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Why Do Snowshoes Keep You from Sinking? (Answered!)

Snowshoeing is one of the most fun sports to do on snow, especially whenever you look at the new snow, then the excitement of snowshoeing automatically builds up. Then, you can’t wait to put your snowshoe on and start walking on that fresh snow that is gracing the land. 

At some point in your snowshoeing career, you might have wondered how these snowshoes saved you from sinking in the snow. Well, in this article, we have discussed all the reasons behind how snowshoes keep you from sinking in the snow.

Why do snowshoes keep you from sinking?

Snowshoes keep you from sinking by helping you to stay upright in the snow by having a greater surface area than a normal shoe’s heel. The weight placed on top of the snowshoe is the same regardless of size, and this ensures that a person’s weight is distributed over a greater surface area.

Since the snowshoes have a much larger surface area than your feet, each square centimetre exerts very little weight, and you do not even sink into the snow. And if you’re wearing snowshoes, you’ll sink in a little on powdery snow.

Do snowshoes keep you from sinking into the snow?

The immense size of the snowshoes keeps you from sinking into the snow because the large size of shoes has a lot of surface space.

As a result, when the surface area is high, the pressure applied by the shoes on the ground is minimized. This ensures the person would not sink into the snow.

Why do snowshoes keep you from sinking into the snow?

Snowshoes protect you from sinking by providing a larger surface area than the heel of regular shoes, allowing you to stay upright in the snow.

The weight you put on top of the snowshoe remains the same, ensuring that a person’s weight is dispersed on a large area. This indicates that there is more snow supporting that pressure than if someone were wearing a normal shoe.

Snowshoes, like tennis shoes, allow someone to spread their weight over more expansive surfaces. PSI is used for measuring pressure, and the overall meaning is that the amount of energy that your body weight exerts on the snow.

A lot of body weight is spread over a few inches in a flat shoe or boot, but the body weight is dispersed over much more on a snowshoe.

That’s why one size doesn’t suit everything when it comes to snowshoes, so heavy individuals or those bringing larger bags of supplies would need larger snowshoes.

Lighter people will initially place less weight on the snow, allowing them to choose a smaller set of snowshoes.

Snow conditions are also essential because packed snow can absorb more pressure than newly-fallen; powdery snow can necessarily require the use of different snowshoes.

Are you supposed to sink in snowshoes?

Snowshoes are designed to allow you to float over the snow rather than sinking too deeply. Don’t be shocked if you fall a little further into the snow because it’s natural. You might don’t want to sink so far that you have to dig yourself up.

The size of your snowshoe will be reduced if you want to go snowshoeing in hard-packed or frozen ice. Since you’ll need a lot less surface space to stay at the surface layer, you’ll need a lot less surface area.

However, in some instances like this, snowshoes might not be necessary. You can test the snow by removing your snowshoes and see how far you sink without them.

Those that would be snowshoeing in powdery, thin snow can do the opposite. In some situations, you will need to use a snowshoe that is heavier than suggested.

The more surface space you get, the closest you could be to the surface, and therefore there will be higher your flotation.

So, though larger snowshoes can help you more than smaller snowshoes, the real question is just how much support they can provide and how they can keep you floating in the snow.

Actually, the total sizing of your snowshoes will rely upon whether you decide to snowshoe in packed snow or powdery, dry snow. But as long as you’re not sinking more than a foot, you are completely fine.

How far should you sink in snowshoes?

If you’re snowshoeing in powdery snow, you can expect to fall from about 6” to 12” well below snow’s level, depending on the conditions.

However, this is heavily dependent on whether you are using the appropriate size snowshoes for your weight and the snow conditions.

The snow condition plays a more significant role because the snow conditions change from time to time, and it usually triggers the factor that determines whether you will sink in your snowshoes or not.

As a result of the changing snow conditions, comparing the snowshoeing trip last week will feel completely different than the one last week.

In the case of powdery snow, you can start to sink quite a bit because it isn’t relatively compact and doesn’t withstand weight well.

