Last updated: 04/03/2020

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Do you enjoy long walks in the snow or ice? Then snowshoes are exactly what you need to go with your boots. That way, you can make the most of this wonderful physical activity in total comfort. Nowadays, you have access to high-quality products made with the very best materials and elegant designs to please everyone’s taste.

In the following article, we will tell you everything you need to know about this handy footwear that allows you to move more efficiently in snow. You will also discover the best models currently available on the American market. All of them offer excellent features, but keep in mind that you need to choose the snowshoes that best fit your personal use.

Key Facts

  • Snowshoes are essential for walking on the snow more quickly and with the necessary stability to avoid sinking.
  • Women often need models with a narrower design and smaller bindings due to the smaller size of their feet.
  • There are various crucial aspects that you need to consider before making your purchase. These include the traction and fastening system, which depend on the type of activity that you want to do.

Our Selection: The Best Snowshoes on the U.S. Market

Snowshoes have existed for thousands of years. This footwear has been a necessity for many peoples around the world, but it used to be tremendously rudimentary if we compare it to modern models. Recent advances in technology have led to the development of more efficient, lighter snowshoes, tailored to different types of activities. This is our selection of the best models on the market:

Best Snowshoes Overall

Wildhorn Outfitters is a popular American outdoor gear brand, and its Snowtooth snowshoes offer versatility, comfort, and performance at a great price. The auto-locking strap system on the heels ensures that you are firmly secured, with the fully adjustable bindings allowing you to tailor this footwear to your needs. Built with lightweight-yet-durable materials, these snowshoes are a great purchase for all your outdoor activities.

Best Snowshoes: Amazon’s Choice

Delivered in a practical carry bag, these very affordable snowshoes are made from aluminum alloy. The straps, buckles, and bindings are all designed to hold your feet in place firmly and comfortably. These no-frills snowshoes feature a sturdy frame and a PE decking specifically developed to increase the flotation of the footwear. They are available in three different sizes, so pay attention to the chart before choosing one.

Best Snowshoe Set

This product offers incredible value for money, as it includes a pair of quality snowshoes as well as two anti-shock trekking poles. That way, you will be fully ready and equipped to hit the great outdoors! The ratchet bindings and heel straps are very comfortable to use, while the quick-release buckles make it easier for you to put on and take off the snowshoes. Available in seven sizes, this snowshoe set also includes a carry bag.

Best Snowshoes for Hiking

Last but not least, this pair of snowshoes by MSR might seem more prohibitive financially, but they are certainly worth the investment. If you plan on doing some serious hiking in all sorts of weather conditions, this model provides the comfort, safety, and resistance that you need and expect. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, MSR has developed its own DuoFit binding system for increased reliability on the snow.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Snowshoes

In the section below, we have focused on the most frequently asked questions by past buyers and answered so that you can learn everything you need to make the right purchase. Choosing the best possible snowshoes is fundamental to enjoy your future outings while remaining comfortable and safe.

man walking on the snow

The frame is the main structure of the snowshoe. It is built with light, flexible, and resistant materials – generally metal or plastic.
(Source: Alec Moore: 6dJDe6MoVxM/ Unsplash.com)

What are snowshoes exactly?

Snowshoes are footwear that you attach to your boots to move faster and more comfortably on snowy or icy terrain. They distribute the body weight over a larger surface to prevent your feet from sinking entirely into the snow. Originally, snowshoes had a hardwood frame and were tied with leather laces.

Nowadays, on the other hand, they are made with light metals or plastics to reduce their weight and offer increased flexibility. They also integrate elements that greatly enhance their performance, such as the pivot rod to join the foot to the snowshoe at the toe, the crampons on the sole, and the heel lift.

What are the main elements of snowshoes?

