Even though winter might technically be halfway over, the snowy season is far from it; so don't put your cold-weather gear away yet. According to the Farmer's Almanac, mid-March could bring many storms from coast to coast with a wide variety of precipitation as well as strong winds. If you don't live by the mountains or are looking for an activity that’s more low key than some other winter sports, give snowshoeing a try—it's just like hiking, which makes it an un-intimidating activity for everyone. Snowshoeing is also a perfect idea for a date night—Valentine's Day full-moon hike, anyone?
Women's Wilderness Snowshoe by Tubbs
Snowshoes can be a difficult buy because the type you choose will depend on the amount of snow and terrain (flat, groomed track, rolling hills, or straight up a mountain) you plan to shoe in.
The Women's specific Wilderness by Tubbs claims to cover it all, which is ideal if you want one pair to take you through multiple terrains. This pair has a heel lift, which is a slim bar that you can raise up to support your heel when heading uphill. (If you don't plan on climbing, look for a shoe without a heel lift.) The Wilderness' ActiveLift heel lift works well to relieve strain when climbing, but is a bit tough to snap into position and back down. It’s easiest to change this feature while seated.
When snowshoeing in deep snow, you might find your calves getting sprayed (and soaking wet—ack!) with snow. On the Wilderness you'll find a design that has the tail of the snowshoe dropping slightly to let snow slide off, as well as a pivot point underfoot that helps with traction and prevents the snowshoes from coming up to smack you in the shin.
The best part about the setup though, is the bindings. From past experience, having a binding that doesn't fit right or secure the foot tight enough is a real pain—you end up having to stop and adjust every so often. The binding on the Wilderness includes “Control Wings,” which are basically a rigid half-shoe (with padding on the inside to help prevent painful hot-spots) that cup your whole boot from the toes to the start of the heel, where a locking heel strap then cinches tight. To secure the wings, you click in the top clip and then pull on the accompanying strap until the bindings are tight enough. This system allows snow-shoers to wear the same boots without ever having to adjust the bindings—just undo the clip and the rest stays the same—but is also easy enough to change for a different wearer.
Hits: Bindings that will stay tight and never need adjusting; a lightweight frame that won't have your feet knocking together
Misses: Heel lift takes a bit of effort to move into position