Published December 08, 2013, 10:00 AM

TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: What to look for in a snowshoe

Brad Dokken answers the question: What do I look for in a snowshoe, and are there any rules for buying them?

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Q. I have recently been talked into signing up for a snowshoe 5K this winter. Now I need to go and purchase a set of snowshoes. What do I look for in a snowshoe, and are there any rules for buying them?

A. I ran your question by Terry Knudson and Pat White of the Ski and Bike Shop in Grand Forks, and they offered several suggestions.

“A lot of it goes by weight,” Knudson said. “I hunt off them and buy the biggest snowshoe possible just for flotation.”

The standard guideline for his weight would suggest using a smaller snowshoe, Knudson said, but he prefers the bigger shoes because they stay atop the snow better.

White suggests fine-tuning the shoe to what you want to do. “Running shoes are small and narrow with little traction compared to climbing shoes that have an impressive crampon and even a heel lift,” White said.

Footwear also is a consideration, he said.

“Running snowshoes of today usually have a kit to mount running shoes to them and aren’t really intended for winter boots,” White said. “Make sure the footwear you intend to wear works with the snowshoe you are purchasing.”

Modern snowshoes also are easier to strap on, Knudson said, with bindings that allow you to pretty much slip your feet into the shoe and utilize ratchet clamps or similar devices to hold your feet in place. No more fighting with leather straps or laces, in other words.

High-end snowshoes from companies such as Atlas or Eastman will cost about $200, on average, but the lightweight, sturdy material from which they’re constructed ensures you won’t have to buy another pair anytime soon.

Adjustable poles also are a good idea, Knudson said. For traditionalists, a variety of outlets still offer wooden snowshoes.

If the snow of the past few days is any indication, it’s going to be a good winter for snowshoeing. And for those of you who already have snowshoes, here’s the perfect excuse to get them out of storage.

If you have a question for Talkin’ with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to