Footwear Wisdom for Snowmakers

  • Footwear Wisdom for Snowmakers is available in Portable Document Format as a Training Card (PDF, 215KB, 2pg.)

When Choosing Footwear

image showing proper snowmaker footwear
  • Choose the correct size boots to ensure a proper fit and select those that provide good ankle support without rubbing or constriction.
  • Wear a lighter boot when possible, such as rubber with polyurethane, to reduce the boot's weight and reduce fatigue.
  • Consider cold-weather footwear with adequate insulation for those "10 below zero" days and use gaiters (zip-up leggings) to cover the boot top to prevent snow melting into your boot. Wet feet can lead to frozen feet.

When it's Cold it Gets ICY

  • Wear layers of socks, but don't use cotton. A good combination is a synthetic liner with wool or synthetic socks to wick away moisture. Always have spare liners and socks ready.
  • Consider footwear with a sandpaper-like texture called gritted footwear. This texture increases traction and can be worn on ice, snow or clean surfaces.
  • Wear ice grippers, cleats and crampons on the bottom of your footwear to increase traction as much as possible. These are essentially studded sandals for your boots. They come in various shapes and sizes.

Safety Precautions for Crampons

The good

  • Choose the correct size and fit for your boots.
  • Fit crampons according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Train and practice wearing crampons to learn the "crampon gait".
  • Walk with legs spread farther apart than normal.
  • Flex your ankles so that all of the downward points "bite".
  • Place your feet firmly with each step; avoid stamping or dragging your feet.

The bad

  • Crampons are only good for walking on icy surfaces and snowmakers may not be walking on ice during the entire shift.
  • Footwear may need to be changed as the ground surface changes. With the demands of a snowmaker's job, the worker may not have the ability, time or desire to change.

And it could get ugly

  • Accidents and serious injuries could result if you use crampons without mastering the walking technique.
  • Practice in a controlled environment on flat terrain before you go out on the mountain with crampons.

Be prepared: Think safe, act safe, be safe.