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Thread: Best snowshoes for ski flying

  1. #1

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    Best snowshoes for ski flying

    Ok, I realize here won’t be one best shoe for all conditions, but I was thinking of buying a set from mane snowshoes.

    http://www.mgsnowshoes.com/Products2.html

    Does anyone have any idea which model would be most appropriate to assist in ski operations in a PA18?

    I don’t even have a cub yet, but am wanting to learn snowshoeing and at least a modest amount of winter bushcraft before I endeavor further. I have a set of cheap aluminums in the current Cessna trike that I fly, to satisfy the legal requirements in AK.

    I am a bigger guy, 230+ but most of mane’s models accommodate that. I envision mostly landing on frozen lakes but eventually would like to do some glacier flying (Anchorage). I understand that stamping out a runway and ramps is often required, does a wider, bear paw type shoe favor that kind of activity?

    I took a ski flying lesson in a PA18 but we didn’t get out of the airplane off airport. It seemed like the ultimate fun though.

  2. #2

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    Been discussed before if you care to search. I prefer synthetic decks on aluminum frames. Overflow pops right off them. Easy to use bindings are great, too. I have Tubbs and Atlas shoes and prefer the Atlas for the bindings. I also have some cheaper shoes from AIH. No surprises, you get what you pay for. Add some collapsible poles. Snowshoeing is way better with poles. And a dog.
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    mvivion's Avatar
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    As reference, the vast majority of my ski flying was in interior Alaska, where snow can be deep, and generally fluffy.....but not always.

    Snowshoes can come into play in a couple different ways.

    As you noted in your first post, stamping out a track to enhance takeoff performance is a very important function for snowshoes. In that role, any BIG shoe works. The really long "Alaskan" model shown on that web site would work well, but those shoes are often so long they don't fit well in/on a plane. Very large bearpaw snowshoes can work in that environment as well, and fit inside an airplane a bit easier. And, you're generally going to be in an open area tramping out a track, so it's a back and forth deal. The bearpaws work a little easier than big long trail models there.

    Second important role for snowshoes is in a survival situation. Again, the snowshoes you have with you at the time are the ones that work best....obviously. But, again, working around camp, bear paw shaped shoes work well, since those long tails on the trail shoes impede turning.

    BUT, Bearpaw shoes also tend to be wider, with less surface area overall, so less floatation....maybe, depending on what you're comparing them to. But, to get equivalent floatation, bearpaws have to be a little wider, which, if you've not done a lot of snowshoeing, is very awkward, at least initially.

    My all time favorites, which I still have, are aluminum frame Tundra shoes, which have a poly webbing. They are VERY long, bearpaw shaped shoes. The float really well, and as Stewart noted, overflow doesn't freeze to them nearly as bad as those wood/babiche type shoes.

    But, whatever you do, if you're actually going to use the things, get a good, big set, that matches your weight. Otherwise, you may as well just post hole it.

    MTV
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Been discussed before if you care to search. I prefer synthetic decks on aluminum frames. Overflow pops right off them. Easy to use bindings are great, too. I have Tubbs and Atlas shoes and prefer the Atlas for the bindings. I also have some cheaper shoes from AIH. No surprises, you get what you pay for. Add some collapsible poles. Snowshoeing is way better with poles. And a dog.
    ok thank you. My instructor told me that the traditional type shoes were best, so it’s good to hear a different opinion. I have no knowledge or opinion of my own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion View Post
    As reference, the vast majority of my ski flying was in interior Alaska, where snow can be deep, and generally fluffy.....but not always.

    Snowshoes can come into play in a couple different ways.

    As you noted in your first post, stamping out a track to enhance takeoff performance is a very important function for snowshoes. In that role, any BIG shoe works. The really long "Alaskan" model shown on that web site would work well, but those shoes are often so long they don't fit well in/on a plane. Very large bearpaw snowshoes can work in that environment as well, and fit inside an airplane a bit easier. And, you're generally going to be in an open area tramping out a track, so it's a back and forth deal. The bearpaws work a little easier than big long trail models there.

    Second important role for snowshoes is in a survival situation. Again, the snowshoes you have with you at the time are the ones that work best....obviously. But, again, working around camp, bear paw shaped shoes work well, since those long tails on the trail shoes impede turning.

    BUT, Bearpaw shoes also tend to be wider, with less surface area overall, so less floatation....maybe, depending on what you're comparing them to. But, to get equivalent floatation, bearpaws have to be a little wider, which, if you've not done a lot of snowshoeing, is very awkward, at least initially.

    My all time favorites, which I still have, are aluminum frame Tundra shoes, which have a poly webbing. They are VERY long, bearpaw shaped shoes. The float really well, and as Stewart noted, overflow doesn't freeze to them nearly as bad as those wood/babiche type shoes.

    But, whatever you do, if you're actually going to use the things, get a good, big set, that matches your weight. Otherwise, you may as well just post hole it.

    MTV
    wow, fantastic information as always, thank you. Is this the shoe you like? https://hostelshoppe.com/collections...hoe-gray-black

  6. #6
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    Great advice from above.

    Let me add some more insight, and some thoughts from here in wet snow country:

    Width of snow shoes means walking with your legs wider- after very long some people's hips hurt from that- hence where narrower shoes come into play.

    Let me vote again for aluminum shoes with some type of non-rawhide webbing. I love our old wooden/rawhide shoes I grew up using, they are on the wall if I need them. When ski flying some days those would have been the cat's meow!

    Then there are the other days, the ones where you question your sanity in getting involved with aircraft and skis.

    A couple of examples: Landed on a polished ice lake surface. stepped out and promptly found myself studying the under side of the aircraft, the very large natural ice surface resting against my back and posterior prevented bruising other than my pride. Solution: took out my Sherpa snowshoes with large ice cleats and put them on to grip the ice.

    Landed on a lake trapping and as I crossed I started post holing the top ice, sinking to my knees in water. Put shoes on and went across without further issue. However, the water logged snow on the surface of the ice froze to the snowshoes, creating a very large ice cube on each foot. Solution- take the axe and beat the ice off the snowshoes; (please note this is not a good practice for wooden framed shoes and rawhide web).

    Stuck in overflow. Hours and hours of walking up and down the lake to pack the snow down and expose the water to allow it to freeze. After a couple passes the snowshoes begin to collect ice on them, and bindings start to freeze up. Solution: find bindings that are suitable to be beat on and ice scratched off, and are easy to use.

    I have three or four brands and styles of snowshoes. Each have their good, each their bad. I weigh about 210, and carry a set of MSR shoes on the sleds- great for cutting trails.

    Couple tips: Keep your snowshoes outside of the cabin, or where they won't warm up. Door side of the struts fyi for ease to get to. If they are warm they might pick up more ice.

    Carry string with you to tie to the front or back of your shoes, especially of wearing bear paw flat shoes. Put the string on for going downhill to assist lifting the fronts; or you can put it to the back and lift the back for going backwards.

    As said above: Ski poles are a BIG improvement, and the Dog is also a great addition. A nice warm cabin with good friends at the end of the journey is also an encouraging item!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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  7. #7
    spinner2's Avatar
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    I've got about 5 sets of snowshoes from 60" long big shoes to all plastic and an aluminum framed bear paw style. But my go-to shoe seems to be the traditional ash frame bear paw style. I just like them.

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    This was a crusty snow from a couple of weeks ago. But for me they work well in deep powder too. I used to carry them on the strut before I had a pod. Poles are a near must when going up or down hill and crossing blowdowns and other stuff in the trees. These are just an old set of downhill ski poles.

    The forecast is for a fresh foot in this country in the next couple of days. I'll go back when the weather clears.

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    Stumbling through stuff like this would be a pain with long shoes.

