Kathy W., Trail Walking Ambassador
Despite the fact that here in Cañon City, Colorado, it has been snowing (very lightly) for the last two days now, like most snowshoers, I know it’s almost time to pack away my long johns and ski pants, hang up my beloved snowshoes and prepare for the coming summer heat.
So that I can snatch my snowshoes up and charge into the whiteness as soon as Mother Nature re-blankets the great outdoors again next fall, I know I need to take the time now and do some snowshoe preventative maintenance care. You all should, too! Here is a simple 3 STEP way to ensure your aluminum and composite snowshoes will be ready to go when you are.
STEP 1 – Time to “Rub-a-dub-dub”!
The first step before reluctantly hanging my snowshoes up for the season is to clean them. Thoroughly! So as to not sustain damage to the aluminum frames or the composite decking, it is very important to remove all dried-on dirt, salt, tree and plant sap, as well as any chemicals that could corrupt, corrode or otherwise damage the snowshoe components.
Using a mild dishwashing liquid in a bucket of warm water, I use a wrung- out rag and wipe off the entire snowshoe, including the frame, the decking, the bindings and the cleats. To rinse off the soap residue, I use a damp cloth, rinsing it out in clear water often. Then I finish up the clean-up by drying the snowshoe with a clean dry rag and propping or hanging them up to continue to air-dry.
STEP 2 – Fix the “Boo-Boos”
I’ve been lucky (and taken great care to avoid trouble) so, to date, I have not had to make any repairs to my snowshoes. However, some problems you might encounter with an aluminum frame snowshoe, is with the rivets attaching the decking to the frame. If you are handy and like to “do-it-yourself”, then you might try using wire to reattach any missing links. For the rest of us, try contacting the manufacturer to see if they do repairs and what the cost would be. If the snowshoes are still under warranty, well then, take advantage of the warranty, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
The snowshoe bindings and the pivot system (where the binding swivels on the snowshoe) are two other areas which might need repair work. Unless you are particularly creative, you should probably consider checking with the manufacturer as these sorts of repairs are complicated and not easily accomplished.
Take the time now to really inspect for repair problems and get them fixed during the off-season so you don’t have any down-time once the flakes start to fly.
STEP 3 – Settling Down for the Long Summer’s “Nap”
To store your snowshoes, find a safe place to keep your snowshoes during the summer months. I have a gear closet in my basement. It stays dry and cool all year long there and is a good place for my snowshoes. I have them hanging up by the “heel” on a pegboard wall but as long as your snowshoes are not exposed to moisture, they will be safe almost anywhere. Any metal parts might possibly rust if stored in damp or wet conditions. Though some recommend wiping cooking oil over the snowshoe’s metal parts to protect them against corrosion, I’m loathe to do so and have not had any problems as of yet.
Lastly, as important as it is to keep your snowshoes out of damp or wet conditions, you need to keep them out of direct sunlight. Sunlight’s ultraviolet (UV) exposure can cause cracking of the decking of many aluminum-frame shoes which is often made from neoprene or Hypalon material.
Oh, there is one optional STEP to be completed at the end of a successful winter snowshoe season, after you’ve hung your shoes up for the summer, and that is to practice your “SNOW DANCE” so we will have an early NEXT season!