Best Snowshoes – Reviews & Buying Guide
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Best Snowshoes – Reviews & Buying Guide (November 2019)

Updated: December 10, 2018

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

After 39 hours spent researching the best snowshoes, we think MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes is the best for most people.

This choice is based on several criteria: recommended load, frame material, traction, binding, lightweight, no pressure points, activity type, snow conditions, floatation tails, flexible, accessories included, padding, sizes available, jagged tooth construction, and extreme weather conditions, among other things.

 ProductPriceOverall RatingOveral QualityDurabilityTractionMaintenanceValue for Moneyrecommended loadframe materialtractionbindinglightweightno pressure pointsactivity typesnow conditionsfloatation tailsflexibleaccessories includedpaddingsizes availablejagged tooth constructionextreme weather conditions
MSR Lightning Ascent SnowshoesMSR Lightning Ascent SnowshoesCheck Price4.04.04.54.03.54.0Up to 280lbsAluminumYesPosiLock AT bindingsYesNoneAllAllYesYesNoYes4.5 to 15YesYes
Tubbs Wilderness SnowshoesTubbs Wilderness SnowshoesCheck Price3.93.54.04.53.54.0From 120lbs to 300lbsAluminumCramponsPlasticYesYesRecreational snowshoeingAllYesYesYesYesThreeYesYes
Crescent Moon Gold Series 10 SnowshoesCrescent Moon Gold Series 10 SnowshoesCheck Price4.34.54.04.04.54.5Up to 225lbsAluminum Tear DropToe clawPlasticYesYesBackcountry snowshoeingPowder and packed snowYesYesNoYesOneYesYes
ALPS All Terrain SnowshoesALPS All Terrain SnowshoesCheck Price3.93.54.04.53.54.0Up to 250lbs6000 Series Easton Aluminum-TubingYesYesYesNoneAll TerrainHeavyYesYesYesYesFour availableYesYes
Chinook Trekker SnowshoesChinook Trekker SnowshoesCheck Price3.84.03.54.03.54.0From 50lbs to 300lbsAluminumCramponsPlasticYesUnknownRecreational snowshoeingPowder and packed snowYesDown to -40FYesYesFiveYesYes
Best Snowshoes

Whether you need snowshoes for practical reasons, or just you want to keep up your fitness regime throughout the winter, snowshoes are essential.

Spreading your weight over a wider surface enables you to walk over snow that you would otherwise sink into – but which snowshoes are right for your needs?

Although people have been using snowshoes for thousands of years to safely traverse wintry conditions, more and more people are discovering that snowshoeing is a great – and a sociable – way of having fun and keeping fit.

Snowshoeing doesn’t cost a fortune – all you need are your snowshoes, suitable clothing and footwear to keep out the cold.

Snowshoeing is easier to learn than snowboarding or skiing, and it is much easier to keep your balance with snowshoes than with a snowboard, all-mountain skis, backcountry skis, or even cross-country skis. Basically, you need to remember to widen your stance so you don’t stand on the snowshoe frames, how to manage slopes and hills, and how to use ski poles.

Snowshoeing doesn’t cost a fortune – all you need are your snowshoes, suitable clothing (such a ski jacket, ski gloves, ski mask, ski pants) and footwear to keep out the cold, a pair of poles to help you get through the more difficult areas, and pheraps some extra equipment for safety and to face various situations such as ski goggles to protect your eyes, a ski backpack, and a ski helmet for extra safety. That way, you don’t need to pay for ski lifts!

You will also get fit from the low impact, aerobic workout that snowshoeing will give you, which of course, will depend upon the difficulty of the trails you choose. The more you snowshoe, the fitter you get and the more challenging trails you can undertake.

Snowshoeing is perfect for all ages and abilities and offers great versatility. For example, you can snowshoe in areas that you would not be able to ski in because of obstacles such as trees, or perhaps low snow coverage.

Selection Of The Best Snowshoes

Here are the best snowshoes for most people according to Outlinist:

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
(rated 4.0 / 5)
Overal Quality
Durability
Traction
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

If you take your snowshoeing seriously and are looking for a pair of snowshoes that will give you the performance that you want, then carry on reading.

MSR Lightening Ascent Snowshoes offer a range of features and technologies that make these snowshoes deliver what you are looking for.

Information

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are high-end, high performance snowshoes that have been designed and constructed to suit both men and women.

The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes have been designed to withstand all extreme weather conditions and levels of snow and ice.

These snowshoes are available in black or silver and in three sizes – 22-inch, 25-inch and 30-inch. The recommended load for each size is up to 180lbs, 220lbs and 280lbs respectively.

Attaching the optional tails to these snowshoes increases the recommended load for each size by 70lbs and 60lbs respectively, with the 30-inch snowshoes being able to carry more than 300lbs.

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are high-end, high performance snowshoes that have been designed and constructed to suit both men and women with a normal width gait. They are not the cheapest on the market but you get what you pay for.

recommended loadUp to 280lbs
frame materialAluminum
tractionYes
bindingPosiLock AT bindings
lightweightYes
no pressure pointsNone
activity typeAll
snow conditionsAll
floatation tailsYes
flexibleYes
accessories includedNo
paddingYes
sizes available4.5 to 15
jagged tooth constructionYes
extreme weather conditionsYes

These snowshoes offer a lightweight solution to snowshoeing, which aids maneuverability and helps to lessen fatigue. The smallest size weighs a mere 3lbs 13oz a pair; the 25-inch pair weigh 4lbs, and the 30-inch pair weigh 4lbs 9oz.

Using the optional 5-inch Modular Flotation tails with your MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes not only means that you can carry a larger than usual backpack carrying all of your essentials, but that you can tackle deeper snow without getting bogged down.

If you are thinking about tackling some rugged terrain or traversing extreme back country regions with deep powdery snow, you will find that the MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes have been built with this type of snowshoeing in mind.

Comfort is essential when it comes to tackling extreme weather conditions. The last thing you need to be dealing with at this time is problems with your feet caused by your snowshoes. MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes have been created with comfort in mind so that’s one less thing you need to worry about.

Hills and mountains with a steep gradient are a walk in the park with these snowshoes. The technology built into the design enables them to change the direction of your foot – and you can activate this with a flip of your walking pole – so no bending down.

Pros

Whatever conditions you are faced with, these snowshoes offer superlative stickability because of their 360° traction frames.

There are many snowshoes on the market, which makes choosing the right ones difficult. If you are planning on blazing your own trail then you need a pair of snowshoes that is as able as you are, so let’s take a closer look at the MSR Lightning Snowshoes.

  • Extreme weather conditions demand better than average traction: Whatever conditions you are faced with, these snowshoes offer superlative stickability because of their 360° traction frames that provide an edge-to-edge grip that works just as well on ice as it does on snow so you can forget slipping and sliding your way.
  • Patented technology further aids your stability and grip: The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes go one step further when it comes to keeping you safely on your feet. Their Torsion2 crampons have split teeth for better distribution and continuous contact that are more than a match for any conditions.
  • Keeping your snowshoes where they should be – on your feet: MSR are delighted with their PosiLock AT bindings that can be found on their Lightning Ascent Snowshoes. These are their most secure, and offer two pieces that conform independently, are freeze resistant and which suits all types of footwear.
  • Maybe there is a time and a place for aggression: MSR describe the steel cross members on their Lightning Ascent Snowshoes as ‘aggressive’. Of course, they need to be in order to deal with tough terrain – and couple them with the Ergo Televators and you have a snowshoe that will never let you down.
  • How do you rate yourself – beginner or extreme expert? The beauty of MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes is that they are suitable for all levels of expertise, so if you fancy a winter aerobic exercise that takes you along established snowshoeing trails or if you love the adrenalin rush of unchartered territory, then these snowshoes will match your expectations.
  • So what happens if something does go wrong? That might seem like a crazy question when we are talking about the advantages of MSR Lightning Snowshoes but if you have had your snowshoes for a number of years there may come a time when a component needs replacing. Fortunately, MSR offer excellent customer care and you will get a fast, no-fuss response.

Cons

  • Having large boots or wide feet may be an issue: The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes have a width of 8 inches, regardless of their size, which some reviewers have complained is too narrow. The solution would appear to be to wear slimmer boots but it would be nice if MSR catered for wider fittings.
  • There may be snow but it can still be rocky: Although the frames have been constructed with lightweight aluminum that is the perfect solution to dealing with snow, there may be occasions when you are coping with rocks, too. In these circumstances the aluminum teeth may become damaged more easily than it should.
  • When a positive can become a negative factor: The ‘aggressive’ nature of the MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes has already been mentioned as a positive feature because they ensure you can manage all terrains. However, there are times, particularly on narrow trails, when the outside edge of one snowshoe ‘grabs’ the other and could trip you up.