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    Worth the walk.
    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp
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    I thing you can reach both rudder and heel brakes with these

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    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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  9. #9
    SuperCub MD's Avatar
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    www.snowshoe.com

    I really like the Ojibwa style over the modern types, bearpaws or Alaskans. The shape lets them step over each other without being bow legged. The pointed bows ride on top of deep power or crust better, and cut through brush or cat tails. If you get them here you can save some money buying the kit, and learn a new bushcraft skill sitting in front of the fire at night building them.
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  10. #10
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    wow, fantastic information as always, thank you. Is this the shoe you like? https://hostelshoppe.com/collections...hoe-gray-black
    No, the shoes I use haven't been in production for a lot of years. But, those look like they'd do the job.

    MTV
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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    What I have for plane one source > https://colemans.com/snowshoes-g-i-m...-binding-combo > and some comments > https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threa...pinions.82741/

    They have raised bottom ridges to catch ice somewhat and fit large winter boots. Bindings are always a test and try to get a good fit. The magnesium can be scraped off (mainly from the tail) and with a knife against the metal sparks can be generated to start (maybe) a fire on dry fine material (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkbdKM01s-c).

    Gary
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    I thing you can reach both rudder and heel brakes with these

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    Glenn
    Those look pretty much useless.

  13. #13

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    Like most things there really isn't a one size fits all conditions snowshoe. If you are wanting a shoe for when you land and the powder snow is up to your kazoo and you need to stomp out a runway you will need a shoe with as much surface area as possible and this is where the Alaska trail models come in. I don't know about the military surplus metal ones but I imagine they are strong and light. Iverson Snowshoes are made in Michigan and they have several models including 12x60 and 10x60 Alaska Trail. While the rawhide lacing looks good over the fireplace, they have the option of neoprene webbing that lasts longer and the snow bounces off. For a binding you don't want any buckles. There is a "Bob Maki" model binding made out of rubber that pulls over your boot. These can also be made our of inner tubes and have no buckles. They can also be made large enough to pull over a bunny boot and you can take them on and off with frozen fingers or when wearing mittens.

    The Alaska Trail models however are not what you want on the trap line or in trees or hard surfaces. For that the newer styles are superior. I think think the old Sherpa brand was the best but they are not available any more. They had a good binding, were rugged and had a claw on the bottom that works well for ice and hard snow. Now I think the MSR models are pretty good with the plastic models providing good value and flotation. For snowshoe sizing the Sherpa company stressed that it was better to have a model that was a little small and that maybe sunk into the real powdery snow a bit than have a model that was too big and required you to ALWAYS be lugging around the extra weight of a larger shoe in any condition. Overall there would be less energy expended. These smaller ones are great for walking back out on your snowmachine track or among trees but again would not be ideal for packing down that runway in deep powder snow.

    Another hint is you better dress in layers especially if you are wearing those bunny boots packing down your runway. Unless you are wearing nothing more than gym shorts you are going to get very warm in a hurry. You don't want to pack down that runway only to freeze to death in a perspiration induced block of ice after you stop moving.
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZefeeHPMqI
    This is a video of George Albert of Ruby and how he makes his snowshoes. Complete works of art. I can't seem to find them but there are longer videos detailing the whole process as well.
    Last edited by jprax; 02-05-2021 at 08:36 PM.
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    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G44 View Post
    Those look pretty much useless.
    I was going to buy a pair for my floatplane to make it across the mud flats in Maine when we visit the steam engines

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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  16. #16

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    I have both the Alaskan and the Ojibwa style 60 x12. The Ojibwa is the hands down winner in the brush.
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  17. #17
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jprax View Post
    Like most things there really isn't a one size fits all conditions snowshoe. If you are wanting a shoe for when you land and the powder snow is up to your kazoo and you need to stomp out a runway you will need a shoe with as much surface area as possible and this is where the Alaska trail models come in. I don't know about the military surplus metal ones but I imagine they are strong and light. Iverson Snowshoes are made in Michigan and they have several models including 12x60 and 10x60 Alaska Trail. While the rawhide lacing looks good over the fireplace, they have the option of neoprene webbing that lasts longer and the snow bounces off. For a binding you don't want any buckles. There is a "Bob Maki" model binding made out of rubber that pulls over your boot. These can also be made our of inner tubes and have no buckles. They can also be made large enough to pull over a bunny boot and you can take them on and off with frozen fingers or when wearing mittens.

