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Discussion: Shoes for orienteering in the snow

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Jan 6, 2017 6:35 AM # 
Good evening. My son and his teammates are going to be participating in the National Orienteering championships in Georgia next month. We're from California so they're not used to running in the snow or ice. Anyone have any recommendations for good pairs of shoes?

Thank you.
Jan 6, 2017 8:27 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
IceBug or any metal studded O shoe half a size larger than usual so you can fit good socks: Either wool, neoprene or SealSkinz depending upon conditions.

The coldest possible is probably a foot plus of really wet snow on top of breakable ice on wet marsh ponds. (I have done Tiomila in conditions close to this, except for the snow depth.)
Jan 6, 2017 12:14 PM # 
Not much chance of snow at an event in Georgia. If there is snow in the woods there will be snow on the roads and nobody moves in Georgia when there is snow on the roads.
But I think you might mean next month in Maryland for the Navy JROTC Nationals where there is only a slightly better chance of snow and a very good chance of cold wet ground.
My advice would not be so much what to wear during the event.- that park is pretty flat but that he and his team mates have good dry socks and shoes to wear after the race. A change of footwear is essential to have and make sure the race soccks get rinsed out and dried out before being worn again.
Jan 6, 2017 1:08 PM # 
Navy JROTC Champs are not in Maryland in 2017...
Jan 6, 2017 3:23 PM # 
Like Terje says, Icebug and I'd suggest Spirit OLX or Zeal OLX. The OLX means they have steel studs so they are good on ice and wet rocks.

Inov-8 used to make a line called Oroc and they had steel studs too. They still appear on e-bay from time to time. In fact, I buy all my O shoes on ebay though you can buy icebug on-line from the manufacturer. Go to the clearance tab for the best deals.

Even if there is no snow/ice, the metal studs work really well on wet rocks which can happen anytime of year, so, I wear them for all orienteering (and even trail running), except for campus sprints.

I wear thin nylon socks and I don't have a problem with cold feet,,at least not until I stop. Though, I seldom run for more than an hour in the snow. Also, the nylon won't absorb water and get heavy.
Jan 6, 2017 3:27 PM # 
They are getting a little snow this weekend in Georgia but it won't last long, Temperatures should be staying well above freezing by mid-week. Even the below freezing temperatures the next couple days will only be a few hours each night.

Icebugs or any other O shoe with metal studs are a good choice for Georgia terrain, snow or not. I wouldn't worry much about it being cold enough to need extra heavy socks - your feet will be burning up and drenched in sweat if you try to wear Sealskinz when the temperature is near or above freezing.

Gord is right that even a tiny amount of snow pretty much shuts down travel in Georgia - last time I was there in snow, there were hundreds of cars simply abandoned right in the travel lanes of I-285!
Jan 6, 2017 3:37 PM # 
Thank you everyone!
Jan 6, 2017 4:40 PM # 
Inov-8 makes the Arctic Talon and the Arctic Claw, both designed for winter running. The Arctic Talon has a low heel-toe drop, meaning you're less likely to twist an ankle, and is a lighter shoe more applicable to orienteering. Both shoes have some degree of water resistance on the uppers, so will keep your feet a little drier, and both shoes have metal studs sticking out from the rubber lugs.
Jan 6, 2017 5:52 PM # 
Pink Socks:
For most orienteering you'll do at the high school level, trail running shoes are fine, and there are a gazillion trail running shoes out there.

But like others have said, most serious orienteers wear shoes with metal studs in them, winter or not. They work great on ice and snow, but also give really nice grip on pretty much anything outside.

As far as shoes go with metal studs, your best bet right now is to go with either the Inov-8 Arctic Talon 275's or Arctic Claw 300's. You can currently get any size for in either model for half off at at (which is an Amazon company, so it's reputable). $65 for the 275's, $70 for the 300's. I should mention that 6pm's prices fluctuate daily in response to sales, so if other orienteers buy them from this tip, the price could be significantly higher tomorrow. But as of right now, this is the best deal for studded orienteering shoes in the US. (Attention fans of the Inov-8 X-Talon models, you can get those as low as $50 today here)

Inov-8 used to make the Oroc 280, which was a studded shoe marketed for orienteering (as opposed to winter running). That model was discontinued for a year, but it looks like it's back, just not yet in the US.