Comparison

 

MSR Lightning Ascent SnowshoesMSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Tubbs Wilderness SnowshoesTubbs Wilderness Snowshoes

Crescent Moon Gold Series 10 SnowshoesCrescent Moon Gold Series 10 Snowshoes

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
recommended loadUp to 280lbsFrom 120lbs to 300lbsUp to 225lbs
frame materialAluminumAluminumAluminum Tear Drop
tractionYesCramponsToe claw
bindingPosiLock AT bindingsPlasticPlastic
lightweightYesYesYes
no pressure pointsNoneYesYes
activity typeAllRecreational snowshoeingBackcountry snowshoeing
snow conditionsAllAllPowder and packed snow
floatation tailsYesYesYes
flexibleYesYesYes
accessories includedNoYesNo
paddingYesYesYes
sizes available4.5 to 15ThreeOne
jagged tooth constructionYesYesYes
extreme weather conditionsYesYesYes

Summary

MSR is a reputable and much applauded manufacturer and these snowshoes are an example of their expertise.

The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are not the cheapest snowshoes on the market – but there is a reason for this. They offer extraordinary performance even in the toughest of circumstances and across all terrains.

MSR is a reputable and much applauded manufacturer and these snowshoes are an example of their expertise. The Lightning Ascent Snowshoes offer many features that are exclusive to MSR and raise the standard far above the average.

There are some minor hiccups, however. Some reviewers are unhappy with the width of the snowshoes, preferring them to be wider, and some of the positive features can work against themselves to create a tripping hazard. Naturally, the decision to buy or not to buy is your decision but if you are looking for snowshoes that do what they say they will, you could do far worse.


Tubbs Wilderness Snowshoes

Tubbs Wilderness Snowshoes
(rated 3.9 / 5)
Overal Quality
Durability
Traction
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

According to the manufacturer, “there’s no adventure” the Tubbs Wilderness Snowshoes can’t handle. But is this true?

In this review, we’re going to delve deeper into what you can expect from these snowshoes – which are brimming with the latest technology.

Information

Tubbs Wilderness are one of the few outdoor wear companies that focus solely on snowshoes.

One thing you’ll notice when you take the Tubbs Wilderness Snowshoes out of the box is that it’s an impressive, yet slightly complicated, piece of kit.

If you’re struggling with the binding, there are video tutorials available online to give you a visual aid for practicing.

Don’t worry too much – although it does take a while, you’ll get used to putting them on!

We’ve been impressed by Tubbs Wilderness for quite a while now – mainly because they are one of the few outdoor wear companies that focus solely on snowshoes, along with accessories such as poles, gaiters and carrying bags which are needed to enjoy the sport to the full.

They also know what they’re talking about, and this seems to have been driven by an in-depth amount of market research. According to the manufacturer, slightly more women than men are involved in snowshoeing – with a ratio of 51% to 49%.

recommended loadFrom 120lbs to 300lbs
frame materialAluminum
tractionCrampons
bindingPlastic
lightweightYes
no pressure pointsYes
activity typeRecreational snowshoeing
snow conditionsAll
floatation tailsYes
flexibleYes
accessories includedYes
paddingYes
sizes availableThree
jagged tooth constructionYes
extreme weather conditionsYes

We were also fascinated to learn that 5.5 million people embarked on a snowshoe expedition last year, making four trips each on average. There’s a plethora of health benefits which have long been associated with the sport – yet at the same time, Tubbs has gone to great lengths to ensure that the shoes don’t cause any unnecessary strain which could cause injury and diminish your enjoyment for the rest of the season.

When you go snowshoeing, there are several muscles which get plenty of exercise. You’ve got your quadriceps, which are worked on during climbs – and hamstrings, which enjoy some exertion during a descent. You can even burn up to 1,000 calories per hour, according to the University of Vermont.

So: all in all, we’ve established that Tubbs is something of an authority on snowshoeing.

Their Wilderness snowshoes are available in three sizes, and have been packed with features which are geared towards male users. They’re meant to be practical and long-lasting, without compromising on design and comfort.

Pros

You won’t have to suffer through any pressure points once you’re wearing their snowshoes.

As we’ve determined, the main boon of choosing Tubbs is that you get an expert brand whose goods are sought after all over the world. Plus, they are competitively priced and produce snowshoes which go the distance – in more ways than one. Plus:

  • The snowshoes’ hi-tech frame reduces muscular skeletal impact: It’s clear that quite a lot of scientific and medical research has gone into their FitStep framing. According to Tubbs, using these snowshoes reduces the shock that hips, ankles and knees experience by 10% – meaning it’s exercise without injury.
  • Plus, its Rotating Toe Cord works to lower cardio-respiratory strain: This is another nifty feature, which will prove beneficial when you’re on an expedition which involves plenty of physical exertion. By shedding snow as you go along, the toe cord reduces strain by as much as 7%.
  • It comes with 180 Series binding for your comfort: You could say this is one of Tubbs’ pride and joys when it comes to their snowshoes. This technology ensures that you won’t have to suffer through any pressure points once you’re wearing their snowshoes, and it also helps to insulate your feet against frostbite.
  • A carbon steel crampon keeps your feet on the ground: Known as “Cobra,” this is situated underneath the ball of the foot – and means that no matter which type of snow you’re traveling across, your stability is guaranteed, with no constant slipping around and having to walk like you’re on eggshells.
  • Meanwhile, a jagged tooth construction also enhances your experience: This feature has been specifically designed for when you’re navigating your way through ice and snow which is packed up. It seems like there really is no adventure that Tubbs Wilderness snowshoes can’t handle after all!
  • Three sizes are available to buy on the Internet: As we’ve discussed, these are the 25″, the 30″ and the 36″. The larger you go, the heavier the snowshoes become – ranging from 4lbs to 5.7lbs. With the smallest model, you’ll get an optimal load capacity of between 54kg and 91kg, and a surface area of 47.8sqcm.

Cons

When you’re looking for snowshoes, it’s important to be realistic and bear in mind that you’re not going to find every single feature – and aspect of performance – you’d wish for on just one product. Here are some of the downsides to this product:

  • Binding can split on the snowshoes, even with moderate use: This is definitely something to be weary of – as according to some shoppers who have used Tubbs Wilderness Snowshoes over two winters, you can find that the fixtures which attach them to your boots can begin to split.
  • The surface of the snowshoes may also disappoint: One gripe that some people have had with the snowshoes is how the decking is a rather soft, with the potential for cuts to surface in the material over time. This can leave you feeling rather exposed as you traverse rough terrain.
  • The warranty provided should be more comprehensive, say shoppers: When there is wear and tear which is premature, you can often get in touch with the manufacturer for advice on repairs and replacements. However, some shoppers have said Tubbs has been disappointing in this department – and recommend keeping the receipt.

Comparison

 

Tubbs Wilderness SnowshoesTubbs Wilderness Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent SnowshoesMSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Crescent Moon Gold Series 10 SnowshoesCrescent Moon Gold Series 10 Snowshoes

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
recommended loadFrom 120lbs to 300lbsUp to 280lbsUp to 225lbs
frame materialAluminumAluminumAluminum Tear Drop
tractionCramponsYesToe claw
bindingPlasticPosiLock AT bindingsPlastic
lightweightYesYesYes
no pressure pointsYesNoneYes
activity typeRecreational snowshoeingAllBackcountry snowshoeing
snow conditionsAllAllPowder and packed snow
floatation tailsYesYesYes
flexibleYesYesYes
accessories includedYesNoNo
paddingYesYesYes
sizes availableThree4.5 to 15One
jagged tooth constructionYesYesYes
extreme weather conditionsYesYesYes

Summary

These snowshoes are well-built and offer a decent surface area which ensures that you’ll feel well-supported while you’re out and about.

There are several manufacturers out there – not naming any names – which seem to produce snowshoes without actually understanding what shoppers want and expect. Thankfully, Tubbs – with their Wilderness range – can’t be tarnished with this brush.

The snowshoes are immensely well built, and offer a decent surface area which ensures that you’ll feel well-supported and protected while you’re out and about in all terrains, encountering all types of snow.

Just make sure that you pick the right size in advance, out of the three available. You can find out the dimensions and surface area of each respective pair on the Tubbs website, and there’s also plenty of information regarding how your current shoe size should translate into the sizes provided by the manufacturer. Enjoy!