    The Alaska Trail models however are not what you want on the trap line or in trees or hard surfaces. For that the newer styles are superior. I think think the old Sherpa brand was the best but they are not available any more. They had a good binding, were rugged and had a claw on the bottom that works well for ice and hard snow. Now I think the MSR models are pretty good with the plastic models providing good value and flotation. For snowshoe sizing the Sherpa company stressed that it was better to have a model that was a little small and that maybe sunk into the real powdery snow a bit than have a model that was too big and required you to ALWAYS be lugging around the extra weight of a larger shoe in any condition. Overall there would be less energy expended. These smaller ones are great for walking back out on your snowmachine track or among trees but again would not be ideal for packing down that runway in deep powder snow.

    Another hint is you better dress in layers especially if you are wearing those bunny boots packing down your runway. Unless you are wearing nothing more than gym shorts you are going to get very warm in a hurry. You don't want to pack down that runway only to freeze to death in a perspiration induced block of ice after you stop moving.
    That right there is great advice, folks!

    MTV
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  18. #18
    Scouter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    Ok, I realize here won’t be one best shoe for all conditions, but I was thinking of buying a set from mane snowshoes.

    http://www.mgsnowshoes.com/Products2.html

    Does anyone have any idea which model would be most appropriate to assist in ski operations in a PA18?

    I don’t even have a cub yet, but am wanting to learn snowshoeing and at least a modest amount of winter bushcraft before I endeavor further. I have a set of cheap aluminums in the current Cessna trike that I fly, to satisfy the legal requirements in AK.

    I am a bigger guy, 230+ but most of mane’s models accommodate that. I envision mostly landing on frozen lakes but eventually would like to do some glacier flying (Anchorage). I understand that stamping out a runway and ramps is often required, does a wider, bear paw type shoe favor that kind of activity?

    I took a ski flying lesson in a PA18 but we didn’t get out of the airplane off airport. It seemed like the ultimate fun though.
    I live in Maine about 5 miles from the spot where these are manufactured. They are built by contract by the local minimum security prison inmates, and sold by Maine Guide snowshoes. Pre covid I used some of those guys on a work release
    I know the guys that are involved with building the snowshoes are very talentd and take great pride in their construction. They harvest the hardwood onsite, saw and plane and steam bend the frames.

    I have a set of Rabbit hunters, I think they are 11 wide and 42 long with upturned ends. They are really good, but were designed to be able to turn around in heay brush with upturned ends.
    Most of he snowshoeing we did in the cub was strait line walking, where narrow long tails work bettter
    My cub is in a place this winter where I havent been needing snowshoes. Id be happy to fedex you the pair I have it you would like to try them, send em back in the spring
    send me your address at jimcrane04435@gmail.com

    jim
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  19. #19
    JP's Avatar
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    I'm old school. I use my "bear paws" (no tail), a traditional pair (wood and cat gut) on our family maple syrup operation and flying. My current pair was acquired in 1986. They are a design from the 30s. You do need to varnish them every five years or so. In these parts the tradition is to lash same to the struts, ala Glenn G. I don't dare to.
    JP Russell--The Cub Therapist
    1947 PA-11 Cub Special
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  20. #20
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Modified Bear paw

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    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by G44 View Post
    Those look pretty much useless.
    This style of shoe, may look goofy but are purpose built for backcountry travel in steep terrain, exaggerated cleats for travel in inclined frozen snow or wind slab.
    Depends on your mission. Not applicable here though
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  22. #22
    spinner2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scouter View Post
    I live in Maine about 5 miles from the spot where these are manufactured. They are built by contract by the local minimum security prison inmates, and sold by Maine Guide snowshoes. Pre covid I used some of those guys on a work release
    I know the guys that are involved with building the snowshoes are very talentd and take great pride in their construction. They harvest the hardwood onsite, saw and plane and steam bend the frames.

