Manufacturers like Tubbs Snowshoes, established in 1906, seized on the shift to recreational winter sports, building skis and snowshoe designs. Later on, as they developed smaller snowshoes using traditional constructions like the revolutionary 1950s Green Mountain Bearpaw, they made winter walking easier for the growing population. It wasn't until the early 1970s that snowshoe design would radically change again. With the burgeoning back to nature movement, backcountry explorers looked to snowshoes to travel deeper into the mountains. These new designs featured new materials like aluminum frames and nylon decks, with smaller sizes and cleats underfoot for use in mountaineering and more rugged terrain. The eventual products, led by companies like Sherpa Snowshoes, introduced the world to the "Western" style snowshoe.
Eventually the Western style snowshoe construction became the norm, replacing traditional wood and rawhide constructions with smaller designs that offered equal flotation and better traction through solid decks and aluminum cleats. Those designs would be further refined in decades to come with introductions like Atlas Snow-Shoe Company's revolutionary binding suspension system and dual toe and heel traction in 1990. With great advances in lighter, durable materials and more compact, athletic shapes, snowshoes spurred a renewed interest the sport, expanding it to new markets with backpackers, hikers, runners, families and more.
Today, snowshoeing has never been more popular, with roughly 5.5 million participants in the United States alone. Easy, accessible snowshoes have opened up a whole new world of winter, from snowshoe trail centers at ski areas and local parks to quiet hiking trails and distant snow-capped peaks with incredible vistas. Snowshoeing has come a long way from its early designs and uses, but there's never been a better time to explore winter.