Crescent Moon Gold Series 10 Snowshoes

Crescent Moon Gold Series 10 Snowshoes
(rated 4.3 / 5)
Overal Quality
Durability
Traction
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

Have you been looking for a pair of snowshoes which will pack a punch as you head backcountry?

Then look no further than Crescent Moon’s Gold Series. They have been intuitively designed to provide a brilliant experience on long-distance treks off the beaten track.

Information

Crescent Moon is clearly a wholesome company that’s passionate about creating snowshoes that customers can fall in love with.

There is so much to love about Crescent Moon’s range of snowshoes, which have won countless plaudits from the media for offering the best binding in the business.

You receive excellent support from a flexible polymer material that’ll remain firmly attached to your boots at all times.

Better still, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work the harness system.

Crescent Moon is clearly a wholesome company that’s passionate about creating snowshoes that customers can fall in love with.

Based out of Boulder, Colorado – which is where all of their products are made – one thing we’ve noticed is how this firm cares for the environment we love to explore, and has made their snowshoes 95% recyclable. When it’s time for new pair, it’s easy to do your bit via their take back program.

Lightweight and with an innovative frame, many delighted snowshoe enthusiasts have found that the Gold Series doesn’t weigh them down as they’re out and about. On the contrary, it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing these snowshoes at all, because they offer something of a “bare foot” experience which means no pressure points.

recommended loadUp to 225lbs
frame materialAluminum Tear Drop
tractionToe claw
bindingPlastic
lightweightYes
no pressure pointsYes
activity typeBackcountry snowshoeing
snow conditionsPowder and packed snow
floatation tailsYes
flexibleYes
accessories includedNo
paddingYes
sizes availableOne
jagged tooth constructionYes
extreme weather conditionsYes

This particular model is geared towards men with the US shoe size of 10 to 15 – so as you can see, it’s for those of us with larger feet.

If you’re on the lower borderline, and it’s possible that you could opt for snowshoes designed for smaller feet, you might want to consider this – as the reduced surface area brings several advantages and reduces your backpacking weight overall.

Available in Apple Red or Sartorial Green – interesting names for colors, we must add – these are backcountry snowshoes. As such, they come recommended if you’re going camping in wintry conditions, or if you love hiking in untouched parts of the US. Even if you’re on a steep slope, the sophisticated crampons will always have your back.

Pros

Crescent Moon’s Gold Series tips the scales at just 4.9lbs – but despite this, it can accommodate a loading capacity of 225lbs.

So – once you’ve packed up your snowshoes and headed to your destination, you may be wondering: what are the perks you have to look forward to with the Crescent Moon Gold Series? Just some of the advantages to this purchase include…

  • It comes with an innovative Tear Drop shaped frame: The shape of these snowshoes is one of the reasons why it provides that “bare foot” sensation, like it isn’t even there. You don’t lose floatation, and you’ll find it easier to move around freely without having to resort to waddling.
  • A toe claw gives you plenty of freedom to move: This is a highly beneficial feature for two reasons. Firstly, you get added grip when you’re climbing mountains and hills. Second, it makes it easier to push off when you’re running and hiking – giving you a head start over the competition.
  • Lightweight, but with a very generous recommended load: Crescent Moon’s Gold Series tips the scales at just 4.9lbs – but despite this, it can accommodate a loading capacity of 225lbs. And, as we’ve discussed, a perk of lightweight snowshoes is how you can move around without it being a cumbersome affair.
  • Every pair is made in Boulder, CO to high standards: One thing that cannot be questioned is Crescent Moon’s environmental credentials. They have a flawless manufacturing process which puts an emphasis on every pair of snowshoes having as small a carbon footprint as possible – and as big a snow print!
  • They don’t generate loads of noise when you’re walking: Unlike plastic snowshoes, which can be irritatingly loud when you’re trudging through the snow, you’ll barely hear a peep out of the Crescent Moon Gold Series snowshoes – making them perfect for creeping up on a loved one and surprising them.
  • The decking is durable and resistant to abrasion: One all too common gripe of snowshoes is how their soles can begin to wear down over time, especially if you’re trying to conquer rough terrains. However, these snowshoes can withstand abrasion – prolonging their lifespan considerably.

Cons

The Crescent Moon Gold Series has enjoyed rave reviews from avid snowshoe experts up and down the country. However, there are just a few things which would have made these snowshoes flawless. The disadvantages you should expect include:

  • They are quite expensive compared to other models: If you’re just trying snowshoeing out for the first time – and you’re unsure whether it’s the hobby for you – it might be wise to look elsewhere. Purchasing Crescent Moon Gold Series snowshoes can involve quite an investment, but they are quality.
  • We wish that a carry bag was included: From what we’ve seen, the Crescent Moon Gold Series does not come with a devoted bag which can accommodate your snowshoes when they are not in use. However, you can purchase one rather inexpensively from another manufacturer if you wish.
  • It would have been ideal to have more specific sizes: The Crescent Moon Gold Series is tailored towards men with rather big feet – ranging from 10 to 15. Although you can adjust them so they fit snugly, snowshoes which cover a more specific size range would have been most welcomed.

Comparison

 

Crescent Moon Gold Series 10 SnowshoesCrescent Moon Gold Series 10 Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent SnowshoesMSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Tubbs Wilderness SnowshoesTubbs Wilderness Snowshoes

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
recommended loadUp to 225lbsUp to 280lbsFrom 120lbs to 300lbs
frame materialAluminum Tear DropAluminumAluminum
tractionToe clawYesCrampons
bindingPlasticPosiLock AT bindingsPlastic
lightweightYesYesYes
no pressure pointsYesNoneYes
activity typeBackcountry snowshoeingAllRecreational snowshoeing
snow conditionsPowder and packed snowAllAll
floatation tailsYesYesYes
flexibleYesYesYes
accessories includedNoNoYes
paddingYesYesYes
sizes availableOne4.5 to 15Three
jagged tooth constructionYesYesYes
extreme weather conditionsYesYesYes

Summary

If you’re determined to make snowshoeing a frequent hobby of yours during the winter months, these snowshoes should be the first item in your shopping cart.

These snowshoes are made of high-quality material, which means they won’t bend and break unexpectedly. Comfortable to wear, they’re excellent at adjusting to different types of snow, and have the flexibility that’s necessary whenever you’re exploring environments at sub-zero temperatures.

There’s also a lot to be said for the ethos of Crescent Moon. They’re a wholesome, yet small company that’s motivated by providing high-quality snowshoes that have green credentials. And in a world where pollution continues to soar, this matters for something.

If you’re determined to make snowshoeing a frequent hobby of yours during the winter months, the Crescent Moon Gold Series’ snowshoes should be the first item in your shopping cart. Once you take them out of the box, you’ll see exactly why.


ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes

ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes
(rated 3.9 / 5)
Overal Quality
Durability
Traction
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

Are you looking for some lightweight high performance snowshoes that are suitable for all terrains and heavy snow?

If the answer is yes, then have a look at these Alps All Terrain Snowshoes because they just might be the ones for you.

Information

The frame on these snowshoes has been especially designed to provide maximum floatation – regardless of what the snow conditions are.

The ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes come in a range of sizes, which makes them suitable for both men and women.

The variety of sizes also accommodates different weights so you have the option of taking all your winter gear with you.

The frame on these snowshoes has been especially designed to provide maximum floatation – regardless of what the snow conditions are.

Before you buy your snowshoes, have a think about what you are likely to be carrying with you so you can get the right size. The ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes come in different lengths to accommodate a variety of weights.

Combine your body weight and the weight you are likely to be carrying and then choose from the 21/22-inch models, which have a recommended load of 80 to 160lbs; the 25-inch model, which ranges from 150 to 200lbs, or the 27-inch model, which will suit 175 – 225lbs.

The final model in this range is the one that measures 30 inches, which has an optimized weight range of 180 to 250lbs. Although it may be tempting to buy a bigger shoe than you need, just in case, remember that the bigger shoes are more difficult to maneuver.

recommended loadUp to 250lbs
frame material6000 Series Easton Aluminum-Tubing
tractionYes
bindingYes
lightweightYes
no pressure pointsNone
activity typeAll Terrain
snow conditionsHeavy
floatation tailsYes
flexibleYes
accessories includedYes
paddingYes
sizes availableFour available
jagged tooth constructionYes
extreme weather conditionsYes

Snowshoes have been used for thousands of years to distribute weight evenly so users don’t sink, but never have they been as efficient as they are now. The ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes have sturdy 6061 alloy frames for maximum floatation in heavy snow.

