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   Winter Camping and Activities
      Hauling gear with skis     

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ArrowheadPaddler
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01/10/2014 07:35PM
How many of you haul your winter camping gear using skis? I am a competent cross country skier, but I always use snowshoes when winter camping. With a heavy load, I would think getting any sort of kick would be difficult, unless you had some sort of climbing skin. In addition, any steep, brushy, or deep snow areas seem like a nightmare. Yet, I know many people use skis, so it must work pretty well overall, at least on some routes. What are your experiences? How do you deal with the potential difficulties?
 
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DanCooke
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01/11/2014 08:28AM
I prefer skis. I have taken two different route 5 day trips on snows in varied conditions and prefer skis. Usually on the lakes you can make much better time without grinding yourself into the ground.

On the portages and bushwacks the skis come off and you walk/ wade hills and other challenges; especially if towing a sled. If you are cold camping and carrying your pack with you, what you can skii on the portages goes up.

This year I found out what a difference wide / long no wax back country skis make. They float you much higher in the snow often able to keep you out of slush the narrow skis would sink into. I used to use narrow and waxable skis, they served me well for 30 plus years, but these backcountry skis made such a huge difference this past after Christmas trip that I am thinking of not bringing the narrower skis unless conditions are very thin or compressed snow cover is the norm.

I was pulling a sled with my tent, stove, Clothes and 20 pounds of camera gear. The skis did not need skins on lakes and minor inclines. The steep hills they would come off. Brushy stuff you just have to bull your way through.
PortageKeeper
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01/11/2014 10:49AM
I can tell you what not to do. On my first trip we used regular xc skis and carried packs on our backs. Never again! Hard on the back and hips!
Forget abut kick and glide. The skis are just a faster version of snow shoes. Still well worth it in most conditions though.
Karhu makes some back country skis. I always wanted a pair but $$$!
thistlekicker
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01/11/2014 11:36AM
I've only done a couple winter trips but had good luck on "backcountry touring" skis while pulling a pulk. That said, we mostly had firm snow conditions with some crust, which made for good skiing. And we did bring aluminum-framed snowshoes as a Plan B.

I saw LLBean's "Boreal Sliding Snowshoes" on major markdown a few days ago. Interesting concept but not sure it would be a major improvement over the skis I have. But if starting from scratch, they might be worth a look. Would be interested to hear other folks' experience with these things...

Mnpat
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01/11/2014 04:52PM
Keeping the weight down is the key when using skis. Anything over 50 lbs in the sled is tough going on all but hardpacked trails. In really deep snow conditions I will bring snowshoes with but very rarely use them. Skiing is faster and usually easier than the shoes. A decent pair of waxless skis work good in most conditions. When slush is a possibilty i like to use the waxable skis because i can scrape off ice much easier. Also if possible during slushy conditions I bring with 2 sets of skis so i can swap after one pair gets iced up.


if your hauling a ton of stuff short distances use the shoes
if your going long distances use the skis


rex grip tape applied to classic waxable skis is a huge improvent in kick and last a long time.
tonyyarusso
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01/11/2014 10:04PM
Which skis do you have Dan, and how wide are they?
rightsideup
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01/12/2014 07:29PM
Waxless Mashsus Eon for hard pack conditions, 87mm, Madshus Epoch for in between snowpack, 99mm, Madshus Annum for deep snow, 109mm. Just like canoes, you need different ones for different conditions. Skis, shuffle your feet, slowshoes, climbing stairs.
NotLight
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01/12/2014 08:46PM
quote rightsideup: "Waxless Mashsus Eon for hard pack conditions, 87mm, Madshus Epoch for in between snowpack, 99mm, Madshus Annum for deep snow, 109mm. Just like canoes, you need different ones for different conditions. Skis, shuffle your feet, slowshoes, climbing stairs."
Rightsideup: what kind of bindings with those skis? It seems like on the really fat skis like the Annum or S-bound 112's the 75mm binding is kind of the norm. I've been looking at getting wider skis, but I don't feel like I want to give up the freedom of movement from the NNN binding. And, it seems like most of the available 75mm boots are pretty hefty as well, where the NNN BC seems to have a wider range of options towards the lighter end of boots.
rightsideup
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01/13/2014 08:21AM
I use Voile or Rottefella 3-pin mountaineering binding and leather Asolo or Alico leather ski boots (Ebay). I chose that set up for ease of dealing with ice in my bindings and comfort and warmth of the boots. It is a beefier set up than NNN or SNS and those kind of bindings are a pain to deal with if they ice up. It would be tough to control that big of ski with lighter bindings. Once the leather 3-pin boots are broken in they will be as comfortable as a favorite pair of hiking boots. I have all three models of the Madshus and a pair of Fischer s-bound 112's, none of my skis fit in groomed tracks.
My son races High School Nordic and chuckles at my set up. He said he can beat me in a race, my reply, "not if we're racing from Ely to Atikokan."


