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Down Deep

I posted this on the equipment index, but I figured the northern MN FM'ers would have some insight about snowshoes.

I've been researching snowshoes. I'm looking to hike around the woods in Northern MN. I'm only interested the metal frame styles. Atlas seems to be a quality shoe. Any information or recommendations you can provide would be appreciated. Also what type of boot, clothing and poles should I buy.

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Jackpine Rob

Poles for snowshoeing?

You've been reading a few too many articles written by folks who haven't done much tromping around in the northwoods.

The neoprene decked/aluminum framed things look pretty neat in the pictures of magazines, but might not get the job done in NE Minnesota in the dead of winter - unless you're using snowmobile trails or other established routes. If you're planning on using pre-existing trails, they will probably get you to where you're going.

The flotation of the Atlas and Tubbs and other high-tech shoes is vastly over-rated. Take the ratings with a bag (and not a grain) of salt.

Get yourself a decent pair of traditional snowshoes, log a few miles, and then start playing around with how you wish to change or upgrade things.

Back in college days I recall heading up Kenwood Avenue to the liquor store to lay in supplies on my wood and rawhide shoes, while Duluth was basically shut down due to a snowstorm. On one such run I was beating a trail through the drifts near Toledo so the police could get their snowmobiles through. I'll guarantee you that the "modern" snowshoes would have left me floundering, instead of moving along nicely.

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gunflint

Jackpine is absolutley right on as usual. I don't know what the poles would be for. We rent out metal snowshoes but I've never tried them. I've had a pair of wooden ones for 20 years and they work great. It's been so long, but I think they're called Bearpaws.(They have the neopreme(sp)webbing.) They don't have the long tail and they're more of a rounded off rectangle shape. I don't use them as much as I used to. But I still strap them on a few times a year in the early spring for hunting moose shed.

I wasn't aware that they made a special boot for snowshoeing . I would recommend getting the best pair of paks that you can afford. Then you can use them for everything else in the winter. The great thing about snowshoeing is being able to go anywhere in the woods and you don't need alot of extra equipment. For clothing I'm a big believer in wool but my kids tell me I'm stuck in the last century when it comes to fashion. Does anyone know where I can get a few pairs of Zubas? All mine are getting thread bare. blush.gif

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Steve Foss

Well, I tip the scale at about 250, so there's no shoe that really floats my boat well, if you know what I mean.

In one way, I'm with Rob. I have the ash/rawhide traditional Michigan or teardrop style with the latex rubber slip on binding. I'm on these shoes many days each winter up here, whether on photo excursions or just out to be out. They are a little cumbersome in the woods because of their length. Bearpaws are the traditional heavy-woods design, with the long narrow cross-country for open areas and my style for in-between.

I have, however, snowshoed extensively on Atlas and Sherpa shoes. I have had much better luck with them than Rob apparently has. They are simpler to use, and the integral binding systems are great if you like that sense of security because your bindings don't slip around all over the place like they do on traditional shoes when you come down on uneven ground. The cleats embedded in the bottom of the binding on the new styles also make it nice when you happen on a windblown, hilly stretch, where the snow is packed and the surface more slippery.

That being said, I always have to bump up a size from what the flotation ratings say, regardless of which style we're talking about. And that's a good piece of advice.

Pole are hard to use in the woods. They generally get in the way more than anything. However, if you're not experienced on snowshoes and are staying mostly on trails, they're great to have.

I stick with the wood/rawhide for two reasons: They're a lot less expensive than the aluminum/neoprene premium models, and I like the tradition and history of the wood/rawhide. And because the bindings lay perfectly flat on my shoes, I can stick them behind the seat in my pickup, where they stay all winter when I'm not using them.

I always snowshoe in my Steger mukluks. They are overrated in some categories, especially if you listen to the manufacturer's hype, but for a few applications there is no better footwear out there, and snowshoeing is one of those applications.

Clothing is the same for any kind of active winter activity. Layers are the key, because you'll be starting and stopping, working and resting, and you may have add/shed as you go. Long underwear in synthetics like polypropylene and wool blends, as well as silk, will keep moisture away from your body. If you're going to sweat, never wear cotton next to your skin in the cold weather, because it holds the moisture against your skin, chilling you. Fleece is great as a layer, but not as the layer by your skin. I typically use long underwear like I've described, then a layer of wool, then fleece, then a lightweight outer shell. All depends on how cold it is.

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Surface Tension

Snow Travel. Consider snowshoes like a fishing pole. Lots of different sizes and styles. There isn't one that will best cover all conditions but if I had to pick only one it be a wood/leather Yukon or Beavertail. Why because I want enough flotation in deep snow to stay on top. If I'm busting though to my knees I'm using the wrong tool and I might as well take a smaller shoe off.