If the weather gets particularly extreme, you need to be sure that your snowshoes are up to the job. These shoes come complete with sturdy decks that have been constructed from TPU-85 plastic material for heavy duty and long lasting usage.

The frames and decks of the ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes are deliberately lightweight (Easton aluminum-tubing and durable Nytex material) so that you won’t be hindered in heavy snow conditions and maneuverability will be easy.

Pros

The ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes boast easy Fast-Loc buckles, which means that you won’t have any trouble getting your snowshoes on or off.

So, now that we have the basics out of the way, it is time to look at the ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes in greater detail so that you can make an informed decision as to whether these are the snowshoes for you.

  • Bindings that ensure comfort and security in all conditions: Bindings are a vital part of successful snowshoes. The bindings on the ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes will mold around your boot in order to cradle, and to pad the ball and arch of your foot so there are no pressure points.
  • Make sure that your feet are held securely: The last thing that you need when you are battling heavy snow in extreme weather conditions is for your snowshoe to become loose or fall off. Not only would this be inconvenient, but it could be dangerous. These snowshoes have an effective lacing system so this won’t happen.
  • Get your snowshoes on and off quickly and easily: An important feature of any snowshoes is being able to get them on or off without any hassle. The ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes boast easy Fast-Loc buckles, which means that you won’t have any trouble getting your snowshoes on or off – even when you are wearing your gloves.
  • How will you safely store your new snowshoes? When you buy a pair of ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes, you will also be provided with a free 34-inch tote bag to store them. This is great news for those who are likely to “lose” a shoe in between using them.
  • Make your snowshoeing expeditions even easier with walking poles: Snowshoeing is made much easier if you have walking poles. They will support your balance and lessen fatigue when you are on the snow. And the great news is that you will get a free pair of anti-shock walking poles when you purchase ALPS All Terrain Snow Shoes.
  • Navigating icy patches is easier when you have crampons: If you enjoy the challenges of mountainous areas, it is likely that you are going to come across ice from time to time. These are the moments when you will appreciate the built-on crampons that the ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes sport.

Cons

As with any product, there is going to be something that doesn’t quite gel, so we want to share those with you so you can be sure that you are making the right decision when it comes to choosing your snowshoes.

  • Swinging is not the way forward with snowshoes: Some reviewers have reported a swinging movement with the ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes, whereby the shoes move from side to side when in use, rather than staying in place. This can have a negative impact on ease of use.
  • The buckles on these snowshoes are a little flimsy: Although the buckles on these snowshoes are easy to manipulate to get the shoes on or off, they are on the flimsy side and some have been known to break or become damaged after minimal usage.
  • It would be better if you could tighten the heel strap: But unfortunately the construction of the ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes doesn’t allow for this, which makes it difficult to get the tension of the shoes right. Naturally, the design of your boots will dictate how much of a problem this will be.

Comparison

 

ALPS All Terrain SnowshoesALPS All Terrain Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent SnowshoesMSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Tubbs Wilderness SnowshoesTubbs Wilderness Snowshoes

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
recommended loadUp to 250lbsUp to 280lbsFrom 120lbs to 300lbs
frame material6000 Series Easton Aluminum-TubingAluminumAluminum
tractionYesYesCrampons
bindingYesPosiLock AT bindingsPlastic
lightweightYesYesYes
no pressure pointsNoneNoneYes
activity typeAll TerrainAllRecreational snowshoeing
snow conditionsHeavyAllAll
floatation tailsYesYesYes
flexibleYesYesYes
accessories includedYesNoYes
paddingYesYesYes
sizes availableFour available4.5 to 15Three
jagged tooth constructionYesYesYes
extreme weather conditionsYesYesYes

Summary

Including a free tote bag when purchasing your ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes for storing them in is a fantastic way of getting your snowshoeing equipment off to a great start.

The ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes offer a lightweight and sturdy solution to snowshoeing in all snow and extreme weather conditions, and with a range of sizes for a variety of recommended loads, there is a snowshoe to suit most users.

Including a free tote bag when purchasing your ALPS All Terrain Snowshoes for storing them in, as well as a pair of anti-shock walking poles is a fantastic way of getting your snowshoeing equipment off to a great start.

There are some issues with these snowshoes, however. The buckles and straps could do with being stronger and having some flexibility in order to increase tension and solidity so that they remain where they ought to – without any movement, including swinging.


Chinook Trekker Snowshoes

Chinook Trekker Snowshoes
(rated 3.8 / 5)
Overal Quality
Durability
Traction
Maintenance
Value for Money
Check Price

Snowshoeing is a fun and engaging sport – especially perfect for exercise if you live in a cold climate where more conventional activities aren’t possible outdoors.

Chinook’s Trekker Snowshoes are also a great entry-level pair if you’re getting started.

Information

It’s an affordable model and you’ll find that its resilient frame will offer the maneuverability you deserve.

This pair of snowshoes is designed for flat terrain – or, at the very most, hiking on gentle gradients. With lots of traction, it’ll remove first-time nerves and boost your confidence.

It’s an affordable model, too, and you’ll find that its resilient frame, which can ably handle sub-zero temperatures, will still offer the maneuverability you deserve.

Better still, there are five sizes available for men.

The main distinction between snowshoes designed for men, and pairs tailored towards women, is the recommended loads which they can accommodate. Usually, as the size of the snowshoe increases, so does the weight it can withstand. Do bear in mind that this load capacity also accounts for your equipment – and not just your body.

recommended loadFrom 50lbs to 300lbs
frame materialAluminum
tractionCrampons
bindingPlastic
lightweightYes
no pressure pointsUnknown
activity typeRecreational snowshoeing
snow conditionsPowder and packed snow
floatation tailsYes
flexibleDown to -40F
accessories includedYes
paddingYes
sizes availableFive
jagged tooth constructionYes
extreme weather conditionsYes

Chinook Trekker Snowshoes, just like most other models on the market, work as a kind of attachment to your boots.

To ensure that you’re going to make the right purchase for you, it’s worthwhile trying them on with the boots you’d intend to wear during a hike – along with some thick socks. This helps guarantee a comfortable fit. You can always buy them online afterwards to get discounted prices.

As these snowshoes can be quite big, you’ll normally find that they aren’t adept for more advanced trails – which may include steep terrains and ice. Although you might not be a weather forecaster, you’ll probably realize that there are different types of snow out there – included powder snow and packed snow.

You should determine what the weather conditions are like in the areas where you intend to partake in this sport, and invest in snowshoes which will offer maneuverability to complement these settings.

If, for any reason, your snowshoes appear to have components loose or missing once they arrive through your door, do bear in mind that Chinook provides a limited lifetime warranty. Read the instruction manual for further details on what this guarantee covers.

Pros

Your snowshoes will still have plenty of flexibility, even in temperatures which plummet down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

So: now that we’re a little better acquainted with what to expect from snowshoes – and the different environmental considerations that should be made before you snap up a pair – let’s look at the advantages of the Chinook Trekkers in further detail:

  • Rotating heavy-duty crampons help you down minor slopes: If you’ve got a gentle gradient to contend with when you’re embarking on a trail in the forest, Chinook’s Trekker Snowshoes will have you covered. Crampons offer added traction – and if you’re a football fan – you may know them as cleats.
  • The decking will distribute your weight more evenly: To ensure that you aren’t imbalanced when you’re walking along slippery or delicate surfaces, the decking, which is made out of polyethylene, ensures that your load is spread out across the entire snowshoe, reducing the risk of an unexpected fall.
  • The frame is durable, comfortable and flexible: Your snowshoes will still have plenty of flexibility, even in temperatures which plummet down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Better still, the aluminum frame is sturdy and resilient – without compromising on your comfort as you cover long distances during a single trek.
  • Loads of accessories to get you started are included: In the box, you’ll find the extras that a beginner needs to get snowshoeing – saving you a considerable amount of cash. The accessories include Velcro pole carriers and adjustable straps. The carry bag also includes plenty of mesh ventilation.
  • It’s easy to fasten the snowshoes, even with gloves: When the temperature is biting outside, the last thing you want is to take off your gloves to ensure that the snowshoes are properly fastened to your boots. That’s why the straps and bindings included are painfully simple – and release effortlessly.
  • The Chinook Trekker Snowshoes come in five sizes: As snowshoes are slightly different to conventional shoes, make sure you consult a custom size chart before purchase. The five options available in Trekker are 19 (for teenagers,) along with 22, 25, 30 and 36. This means there’s a Trekker for everyone!

