Snowshoe Bindings: Everything You Need to Know
What are snowshoe bindings?
There are two key aspects to a snowshoe that help create the optimal environment when trudging through the snow. The first is deck that provides the floatation and the second is the binding that keeps your boot attached to the deck.
A good binding will keep your foot attached to the deck and allow a free walking motion so that the snowshoe moves like a normal boot or tennis shoe would. The key to enjoying snowshoeing is walkability and having the right binding can make or break your ability to get out and enjoy the snow.
Bindings have taken very different forms over the past few hundred years. Early snowshoers would craft bindings out of leather and string, using whatever materials they had locally to keep the foot from slipping out of the webbed wooden shoes.
Fast forward to today and shoppers have tons of choices around which bindings to choose for their snowshoes. You can still buy the classic leather bindings but many options now and days allow people to choose from bindings that specialize in various activities and that work great in deep powdery snow, side hills, some bindings are easy to get on and off and some bindings guarantee that once you get them on they won’t come off until you want them to. Many bindings are made for being great in a multitude of situations and are a go-to for many avid snowshoers.
It is critical to understand what types of bindings are out there and to do your research on which binding is going to work the best for what you are wanting to accomplish out on the snow. Different brands specialize in different binding types so it is critical to understand what type of binding the brand you are looking to choose specializes along with what sort of ongoing support they provide for biding issues and replacements. We breakdown the different types of bindings out there along with their benefits and issues (if there are any).
Can I replace my snowshoe bindings?
Historically replacing snowshoe bindings has unfortunately meant buying a new pair of snowshoes, as the cost to replace the binding was not worth it. Some companies allow for the binding straps to be changed out if the binding utilizes a nylon or soft plastic type of strap. Fortunately, some companies out there design their snowshoes in a way that allows users to change out the bindings. MSR and Northern Lites are a few of these companies that allow for complete bindings to be changed out or for parts of the bindings to be replaced saving costs from average wear and tear.
Northern Lites allows customers to replace their bindings in totality if they have been worn or damaged or if they are wanting the latest binding model upgrade through a nominal fee to fix and replace it at the Northern Lites Repair shop in Colorado.
How to adjust snowshoe bindings
With so many different types of bindings out in the marketplace there are a myriad of ways to adjust snowshoe bindings. A good snowshoe binding shouldn’t need adjusting once it has already been put on. However, if you do need to adjust your snowshoe binding and you are out in the snow the key is to find a tree or rock to lean against and avoid kneeling down completely or trying to adjust without anything to balance on. The reason for this is often times the snow you are walking in is much deeper than you think and if you need down or balance and try to adjust your straps you could fall into deep snow making it very hard to get out or getting covered in cold snow, which if you aren’t properly dressed could ruin an snowshoe adventure.
Types of bindings
The TruTrak Binding System has been used by snowshoers since its creation in 1994. The TruTrak binding system was designed to end Pigeon-Toeing and snowshoe loss in deep snow. The TruTrak system utilizes a suspension strap to mimic the human stride, creating a very comfortable walking feel. The system uses “Flip Hook Buckles” that ensure there is no slippage of the straps no matter how much stress or action the bindings see on a trek. Crated with super strong polyurethane straps, the straps actually grab onto leather, rubber and plastic boots holding the foot perfectly in alignment. They are nice because you don’t have to over tighten and wrench down your bindings to hold them in place creating a comfortable experience for any user. Regarded by many as still the best binding in the industry due to their ease of use, light-weight and never having to readjust.
The Speed Binding system was introduced in 2018 and was designed to allow snowshoes to take on their shoes in 30 seconds or less. The bindings utilizes a suspension strap and nylon hinge that attaches to the frame with a patented unrippable nylon, that springs the deck back to your boot with each step. The lacing system wraps around your foot like a tennis shoe or boot lacing system and is tightened quickly with a cord lock, utilizing cord that is related to hold 1000 lbs. The simplistic design, speed and light weight are what makes this binding system very popular.
Floating Or Spring Loaded Bindings
Floating bindings are also called free-rotation bindings that pivot and move with the natural motion of your feet, they are also great at preventing snow pile-up. Floating bindings are made from either plastic, aluminum or nylon or a combination of all three. The advantages to this binding system is that they are normally easier to walk in as it mirrors your walking motion and often times feel a bit more stable. However with the spring loaded bindings come snow flinging up and often time coating to your pants of back of your jacket.
Pivotal Hinge Bindings
The pivotal hinge is a free floating hinge. This hinge is typically made out of metal, so It will be a bit stronger than the spring loaded hinge. The pivotal hinge means that as you take a step, the snowshoe will fall back to the ground. It will not rise back up to your foot. There are many advantages and disadvantages to this style of hinge. The advantages are that the tails falls back to the ground so you wont’ end up showering yourself in shoe, along with the binding being more stiff making steep inclines easier to talk. The disadvantages however are that since the tail is not lifting out of the snow it inhibits a normal walking stride, making it impossible to walk backwards and creating more drag.
With pivotal hinge bindings you will feel like you have snowshoes on your feet.
Leather bindings as mentioned previously are the how bindings used to be made back in the day. They were attached to a wooden frame and wooden bar that would require you to pick up the entire snowshoe.Faber Snowshoes in Canada continues to make leather bindings for those that are looking.
Rarely used anymore wooden bindings are a binding system where the user sticks their foot into a wooden bracket and then straps their heel in with a leather strap. The system has become dated due to each step having to lift the entire shoe out of the snow or having to slide the snowshoes as one walks.
BOA binding system has finally made their way to snowshoes and create a very similar sensation that one experiences using the system for tennis shoes or snowboard boots. The BOA bindings create a very quick loose and tightening of the snowshoe to your footing. The downside with these bindings are the weight due to the system needing a certain platform to operate successfully.
There are tons of other binding options out there with companies trying new ways to make snowshoeing more enjoyable and competitive with skiing and other popular winter sports. The key is regardless of which binding you choose you know your trail and you are dressed properly for the weather. Needing additional information on snowshoeing check out Complete Beginners Guide.
As always, ENJOY THE JOURNEY