Although we still don’t know exactly when the first snowshoes appeared, it’s certain that they have been around for thousands of years. They were very rudimentary-yet-efficient tools. In recent times, several elements have been added to this footwear, significantly improving its original design. Here is a list of these new components:

  • Frame: It is the main structure of the snowshoe. It is built with light, flexible, and resistant materials – generally metal or plastic. It can have different designs, but its role is to distribute the user’s weight evenly to prevent their feet from sinking into the snow.
  • Pivot rod: This element joins your foot to the snowshoe at the toe. That way, you can lift your heel and bend the knee without lifting the whole weight of the footwear.
  • Heel lift: You can easily implement this system to raise your heel. It helps alleviate your calf muscles when you are walking in steep terrain.
  • Crampons: These metal traction devices are located under the sole of the snowshoe and support you on hard snow or ice.
  • Toe claw: This is another element designed to improve your grip, especially in challenging situations such as descents.
snowshoes on the snow

Snowshoes are ideal if you want to stay fit and enjoy the great outdoors during the harsher months of the year.
(Source: Vladislav Zhukov: 90857079/ 123rf.com)

Which snowshoes are designed for each activity?

You should always keep in mind that everyone has their own needs and that a model fit for you won’t necessarily be for someone else. This is why it is important to know the main characteristics of the different types of snowshoes according to the activity you want to do. Let’s look at the four primary criteria shape, flotation, mobility, and grip:

Hiking Mountain racing Hiking
Shape Teardrop shape Elongated shape Wasp shape
Flotation Greater flotation Low flotation Medium flotation
Mobility Medium mobility Increased mobility Good mobility
Grip Low grip Minimal grip High grip

Are women’s snowshoes different?

You can find various models on the market: for men, women, children, or unisex. The main differences lie in the size and shape of the snowshoe. Because women tend to have smaller feet, they need narrower frames and sharper tails at the back. This means that they will also have smaller bindings.

That being said, some women can perfectly use men’s snowshoes. In fact, there are also unisex models that are suitable for both genders. Bear in mind that smaller snowshoes tend to sink more easily in soft snow. This is always important to know for people who have shorter feet, as it can influence the overall comfort of the footwear.

man walking on a forest

The binding system is designed to secure your feet to the snowshoes.
(Source: Natala Standret: 87227174/ 123rf.com)

What are the benefits of using snowshoes?

In addition to allowing you to walk on snow or icy surfaces with ease, this footwear offers various other advantages to its users. They are particularly good for your health, for instance, since you are active and in contact with nature. Here are some other benefits:

  • Aerobic exercise: Snowshoes are great if you want to stay in shape while living in an area where winters are very harsh. Snowshoeing provides a fantastic aerobic workout.
  • Social activity: Some people love the solitude of walking snowy paths on their own, but others see snowshoeing as an activity to be shared with others. As long as you keep away from challenging obstacles, you can go out with children and seniors alike.
  • Preparation: You can’t convenient go out with snowshoes and hope for the best. Knowing how to maneuver them is vital to get up if you fall or to cross slopes efficiently and safely. All these skills you will learn are an advantage when moving through nature, especially in adverse conditions.
  • Price: Snowshoes are much more affordable than the vast majority of other winter equipment. You can find quality models for just about any budget.

How do I put my snowshoes on?

You may feel a little lost the first time you go to put your snowshoes on. Luckily for you, it’s really not that difficult; you simply have to learn how its different elements work. if you’re unsure of what to do, here is a small step-by-step guide to help you:

  • We recommend that you put the snowshoes in the snow to avoid damaging the crampons and the surface you are on.
  • Open the buckles, loosen the straps and clean the area where you place your boots.
  • Close the straps once your feet are flat on the snowshoes – including the instep and heel straps.
  • Make sure that there are no gaps between the straps and your boots. You shouldn’t feel any pressure either.
  • Move your feet, lift them, and start walking. You will quickly notice it if something is wrong.
dressing snowshoes

We recommend that you put the snowshoes in the snow to avoid damaging the crampons and the surface you are on.
(Source: Josep Suria: 111736815/ 123rf.com)

Which boots should I wear with snowshoes?

You can certainly use your hiking shoes if you are going for a short session of a couple of hours on compact snow. They will be breathable and comfortable enough, although they do not provide the ideal support. For anything longer and in more demanding conditions, you are advised to wear proper trekking boots with a high cane to support your ankles.

Generally speaking, the quality of your footwear should increase according to the demands of the activity and the conditions in which you are going out. Your shoes must be resistant, comfortable, waterproof, and provide good breathability. As we briefly mentioned before, they should fit your snowshoes like a glove – with no gaps or pressure.