Cons

Given this is a pair of snowshoes which is geared solely towards beginners, it’s fair to say that they may not be as advanced or well-built as those designed for experts. With that in mind, there are three key disadvantages to consider:

  • The bindings can tear easily, so be cautious: A snowshoe’s bindings, as the name suggests, are what connect them to the boots and keep them in place. According to some disgruntled shoppers, this gave way quite quickly, which meant they had to risk going it alone with their normal shoes.
  • The color of the snowshoes corresponds to the size: If you want to make a fashion statement with the Chinook Trekkers, I think it’s fair to say that you should look elsewhere. The color of your snowshoes will depend on the size you buy – including yellow, blue, red, dark blue and green.
  • The recommended load is quite low compared to rivals: Similarly priced products can offer up to twice as much in terms of load capacity. As it is, the Trekker range extends from 50lbs to 300lbs depending on the size you purchase. The better the load, the more terrains you can tackle with confidence.

Comparison

 

Chinook Trekker SnowshoesChinook Trekker Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent SnowshoesMSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Tubbs Wilderness SnowshoesTubbs Wilderness Snowshoes

PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
recommended loadFrom 50lbs to 300lbsUp to 280lbsFrom 120lbs to 300lbs
frame materialAluminumAluminumAluminum
tractionCramponsYesCrampons
bindingPlasticPosiLock AT bindingsPlastic
lightweightYesYesYes
no pressure pointsUnknownNoneYes
activity typeRecreational snowshoeingAllRecreational snowshoeing
snow conditionsPowder and packed snowAllAll
floatation tailsYesYesYes
flexibleDown to -40FYesYes
accessories includedYesNoYes
paddingYesYesYes
sizes availableFive4.5 to 15Three
jagged tooth constructionYesYesYes
extreme weather conditionsYesYesYes

Summary

The accessories included means you’re well-equipped for the challenges ahead.

This is probably the perfect pair of snowshoes for teenage boys and men who are taking their first steps into the sport. The accessories included means you’re well-equipped for the challenges ahead. It’s just important to pace yourself, and to only trek on terrains which the snowshoes can handle.

We wish that there was more personalization with the colors, and that the bindings – arguably the most important fixture on the snowshoes – were a little stronger. As they’re made of plastic, it’s fair to say they’re quite flimsy.

That said, the limited lifetime warranty from Chinook does ensure that if anything goes wrong – and it’s the manufacturer at fault – you should receive a replacement pair with speed and efficiency.

How To Choose The Best Snowshoes

2-snowshoes-buying-guide-choiceThis is important, because the last thing you want is to buy a pair of snowshoes that are not suitable for the type of snowshoeing that you want to do. When you start looking for snowshoes, you will discover that there are many styles to choose from, so where do you begin?

The first thing to remember is that although there are lots out there, manufacturers of snowshoes tend to split them into three groups so you will be able to choose a type that will suit your requirements and give you the best value and performance.

Boots should be waterproof and appropriate to the type of snowshoeing that you are planning on doing.

Flat terrain: These snowshoes are designed for walking easily on flat to rolling ground and are ideal for people new to the sport or for families with younger members. This category of snowshoe offers entry-level shoes that are great value.

Rolling terrain: This type of snowshoe is great if you want to hike off the beaten track. They are suitable for rolling to steep conditions and for all terrains – except for very icy or very steep ground.

Mountain terrain: These snowshoes have been designed for the more experienced, and are suitable for steep and icy terrain. These are particularly popular amongst those who like to create their own trails in more extreme territory.

In addition to your snowshoes, you will also need to choose appropriate footwear and clothing. Your winter boots (that shouldn’t be confused with ski boots and snowboard boots) should be waterproof and appropriate to the type of snowshoeing that you are planning on doing.

Gaiters are useful for keeping the snow out of your boots, and choose socks and other clothing that have moisture wicking linings in order to keep you warm and dry. Wool and synthetic fabrics are best. Layering your clothing allows you to adjust it depending upon the weather and your activity.

What is the recommended load?

3-snowshoes-buying-guide-recommended-loadThe recommended load for your snowshoes very much depends upon what kind of snowshoeing you will be doing and what you will be carrying. Generally speaking, the heavier the load (you plus your backpack,) the larger the snowshoe.

Snow conditions also impact upon the recommended load – and when you see manufacturers’ recommended loads, they are usually based upon dry, light snow, which demands a larger snowshoe.

Open terrain with snow drifts are easier to manage with a larger snowshoe.

This naturally means that if you are going to be snowshoeing in the Pacific Northwest, for example, where the snow is wetter than that in Utah, then you will need a smaller snowshoe.

It’s certainly worth noting that you should buy the smallest snowshoe that your weight with gear and snow conditions will allow. This is because the larger the snowshoe, the more cumbersome it can be to maneuver. Icy and steep terrain is also easier with smaller shoes.

Open terrain with snow drifts are easier to manage with a larger snowshoe.

Not only do you need to consider the size of your snowshoes in order to calculate which is the best to suit your activity, conditions and recommended load, you also need to have a look at the different shapes of snowshoes that are on the market.

The bear’s paw snowshoe is, as the name suggests, a wide oval shape. This is a great choice for densely wooded areas and mountains with dense snow, but is slower than other snowshoes and it doesn’t work well in powdery snow.

Tear-drop shaped snowshoes come in a variety of sizes – up to four and five feet in length, and their size dictates the recommended load and what they are best suited for. For example, the longest – the Alaskan snowshoe – is used mainly in mountainous areas with deep, powdery snow.

Do these snowshoes have binding?

4-snowshoes-buying-guide-bindingsNaturally, you are going to have to attach your snowshoes to your boots, and for this, you need bindings (these are not the same as ski bindings and snowboard bindings). There are some things you should check out before you part with your money.

The last thing you want is a binding that is difficult to manipulate – or that comes undone by itself. Make sure that you try a number of different bindings when you are in-store so you can get a proper feel for them, then go ahead to buy online for discounts.

You also need to check out the binding attachment system, which will impact upon how flexible the snowshoe is.

Modern bindings should be manipulated easily – even with a gloved hand, so don’t forget to take your gloves with you. There are many bindings on the market – insulated, shaped and padded – but play around with them until you find the right one.

The three most common types of binding are gel bindings, which bind to the feet and have a snug fit; single pull adjustable bindings, which only need one pull to release; and clam-shell bindings – which are easy to pull off and put on again.

You also need to check out the binding attachment system, which will impact upon how flexible the snowshoe is. There are two systems, the first of which is known as fixed rotation. With this, your foot will remain with the shoe and move with you. The downside to this is that you could get snow piled up against your leg.

The second is the free rotation system, where your foot moves freely. You won’t get snow pile-up and it is good for crampon grab, but can be awkward for negotiating obstacles and walking backwards and could trip you up.

It is also possible to buy bindings separately from the snowshoes if you want to go for a more traditional style used by Native Americans and pioneers.

What activities are the snowshoes suitable for?

5-snowshoes-buying-guide-activitiesMany people buy snowshoes simply because they want to go about their daily routines as easily as possible throughout the winter months. There’s absolutely no fun to be had walking to the bus stop in thick snow that fills your boots.

For others, snowshoes enable them to carry on the fitness regime they started in the summer. Winter is traditionally the time when we tend to hole up and pile on a few extra pounds. Having snowshoes means we can get out there and make sure that doesn’t happen.

If you are a keen runner and enjoy competition, why not enter some of the races that are held throughout the northern states in winter.

If you enjoy jogging, then don’t let winter get in the way and stop you. You can purchase snowshoes that are suitable for running in the snow so you can continue with the serotonin hit and enjoy everything the season has to offer.

For those with an adventurous streak (and the fitness to go with it,) choose snowshoes that will you to venture into more rugged domains, such as mountainous areas with challenging slopes of ice.

If you are a keen runner and enjoy competition, why not enter some of the races that are held throughout the northern states in winter. This activity is increasingly popular, and there are snowshoes designed for speed.

Something else that is gaining in popularity are snowshoe walking holidays. These are available for all degrees of ability, from gentle walking to admire magnificent scenery, to more challenging mountainous trips.

Winter doesn’t have to be a tedious time to be endured until spring arrives. When you have snowshoes, you can enjoy sights and activities that you have never experienced before. If you are new to snowshoes, start small this winter and then see what you will want to achieve next winter!

Are there any accessories included?

6-snowshoes-buying-guide-accessoriesIf you buy anything these days it is likely to have accessories – which is a good thing because it means that you can add to what you’ve got rather then it becoming redundant and you have to start over with new equipment.

