It’s taken some searching, but I think I’ve finally found the solution to breaking a snowshoe trail in the bottomless powder of the Northwest Territories.
After one winter in the Yukon, I discovered I needed something distinctly different – and much, much larger – to handle the snow conditions in the Western Arctic and two degrees into the Arctic Circle. At least, if I wanted to do more than just follow snowmobile trails.
So, I turned to GV Snowshoes for assistance, and they quickly pointed to their Wide Trail model. That was a serendipitous moment!
Some of the links in this article may contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, part of the proceeds go to Snowshoe Mag. Additionally, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our disclosure for more details.
The Key to Deep Snow
I haven’t been able to use the Wide Trail snowshoes by GV as much as I would like due to some health issues, but when I’ve used them, they’ve been a godsend. The best example of just what a difference they make is when my wife and I took a friend out snowshoeing for the first time.
We tackled a territorial park and campground that of course is closed for the season. The laneway leading into the park had been broken to a welcome degree and provided some easy walking. On the way back, though, we cut through an interpretive walking trail that looked as if it hadn’t seen a human foot since when the snow first started falling.
Let me tell you, that stuff was deep and powdery due to the lack of humidity here on the fringes of the polar desert. It’s the kind of snow that you can roll – or flounder – around in for minutes or hours without ever getting wet.
So, as the proud possessor of the Wide Trail snowshoes, it fell upon me to break the trail for the outing. That’s not to say, though, that we didn’t try to switch it up a little. I didn’t want to ruin my friend’s first time on snowshoes by introducing her to trail-breaking in those conditions, but my wife gave it a try and promptly threatened to sink out of sight.
There simply was no comparison between what she was wearing and the floatation of the Wide Trails. I could wade through snow that left them floundering, and even the trail I left wasn’t quite enough to keep either of them totally afloat. That was about a mile back to the car, and I broke the trail 95 percent of the way. That was a bit tiring, but I was thankful I wasn’t in their ‘shoes – literally.
As my wife told our friend Mary, it was a classic example of what different styles of snowshoes can achieve.
The GV Wide Trails are 12 x 33 and made of lightweight aluminum. They also include decking that resists temperatures down to -45 C / -49 F – perfect for these conditions. In fact, I’ve had success with the Wide Trails on other outings, and they’ve allowed me to expand my travels nicely to the limits of my stubbornly ailing foot.
Actually, the only complaint I have about them is a relatively minor one about the binding. The binding is a Comfort Fit binding that has multiple attachment points and a tapered tip for foot placement. It also includes the Rambus Buckle for adjustment.
While the harness gets a big thumb’s up from me, especially the ratcheting buckles, I did manage to break one of the vertical Achilles support straps on the heel on the very first outing with them. That was at a temperature of only -15C / 5 F, so conditions weren’t extreme. I’m hoping that was simply a one-time flaw in the material. I haven’t used the remaining strap since, but I haven’t particularly missed it so far.
The GV Wide Trails also include crampons along the heel and several underneath the toe. They are also powder-coated to prevent any snow built up you’ll have reliable traction in several conditions.
Overall, if you really want to try going where no one has ever gone before – at least in the winter – strap on a pair of the GV Wide Trails and go further in those deep snow conditions.
Have you used the GV Wide Trail? What was your experience? Please share your insights in the comments below.
This article was first published on March 2, 2014, and was most recently updated on December 7, 2021. The GV Wide Trail model was provided by GV in 2014. Since then, many of the components have remained the same, including the decking, binding, and crampons. This review contains the author’s own experience of the product.