Snowshoeing is the sport of winter walking in deep snow with footwear called "snowshoes". Snowshoes work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person's foot does not sink completely into the snow, a quality called "flotation".
Snowshoes today are divided into three types:
- aerobic/running (small and light; not intended for backcountry use);
- recreational (a bit larger; meant for use in gentle-to moderate walks of 3–5 miles (4.8–8.0 km));
- mountaineering (the largest, meant for serious hill-climbing, long-distance trips and off-trail use).
Sizes are often given in inches, even though snowshoes are nowhere near perfectly rectangular. Mountaineering shoes can be at least 30 inches (76 cm) long by 10 inches (25 cm) wide; a lighter pair of racing shoes can be slightly narrower and 25 inches (64 cm) or shorter.
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