One accessory that you will find for snowshoes are something that we have already talked about – bindings, so we’re not going to repeat ourselves with that one – but remember you can upgrade.

Snowshoe bags are a great way to keep your snowshoes safe – and prevent them from being separated.

Another accessory is tails. These attach to the back of your snowshoe to extend its length and provide extra flotation on the snow. This is particularly useful if you are carrying a heavier than usual pack or having to deal with dry powder snow.

If you are going to be spending longer than usual in freezing conditions, keeping warm has to be a priority. Extremities are always at more risk than other body parts so make sure your feet stay toasty with foot warmers that have heating elements in them.

Other foot warmers include inner soles that are pre-loaded with heating elements that give long-lasting heat once they have been activated and placed in your boots. Don’t let freezing feet detract from your snowshoeing pleasure.

Snowshoe bags are a great way to keep your snowshoes safe – and prevent them from being separated. Who wants to find just one snowshoe when there’s a wintry wonderland waiting? Manufactured from extra-tough fabric, these bags are available in a number of different sizes.

Another accessory that isn’t for your feet, but which will certainly help you when it comes to snowshoeing, are poles. Use to help with your balance and to help prevent fatigue. Some poles can be folded for easy storage.

For the off-season, you might want to consider some kind of wall mount or wall rack to store your snowshoes easily without taking too much room. It will fit perfectly side by side with a snowboard wall mount.

Are the snowshoes sufficiently padded?

7-snowshoes-buying-guide-paddingSnowshoes per se are not padded at all. Contemporary snowshoes are constructed with synthetic decking and aluminum frames – although some compact models don’t have a frame at all. Instead, they have a hard decking so it can support your weight. Composite plastic decking tends to be extremely durable, but rubber decking is lighter and more flexible.

The padding, therefore, comes from your boots, and the footwear you choose for your snowshoes depends, in part, as to what you are going to be using your snowshoes for. If you only use them to nip to the local store, then you could decide a pair of thick socks inside your wellington boots is all the padding you need.

Except for extreme landscapes, choose boots that will flex at the ball of your foot, such as lightweight hiking boots.

If you want to do more serious snowshoeing, then your boots need more tough. Modern snowshoes are lightweight so don’t cancel out this advantage by choosing heavy boots. Except for extreme landscapes, choose boots that will flex at the ball of your foot, such as lightweight hiking boots.

Tight boots will restrict your circulation and give you cold feet, so think about choosing boots that are at least a half size too big so there is room for insulating socks with a moisture wicking lining for padding and comfort.

On the other hand, loose boots might cause some unwanted friction resulting in the formation of calluses, in which case you might end up having to use a callus remover.

Some snowshoe enthusiasts have got their boot padding down to a fine art, and use layering for the best result. Try a pair of thin polypropylene socks, then a neoprene pair, and then your boots followed by a neoprene cycling bootee – and then gaiters to keep the snow out.

Everyone’s metabolism is different, and some people feel the cold much more than others, so this layering will enable you to adapt to whatever your conditions are and how energetic you are being.

You won’t need to worry about soles with traction on them because your snowshoes will provide that for you, and remember that synthetic materials dry much more quickly than leather.

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
Our pick for the best snowshoes is: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes. This choice was made after spending 39 hours researching snowshoes.

Best Snowshoes Characteristics

best snowshoes

If your region is prone to bouts of sudden and extreme wintry weather, it’s a smart move to get prepared.

Snowshoes should be at the top of your shopping list – and we’re going to explain the five key characteristics they need.

Oftentimes, the best way to get an understanding of the snowshoes you’ll need when you’re out and about is through renting a pair on several occasions. This way, you can get accustomed to wearing them, moving around freely, and securing them.

Your body weight will be more crucial in determining the snowshoes you should buy than the length of your feet.

Sizing can also be a complicated affair – not least because snowshoes have their own measurement system that’s completely detached from the world of normal shoes.

Interestingly, your body weight will be more crucial in determining the snowshoes you should buy than the length of your feet, and for optimal performance, most experts recommend that the heavier you are, the longer your snowshoes should be.

One minor challenge can be deciding which pair of snowshoes is best for you if you’re on the borderline between two sizes provided by manufacturers. Opting for the pair down will give you greater control as you navigate wet snow and heavy gradients – however, if you go large, you’ll find that your snowshoes (and equipment, for that matter) won’t end up sinking into the snow at a moment’s notice.

It’s also important to make sure that you dress appropriately for an intensive day of snowshoeing. After all, it’s highly likely that you’re going to find just one jumper and some jeans won’t cut it. Instead, look for socks which have been specifically designed for use with snow boots. Alternatively, a good paid of ski socks will do the trick. They should be made of wool, rather long, and part of a multi-layered outfit to ensure that your body heat remains well insulated.

And last, but by no means least, make sure you’ve got the right accessories to guarantee that you’ll be taken seriously by the more seasoned snowshoeing fans out there. Good poles, and a carrying bag for added portability (which is different from ski bags, ski boots bags, and snowboard bags), are the best places to start when it’s time to get prepared for a day of trekking.

Traction

2-best-snowshoes-tractionYour new pair of snowshoes should have an effective and well-built traction system which is embedded on the bottom of each shoe – and this needs to be a deal-breaker. For those American football or baseball fans out there, you may also refer to this part of the snowshoe as “cleats.”

When you first head outside, you may actually wonder what the traction device is for. After all, you already feel quite stable – and free to move around. However, whenever the snow and ice is quite packed underfoot, or rather slippery, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that you purchased a pair with a good system.

Traction bars and crampons are both common methods to give you added stability and a firm footing on the snow.

Depending on your abilities, and the market that the snowshoe has been aimed toward, the location of the traction system will vary. Typically, on pairs which are designed for recreational purposes, they’ll be situated on the forefoot – so make sure you check out this area when you’re in the shops. Snowshoes designed for racing may also provide additional cleats on the heel, and aerobic models typically boast additional fangs on the toes – allowing you, the user, to push off effortlessly.

Traction bars and crampons are both common methods to give you added stability and a firm footing on the snow. Whereas bars (also known as side rails) prevent you from slipping from side to side when you’re passing over unstable surfaces, crampons help to moderate your speed while descending down hills, gradually filling up with snow to bring you to a halt.

Some trekkers only prefer to use traction devices when it’s really necessary, as otherwise, it can waste energy and slow you down. They are best used when you find that your feet are sinking into the snow with every single step, putting additional strain on your leg muscles and almost making you feel like you’re constantly walking uphill – even while you’re on a relatively flat terrain.

You should make sure that the traction is securely attached to the binding so it doesn’t break away during an intensive walk.

Lightweight

3-best-snowshoes-lightweightAs we’ve just mentioned, the sensation of walking with snowshoes can be rather surreal – almost like you’re wading through water at times.

Because features such as effective traction are going to slow you down, in addition to the equipment you’re carrying everywhere, splashing out on snowshoes which have been designed using a lightweight and efficient frame comes highly recommended.

Some manufacturers – which pride themselves on offering lightweight models – say they are motivated by ensuring that you can focus on the winter wonderland surrounding you, rather than constantly being frustrated by what’s attached to your shoes. They even claim to be half the weight of more conventional snowshoes, which have been built using an aluminum or plastic frame.

The main focus for lightweight snowshoes is floatation – and making sure that your feet are on top of the snow, rather than gently disappearing into it, at all times.

It is worth bearing in mind that some snowshoes which put all of their focus on being light may experience a trade-off with the other features that can add to your experience.

The main focus for lightweight snowshoes is floatation – and making sure that your feet are on top of the snow, rather than gently disappearing into it, at all times.

Lightweight snowshoes will usually be made out of an advanced type of aluminum alloy, with decking that consists of sophisticated materials such as hypalon or nylon. Even though they aren’t as heavy, they profess to be many times stronger than the more conventional choices for snowshoes – and manufactured to a military standard.

Remember: if you are planning on heading out to some rocky areas, rough terrains where it’s likely that the crampons are going to erode rather quickly and lose their effectiveness, you may find that lightweight snowshoes have far less staying power than other models, because all of the effort has been placed into shedding precious pounds to reduce the heaviness of the product.

However, when you’re looking to cover long distances – or climb to higher altitudes than ever before – a lightweight pair of snowshoes will provide that much-needed boost to your stamina, because your base weight is going to be significantly more streamlined.

