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I’ve got 2 pairs of Atlas snowshoes. One is the advanced 10 series, the other the beginner 8 series. Depending on snow conditions and the likelihood of needing them, I switch between them. My advanced ones are much longer and heaver so I try not to carry them during spring when the snow is more compact. My 8 series is also my wife’s pair if she goes snowshoeing with me. Although snowshoes do come in women’s models, it’s not necessary to have these, especially when they (the snowshoes) are ridiculously small.
Depending on the snow where you live, you’ll need to make the right choice in length. The MSR snowshoes allow you to add “tails” to increase the length. These snowshoes are fine, they just seem a bit narrow when I use them (sinking in more), and the plastic is noisy. I’ve been in white-outs before and know who is coming near based on the noise from MSR snowshoes. When in doubt, buy the bigger ones.
Advanced snowshoes are much heaver duty for rougher use. Typically the crampons on the bottom are very aggressive, as they should be to handle all types of climbing over all types of snow conditions. The bindings on advanced models are usually designed to hold tighter as well. If you plan on doing winter mountaineering, buy the top models. Most people snowshoe easy hiking trails covered in snow; if so, get the basic model…especially if you only plan on a few trips each winter.
This snowshoeing thing is really catching on!