    I have a set of Rabbit hunters, I think they are 11 wide and 42 long with upturned ends. They are really good, but were designed to be able to turn around in heay brush with upturned ends.
    Most of he snowshoeing we did in the cub was strait line walking, where narrow long tails work bettter
    My cub is in a place this winter where I havent been needing snowshoes. Id be happy to fedex you the pair I have it you would like to try them, send em back in the spring
    send me your address at jimcrane04435@gmail.com

    jim
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    That's the make of these shoes. This is their Alaska model. They're big shoes but offer a lot of floatation. I really like the bindings.

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    Last edited by spinner2; 02-06-2021 at 11:48 AM. Reason: added image
    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinner2 View Post
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    That's the make of these shoes. This is their Alaska model. They're big shoes but offer a lot of floatation.
    Is that a carbon cub factory belly pod (I don't know what vendor they use)? Do those skis fit in the pod?

    I have been following your post here and on cc forum. Very jealous! FX3 with summits is what I envision for myself, despite most peoples' advice against penetration skis.

  24. #24
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Summits are perfect for a carbon Cub

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    Is that a carbon cub factory belly pod (I don't know what vendor they use)? Do those skis fit in the pod?

    I have been following your post here and on cc forum. Very jealous! FX3 with summits is what I envision for myself, despite most peoples' advice against penetration skis.
    This pod is from Carbon Concepts. And yes, the big Alaskan snowshoes will fit in it too. I think CC is offering the Lewareo pod.

    The picture below shows the Carbon Concepts straight skis. These are real performers. The tall pedestal puts the axle height almost the same as 31Ē Bushwheels. My penetration skis are Airglas LW2500s.

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    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver View Post
    This style of shoe, may look goofy but are purpose built for backcountry travel in steep terrain, exaggerated cleats for travel in inclined frozen snow or wind slab.
    Depends on your mission. Not applicable here though
    There are quick attach tails that extend the MSR type deck to almost double the length. They work really good and easy to turn and deal. Packing a strip they would be narrow, but for day to day trapping they are a great shoe. You can even ride a sled down the trail with them on!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

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    My snowshoes are made for worst case. I'd appreciate some small ones that were just enough to prevent post-holing but no way would I carry them for unseen emergencies. My shoes are big and the bindings incorporate aggressive crampons. Sometimes they're more than consitions require but that's way better than almost good enough.
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ID:	540725’ George Albert snowshoe he has a 6’ also

  29. #29
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    We had one good day for flying this week and I was able to get out. We had a good stretch of below zero temps and a lot of snow in the mountains. I anticipated good powder conditions and brought the big 5í shoes.

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    I was glad Iíd brought them. When I stepped out of the plane it was like stepping into thigh-deep water. Iíd been to this same area earlier in the winter and at that time it was a 2í layer with a crust on top. Now thereís another 2+ feet of powder on top of that base. Notice the LW2500 skis are under the surface too.

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    In these conditions a big snowshoe is really appreciated. So is a tail ski.

    I wear wool pants when out like this and snow gaiters. And ski poles help too. I like 🥶 winter.
    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp
    Likes Bill Rusk, cubflier, 40m liked this post

  30. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinner2 View Post
    the big 5’ shoes.

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    .
    Those are good looking shoes. Who makes them?

