Thirty years ago, snowshoe guide authors William Osgood and Leslie Hurley pointed out that the "feet are the weak link in systems of keeping warm. Moreover, they take a good deal of physical stress during any active sport. It just makes good sense to give your feet the best treatment possible."
I would like to elaborate by discussing what a snowshoer should look for in boots, socks, gaiters and bindings.
Just what kind of footwear should we use when snowshoeing? I will start with hiking boots - water resistant or waterproof and breathable boots. Keep in mind that the objective of keeping your feet dry and warm while snowshoeing requires footwear that will keep snow out, especially when in deep snow that goes over the top of the boot.
In my opinion, an ideal boot option for snowshoeing is the solid leather or combined leather and man-made material treated against water and moisture since they provide good breathability, stability and warmth. The sole should be thick with shock absorption capability, but be somewhat flexible and fairly lightweight. The uppers need to be solid and insulated, with a waterproof tongue in the area where you tie the boot. Gore Tex and other water treatment coatings and fabrics in hiking boots help make them waterproof. I recommend also using a waterproofing silicone-type spray or dabber to treat the leather part of the boots, especially the seams.
Read the entirety of Jim Joque's advice on footwear for snowshoeing in the February 2013 print edition of Silent Sports. To order a copy, call 715/369-3331. To avoid missing any future issues, subscribe online here.