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Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Snowshoe Use Information

Rental fees help to maintain safe, reliable and up-to-date snowshoe equipment.

Snowshoes are designed to increase the surface area of your weight distribution on top of the snow. They have been used for thousands of years for travelling on snow and they are once again becoming a very popular winter recreational activity.

Putting them on – it’s easier than you think!

Each style of snowshoe is different, but most of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) snowshoes have a nylon binding. There are no left and right snowshoes. Please do not put snowshoes on over gravel, paved or muddy terrain, as it will damage the snowshoes. The only place to put them on is in a thick snow surface.  

  • Loosen the toe and heel bindings of both snowshoes by lifting the plastic buckle and loosening the nylon binding.
  • For the next part, you may need the assistance of a friend to help with your balance, or kneel down to help tighten bindings properly.
  • Carefully place one foot into the binding (into the toe cage if there is one) as far as it will go.
  • Make sure you are not stepping on the back strap and that it is large enough able to come up over the heel of your boot and rest over your Achilles tendon.
  • Next, carefully tighten the front binding by grasping the nylon strap and pulling it across your boot until it feels snug.
  • Follow the same procedure for the back strap, and pull the nylon strap backwards to tighten around the heel of your boot.

How to Walk in the Snowshoes:

Some participants may find the use of poles helpful for balance. Unfortunately we do not have poles available for rental. 

Moving Forward:  Walk as you would without snowshoes. But allow for some straddling depending on the width of your snowshoe. You want to prevent hitting the snowshoes together, and hitting your shins. Also do not keep the snowshoes too far apart as you will strain your legs and thighs. Keep in mind, depending on the snow conditions; you will sink into the snow, especially if you are breaking a new trail. You may need to take slower and higher lifting steps in deep snow. When with a group, rotate your trail breaker every few minutes since the first person will always exert the greatest effort and energy.

Ascending a Moderate Hill:  While facing directly uphill, step into the snow with your weight on your toes while planting your front claws or crampons into the hill. Use firm footing as needed while you literally step-up the incline.

Turning Around:  Walking in a circle is the easiest means of turning around. If this is not possible, than “step turn,” which involves lifting one snowshoe and placing it at a 90-degree angle (forming a ‘T’) in front of the other shoe. Then shifting your body and bringing the other snowshoe back alongside, making a half-turn. Do it again to make the full turn.

Falling Down: Simply roll over onto your front, put one knee up and push yourself up to a half-kneeling position. Then raise yourself back to a standing position by using your knees to brace your hands/arms. Use poles or a walking stick if available.

Appropriate Terrain for Snowshoes:

  • Hiking trails at a local conservation area, provincial park, town, village, or other green spaces (make sure you are not walking on tracks set for cross-country skiing)
  • Your backyard in areas free of debris
  • At the beach (please stay away from all frozen bodies of water!)

Please DO NOT wear the rented snowshoes in the following conditions or places:

  • Fields where there is exposed mud ... snowshoes are not rubber boots!
  • Unknown forest terrain where there are downed trees, brush and debris – travelling over down brush could puncture and damage the decking and crampons of the snowshoes.

Storage:

Please keep the snowshoes in a dry and secure place if you have them overnight. If possible, hang, or place to thaw out and drip dry in a garage or mud room.

Snowshoes that are returned damaged will result in the renter paying to replace the snowshoes rented from Ausable Bayfield Conservation.

Enjoy and thanks for renting ABCA snowshoes to actively experience your watershed!

Healthier People, Healthier Communities, Healthier Watersheds