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 Winter hiking footwear 

Which do you use when hiking in winter conditions?
Microspikes!  11%  [ 1 ]
Crampons!  0%  [ 0 ]
Snowshoes!  89%  [ 8 ]
Something else! (post a comment)  0%  [ 0 ]
Brrrr-I don't hike in the winter!  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 9

 Winter hiking footwear 
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Peak Bagger
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 Winter hiking footwear
I am a three season hiker, but want to do some winter hiking. What do you wear for snowy/icy conditions??

Allison

http://4000-footers.blogspot.com/


Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:14 am
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Sovereign Woodsman
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In full winter I generally have just my snowshoes w/me. In the 'in-between' I often have both my spikes and snowshoes.

If you go back and read trs from the winter months for the trails you are interested in, folks usually include what they've used and the conditions they've encountered. Just don't go by any of Hard Core Idiot's posts b/c he has only 1 leg and therefore uses only 1 snowshoe. :) Don't feel bad for him though. He is, after all, hard core.

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Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:20 am
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The short and simple of it is this: If you are planning on doing "serious" winter hiking (take that to mean 4K peakbagging) you will need at least 2 (snowshoes and crampons) but all three is best. Snowshoes are obvious in the reason. Crampons are necessary usually around and above treeline, but also for places where ice typically forms in bulk or when the snow[ack goes through freeze-thaws that turns it into something that is inbetween snow and ice, a hard crust. Now, crampons are going to be overkill in most situations, but if you are only buying ONE type of traction aid this is best. But they are going to get chewed up when the ice is patchy and the ground open and rocky. That is where the microspikes come in. They are the less expensive and more safe in most situations. In reality I have found the microspikes to handle 95% of the situations where ice traction is needed. But when the other 5% comes you will be glad for the crampons.

Now, if you have no intention of peakbagging 4K's (even if just for now) or are at least able to pick and chose the situations/trails you are going to be on very carefully, and as long as your willing to turn back when you come to a situation that needs crampons and you don't have them, then just get microspikes (and of course the snowshoes) and save yourself the expense of the crampons.

Brian


Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:27 am
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I chose snowshoes because that is what I use most in winter. I have microspikes but they only work well when the trail is packed and firm. If the trail is 50/50 rock/ice I usually stay with just my boots. I don't have crampons yet but I've only encountered a few situations where I would have used them. Microspikes have made these spots manageable although probably not the safest choice. My snowshoes have some pretty aggressive cleats so they do the job most of the time. I do plan to buy some hiking crampons in the future.

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Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:48 am
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microspikes, crampons, snowshoes

- each has their place in the tool kit

- of the three, snowshoes will see the most duty

Serious winter hiking means peakbagging?

IMO serious winter hiking means breaking trail on multi-night backpacks with sub-zero overnight lows and single digit daytime highs

HYOH YMMV ICUPN

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Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:00 am
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Peak Bagger
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Great advice so far! I am doing the NH 4ks and will probably end up hiking late in the fall and start up early in the spring. I have snowshoes I can borrow, but will probably grab some microspikes to toss in my bag. I probably won't be doing any "serious" winter hiking this year. Maybe the following winter :lol:

Allison

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Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:15 am
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Tom_Murphy wrote:
Serious winter hiking means peakbagging?


Actually not really (per se). I wrote that because I assume that the general reader of this (including the original poster) intend to peakbag winter 4K's (either exclusively or for the lion share of their winter hiking). Personally I can find all the "seriousness" of winter hiking elsewhere other than 4K's, but alas we do have to face the fact that perhaps the biggest chunk of winter hikers only care about peakbagging in winter. Not saying that is right or wrong, but it is what it is. And since the nature of the beast with 4K bagging means you run the full gamut of conditions. For the most part of have done my winter peakbagging thing, but honestly I think it is overrated and find my fun elsewhere, both serious and not. 8)

Brian


Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:44 am
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I picked snowshoes because I wear them more than the other 2. But I always have light traction (microspikes) with me. Those are pretty much in my pack from Nov. to April. And depending on the conditions and where I'm hiking, I add crampons as well to my pack.

