SNOW SPORTS

Best Snowshoes: A Guide to Choosing Your Snowshoes

Snowshoes Review
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

We’re here to give you a guide on how to choose snowshoes! Trekkers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts can never resist staying indoors for too long. Especially during that cold winter season, most people would love to get out there and have fun in the snow. Snowshoeing, also known as “traveling on snow”, is one of the most popular sports in America. People enjoy walking in the snow, hiking, trekking and skiing.

Every year during the winter season, people come out to enjoy the snow and snowshoeing is one of the ways people use to travel around the snowy weather. Snowshoeing during the most beautiful season of the year while exploring mother nature will probably be one of your best experiences of life.

Hikers may widen their options and consider traveling along snow-covered trails, backpackers can travel to backcountry huts and snowboarders can come out and ski. Snowshoeing is more than just traveling as it offers a safer and secured way of traveling under the snowy condition, that is, you must have efficient gears with you.

Modern snowshoe

Back in the year of the 70s, snowshoes were mostly made of wooden materials and rawhide. Snowshoes have certainly evolved from leather and wooden materials to the advanced gears that allows you to enjoy the ease and comfort of walking in the snow.

In the modern era today, you can expect high quality snowshoes that are built for efficient snowshoeing, with its sturdy designs which offers great durability, versatility and comfort. These snowshoes are popular for recreational use.

If you’re up for an adventurous treat, you will have to have your gears ready. Start looking for a good pair of snowshoes!

Why Should We Use Snowshoes?

Whether you’ve decided to take a walk in the park with a nice pair of snowshoes on, go for hike with a friend, or to go trailing in the snow-covered terrain under extreme winter conditions, it’s best to put on a good pair of snowshoes for safety.

Using snowshoes

Snowshoes help protect your feet from the heavy snow-covered ground. It helps you travel smoothly without having to struggle when you’ve come across steep and snow covered trails, especially during extreme weather conditions.

Snowshoes are able to support you with its ‘flotation’, allowing your feet to be secured while you climb, hike or trek with its efficient features. The right snowshoes that are suitable for your feet will make it easy for you to go uphill or downhill on the snow-covered terrains.

How Do We Choose The Best Snowshoes?

Let us help you choose the best snowshoes for your winter activities! With a wide selection of snowshoes in the market, all built with different features.There are a few factors that we’d have to consider when it comes to choosing the right snowshoes for ourselves.

To evaluate, those factors that we’ll need to consider would include the traction, comfort and ease of releasing, floatation, and whether it is able to secure the foot to allow ease of walking and climbing with great efficiency.

Snowshoe running

There are three types of snow shoes that are specifically designed for different activities such as running, hiking on steep terrains, and mountaineering.

Running

Snowshoes that are designed for running should be suitable for beginners as they are flat. The flat snowshoes are not suitable for hiking on steep trails or difficult terrain as it consists of different features.

Generally, you’ll find the flat snowshoes narrower in width. Flat snowshoes are suitable for recreational activities that are less extreme and requires less flotation. If you’re the type that is only looking for a pair of snowshoes for its comfort and ease of release for your laid back activities during the winter season, we suggest you for this type of flat terrain snowshoes.

Hiking

Hikers will need a much more efficient pair of snowshoes, one that is equipped with the best features to withstand aggressive conditions. Hikers will need to go through difficult or steep terrains at times, so they will need a pair of rolling-terrain snowshoes that are perfect for hiking.

Snowshoe hiking

It is suitable for winter backpackers and hikers who would make use of its sturdy features. This type of snowshoes is suitable for heavy-duty use as it is durable, able to withstand extreme weather conditions with extra secure grip of aggressive crampons. It usually comes with flotation tails and wide frames.

Mountaineering

Mountaineers would be looking for Mountain Terrain Snowshoes which are designed for steep terrains under icy conditions. Its crampons are built for great climbing functionality as it consists of crampons and bindings that are made for climbing.

You can expect its features to be aggressively designed, durable and mostly lightweight. It should be easy to walk on with its good quality decking and frames that are made to last.

Choosing your size

In order to determine the level of flotation on the snow, choosing the shoe size is crucial. The weight of the wearer will have to be taken into consideration. A heavy person may need a pair of snowshoes that has a wide surface area.

As a suggestion, aluminium-frame snowshoes are available in different sizes and composite snowshoes offer additional gears for you to add on to help you stay afloat on the snow-covered terrain.

Choose your size

For men, snowshoes are usually built with larger surface area and spacious boots to withstand heavyweight. As for women, snowshoes are usually designed to be narrower in width.