Eon, 1 1/2 camber - crossing lake to remote cabin
Epoch/Annum, single camber - Wilderness trips, depends on snow conditions
Fischer S-Bound, 1 1/2 "rocker" camber - making turns at the golf courses

Doughboy12
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01/13/2014 09:02AM
I have a really old pair of those Jr. water skis...now if I could just figure out how to attach some boot bindings I might have something...thoughts?
NotLight
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01/13/2014 09:02AM
quote rightsideup: "
Eon, 1 1/2 camber - crossing lake to remote cabin
Epoch/Annum, single camber - Wilderness trips, depends on snow conditions
Fischer S-Bound, 1 1/2 "rocker" camber - making turns at the golf courses"


Thanks rightsideup: I was leaning towards getting the s-bound 112's and/or maybe the s-bound 98's with NNN BC bindings for my "phat ski"; because I wanted "some glide" having read that the Fischers are stiffer than the Madshus, and because I wanted a somewhat lighter boot which seem to be more readily available with NNN BC. But it seems like you might recommend the Annum with the 75mm binding. Can you elaborate a bit more on the ski part - Annum vs the S-bound 112's... is the S-bound 112 or 98 not a good choice? Thanks.

rightsideup
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01/13/2014 10:00AM
If you go with the Annum or the Fischer 112's I would suggest the 3-pin binding. They could be managed with NNN BC if you are going in a straight line, making telemark turns would be tough.

Annums vs. 112's

Annums have less camber, more grip, great float, some glide, slower, $200.
112's, 1 1/2 camber, slightly less grip, great float, a little more glide, $300-350
The 112's would win in a race.


If I were a salesperson and from what you have told me and you just wanted one pair, I would lean you towards the 98's. Not too wide for NNN BC, good glide without pulling sled, some glide while pulling. 98mm is still a wide ski and will float better than aluminum snowshoes.

I use a waist harness with rope and bungee. The bungee softens the dead weight of the load and I believe I get a better kick because of that. If you are the one breaking trail in fresh snow there won't be a whole lot of glide anyway.

Annums - Old town discovery 174
112's - MN II
Epochs - Old town Penobscot
98's - Mad River Explorer
NotLight
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01/13/2014 12:26PM
Thanks. Will try the 98's as soon as they go on sale somewhere.
DanCooke
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01/13/2014 09:07PM
quote tonyyarusso: "Which skis do you have Dan, and how wide are they?"
Madshus Annum 195 long 109mm tip width
tonyyarusso
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01/13/2014 10:40PM
quote rightsideup: "Annums have less camber, more grip, great float, some glide, slower, $200."
I'm only seeing that price for one size of 2012 closeout. Looks like otherwise they go for $330. Eep.
ArrowheadPaddler
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01/14/2014 07:40AM
Great discussion and ideas everyone. Lots of good advice.
cambot620
 
01/14/2014 11:55AM
It really depends on conditions and terrain. For lakes, streams, and easy portages, skis.

Last year a friends binding broke so he snowshoed the way home pulling his sled. He said he was working twice as hard.

If you're pulling the sled on a trail with a lot of turns, hills, rocks, and roots, use the snowshoes. If it's deep powder, the snowshoes will give your sled a better track so it wont feel like your pulling a boulder.
ArrowheadPaddler
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01/14/2014 05:01PM
quote cambot620: " If it's deep powder, the snowshoes will give your sled a better track so it wont feel like your pulling a boulder."

I was thinking about this, snowshoes really pack a nice float for the toboggan. I will still definitely give skis a try this year though.
DanCooke
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01/14/2014 05:16PM
Better to have two light toboggans than 1 heavy if the snow is deep.
 
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