Winter snowshoe distance expectations

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  • #3696838
    BPL Member


    Locale: I’m a pilot. Almost anywhere!

    Just a sidebar, but what kind of distance are you getting snowshoeing in a day. Say 6 hours? I know that age and the amount of climbing and descending are hard to say. But I live in Utah, so we have a few choices of climbing hard or stretching it out a little to save the legs. I pace out at about 1.8 if breaking trail. Which is always since no one seems to want to spend a few nights out freezing the cahonnies off when they have a perfectly warm home n bed. I average out 5 miles till dinner. Just something to talk about until Friday, n then we get another good storm coming through! :o)

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    In snow 2 ft. or deeper with a winter pack of say 30 -35 lbs. I’d expect no more than 6 miles in “rolling terrain”.

    XC skis & skins (with a pack) will get you maybe 10 to 12 miles depending on your skill level and conditioning. With XC racing skis and carbon fiber poles I once did the 100 mile Canadian Ski Marathon in two days with an 8 lb. fanny pack and 10 hours of skiing. (1981)

    As good as they are, I really can’t stand using my MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes for winter camping. They are merely “OK” for hunting in thick woods to steep terrain.

    Paul S
    BPL Member


    Hey Eric, just curious, what it is that you don’t like about the MSR lightning ascents for winter backpacking?

    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area


    Well it all depends. Even on the flat, when walking through deep powder, very slow. When walking on top of firm icey crusty snow, much faster.

    I also would like to hear Eric’s opinion of the Lightning Ascents…



    John Vance
    BPL Member


    Locale: Intermountain West

    For me it really varies due to snow depth and consistency, terrain, and weather.   When I camped more in winter I typically hiked/skied in a day, stayed 2-3 nights, and then hiked/skied out in a day.  6-15 miles each way and day trips for the other 2 or 3 days.

    I guess my spring trips are winter like in that snowshoes are often used, but it is more intermittent- usually after post holing for stretch – but miles are higher due to more daylight and often favorable crusted snow.

    Richard Reno
    BPL Member


    Locale: White Mountains, mostly.

    In my experience the distance you can cover is more dependent on snow type and depth than terrain: uphill on a well-broken trail is easier than breaking trail through knee-deep heavy snow on the flat. And fatigue might be a greater limiting factor than time.

    As for the MSP Lightning Ascents, I’, very happy with mine, especially the fancy new bindings. At 6’4″, 220# plus gear, flotation is sometimes an issue (I wear the  30″ size and always the tails) but I haven’t seen anything floatier around. The ascend and descend well and are pretty durable (I’m on my third pair in ten years). A little pricy at $300+ but as good a value as any, I’d say… Just my $.02 worth…

    Stephen M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Way up North

    I factor a mile an hour on snow shoes with a winter pack on a decent trail. Add in lots of ups and down and it can decrease.


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