Also, if you’re going to be carrying your ski equipment or other gears, you’ll be adding on the weight. This is known as the carrying capacity. When you’re considering the sizes of these snowshoes, carrying capacity is a major factor to consider, along with the weight of the wearer. For a heavy person with heavy load, they will need snowshoes with larger size and larger surface area to provide better support.

Snow conditions

Snowy conditions vary from light, dry to heavy snowfalls. Consider a durable and larger size snowshoes to help you stay afloat under snowy conditions. If you’re going on a trip along the steep and icy terrain, do consider smaller snowshoes for sufficient amount of flotation.

Snowshoes that are large in size may be harder to handle, so if you’re hiking on difficult or steep terrain, smaller size snowshoes may be more suitable.

Frames and decking

Frames used to be made of wood and are in the form of large oval shapes. However, these days, it’s easy to find snowshoes that feature lightweight designs, strong aluminium or steel frames and synthetic decking.

For those who are going for a ski during the daytime, a pair of snowshoes with UV resistant polyethylene or durable synthetic decking would be ideal. These materials are usually made of nylon rubber to make it lightweight and to provide good support.

Frames and decking

Some of the snowshoes do come with additional modular flotation tails in which you can add on to your snowshoes for extra flotation.

Bindings

You can find many different types of bindings but they may not be compatible with your boots. Sometimes, the size of your boots can be too big or too small for it, and it may be difficult to be securely fastened.

When it comes to shopping for this feature, you must focus on finding the type that is most compatible to your boots as it is necessary for your support and comfort. Snowshoe bindings are important for secured grip.

There are two types of snowshoe bindings: rotating bindings and fixed bindings. Most of the bindings use nylon straps with plastic clips to tighten the snowshoe. As a buying tip, bindings that come with leather straps loosens easily, which causes your feet to slip out easily, so it is best to go for nylon straps.

  • Rotating bindings: It is attached to the decking of the snowshoes. It allows smooth walks, up and downhill. This type of binding offers more flexibility and versatility. It is most suitable for walking, running and racing.
  • Fixed bindings: These bindings are more to heavy-duty rubber and they do not pivot much. It helps reduce drag when you lift the flotation tale of the snowshoe after each step. Fixed bindings make it easier for difficult terrain and trails as it brings the tails of the snowshoes up when walking. Its design makes it comfortable for walking.

Here’s another buying tip! Consider if you can easily tighten or release your snowshoe. The bindings of the snowshoes should be easy to adjust. It can’t be too loose as your feet may slip out of it. There shouldn’t be space for your boots to move around if the bindings are tightened securely.

Crampons and Traction

The system is found in the bottom of the snowshoes, under the foot. Most of the crampons in the market are made of either plastic, steel or aluminium. They are designed to manage the snow-covered terrain and to provide good support for the wearer. Some crampons are designed with aggressive features to withstand extreme weather conditions or difficult terrain.

Choosing snowshoes

Traction supports your feet movement so it is important to select the type of snowshoes with traction systems that are compatible with your type of activity.

As a suggestion, we have a list of reviews of the products that we think may be suitable for your winter snowshoeing experiences. These products are popular for its good quality and special features that may be efficient for your snow adventures. Have a read at these reviews below and see if you may be able to find the right type of snowshoe for yourself.

Product Reviews

Chinook Trekker Snowshoes

Chinook Trekker Snowshoes

Weight: 4.6pounds

Dimensions: 18.9 x 7.5 inch(48 x 19cm)

Description: The Chinook Trekker Snowshoes features a light weight design with strong aluminium frame. It promotes an ergonomic design, ensuring users will be able to enjoy its ease and comfort for walking.

The product comes with a carry bag with back pack straps, side handles, mesh ventilation and Velcro pole carriers. It also features a UV resistant polyethylene decking, ratchet bindings that are easy to use and heel straps with quick release buckles.

Best use: It is best used for hiking through trails and forests during the winter season as the snowshoes will be able to provide great traction and comfort.

Related: Alps Performance Light Weight Snowshoes for Kids Men Women

ALPS Performance Snowshoes with Pair Antishock Snowshoes Poles

ALPS Performance Snowshoes with Pair Antishock Snowshoes Poles

Weight: 6 pounds

Dimensions: 4.8 x 10.4 x 27.5 inches

Description: The light weight ALPS Performance Snowshoes feature shoe frames that are made of lightweight 6000 series Easton aluminium-tubing and the decks are made of durable, lightweight Nytex material.

