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Seeking advice/suggestions on running snowshoes

I recently moved to the Northeast and will be experiencing my first real winter. In preparation, I was browsing snowshoe comparison articles when I came across a mention of "running snowshoes" - does anyone have experience or suggestions about running snowshoes? Is this a real thing?! It seems kind of crazy to a (former) mid-Atlantic runner but I absolutely despise treadmills and if there's an option to run outside, I will be all over that.

Also - what (actual) shoes would you even wear with snowshoes? I can't imagine regular running shoes would suffice but I've never seen "winter" running shoes in my life and running in winter boots sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Any advice is appreciated, thanks in advance!

6 Replies

@the-bumble Thanks for reaching out!

First off, yes it is a real thing, and I was as shocked as you when I first saw it happen! I was fortunate enough to be living in Fairbanks, Alaska when the Arctic Winter Games were held there. I went and watched the snowshoe races wondering what on earth I was in for. It was really cool to watch folks compete in up to 10k races and relays. Running snowshoes are smaller, lighter, and narrower than regular snowshoes, allowing you to run through all kinds of different snow conditions. The main difference, once you get used to running with snowshoes strapped to your feet, is your pace when you run. If the snow is deep you will have to make adjustments to your stride, but your running form is basically the same, only slower. Flat or rolling terrain is ideal, like a golf course, or a groomed hard pack surface if you're lucky.

Running snowshoes are designed to be worn with your regular running shoes. It is worth considering a trail running shoe as they tend to keep you drier and warmer (with a waterproof liner).

Lastly, there are 'winter running shoes' out there, and some of them come with spikes in the outsole (or you can convert your own shoes) to help you grip on ice and slick surfaces. That is the most popular method of running outside in Fairbanks, where the local running club holds their weekly runs down to -40° F!

Most importantly, there are lots of options for getting out and running year-round, even in the Northeast. Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thank you so much for the info!

I've never seen traction kit like that before, I've got a pair of yak trax but I imagine those won't hold up on Northeast sidewalks/streets. I was initially planning on running trails with the snowshoes but if I end up sticking to city running, I will likely try the spikes instead!

Guess this will be a "wait-and-see" re: winter conditions.

 

Sidenote: Do you know if the Arctic Winter Games are livestreamed? That would be a great pandemic "activity"! 😂

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I'm a little surprised also, but I guess I shouldn't be, we can make a sport of just about anything I guess.  What's also interesting are the cottage industries that spring up to support these sports!

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes

I haven't found a snowshoe race in the area yet but I'm going to keep looking, there must be one if the snowshoes exist! Or maybe I can start a petition for one!

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@the-bumble 

If you're looking to get plugged into snowshoe running I suggest checking out the United States Snowshoe Association. They'll be a good way to find out all the info you could possibly want on snowshoe races in the US. I also recommend you check out the Arctic Winter Games, I don't think they do any live streaming but it still some incredible history and fun competition!

Lastly, if you don't want to convert your own shoes with that kit I linked, you can check out a brand like Ice Bug that has the spikes built in to their winter shoes. I believe Salomon also makes the Speedspike for winter running. Keep your eye out as brands begin to roll out their winter shoes soon!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@the-bumble, I grew up in the Northeast and began running when I lived there.  I also now live in Fairbanks, Alaska (full disclosure: yes, I know @REI-JohnJ haha).  So I'd like to give my perspective. The snow in the Northeast is fairly wet, meaning it packs down significantly and is not very 'floaty.'  You'll need them for mountain running (VT, NH, ME) where the snow can get deep and last, but unless you will be running on trails or off-trail in the woods the day of or after a significant snow fall, you usually will not "need" snowshoes for flotation.  As John pointed out, however, snowshoe running is a thing and a sport in its own right if you wish to try it.  I just didn't want you to think snow automatically meant you couldn't run there in winter unless you had snowshoes on. 

If you will be road running, most communities have ordinances that the streets and sidewalks must be cleared of snow within a certain amount of time after a snowfall (usually less than a day).  And a street or sidewalk cleared of snow is Not a surface you want to be traversing with snowshoes!  The studded option is a much better alternative for that, because even when shoveled, sidewalks and pavement can get very icy and stay that way for days.  

One word of caution about the two, however.  Snowshoes with studded sneakers do not match.  Most snowshoes have decking under foot that can be marred by sharp studs.  If they don't have decking and the sole of your foot will be resting on an aluminum plate, the studs can mean a less-secure, scratchy interface.  You won't feel solidly locked into the snowshoe.  So one or the other, not both.  

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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