No pressure points

4-best-snowshoes-no-pressure-pointsThis is another reason why it’s crucial to try on a few pairs of snowshoes – either while buying or renting – to make sure that you don’t experience any discomfort when you’re in the middle of nowhere with hours to go until a trek is over.

When the bindings of the snowshoes have been fully attached to your boots, you shouldn’t have to endure any pinching or unusual tightness. It may just seem slightly unpleasant and rather manageable at first, but as your physical exertion and the weather conditions intensify further on down the trail, you could really be wishing you spent just a few more minutes browsing for an alternative.

The design, and overall frame, of the snowshoe is also another factor which may be contributing to your discomfort.

One reason why pressure points occur is if you purchase the incorrect size of snowshoe for your needs. Plus, if you forgot to try the snowshoes on while wearing the boots and socks you were going to use on the day, it can almost feel like you’re shoehorning your feet into the attachment – and there isn’t much room to maneuver around sufficiently. You should always have a full dress rehearsal, if you’ll excuse the wordplay, to guarantee that you’ve got the correct size for the task at hand.

The design, and overall frame, of the snowshoe is also another factor which may be contributing to your discomfort – and some manufacturers offer nifty little extras which go a long way to eliminating pressure points altogether.

Firstly, the tongues on the binding may be fully adjustable – allowing you to make the necessary refinements until you feel comfortable. Although many snowshoes pride themselves on having simple closure systems which spring open and snap shut effortlessly – so you don’t have to take off thick gloves to fiddle with them – this can mean that you don’t have the fully bespoke fit that’s needed to alleviate pressure.

Another nice feature to watch for is insteps which are made out of padded foam. Once you have inserted your foot, they distribute evenly to remove pressure points, too.

Flexibility

5-best-snowshoes-flexibilityGenerally, you’ll also find that flexible snowshoes are far more comfortable to walk in – making pressure points less of a threat while you’re out on a trek.

The main areas of a snowshoe which need to be made of materials which won’t become stiff in sub-zero temperatures are the bindings and the decking – the soles of the snowshoe where the traction devices are attached.

Some manufacturers claim that the materials their snowshoes have been made of won’t become stiff until they hit temperatures lower than -40F, which is quite a remarkable feat. Whether or not we’ve been convinced this is more than a gimmicky gesture that wouldn’t be needed anyway is yet to be seen, unless you’re fond of trekking in Siberia.

When purchasing, try to have a feel of the snowshoes. The best models will be able to flex throughout the shoe – and not just in one particular area.

Flexible frames – which generally deviate away from the aluminum you’ll see so often in the marketplace – also help with shock absorption, an all-too-common problem when you’re on rough terrains and trying to navigate rocks which have had a smattering of ice and snow.

When purchasing, try to have a feel of the snowshoes. The best models will be able to flex throughout the shoe – and not just in one particular area.

This also helps to emulate the feeling of walking naturally, without compromising on the grip that you were wearing the snowshoes for in the first place. Now that’s what we call a win-win situation.

You should also check to see what the suspension is like on the snowshoes – as it can also take a lot of pressure off the ankle, which can become particularly vulnerable when you’re walking over long distances. A snowshoe which provides you with the necessary suspension can prevent a slip, trip or a fall – and offer support to prevent a fracture.

Flexibility will also help to ensure that the frame doesn’t get accidentally bent out of place when you’re walking on uneven terrain. If the snowshoe can gradually adjust to the surface it is being used on, it adds to overall durability and resilience – protecting your investment.

Extreme weather conditions

6-best-snowshoes-extreme-weatherIndeed, you might not be interested in taking up snowshoeing as a sports activity – instead, it’s possible you could just want a pair for when there’s heavy snowfall in your local area. This way, you’ll benefit from strong grips which ensure that you aren’t slipping all over the place as you try to keep the falling snow under control – and help neighbors to clear their driveways and continue with their lives as normally as possible.

Do bear in mind that your kids may not be too pleased about your decision to purchase a pair – as it could mean that are heading to school after all!

The most important thing you’ll need to have are snowshoes which offer a firm floatation device – as mentioned earlier – enabling you to keep on top of the snow, instead of your feet sinking downwards towards the floor.

Do bear in mind that your kids may not be too pleased about your decision to purchase a pair – as it could mean that are heading to school after all!

If you encounter a product which bills itself as a “recreational” pair of snowshoes, this will likely be the best model for you. There’s no need to invest in running or racing snowshoes if you’re simply looking for a way to stay mobile during bouts of heavy snow in your region. Otherwise, you could end up spending hundreds of dollars more for features which you’re never going to need unless you decide to train up for the Winter Olympics.

In summary then – there are four characteristics of snowshoes that you should be keeping a beady eye out for, guaranteeing that you’ll purchase a pair which fully satisfies your requirements.

They include a traction system which allows you to dig into that snow and ice, preventing you from slipping around. You should also be interested in lightweight pairs which help to enhance your maneuverability overall, and snowshoes which have been made out of a flexible frame that adds to your comfort and increases durability.

In many cases, you’ll also find that there are pressure points with some of the models out there – and that’s why you should always try snowshoes before you buy to prevent disappointment.

Frame material

2-snowshoes-reviews-frame-materialChoosing snowshoes made from the right frame material is an important thing to consider when looking at purchasing your own pair. There are typically two options to pick from – aluminum or wooden.

Aluminum frames tend to be extremely lightweight, making them fantastic for those who plan to cover large distances when out on their snowshoeing expeditions. The last thing you need under these circumstances are heavy weights clinging to your feet and slowing you down.

However, aluminum frames do have their drawbacks, with the most prominent being that they can be easily damaged by rocks.

Aluminum frames are also better at providing adequate traction than the wooden alternatives, which is an important aspect to consider if you are planning to snowshoe in territory that could be dangerous if you were to slip, such as mountainous regions.

However, aluminum frames do have their drawbacks, with the most prominent being that they can be easily damaged by rocks. This isn’t too much of a problem if you are planning to stick to established snowshoeing trails, but if you’re considering hiking up a snow-topped mountain then you need to be aware of this fact.

Apart from being more durable against harsh terrain than aluminum frames, wooden framed snowshoes are also a lot quieter too. This may not seem like too big a feature, but if you’re the kind of person that likes to walk to the sound of silence, then this may be a deal-breaker for you.

Naturally, when temperatures plummet, it stands to reason things are going to freeze – particularly if they are in direct contact with snow and ice. Wooden frames, however, are also far less likely to freeze than aluminum ones.

Another benefit to having wooden frames on your snowshoes is that snow and slush are much less likely to stick to them so you are not going to be hindered or slowed down by snow build-up.

Some users of some aluminum-framed snowshoes have complained that they are no wide enough. This is less likely to be a problem with wooden frames because their construction allows for larger dimensions.

Snow conditions

3-snowshoes-reviews-snow-conditionsIt is easy to think of snow as that white, cold stuff that stays around for months in the winter, but if you have to live with it on a day-to-day basis, or if you are a winter sports enthusiast, then you will be aware that there is much more to snow than that.

And naturally, the type of snow often dictates the type of snowshoe, so it makes sense to learn as much as possible about the types of snow that you are going to encounter – and which areas typically have more of one type over another.

Although the majority of people prefer dry powder, the advantage of smaller snowshoes means that you will find maneuvering is much easier than with larger shoes.

Dry powder is common to many areas – and it this type of snow that manufacturers tend to base their statistics on, such has recommended load. For this type of snow you will probably need a larger snowshoe, or to attach floatation tails to your snowshoe for better stability.

Wetter snow is more compact and so you will get away with a smaller snowshoe in these conditions. Although the majority of people prefer dry powder, the advantage of smaller snowshoes means that you will find maneuvering is much easier than with larger shoes.

There may well be occasions when strong winds blow away dry powder, leaving behind areas of ice. Naturally, this is going to be more difficult to traverse unless you have snowshoes that have suitable traction on them. If you think you may be in this situation, look for shoes that have built on crampons.

Snow drifts can cause hazards, and are likely to found no matter wherever you choose to go snowshoeing. All it takes is for the wind to blow the snow against an obstacle and you have the makings of a drift. As well as wearing appropriate snowshoes, you will find it beneficial to have walking poles with you.

Not only will these help to keep your balance with the knock-on effect of lessening fatigue, but you can use them to give you an idea of just how deep a drift is. Some snowshoe manufacturers offer poles as a free gift when you purchase your shoes – or you can buy them as a standalone item.

Nature has a funny way of throwing the unexpected at us, so even though you may think you know what to expect (and, therefore, what snowshoes and other equipment to take with you) it pays to be as prepared as you possibly can. Before you start any trip, check weather forecasts and specialized websites for as much detailed information you can get on the snow conditions.