Icebug makes a variety of studded shoes, but the best ones for orienteering are ones with OLX soles (rubber cleats with metal studs). It looks like Icebug is discontinuing these for North America, though, so in order to find them for a good price, you'll need to do some sleuthing.
Jan 6, 2017 6:57 PM # 
2017 NJROTC Nationals - Red Top Mountain State Park near Cartersville, GA.
Jan 6, 2017 7:47 PM # 
Okay, so not Georgia, the country.
Jan 6, 2017 8:20 PM # 
My bad. I'm sorry but the last I had heard the Navy Nationals were going to be held at Patuxent River Park. So sorry.
But the advice holds it is as important to have dry shoes and socks for an immediate change after the race.
Jan 7, 2017 6:33 AM # 
The NJROTC Nationals need to merge with the US Interscholastics. The current situation with redundant competitions spreads the JROTC orienteering community too thin...
Jan 7, 2017 10:56 AM # 
No GuyO. You do not want to rock that boat.
The Navy Nationals are a unique annual opportunity for students to experience a national competition among their peers.
Rather that spreading the JROTC community it creates opportunity, a goal and participation in local events for training and qualification.
It is a big deal for the schools qualifying for the Navy Nationals and then in most cases undertaking the challenge of raising the money to make the trips. It is skill develoopment on many fronts and for these NJROTC schools the goal of making it to the US Interscholastics just does not have the same draw and could not have the same draw.
NJROTC schools also have an annual opportunity to qualify for and travel to an annual competition in drill so to have orienteering on the same footing in that organization is a big deal. I hope that whenever a club is asked to help the NJROTC with the technical aspects of hosting the Navy Nationals that they go all out to make the event a big deal and a memorable experience for the students - SI timing of course, results displayed on monitors, etc.
O vendors should consider showing up at the Navy Nationals. I'm sure they could sell a lot of gear. (Or at least making the approach to schools that will be attending -O shoes and pants, 'clue sheet' holders, anythng that could help the students improve their times, the kids will want it .)
Jan 7, 2017 5:04 PM # 
The NJROTC National Champs will have about 400 runners. Our local Area 12 meets frequently have 300+ runners. FL and AL JROTC meets have similar numbers. I have heard of JROTC meets in TX with over a 1,000 runners. I am at a complete loss as to why Orienteering USA is making no effort to tap into that pool of athletes.

As for the original question. There is snow on the ground right now at Red Top. It will be highly unlikely to have snow at the meet. Red Top is fairly hilly with a good amount of leaf cover. I would suggest trail running shoes with an aggressive tread. Pink Socks response - is pretty much spot on.
Jan 7, 2017 6:18 PM # 
matzah ball:
Personally have found Orocs, both orienteering models and otherwise, uncomfortable and not very good running shoes, likely my feet and my gait. If Adidas made a marathon shoe like Boston Boost or Adios Boost w/ a slightly lower drop, rock plate and spikes, that would prob. be my ideal orienteering shoe. Anybody know of something like this?
Jan 7, 2017 7:48 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@Pink Socks: Thanks for the tip about 6pm, I just ordered two new Inov8 pairs. :-)
Jan 7, 2017 8:40 PM # 
When Navy Nationals were at Patuxent River Park (Maryland) a few years ago, I was the course-setter for one day, and we had the amazing Valerie & Amy working the results. I so enjoyed seeing the hundreds of kids all out enjoying our sport.

I agree, OUSA should be encouraging this event and the athletes. QOC has seen its starts increase with several local NJROTC clubs coming to our events, and while we've been welcoming, maybe we could do more. (The NJROTC meet, for example, was almost completely under the radar for most of the club; I don't remember but I don't think it was even mentioned on our schedule.) BTW, At least two of the clubs have handled meet responsibilities for a club event.

I was impressed by the distances some of these kids traveled. It was truly a national championships.
Jan 7, 2017 9:38 PM # 
That boat needs rocking.

But not on a thread about shoes...
Jan 8, 2017 12:02 AM # 
+1 for all of Peggy's comments! :-)
Jan 8, 2017 2:47 AM # 
So I don't think there is even a NJROTC area championship in our area. How does a local O club go about volunteering / offering their services to host an area championship? Yes this should be and is now a separate thread on Navy NJROTC Area Championships
Jan 9, 2017 1:22 AM # 
Speaking of shoes for orienteering, incl. snow on the ground, Icebug OLX versions are the best, by far. Do not buy anything else, unless you suffer from obesity, have very wide feet, etc. Inov-8 brand is particularly poor, and lacks durability.

Major retailers like Amazon no longer bring Icebug OLX to the US, probably due to a small size of the market. It is still possible to get model 4 (which I recommend) for "some" sizes only, for about $72 now -- it used to be less. But time is running out: soon, after collapse of dollar, the only available shoes for running will be those at K-mart
Jan 9, 2017 6:22 AM # 
matzah ball:
yurets, something to think about. thanks. Also, you can actually make your own dream shoe. For instance, I just remembered there is a rock plate insole on the market, you slip it under the regular insole so the shoe has to be low to the ground to start with. So take your favorite shoe, add the insole and your own ice screws, and voila.
Jan 9, 2017 10:54 AM # 
While I've had certain Inov-8 models that didn't hold up well in the woods, I've always gotten very good mileage out of the O-Rocs (now discontinued) and X-Talons. Typically well over 1000 miles per pair.
Jan 9, 2017 5:39 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Oroc 280's appear to be back on Inov-8's website, in a new colorway, so it looks like they aren't discontinued anymore. Whether they distribute to the US is a different story.

Typically well over 1000 miles per pair.

An apt time to use the phrase, "your mileage may vary". I certainly can't get my X-Talons to last that long! A lot of different factors go into this, obviously. It seems like every time I go running in the scablands, the sharp basalt rocks will slice off parts of (or entire) lugs.
Jan 9, 2017 6:04 PM # 
My mileage comment actually pertains to the O-Rocs (though my X-talons have fared well, but when the terrain is rough, I don't go with X-talons). Durable outer, full rand. Sure, the decorative bits don't last long, but the parts of the shoe that matter have stood the test of time, and rock, and ice...

