Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Over the weekend, I got out for two snow adventures on my feet.

On Saturday, I went for a 90 minute run on the plowed packed/powder streets of Omaha. While you could probably get by with ordinary running shoes, I recommend a safety upgrade for better traction. There are a couple ways you can do this: 1) screw shoes and 2) Yak Trax Pros. I've never done the screw-shoes, but apparently they're quite effective.

I can tell you that the Yak Trax Pros are worth the $25. Yak Trax also makes a walker version for $20, but if you're planning on running, get the Pro model. Yak Trax are a rubber mesh wrapped in steel coils that slip over your normal running shoe. Unlike the normal version, the Pros are secured with a Velcro strap across the top. Running with Yak Trax doesn't feel any different on your feet than your ordinary running shoes. They're ideal for when there is less than a couple inches of packed power. They do provide some protection against ice. I've never fallen when wearing them.

Following Saturday's run, I rented a pair of MSR EVO snow shoes from the UNO Outdoor Venture Center. My boy EB was there with a big old grin and was ready to rent these to the public at large. By the way, have you been on UNO's campus lately? The new HPER building is coming together nicely. What an upgrade! As part of that upgrade, the OVC has a lot of space in a good location. No longer do you feel like your renting equipment from a janitor's closet. Not that there's anything wrong with renting from a janitor's closet.

Anyway, I've wandered from my topic of snow shoes. First off, MSR makes top notch outdoor gear. The EVO is listed as a back country snow shoe, but is excellent all around choice for beginners. Unlike entry level snow shoes with flimsy plastic, the EVO's uni-deck solid plastic mold forms the entire platform of the shoe. In addition to the hardened steel crampons, it has two rows of steel teeth to assist with traction on ice. There are also a couple other features that you also won't find on entry level snow shoes: 1) a six inch clip-on 'flotation' extension for deep snow walking and 2) a heel elevator ('Televator') can be locked into place to help in steep ascents. This latter feature is not necessary in Nebraska, but would make a big difference if you're planning a hike in mountain country.

Now, here's the best part: the OVC rents these $200 shoes for $7 a day. You don't need to be a student to rent them. You can't beat that.

So within 15 minutes, the shoes were rented and I was on the way to joining friends hiking the five mile mountain bike loop at Jewell Park in Bellevue.

If you haven't used snow shoes, you're missing out on some good fun. The MSR EVOs were easy to put on and made walking in the 12-24 inches of drifts very simple. Of the six of us, three were novices at snow shoeing. None had any issues with hiking with their snow shoes.

Snow shoeing not only offers a fantastic fat-burning workout, but gives you freedom to get out and enjoy the winter with a walk in the solitude of the woods. With Shim and Limpach in my group, that wasn't the case. But you get what I mean.

So there you have it. You don't need to be on that treadmill. Indeed, get out there and enjoy the snow.

From old town Bellevue's Mission Aven and Main Street, here are the directions to Jewell Park.


  1. snow shoes are sweet i'm buying a pair for next year... msr evo's are pretty decent shoes...

  2. Damn dude, what are you trying to say?

  3. i guess i just like snow shim...
    that's it...

  4. RD: Next year? Buy a pair for this year. Winter has just begun!

    And I could be wrong, but I thought Shim's response was directed toward me:

    ... to enjoy the winter with a walk in the solitude of the woods. With Shim and Limpach in my group, that wasn't the case.

    So allow me: What the hell is Shim talking about?

  5. brady,
    I rented them this year to see how they were ... i like them so next year I will be getting a pair of my own...
    on second point they just took off didn't they :D

  6. Limpach got going a few times. In truth, Shim was actually reserved, even quiet.

    Still, his presence alone is disturbing enough to the tranquility of nature.

  7. I've been considering a pair for a couple weeks now. After today's run on the Wabash Trail I'm convinced. When I get my hands on a good pair, I think I'll finally get back into Fontanelle Forest for some workouts.

  8. Zolodoco: if you're a runner, you may consider ordering a pair of Redfeather Race snow shoes from Sierra Trading Post.

    I ordered a pair Sunday night. They arrived in the mail today. That was quick!

    Lighter and with a smaller footprint than traditional snow shoes, race snow shoes offer good cross training for runners in the winter.

    I'll likely write a review of them soon.

  9. I could go for those or the Northern Lites Quicksilver 25 which are about the same price though maybe not as durable. I'm guessing the Redfeather's teardrop style might kick up less snow, but I wonder if it also reduces flotation on unbroken trails when compared to a rounded frame.