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Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:13 pm
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I have to admit to read that crampons are on people's list seems a bit of a surprise. Aren't they a bit clunky and if not careful one could somersault on them if you don't pick up ur feet. This coming from someone with 0% EXPERIENCE in winter hiking and previously not knowing what a microspike was when I first joined this site. However it seems that from a lot of the reading of past TR's over my time here I read a lot of u talking about the use of microspikes/snowshoes. I have tried crampons and feel like they could be a deadly weapon! Just my opinion.


Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:46 pm
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To answer your question HL, and this is just my opinion, I have hiked 2 seasons in the winter. I can think of only one time that crampons would have been needed for a winter peak (madison). All the other times the shoes have been sufficient. As far as weight goes, I personally, don't notice much of a difference. They make them now to be barely even noticeable of the weight.
As far as hikes ive been on with the guys, not once has anyone used crampons. Take that for what its worth.


Greg

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Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:52 pm
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Like I mentioned, microspikes are fine for about 95% of the time. Yes I hardly use my crampons, and indeed you will probably find that you only need them on the bookend periods of the season when temps get warm enough to start the snow melting or consolidating during the day, but refreezing at night. But if you are out there enough you probably will come to a point when you find you are very very happy to have them. Before microspikes I probably used them about half a dozen times a year. Post Microspikes probably only once or twice a season will they get used. But when I dig them out it is because I really needed them.

Brian


Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:03 pm
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I've done winter hiking for 4 seasons and I've only used my crampons once...and that was just to try them. I've done 18 4Ks in winter, but most of those have been hikes where there's not a lot of above-treeline hiking. I'd want to have crampons on hand if I were hiking the northern Presis; otherwise, for most situations, Microspikes and snowshoes will do the trick.

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Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:03 am
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Of the three major traction devices, the most practical expenditure of cash and carrying effort is:

Snowshoes - Mandatory (27/30)*
Microspikes - Handy
Crampons - Nice-to-have (3/30)*

If you have snowshoes with good crampons underneath, you can get by most of the time.

Like BobC, I've used them only to try them out under conditions where snowshoes or microspikes would have worked fine. I've done all 48 in winter. What you will find is that no one traction device is perfect for the entire hike (except for a handful of below treeline, well-sheltered hikes where in mid-winter conditions, snowshoes are perfect the whole way) and you have to be OK with snowshoes on rock for brief periods.

The shoulder seasons get much harder since there is insufficient snow cover (Nov/Dec) or rotting and melting snow and ice (Apr). For the record I tend of avoid those times, especially April, which is filled with yard work and Little League (coaching, wiseguys).

Tim


*It took me 30 trips to get all 48 peaks, and I used crampons on 3 and snowshoes on all but 3 (carried them on 2 of those 3). Note that I am 200 pounds without clothes, boots, gear, etc., so I need flotation more than someone who is 130 pounds.

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Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:26 am
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bikehikeskifish wrote:
The shoulder seasons get much harder since there is insufficient snow cover (Nov/Dec) or rotting and melting snow and ice (Apr). For the record I tend of avoid those times, especially April, which is filled with yard work and Little League (coaching, wiseguys).


Tim brings up a good point - you might want to avoid late fall and early spring if you haven't hiked in any snowy or icy conditions yet. Right in the middle of winter (late December - end of February, maybe early March) is your best bet for enjoyable White Mountain winter conditions. That's not to say you can't get winter conditions and a lot of snow in late fall. I once did a fall hike to Middle and South Carter where we had complete snow cover above 3,000 feet, and the temperature was 20 degrees. I'm just saying that you're more likely to need snowshoes from start to finish of the hike if you wait until it's really winter.

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Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:58 am
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Then there was this day in November with traces of ice on the Paugus ledges. 8)

Image

Bob's a very safe hiker. :roll: :lol:

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Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:27 am
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