While snowshoeing in powdery snow or snow that hasn’t been snowshoed or touched by anyone (brand new snow), you can tend to sink somewhere around 6″ to 12″ of snow.

Snow that is both heavy and wet provides a little more protection and allows the user to remain closer to the ice while snowshoeing. You can anticipate sinking closer to the 6″ to 8″ depth.

When the snow is hard-packed, then you should expect to move over the surface in these conditions. You won’t be able to sink anymore because the snow already has been condensed by anyone or anything heavier than the existing person’s weight.

Why do my snowshoes sink?

The sinking is affected by your weight, the height of your snowshoes, and the state of the snow.

If there’s powdery snow on the surface, you’ll sink a couple of inches. And if you have a bigger snowshoe with more flotation, you’ll sink only a few inches and lose some controllability.

Also, if you’re using snowshoes and also don’t sink, the snow could be thick enough that you don’t need the snowshoes in the first place. The actual test is to remove your snowshoes and see how much you would fall if you don’t have something on your foot.

But, though longer snowshoes can help a little, the question will be how much help they will provide and whether additional flotation is still necessary. However,  as long as you’re not sinking more than a foot, you’re fine.

How deep should snow be for snowshoeing?

While particular forms of snowfall are more suitable for snowshoeing, the general rule is that a minimum of 6 inches of snow is required. You will risk ruining your snowshoes if the snowfall is less than 6 inches.

Snowshoes are built to spread a person’s weight over a larger amount of snow. Increased surface area reduces friction on a specific point on the ice, making it more difficult for anyone to slip through the snow.

When there are just a few inches of snow on the field, this is less of a concern. Snowshoes, on the other hand, are required if the snow depth reaches six inches.

Do snowshoes work in deep snow?

Snowshoes do work in deep snow. Snowshoes have a basic concept which is they increase the surface area of a person’s shoe, allowing them to step on top of the snow instead of sinking to the ground.

When the surface of the snowflakes holding up the individual is raised, the number of snowflakes supporting them increases.

You’re going to be buried in the snow. There’s no way around that. Snowshoes, on the other hand, will prevent you from sinking as deep as you would if you were still wearing shoes.

When faced with heavy snow, larger snowshoes are preferable because the expanded surface area aids in staying afloat.

Is there a technique for snowshoeing?

It is not necessary to follow a technique in order to snowshoe, but if you are a beginner in snowshoeing, then you can follow some methods.

Traversing, also known as “side-hilling,” is a standard mode of transportation that can be used to avoid difficult or rough terrain. It’s crucial to maintain the balance.

As you progress, push the uphill part of each snowshoe through into the slope in order to make a shelf. Maintain the balance on the uphill snowshoe. If at all practicable, walk in the footsteps of the person ahead of you.

You should make proper use of your poles. Once their tips meet the snow, expand the downhill pole and reduce the uphill pole till their tops are level.

How do you properly snowshoe?

You can follow the below tips if you want to properly snowshoe in different conditions:

Snowshoeing uphill:

Kick step:

The easiest way to walk in powdery snow is to use the kick-step technique. Start by raising up your foot and moving the toe of your boot into the snow to make a hop.

Create a stable surface:

It can take several attempts to create a sufficiently stable surface to balance on. The toes of your snowshoes will be above your boots, and the ends of your snowshoes will be lying backward behind you.

Snowshoeing downhill:

Lower knees:

On descents, keep your poles in front of you, knees lowered and secured, and your weight back down. 

Plant foot first:

Maintain an effortless stride with the foot planted first while walking.

Don’t turn foot:

You can never turn to your toe after setting your foot on a particular slope, as this raises the risk of your leg slipping downhill.

With these basic flotation techniques, you can easily snowshoe and enjoy the beautiful white snow.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can You Wear Snowboard Boots with Snowshoes?

Can You Wear Running Shoes With Snowshoes?

Do Snowshoes Have a Left and Right?

Do Snowshoes Have a Weight Limit?