It also comes with molded bindings around the boot to cradle and pad the arch and ball of the foot, so there won’t be pressure points. You won’t have to worry about it slipping out as it holds your feet securely and easy with its Fast-Loc buckles to make donning and doffing quick and simple.

Best use: It is best used for snowy conditions. Feel free to bring this pair of snowshoes with you on extreme weather conditions as its features would be able to withstand extreme weathers, especially with its sturdy alloy frames that are made with 6061 alloy material and its long lasting heavy duty usage feature, the plastic deck that is made of TPU-85 plastic material.

Related: Uniqhia No Tie Shoelaces for Kids and Adults, Carhartt Women’s Snow Flake Sherpa Cuff Graduated Compression Boot Socks

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Weight: 5.3 pounds

Dimensions: 26 x 9 x 6 inches

Description: The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes features 360-degree Traction frames that are able to deliver edge-to-edge grip and split teeth of Torsion 2 crampons for a better distribution of forces for continuous contact. It also features a two-piece, independently conforming AT bindings that create a more secure and freeze-resistant attachment.

It also comes with add-on modular flotation tails that allow the maneuverability of a smaller, primary snowshoe with added, on-demand flotation of optional. The Ergo Televators will increase traction when stepping on steeps as it features an ergonomic design that engages with a pole grip.

Best use: As the MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes offer the all-condition adaptability, it is perfect as a snowshoe for activities during the winter season.

Related: MSR Evo 22 Snowshoe, MSR Women’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoe, MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe

MSR Evo 22 Snowshoe

MSR Evo 22 Snowshoe

Weight: 7.75 pounds

Dimensions: 7 x 9 x 23 inches

Description: MSR Evo 22 Snowshoe is a favourite among snowshoers, with its legendary dependability built for the trail. It features great stability and control, weather –resistant DuoFit binding that delivers on rolling terrain. It features a unibody traction with steel traction trails and brake bars molded directly into snowshoe decks to provide a secure and lasting grip.

Its DuoFit bindings deliver ample, freeze-proof and glove-friendly security, easily accommodating a wide range of footwear. The product is made in the USA and Ireland.

Best use: It is suitable for trail walking and all-condition day use.

Related: MSR Revo Trail Snowshoe, MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe, MSR Evo Flotation Tails

Tubbs Women’s Frontier Snowshoe-Grey/Tea

Tubbs Women's Frontier Snowshoe-Grey/Tea

Weight: 3.5 pounds

Dimensions: Not specified

Description: The Tubbs Women’s Frontier Snowshoes is innovative and is designed to help reduce muscular skeletal impact on the hip, knee and ankle for the wearer, with its biomechanical aluminium Fit-Step frame.

Its Rotating Toe Cord design enables the tail of the snowshoe to drop and snow to shed off the tail, reducing cardio respiratory strain by 7%. Its underfoot pivot point also allows the toe traction teeth to bite deeply into the snow when weighted.

It also features a streamlined 180EZ binding, making it a simple, one-buckle tightening mechanism.  It is coupled with an easy-to-use urethane heel strap for efficient, lightweight support.

Best use: The carbon steel toe and heel crampons of the snowshoes feature a front rear braking teeth for a secure grip uphill, downhill and side hill in packed snow conditions.

Related: Tubbs Men’s Frontier Snowshoe-Tan/Blue

New MTN Man Woman Kid Youth OP Blue Snowshoes

New MTN Man Woman Kid Youth 25" OP Blue Snowshoes +Nordic pole +Free Bag

Weight: 18 pounds

Dimensions: 8.4’’ x 29’’

Description: New MTN Man Woman Kid Youth 25″ OP Blue Snowshoes +Nordic pole +Free Bag  feature shoe frames made of lightweight 6000 series Easton aluminium-tubing and the decks are made of durable, lightweight Nytex material.

Its bindings are molded around a man’s boot to cradle and pad the arch and ball of the foot which reduces pressure points. The lacing system holds the wearer’s feet securely. It is able to accommodate users up to 250lbs.

Best use: This product is suitable for winter aerobic activities. You can go hiking in the other three seasons or in the winter snow with this pair of snowshoes as its features are suitable for steep terrain, thickly-wooded terrain, perfect for skiers and snowmobilers.

Related: Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction 2015/16, Tub Shoe Gaiters Waterproof Snow Gaiters Hiking Gaiters Walking Leg Cover (Green)

Tubbs Snowshoes Wilderness Snow Shoes

Tubbs Snowshoes Wilderness Snow Shoes

Weight: 5.6 pounds

Dimensions: Not specified

Description: Tubbs Snowshoes Wilderness Snow Shoes features a Tubbs Fit-Step technology that helps reduce the impact on the knee and hips in which the wearer will feel less fatigue. The 180 Pro binding fits snugly around the front of the foot and heel of the wearer for secure stride.

