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