Floatation tails

4-snowshoes-reviews-floatation-tailsFloatation (can also be found as flotation) tails are a snowshoe accessory that is added to the back of the shoe to increase its size and to give better coverage. Typically, these are used in deep dry powder snow, but a floatation tail can also increase the recommended load that a snowshoe can carry.

This makes it particularly useful if you need to carry a heavier load than you usually do without the need to buy new snowshoes – and because they are detachable, you can remove them when conditions revert to what you are used to.

Wearing floatation tails will change the way that your snowshoes work, purely because of the geometry of the entire contraption.

Many manufacturers produce floatation tails that only fit their own products. Although you may like the idea of mixing and matching, this allows particular features on the snowshoe to be complemented and reinforced by the tail – which makes sense.

Wearing floatation tails will change the way that your snowshoes work, purely because of the geometry of the entire contraption. Adding tails obviously adds length to your snowshoes, which will give you “toe forward.”

Many snowshoe users believe that this means that their toes will sink leaving their heel high, but actually, the reverse of this is true. Toe forward means that there is more weight to the back of the shoe (which makes sense seeing as there is an additional part there) and the toe will sink, which is better for walking in deep snow.

Although new, deep snow is the perfect time to utilize floatation tails, there are times when they are more of a hindrance than a help. These include using them on hard, packed snow, and when you are post-holing up or down gradients when the snow is soft and deep.

Floatation tails are available in a variety of lengths but usually add anything from five to ten inches to your snowshoes. If you think back to when you first used snowshoes, you will remember that you needed to adjust your gait to accommodate the shoes. Wearing tails, particularly the longer ones, will also affect your maneuverability.

When you are looking for floatation tails, make sure that they attach and detach easily from your snowshoes – and that you can manage it when you are wearing gloves. Not only will you need to be able to do this when you are on the move, but also for packing your snowshoes away – or they may not fit in your tote.

Shoe sizes

5-snowshoes-reviews-show-sizesFor many people new to snowshoeing, it comes as a surprise that there is so much leeway when it comes to sizes. For example, it isn’t uncommon for a snowshoe to cover a wide range of shoe sizes, such as 4.5 through 15 for men.

Although someone who is a size 4.5 is going to have a bigger expanse of snowshoe surrounding their boot than someone with a much bigger foot, snowshoes have been designed to take that into account and to be effective for everyone.

Snowshoes are also sized depending upon the weight that they are going to carry – and the size of the boot that will be worn.

As with everything, however, there are many different qualities of snowshoes so, unless you have had a particular brand before and are happy with it, it pays to try on different snowshoes with the boots you are going to be wearing with them so that you can check out the effectiveness of the bindings and ensure a snug fit.

Snowshoes are also available for children, so if you fancy making snowshoeing an activity that the entire family enjoys, then you will be able to get the right size for the smallest members of your group.

Children’s snowshoes have more variety when it comes to sizing – you can purchase smaller pairs that are suitable for general playing in the snow, and larger shoes that offer the same features as adult snowshoes.

Snowshoes are also sized depending upon the weight that they are going to carry – and the size of the boot that will be worn. Typically, men’s snowshoes are designed to carry heavier loads and to accommodate bigger boots. Women’s snowshoes tend to be narrower and have a more contoured frame to accommodate women’s footwear.

It is important to get the size of your snowshoe right so that you will achieve the best floatation. Generally, the drier the snow or the heavier the person (with equipment,) the bigger the snowshoe.

Snowshoes with aluminum frames have a range of sizes, usually 8 inches x 25 inches; 9 inches x 30 inches, and 10 inches x 36 inches. Forest, brush and packed trails are better suited to smaller snowshoes, as are icy and steep terrains. Larger snowshoes are necessary for open areas with deep drifts.

Jagged Tooth Construction

6-snowshoes-reviews-jagged-toothEven without any form of traction on your snowshoes, you will achieve some grip purely and simply because your weight pushes them into the snow. This may be suitable for simple snowshoes when they are only needed for things like putting out the trash, but more serious snowshoeing needs something more.

Again, there are variants. Although jagged tooth crampons or cleats provide greater grip and traction, the degree of these features depends upon whether you are going to be traversing flat terrain or mountainous regions.

The jagged tooth construction that you will find on snowshoes intended for flat landscapes will be much more moderate than the more aggressive crampons that are necessary for steep and/or icy conditions.

The jagged tooth construction that you will find on snowshoes intended for flat landscapes will be much more moderate than the more aggressive crampons that are necessary for steep and/or icy conditions, so this needs to be taken into consideration before you select your snowshoes. Jagged tooth crampons, traction bars and other traction features all play particular roles and are as follows:

Instep or toe crampons can be found on the undersides of your snowshoe bindings. These are the primary source of traction for all snowshoes and they work by digging in and pivoting with your feet as you climb.

You will find heel crampons on the underside of the decking on many snowshoes. These are often shaped like a V and work by filling with snow as you make a descent, thus slowing you down so momentum doesn’t pull you forwards and over.

Traction bars, which are also known as side rails, are positioned on the underside of the decking and are useful for providing lateral stability and for reducing the occurrence of slipping sideways as you move across slopes.

If your snowshoes have plastic decking, they may have braking bars, which will be integrated into the underside of the decking. These will enable forward traction and will help to prevent backsliding.

Heel lifts, which you may find described as climbing bars, are wire bails that can be pushed under your heels. Although not technically a jagged tooth construction, they provide traction on steep climbs as well as relieving calf strain.

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
Our pick for the best snowshoes is: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes. This choice was made after spending 39 hours researching snowshoes.

Summary

snowshoes reviews

Snowshoes are a necessity, whether you are an extreme sportsperson, or someone who simply wants to walk over the annual wintry downfall.

Matching yourself with the perfect pair is vital but it isn’t always easy, but knowing exactly what features to look for will help you to choose the right snowshoes for you.

The first thing you need to consider when purchasing a pair of snowshoes is what you intend to use them for. Yes, you’ll want to walk over snow in them, but there are different styles to suit different snowshoeing needs and abilities.

For snowshoeing enthusiasts that require something with extreme durability that allows them to stray from normal paths and walking routes, backcountry snowshoes are an ideal solution.

Different types of snowshoes generally fall under three categories: recreational, backcountry and race. Each category boasts pairs that are well suited to their purpose, allowing users to make the most of their own snowshoeing preference.

Recreational snowshoes are without doubt the most popular of the three styles. Practical on lots of different types of terrain, these are the ideal choice for those who are just starting to enjoy the benefits of snowshoeing, or need something that is versatile.

For snowshoeing enthusiasts that require something with extreme durability that allows them to stray from normal paths and walking routes, backcountry snowshoes are an ideal solution. Enabling walks through heavy snowfall, this style of shoe is robust enough to last through the harshest of winters.

Race snowshoes speak for themselves. They boast a lightweight, streamlined style that allows you to compete in some of the most demanding competitions in the country. Designed with professional running tracks and hard-packed trails in mind, these snowshoes are not recommended for an adverse terrain.

Having decided on the style to opt for, the next step in choosing the right snowshoe is to try some on. Many retailers allow customers to walk around in their products before purchasing, giving them the perfect opportunity to check that a particular shoe is both comfortable and practical enough for their needs.

Remember, though, to take along the boots that you plan on wearing with your new snowshoes along with you: while a snowshoe may seem a good fit with your normal everyday boot, you may find that, when attached to your snow boots, they aren’t wide enough.

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
Our pick for the best snowshoes is: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes. This choice was made after spending 39 hours researching snowshoes.

Sources

  1. Biomechanics Of Walking With Snowshoes, National Institutes of Health, 2012
  2. Winter Sports - Yosemite National Park, U.S. National Park Service, February 19, 2015
  3. Village Science: Snowshoes, Alaska Native Knowledge Network
  4. Best Snowshoes of 2017, Switchback Travel, October 25, 2017
  5. The Best Men's Snowshoes of 2017, OutdoorGearLab, May 2, 2017
  6. The 7 Best Snowshoes Reviewed For 2017, Outside Pursuits, November 6, 2017
  7. The Best Snowshoes for Winter Hiking, Gear Patrol, February 19, 2016
  8. First-Timer's Guide to Snowshoeing, Snowshoe Magazine
  9. The Best Winter Boots for Snowshoeing, Live Strong, September 11, 2017
  10. Step Up: The 6 Best Snowshoes, HiConsumption, October 5, 2014

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