could well be on my list for next winter. Great that Hilary got in touch with you first too. I like that, being proactive.
Alan, Hilary did comment with great speed, quite shortly after the post. Unfortunately I have not had chance to try the snow shoes that way round to see if that makes a difference. Top marks for being proactive.
interesting to read your comments on the snow shoes,lets hope they are not as fiddly as they sound…i have used Tubbs and an MSR years ago,the best i found and still have are the cheapest lightest and most adaptable they are french raquets..Bent wood frame with a nylon criss cross,they worked all the time when the others broke or needed repairing…A good test for snwo shoes is a traverse especially for flex and slippage…
Interested in the comments on the micro spikes,my main problem with them would be walk on flights carrying them as hand luggage???For the last two years i have used another make which seem to pass the scanners and whereas tent pegs have fallen foul of the scanner these yellow plastic plates with metal screws through have been waved through..
thanks for your interesting well illustrated blog….chris from Holme moss
Chris, thanks for your comments. I not sure they are fiddly, I was not trying to give that impression to the reader !
The micro spikes are excellent for icy paths whether on the hillside or walking on paved areas. They really give you the confidence walking on such slippery surfaces. I particularly like the satisfying crunch you hear as the spike digs into the ice.
Looks interesting, Mark! The Microspikes are excellent, so I guess these are too! I’ve never been into cross country skiing (although you can’t avoid that in this country, let alone the curriculum of the schools…). I’ve never really tried any kind of snow shoes. I think they would suit me better (because it’s easy to carry them in your backpack). Thanks for sharing, Mark!
I came cross these in the store a while back and didn’t even notice they had removable crampons, now I wish I would have taken a better look at them. It would have saved me effort of carrying around snowshoes and mircospikes all this winter … and you always end up needing both over here in Canada.
Anyways, great post Mark!
I just tried out my brand-new pair of the Mtn 28’s.
Climbed Bierstadt, and from the approach to the final pitch, the ease of switching between the trail spikes and flotation decks made the 28’s fantastic. And cool!!
Hi Bryan, thanks for dropping by. Glad you like them. The ease of switching is great. Just waiting for more snow here in England !!
Had a look at both the Mtn 24 and the Mtn 28 but nowhere does it say what weight they are suitable
for. Also, are the trail crampons on these snowshoes different sizes.
Not sure what weight they will take, but they are OK for me (70kgs -155 lbs). The trail crampons seem to be one size.