It features compact carbon steel teeth on the ball of the wearer’s feet so it is able to withstand extreme winter conditions. Its heel crampons will help the wearer descend or traverse on sloped terrain. The product is lightweight, featuring a 6000-series aluminium frame that swings separately.

Best use: The product is best used for hiking and walking on trails during winter seasons.

Related: Tubbs Gaiter, Tubbs Snowshoes FLEX Ridge Snowshoes

MSR Women’s Revo Explore Snowshoe

MSR Women's Revo Explore Snowshoe

Weight: 5.3 pounds

Dimensions: 2 x 27 x 8 inches

Description: Enjoy the comfort through the new Hyperlink bindings that are feature in this pair of snowshoes, perfect for tackling all-day and all-mountain explorations.

Its great features include an aggressive traction that combines with durable injection-molded plastic-all engineered tapered deck which is ideal for women. MSR Women’s Revo Explore Snowshoe features an easy-entry cradle and a fast two-strap ratchet system that offers an exceptional all-day comfort and efficiency, including a set-it-and-forget-heel strap.

Its Modular Floation tails allows the maneuverability of a smaller, primary snowshoe with the added, on-demand flotation of optional, 5-inch tails. Its Ergo Televators will help reduce fatigue and increase traction on the steeps with an ergonomic design that engages with a simple flick of a pole grip!

Best use: It is easy to walk in and the straps are easy to use and release, perfect for winter walks and hikes.

Related: MSR Revo Explore Snowshoe, MSR Evo 22 Snowshoe, MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Lucky Bums Youth Snowshoes

Lucky Bums Youth Snowshoes

Weight: 3 pounds

Dimensions: 19 x 7 inches

Description: Lucky Bums Youth Snowshoes are manmade. It is lightweight and virtually indestructible as it features an aluminium frame and adjustable kid friendly bindings. The decking offers long lasting durability while the metal toe crampon provides consistent solid traction in the packed snow. You’ll find this pair of snowshoes easily adjustable and it offers a secure fit. It comes with a handy carry bag.

Best use: These snowshoes are kid-friendly and are sturdy. They enable a secure fit for maximum efficiency during outdoor treks. Therefore, it is best used for outdoor activities which includes trekking and hiking.

Related: Alps performance light weight Snowshoes, Chinook Trekker Snowshoes

Conclusion

To conclude, the decision of which snowshoes you should be choosing depends on the type of activity you’ll be going for during the winter season as different levels of activities require different types of snowshoes.

Snowshoes on the boots

It’s fairly easy to find snowshoes just for leisure activities, but for extreme conditions, we suggest you consider the features of the snowshoes and the amount of flotation you may need for that activity.

There is a wide range of snowshoes in the market, but it is important to find the right one for yourself for safety concerns. We hope our product reviews and guidelines may be able to help you with your snowshoe shopping.

Got more tips you’d like to share? Share it with us today! We’d love to hear from you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Andrew Richardson

    The MSR Lightning Ascent are the best snowshoes ever! They go on quickly and firmly and stay that way. They are light, superb uphill, downhill, side hill traction (snowshoe crampons due the trick on ice)! Excellent flotation. I snowshoe extensively in NH and VT, and these are the best. Only drawback is that due to lightness, they wear out–but never fear, the MSR lifetime guarantee and producer’s personal experience stand behind these shoes.

  • Daniel Carraway

    I discovered snowshoeing early on and I have no regrets that I did! The MSR Lightning Ascent is a great product and you won’t have any qualms using these. The 360 degrees Traction guarantees a good grip and added safety. Once you’ve experienced these babies, you’re hooked! Thanks for the useful comments Andrew.

  • Alex Lauther

    The best snowshoes I have ever used so far is the MSR Denali Evo Ascent. I am quite a big guy so at first, I was hesitant if I can maintain a good balance with it. Well surprisingly, it exceeded my expectations! The teeth on the bottom grabbed the snow well. They are expensive but worth it. The extender is well secured too. I remembered my first snowshoe. When we were hiking, my parents and I rented crappy plastic ones that I managed to break. So, it is best to invest in a really good pair for maximum fun and protection.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Quality usually comes with a price – and usually, it is not cheap. Although there are mid-price range for snowshoes, just pick the ones according to your preference. The list of snowshoes above gives the best brands and won’t let you down. Remember that safety comes first and selecting trusted brands is the wise thing to do.

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