5 Ways to Attach Snowshoes to Your Backpack

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How to Attach Snowshoes To Your Backpack

Photo © Lisa Maloney

Snowshoes are great for winter hiking, and they are the only sure-fire remedy against postholing on spring hikes across lingering snow deposits. But often times snowshoes turn into more of a hindrance than a help, especially when you hit a patch of clear ground or packed trail. This is when you'll want to take off your snowshoes and attach them to your backpack.

There's no single perfect way to attach snowshoes to a hiking pack. In fact, there are lots of passable ways that will at least free up your hands as carrying snowshoes by hand is not ideal. The following images show different ways of attaching snowshoes to a pack, depending on the pack's size and features. 

But first, here are 3 things to keep in mind no matter what sort of pack you have:

  1. Stacking snowshoes with the cleats together protects the pack from abrasion
  2. If snowshoes cannot be stacked with the cleats together, at least make sure the cleats are facing out and away from the pack
  3. If the pack doesn't have the right straps, a short bungee (or two) is the best way to attach snowshoes securely

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Side Compression Straps

Photo © Lisa Maloney

If the pack has side compression straps that are long enough to accommodate snowshoes, you can just lash one into place on each side with the cleats facing out. This image models a Deuter ACT Lite 45+10.

The pros are that it is secure and no extra gear is needed.

The cons are that it covers up the water bottle holders/pockets on the side of the backpack.

 

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Front Panel

Photo © Lisa Maloney

If the pack has a front panel -- and said panel isn't already occupied by a shovel or other gear -- you can use the panel to stow your snowshoes as you see in the photo.

Just open the panel, place your nested snowshoes inside tail-first, then buckle or cinch the panel back in place. In this image, the curved tops of the snowshoes ride can safely above the head. This image models a Kelty 3800 Tornado ST.

The pros of this option are that it is fast, easy and simple. It is also secure and no extra gear is needed.

However, the cons are that the snowshoe tops can poke your head, depending on your height and the pack size.

04
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Horizontal Straps

Photo © Lisa Maloney

If you are hiking with smaller pack, like the Geigerrig 500 depicted here, you can still attach snowshoes. The black, horizontal straps modeled in this image are compression straps, which can hold snowshoes.

The pros of compression straps are that they are very fast and convenient to implement. They are also quite secure and no extra gear is needed.

The cons are that their function is limited by its length. Compression straps are just a tad short and don't leave much room for stowing things in the pack if the snowshoes are attached.

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Attaching Snowshoes With a Bungee Cord

Photo © Lisa Maloney

If compression straps are not long enough for your pack, another option is to loop a bungee cord around the pack to secure the snowshoes.

Take the Geigerrig pack in this image here as an example. Because the pack has contoured ventilating mesh on the back panel, the bungee cord can sneak through 2 of those contours. That way, you will not feel the elastic against your back when wearing the pack. Also, note that the bungee goes through the "low point" of the snowshoe bindings. This is so the snowshoes can't slip down or up.

With larger packs, you can stretch one or two bungee cords from one attachment point, around (or better yet, through) the snowshoes, then to another attachment point. Good attachment points include daisy chains and any conveniently located compression straps. Just hook the end of each bungee around the strap itself if you need to.

Pros are that bungee cords are quick and easy to implement. Cons are that they are not ingrained features of a backpack so if forget them at home you are out of luck. It also restricts access to the backpack.

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Under the Top Lid

Photo © Lisa Maloney

If you have a pack with a decent-size top compartment, there may be room to stow a pair of snowshoes beneath it. Pack up whatever else goes in the pack, cinch the main compartment closed, lay the snowshoes in place (nested together), then strap the top compartment down over the snowshoes.

In this photo of a Lowe Alpine Storm 25 pack, one of the top compartment's straps is threaded through the openings in both snowshoes to keep them from sliding right out.

It's fast and easy to do, and no equipment is needed. But snowshoes can slide out if they are not securely fastened.