Buyer’s Guide

There are various criteria that you should take into account if you want to find the snowshoes that are most tailored to your specific needs. Choosing the right model is essential for optimal performance on the snow. In that regard, you must evaluate the quality of the materials, the size corresponding to the terrain, conditions, and weight, as well as the traction or binding systems.

Manufacturing Materials

Snowshoes have evolved considerably over time. Wooden models were used for centuries and until very recently, but the latest ones are made with materials that boost their overall performance. They are composites that you can use in most situations but bear in mind that they do not all offer the same quality.

Low-budget snowshoes are generally made of polymers (plastic compounds). Their main drawback is that they cannot withstand very low temperatures or excessive weight. Products made from synthetic compounds (resins and fibers) are lighter and more resistant. The top snowshoes on the market are in aluminum or steel, providing the best traction and durability.

man camping on a mountain

There are snowshoes for everyone and every budget.
(Source: Vladislav Zhukov: 86252594/ 123rf.com)

Size

You have to factor in a series of aspects in order to find the right size for your snowshoes. These criteria include the terrain and the weather conditions, as well as your weight and gender. You can find some tips below to help you have an idea of where you should start searching:

  • Terrain: Think about the surfaces you will most often use your snowshoes on. If you want to hike, you should favor good buoyancy.
  • Conditions: If the snow isn’t very dense, wide frames with long tails will prevent you from sinking.
  • Weight: Every model will indicate the weight it can support without losing stability and buoyancy. Add the weight of the material you want to carry to your own weight and choose your snowshoes accordingly. The widest and longest models can generally carry the most weight.

Heel Lifts

Nowadays, these small and convenient elements are available on most models. These metal bars are placed horizontally under each foot and can be raised at any time using a trekking pole. The heel lifts allow you to have your feet foot in a natural position when climbing slopes, reducing fatigue and preventing tension in your calf muscles.

Grip

Located on the bottom of the snowshoes, the traction system helps keep you stable and secure. It is generally made of steel, aluminum, or plastic. While the grip isn’t so important when walking on flat, unobstructed snow routes, it’s an entirely different story on steep slopes and slippery terrain. Here are the different gripping elements found in snowshoes:

  • Crampons: Generally placed in the metatarsal area under the sole of the snowshoes, they are sometimes also present under the heel.
  • Grip teeth: Just like crampons, they provide greater stability as you walk. They can be found along the outer frame.
  • Toe claw: This blade is located in the front zone of the snowshoe. It is not very useful on ice and slippery slopes.
hiking on a mountain

Snowshoes are footwear that you attach to your boots to move faster and more comfortably on snowy or icy terrain.
(Source: Vladislav Zhukov: 90660617/ 123rf.com)

Binding

The different binding systems available are all designed to secure your feet to the snowshoes. Make sure that you can easily adjust them with gloves on, during your walks, and in uncomfortable situations. You should also check that you feel no pressure or tension points when tightening the straps, as this could turn an enjoyable outing into a real nightmare.

Don’t overlook the fact that your shoes should fit in the straps. Snowboard shoes are quite large, for instance, and a small binding system would not be compatible with them. Most are made of plastic, but you can also find rubber or nylon straps with buckles.

Summary

Winter might be coming, but it’s no longer an obstacle or excuse for not staying in shape. If you are one of those who love going out on hikes through the mountains, you no longer have to give up just because it snowed. Snowshoes are the right accessory to keep going with your healthy habits.

There are many models on the market, most of which offer the quality and safety you need. All that’s left for you to do is find the snowshoes that fit your size, so don’t forget the tips we have given you throughout this article. Are you ready to enjoy nature at its finest?

We hope that you found our guide on snowshoes helpful and informative. If so, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. Don’t forget to share our article on your social media!

(Source of featured image: Zhukov: 86186457/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Carl Gissendam Outdoor Lover
Carl was born in the Rocky Mountains and loves anything related to mountain sports and hiking. His parents bought him his first pair of skis when he was only 4 years old! No wonder he is so passionate about winter sports. He is now a ski instructor and works as a tour guide in his beloved Rocky Mountains