Nice to hear the O-Rocs resurface, I was going to spring for the new arctic talon, but perhaps I'll hold off to see what happens. Still have two pairs of 340's in service.
Jan 9, 2017 6:58 PM # 
İcebug İs the best Beacuse it comes from sweden which country really snowly in winter and also it has strong spikes
Jan 9, 2017 7:20 PM # 
yurets seems to have a very strong opinion about Icebugs, and I disagree, but his comments about reasons you might choose something else are actually somewhat relevant. You should wear shoes that are comfortable. It doesn't matter if a shoe is the most durable or has the best grip or is the prettiest if it hurts your feet to wear them. So, try a bunch and figure out what works for you.

(In my case I've never found Icebugs that didn't bother my feet when I put them on, so there's no way I'd wear them, but they do seem like good shoes.)
Jan 9, 2017 8:12 PM # 
What works as far as shoes always seems to vary greatly between individuals. And it should, because we have different foot shapes and running styles. The O-roc 280s are the only o-shoes I've ever had that haven't torn up and destroyed my feet. I had to order them from Austria the last time and will continue to do that if necessary, but hopefully they return to US distributors. I'll take slightly less durable shoes over ruined feet any day. Previously I used VJs which, except for one pair, usually had very short lifespans (the soles would fall off) in addition to the foot destruction issue. I have yet to try on a pair of Icebugs that felt right on my feet (they feel thin/flimsy and non-supportive to me) though they look nice enough and I love the high arch insoles from the same company.
Jan 10, 2017 5:06 AM # 
i wear both Icebug and Inov-8 alternating between Icebug Spirit 5, Inov-8 Oroc 340 and Icebug Zeal OLX. And, when there is no snow/ice, inov-8 roclite 315's are in the mix too. They all seem fine to me but, on ice, and I run quite a bit on ice, the icebug olx's seem to have the best grip.

I should add, the inov-e roclite 315's are slippery on wet rocks so they stay at home when it's wet but I do like them too when it's dry.
Jan 11, 2017 3:38 AM # 
Ask these guys or see if you can identify their shoes (I think Daniel's are Inov8, Judith's are presumably Salomon since they sponsor her).
Jan 11, 2017 4:06 AM # 
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned that the ideal choice for orienteering in the snow is something like these.
Jan 11, 2017 9:57 PM # 
I find snowshoes easier than skis in terrain (at least here in Colorado), though various telemark skiers tell me that they do fine.
Jan 12, 2017 1:25 AM # 
(The people who I expected might say that are people who have a preferred sort of course when it's snowy out. And snowshoes would be much slower on that sort of course.)
Jan 12, 2017 8:37 AM # 
Anyone tried the Salomon Snowcross CS?
Jan 12, 2017 12:44 PM # 
Well, it's a long way for me to track set terrain, so I don't get to track set ski orienteering much, but there's a tonne of terrain here for snow shoeing, much of it ISOM mapped, and the rest with good topos. On track set terrain, skis are clearly faster. Telemark skiing may be faster many places I go, for those who've learned it. I suspect that many orienteers in North America are in the same situation... not so much formal ski orienteering close, but plenty of opportunity to get out in the snow on a map. Snow shoes can be good for that, at least if they have proper grip.
Jan 13, 2017 6:59 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Snowshoes are only for those unfortunate people who never learned proper backcountry xc skiing! I have skied at least 3-4000 km outside the set tracks, the majority of that has been in the boundary layer just over and just under the tree limit, so in terrain with lots of relatively low & dense forest.

BTW, almost all of that skiing (including the 8-day 300 km trek from Telemark to Lillehammer before the '94 olympics) have been on narrow competition xc skies, but when the powder gets too deep a wider ski is probably a better choice.
Mar 7, 2017 12:38 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Is Icebug still the "official shoe" of O-USA?

I ask because they aren't selling their ideal-for-orienteering OLX metal studded shoes (Spirit OLX or Zeal OLX) in the USA anymore.
Mar 7, 2017 12:47 AM # 
I don't think Icebug is an OUSA sponsor anymore.
Mar 8, 2017 4:25 AM # 
Anyone tried the Salomon Snowcross CS?

Sorry, I only just noticed this and it's much too late for Georgia! I've been running in Salomon Snowcross in winter for years. I use them for winter orienteering races unless it's a snowshoe orienteering race. I also use them for trail running in snow or slush. The spikes are great for traction although when the trail turns into glare ice, I add Kahtoola Microspikes, which work with any shoe. The built-in gaiter keeps out the snow chunks that sometimes sneak into shoes and cause blisters. They are warm. On my first run with them years ago, my feet got too hot but it hasn't been an ongoing problem. I'm not sure if I got used to them or if it was just a warm day. I bought a new pair this winter and handed my old pair down to a friend who has been happy with them.

This discussion thread is closed.