So why do they make the smaller shoes if they can't hold you up? I'll use our trip into Trout lake for an example. Snow depth maybe 10" of packed wind blown snow. Didn't need any flotation, what I needed was traction. You know what I mean, you take a step and your foot sinks in a few inchs. As you continue your stride your foot peels in the hard pack. Couple that with pulling a sled over 5 miles and it gets annoying. A smaller shoe, in this case my 8x 20" aluminum/synthetic shoes would have been the perfect tool for the job. In deep powder forget it, I'd take my Beaver tails.

Footwear depends on temps, how far your trekking, and what you'll be doing when you get there. Muks would be nice if its cold and you'll be spending time on the ice fishing. I've got a pair of Muck Boots.

and they are perfect for snowshoeing. Lightweight and warm enough to sit on the lake in temps above 0.

Pack style boots work fine too.

Don't forget about x-country skies and hybreds. Hybreds being shorter and wider version of a x-country ski.

I've got the two styles of shoes, x-country skies and if I can't get there with those I'll jump on the snowmobile.

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fishane

I snowshoe alot, and own several pairs of traditional alaskan style shoes that I have been very pleased with, although some of the new aluminum ones look very interesting. On the subject of poles though, I use them almost all of the time. If you are snowshoeing for exercise you will get a much better workout, and on hilly terrain they are invaluable for maintaining your balance. If you are pulling a sled (say, for instance into Trout Lake) they really help. About the only time that I don't use them is when carrying a shotgun in thick woods. I just bought a couple of pairs of old cross country ski poles and they work fine. As we age and the potential bad consequences of a nasty fall increase the poles really help to keep that from happening. On a side note, what do some of you guys use for oiling the rawhide of your shoes to keep them supple. I blew out a shoe last winter and I am pretty sure it was because the rawhide was dry and hard. Thanks.

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Jackpine Rob

My snowshoe maintenance is pretty simple. When I start to see wear on the edges/tail area, I'll run some fine grit sandpaper over any rough areas in the wood, hang them up in the garage and apply a light coat or two of marine varnish. My current pair of modified Alaskans is over 30 years old and going strong.

Another possibility and one that several of my friends and family have gone to is the military surplus shoes. These things have a white metal frame (Michigan style) and the webbing is coated aircraft cable. They look to be pretty much indestructible, and I've not heard any complaints about flotation. One of the benefits of this particular shoe appears to be in slush conditions - you can knock the frozen slush off pretty easily without damage to the shoe, and the smooth cables come clean quickly.

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spivak

You should at least look into a Minnesota company (Wilcox and Williams who offer ash frame snowshoes with flat nylon webbing. When the webbing is varnished/urethaned it looks much like the tradional rawhide lacing but is much more durable. They offer several models but their flagship is the Ojibwa with a pointed toe. They are great for going through brush and over open lakes. They have kits too. They are pleasing and functional.

Please read posting rules. Thanks, Northlander

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Steve Foss

Hey spivak:

Welcome to FM. Good to have you here. grin.gif

I remember those snowshoes you mentioned. I haven't used them but I did a story years ago on a group who bought the kits and was using them. They looked good. I also hear the Ojibwes go through the brush better than the Michigans, which I have. My fronts are rounded, and I've read the pointed fronts on the Ojibwe make them easier to go through the undergrowth than any other style of shoe.