  31. #31

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    Very hard to find the WWII vintage big upturned snowshoes which are the best for powdery deep snow like when the tail feathers and cargo pod is touching the surface. Best not to stop in that until you have packed several circles around where you are parking otherwise you will be doing it with the snowshoes. The other set is for wet, steep or in the brush conditions, always on the door side lift strut ready to go.
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  32. #32
    spinner2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kg View Post
    Those are good looking shoes. Who makes them?
    These are the snowshoes Narwhal references in post 1.

    Bob, Iím surprised you donít have more drag than you like on the right side with two sets of shoes strapped onto the strut. Iíve carried my Bearpaw shoes there plenty of times and donít notice them. But the one time I bungeed the big 5í shoes out there, wow there was enough drag I had to fly with rudder input in cruise. Now I either put them in the belly pod or put the tails into my fishing rod tube holder. The only issue with the pod though is they have to go in through the back door and when youíre in lots of powder they arenít easy to retrieve.

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    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp

  33. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinner2 View Post
    These are the snowshoes Narwhal references in post 1.

    Bob, I’m surprised you don’t have more drag than you like on the right side with two sets of shoes strapped onto the strut. I’ve carried my Bearpaw shoes there plenty of times and don’t notice them. But the one time I bungeed the big 5’ shoes out there, wow there was enough drag I had to fly with rudder input in cruise. Now I either put them in the belly pod or put the tails into my fishing rod tube holder. The only issue with the pod though is they have to go in through the back door and when you’re in lots of powder they aren’t easy to retrieve.

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    My Cub is slow so don’t notice it out there, any time I see much more than 80 mph on the airspeed means I’m headed downhill. Besides there is usually a load in the pod and back to work around. They stay out there for convince and do not come off until the snow melts and skis come off.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Been discussed before if you care to search. I prefer synthetic decks on aluminum frames. Overflow pops right off them. Easy to use bindings are great, too. I have Tubbs and Atlas shoes and prefer the Atlas for the bindings. I also have some cheaper shoes from AIH. No surprises, you get what you pay for. Add some collapsible poles. Snowshoeing is way better with poles. And a dog.
    Iím a big guy and those Atlas shoes work great. Nice bindings, easy to work with big gloves and donít get soft when wet and warm. Found the easiest way to transport was use two straps to secure them crampon to crampon and let the binding of the lower one rest against the rear strut then bungeed. Donít really notice them inflight on one or both struts and the bungees hold them solid. Tried it the opposite way and there was a bit of vibration.
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  35. #35
    skukum12's Avatar
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    I have the atlas as well. With a light pack I am 300 plus pounds. I was post holing around on them then handed them to my wife to try. She was literally running around on top of the snow next to the holes I had left(until she tripped and face planted). Snowshoes like engines, there is no replacement for displacement.

    I will be getting some of those Alaska shoes.
    "Always looking up"

  36. #36

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    Funny you say that. I'm thinking of buying some smaller, more maneuverable shoes this week. The snow in the valley this year is layers of snow and icy crust. I could stay on top with smaller shoes and for doing chores around the cabin long shoes are a pain in the butt. If a guy had 6 pairs of different kinds of snowshoes he could find cause for buying a 7th pair. The only ones I'm not interested in are the ones made for trail running.
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  37. #37
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    If you're going to be on some sort of established Trail or going over and over your tracks again the atlas will work fine. Where the big shoe shine are areas that are virgin snow and tramping down runways
    "Always looking up"

  38. #38

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    My Atlas shoes work great. Too great for current conditions!

  39. #39
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    Best snowshoes for ski flying

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    Size matters. These 9Ē x 30Ē are the 8.50 tires of snowshoes. Good enough to get you in trouble when way off trail.
    Photos from yesterday in wind blown New England snow.

    Ratchet bindings and poles are a must regardless of size.



    Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org mobile app
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  40. #40
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    I use 36” Tubbs, a little pricey but work great in the ADK’s. The snow is heavier in the east so this is my choice. Also work when collecting sap in the woods for Maple syrup. When the snow is real deep I prefer skis.

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