If you still have some snow, there’s still time to have fun the Yukon Charlie’s way.
Yukon Charlie’s is the maker of snowshoes and other gear that can help to improve your winter outlook. Life is short. If you live somewhere that has real winters, you don’t want to put your life on hold for five months every year while you’re waiting for warm weather.
You don’t have to sit on the couch wondering, “Will spring ever get here?” Snowshoeing is a great cold weather activity and one that can include every member of the family.
WINTER HIKING WITH YUKON CHARLIE’S
For me, hiking, camping, and backpacking have always been part of my lifestyle. I’ve learned there’s no reason to stop those activities when the snow starts falling. Think of snowshoeing as winter hiking. By adding snowshoes to your gear, you’re increasing your hiking capabilities to a year-around activity.
OTHER REASONS TO OWN SNOWSHOES
Aside from extending your hiking season, there are other good reasons to invest in a set of snowshoes. For one, snowshoes can help to get the kids away from their cell phones and video games for some good outdoor exercise.
Snowshoes can provide a means to travel when inclement weather makes other transportation impossible. Take a look at the record-breaking snowfall they had recently in parts of California. Snowshoes can provide the means to making a critical supply run when roads are otherwise impassable.
Snowshoes can be a key part of emergency gear for snowmobilers and winter backpackers. You can traverse difficult trails in snowshoes that would be about impossible on cross-country skis. (Some people actually do what’s called “ski-shoeing,” swapping out their skis for snowshoes when the trail winds through thick woods.) If you travel in remote areas during the winter, it’s also a good idea to stow a set of snowshoes in the back of your vehicle.
Snowshoeing is an economical recreation, too. Other than the initial cost of the snowshoes and poles, there isn’t much else you need. There are no ski passes to be purchased, you don’t need to go to a crowded ski facility. Access to the majority of trails is free.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT GEAR
You don’t want to skimp on the quality of the snowshoes you purchase. Snowshoeing can be frustrated if you’re using equipment with poorly designed bindings. And getting stranded on a trail miles from civilization with snowshoes that have fallen apart can ruin any outing.
Recently, I had a chance to test three different snowshoe models offered by Yukon Charlie’s with the help of two of my grandsons. All three featured modern construction with aluminum frames and trouble-free synthetic bindings and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) decking. All featured integrated crampons – rugged steel teeth along the bottom of the bindings that bite into crusted snow and ice – essential to keep you from sliding around in slippery conditions, especially on the inclines.
Snowshoes work to keep you mostly above the snow by distributing your weight over a larger area. The “825” in two of the models we tested refers to the size 8 x 25 inches. According to the chart on the company’s website, this size should work well for someone up to 200 pounds.
Of course that depends on the snow conditions as well. Obviously, you’ll sink a bit more in light, fluffy snow than you will in heavy, compacted snow. In addition to your body weight, consider the weight of any pack you might carry. Also, while larger snowshoes will support more weight, they are also more difficult to walk in, especially when making turns on tight trails.
ELITE SPIN 825
My 12-year-old grandson Blake tried a set of Yukon Charlie’s Elite Spin 825 snowshoes. The suggested price on these is $239.99. These are excellent snowshoes that feature an triangular tube aluminum frame and an integrated heel lift on the decking that pops up to keep you on your toes on inclines. In addition to steel teeth on the bottom of the bindings, these also featured the company’s Saw Tooth traction frames.
The Northwave bindings on this model were excellent. They pretty much enveloped the boots and you literally dial them in to keep the snowshoes secure and wobble free. They were easy to get into and fast to remove.
MINIMALIST LIFT 825
The snowshoes I used were an older model from Yukon Charlie’s, the Minimalist Lift 825. They featured the Minimalist one-pull binding system. One tug on the single strap of each snowshoe locked my boots into the bindings and stayed secure the entire time. These snowshoes also came with the integrated heel lift for use on inclines.
You won’t find this model on the company’s website any longer. But you might locate some at a very reasonable discounted price with a quick Internet search. Mine came as a package with snowshoes, adjustable trekking poles, and storage case.
My seven-year-old grandson Holden put the Snow-Bash snowshoes to the test. This youth model features a 7 x 16 aluminum frame that are rated to support up to 100 pounds. He had the package deal that included snowshoes, poles, and storage case for $94.99.
These snowshoes feature the Ripcord Easy-Pull binding with nylon straps that secure with one pull to fit most any boot. They can be removed easily, even with gloved hands. The retractable poles adjust for length and include baskets for both snow and summer trekking.
We started with a short test of the snowshoes close to home just to get the feel of walking in them and to familiarize ourselves with the routine of putting them on and removing them. Despite the fact that all three sets of snowshoes used different binding systems, all three proved very easy and intuitive in use. Before long, the kids were stomping right along with no problem at all.
Snowshoeing can be a vigorous activity and you can expend a lot of energy doing it. It’s best to work gradually toward longer outings, so that you don’t get stranded and exhausted far from the trail head.
The snowshoes we tested proved to be of very good quality and should last us through years of winter recreation. Yukon Charlie’s has other winter available too. (Check out their sled.) For more information on the company’s snowshoes, and all their products, go to YukonCharlies.com. And be sure to check back with AmericanOutdoor.Guide for more outdoor adventure.
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