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    • Rick
      Minnesota fishing, hunting and trapping licenses for 2017 expire Wednesday, Feb. 28, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  Licenses for 2018 are now available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236. All 2018 fishing licenses become effective Thursday, March 1. New licenses are required for 2017 hunting and fishing seasons that continue past Feb. 28. This year license fees increase by $3 for a resident individual angling license, and fees also increase for other license types including deer hunting licenses, sports licenses and lifetime licenses. License fees support the ongoing work of DNR fish, wildlife and enforcement staff to conserve, enhance and protect our waters, fields and forests. “Thank you to all who purchase a license. License fees pay for the work we do and the dollars go directly toward improving fishing and hunting opportunities in Minnesota,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. Customers who purchase online via a smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license. Customers are encouraged to update their customer record online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Adding an email, while not required, allows the DNR to send important hunting and fishing information, and gather input through surveys. More information about how the DNR spends license dollars can be found at mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • Rick
      A youth paired with an adult can join other youth-adult pairs to learn the basics of fly fishing from experienced instructors from evening on Friday, April 27, to afternoon on Sunday, April 29, near Lanesboro.  “Youth and adults in these classes are both beginners so they can learn to fly fish together,” said Deb Groebner, a regional specialist with MinnAqua, an educational program of the Department of Natural Resources. “When they finish the weekend, they’ll be ready to take on more fishing adventures for a variety of species.” To participate, youth must be 11 to 17 years old as of April 27, and adult and youth must each have less than 5 hours of fly-fishing experience. The registration fee is $130 per pair and includes meals, lodging, guiding services, equipment and additional materials. Sponsorships to offset registration fees may be available from angling and conservation organizations. This event is limited to 20 youth-adult pairs. Apply online. For more information, contact Groebner at 507-359-6049 or deborah.groebner@state.mn.us. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • nytelyter
      how is the ice should i bring four wheeler or is half ton truck good to go??  
    • nytelyter
      So l@@king to saturday. i will be sporting the new otter lodge xt pro modded out and way ready to go will have my 8" lazer on the new 40v strikemaster and may bring the 3hp power head as well. my girlfriend will be coming and she is stoked for the fun time. thanks everyone for the awesome prizes and also the pre-fishing. will be checking the forum before saturday for updated info. has anyone volunteered to bring a garbage can or two along with some bags yet?? if not i can handle that i will bring some chips and a pan of mounds bars for lunch oh some "pie"  this event always has to have "pie"                         ' Born to Fish. Forced to Work  
    • trro0901
      Just hauled our shack out last weekend, didn't get a bite.  Graphed some, but no takers, could have just been the weather, or tactics, ha.  Haven't really fished the lake much in the winter, figured we should seeing it's a half mile from home. 
    • nytelyter
      i do plan on being there and hopefully a bit early.  
    • Fathom
      Set up deeper on rock reef for the rest of the weekend and only managed one fish (26" eye), missed a couple others. We wanted to stay deeper due to all the traffic on the lake. We did enjoy a good time at Fishing for Ducks, we saw a nice walleye pulled through the ice but it only measured 27.5". Talk about a bummer for that guy!
    • Jarrid Houston
      Roads to the islands always need to be taken very cautious and I would encourage going with someone who knows the area..  I believe they were shutting down the highway H extension due to this recent weather we just got?  Plenty of fish and opportune situtations in the bay.
    • cookie129
      Another crazy busy weekend is in the books. I really enjoy giving out my fishing/what's happening on the lake reports but finding the time has been tough. To say its a grind is a understatement.
       I can tell you again as the season winds down I'm never ready for it to end, as I truly love being out there in my trucks, moving houses, plowing the  hillmen highway, giving advise, helping other fishermen when they do something silly, Driving into a snow bank, dropping there gun down a hole or any other important object like there keys. Every year all the workers seem to get a little grumpy as fighting mother nature, going from sun up to sunset takes a toll physically and mentally. It also seems I ruffle a few feathers every year and its never my intent  so I have to chalk it up as a long season. If I stepped on anyone's toes it sure was not planned or intended as all most every day plan a turns to plan b and c. Mother nature dictates where I go sometimes as well as any plowed roads that can make our job easier. The cookie shuffle worked very well this year as I tell everyone that gets lost in my maze of trails. I'm not a road engineer.
       Man did we get overwhelmed with wheel house's this past weekend, any fish coming from southwest had to go threw a gauntlet of hooks to find my fishermen.
       I had two wheel house's  that I set up at the end of the hillmens highway and was surprised how bad they did. I guess I should of went south not east? The nw road has gotten to much to maintain, there's one lone house out that way that will need a new trail made .
       Its all started Thursday as jonnny boy and I prepped for the weekend with Joe, Zack, Adam and   his crew arriving fro florida. Zacks birthday wish was fishing red lake, they had a blast. They went to westwind where they enjoyed a fish fry, plus they took home a few fish with a couple even getting a ride in florida fish house as we moved a small distance to put it on fresh ice for there last night sunday. Last year when they came we landed on the elusive yet still catchable upper red lake crappie mother load? I think  they had dreams for a year of repeating that. Every year is different and again this year was no exception.
       Ben who proposed in old Minnesota to Shawna 8 years ago were in old Minnesota with there two adorable kids. Louie the fishing machine and his little sister Willa plus there friend Nelli.
       They had a blast also with Shawna getting a elusive yet still catchable upper red lake crappie to boot. They also managed to take home a nice batch of upper red lake walleyes.
       Hunter and his two buddies were in north Dakota. It was slow but they also managed to take home a batch of fish.
       Charlie and Rizzo were in montana , They were very serious about there fishing and went home with there 8.
      Jeromy and his gal were in north Carolina Saturday, sunday . They also managed to get there 8.
       Sunday was a very tough day as we had all 5 houses re rented. I was planning on moving all of them so we battled mother nature the whole time as a ne wind with 2 inches of snow made it impossible to see. At one point I was getting sea sick as I struggled to see, With the sky, horizon and the lake all the same color. wow what a struggle.
       It took us  7 1/2 hours but we got every thing cleaned, moved.
       Mother nature has given us another bout of snow so tomorrow I will let every one know how the houses did the last two days as its time to check the fluids and fire up the fleet
       
    • nickeleye
      Figured I should report back... I fished prime time on Saturday morning and Saturday evening. No action. It didn't help that I forgot to grab the vexilar on the first outing, but it didn't help to have it on the second outing either! ha! Marked a few but couldn't get them to bite. Used a GPS chip to punch some holes over structure, but when I came back with the vexilar, they weren't quite as deep as I hoped. Thanks for the pointers BrianF
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