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Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive
Get up close and personal with all those snowshoe parts.
Bindings attach your boots to the snowshoe and maintain the alignment of your feet for efficient tracking. If your heels aren't centered, or the bindings don't hold your foot snugly in place, either your snowshoes won't track in a straight path or you could be constantly tightening and readjusting the fit. Bindings are critical to making a snowshoe work well with your boots in the conditions you experience most often.
All bindings used to consist of various straps that wrapped over and behind your boot to keep everything in place. Now, they run the gamut from a few simple rubber straps to complex plastic cuffs and ratcheting devices that crossed over from snowboard binding designs. The best way to tell if a binding works for your needs is to first rent for a trial weekend the shoe you're thinking of buying. Put it through its paces up and down hills, on packed trails, in deep powder, on icy slopes, wearing a heavy pack if you plan on going out overnight. Then you'll know for sure what works and what doesn't. If that isn't possible, here are the most critical questions to ask yourself about bindings when investing in a new pair of snowshoes: