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Best Snowshoes: Choosing the Right Pair for Snow Activities

Best Snowshoes
Russell McCarty
Written by Russell McCarty

Unlike typical outdoor footwear, snowshoes are made for walking in the snow. Where some outdoor enthusiasts may use this only a few times during the year, for others, where the terrain is always snowy white, this shoe is a part of their everyday wardrobe.

If you often have to deal with snow, then you know that having the best snowshoes can mean the difference between an easy and safe crossing across unpredictable terrains, and facing a battle against the elements every day.

The best snowshoes are those that have great traction and flotation—so you would be able to easily pave your way through all kinds of snow without sinking in or slipping—and those that have a great binding system, because wearing a snowshoe that keeps slipping off due to the unreliable bindings is not fun at all. If you can find a snowshoe that checks all of those boxes, you’ll have no reason to fear no matter how fierce the snowstorm was.

Snowshoes guide

In this article, we will first list the things you need to consider before you make the final call about which snowshoe you would entrust your safety to. After that, we’ll give you our top 9 recommendations of the best snowshoes available on the market this year. Let’s take a look!

Our Top Picks

Product NameRecommended LoadSuitable TerrainsFrame MaterialPrice
Chinook Trekker50 – 90 pounds (size 19), 90 – 130 pounds (size 22), 130 – 210 pounds (size 25), 180 – 250 pounds (size 26), 250 – 300 pounds (size 36)Flat terrainsAluminumCheck price on Amazon
ALPS Performance150 pounds (size 21), 250 pounds (size 30), 300 pounds (size 34)Packed snowAlloyCheck price on Amazon
Tubbs Men’s Flex VRT190 pounds (size 24), 290 pounds (size 28)All terrainsSteelCheck price on Amazon
MSR Revo Explore180 pounds (size 22) and up to 250 pounds with tails, 220 pounds (size 25) and up to 280 pounds with tailsAll terrainsPlasticCheck price on Amazon
MSR Lightning Ascent180 pounds (size 22) and up to 250 pounds with tailsAll terrainsPlasticCheck price on Amazon
MSR Evo 22180 pounds (size 22) and up to 250 pounds with tailsDeep, powdery snowPolypropyleneCheck price on Amazon
Atlas Company MontaneUp to 180 pounds (size 24)Rugged terrainsAluminumCheck price on Amazon
Tubbs WildernessUp to 150 poundsAll terrainsAluminumCheck price on Amazon
MTN 25 Venus PerformanceUp to 250 pounds (size 29)Flat terrainsAluminumCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Not many people are aware of this, but the snowshoe market is just as inundated with variety as any other. So with all of these snowshoes available, how do you select the right ones?

When you’re looking for snowshoes, they usually need to meet certain criteria. In other words, you want the best snowshoes for whatever the occasion or condition. These are the factors you should take into consideration when selecting the best snowshoes for your needs:

Flotation

It is important for you to consider the kind of terrain you would be heading off to before you consider the snowshoe’s flotation factor. If your destination area has unpacked snow, make sure to pick a snowshoe with great floatation. If you don’t, you’ll sink right in and that would defeat the purpose of wearing a snowshoe from the first place.

Boots and snowshoes

If your destination area has packed snow, then snowshoes with lesser flotation capacity shouldn’t be a problem. Although, it’s best if you go for shoes with good flotation capacity so you’ll be able to wear them without having to worry about the state of the snow every time you plan a trip.

Type

There are three types of snowshoes available. Recreational/hiking snowshoes are a basic selection and are perfect for first-timers. They are meant to work best on simple terrain that doesn’t require a lot of steep climbing or descents.

Types of Snowshoes

Aerobic/fitness snowshoes are best suited for those who are active and avid trekkers, such as runners and cross-trainers. Due to the purpose of its use, these snowshoes usually have a sleeker design than the basic selection snowshoe, and are generally tougher than most that are available on the market.

Hiking/backpacking snowshoes are even more rugged and more durable than the aerobic/fitness snowshoes.

Terrains

Snowy terrains are generally sorted out into three categories. Flat terrains are generally used by people new to the pastime, or for families with younger members. An entry level snowshoe should be enough to make it past this terrain.

Rolling terrains are usually encountered by those hiking off the beaten track. Shoes for rolling terrains should be able to handle rolling hills, steep hills, and all other terrains except for very steep hills and icy conditions.

best snowshoes of 2017

Mountain terrains are for the more experienced trekkers. Shoes designed for mountain terrains need to be able to traverse very steep and icy terrain. These snowshoes are made to attract those who blaze their own trails when on that rugged path, so the features and design would be of a more aggressive nature.

Compatibility

In addition to choosing the right snowshoes for you and your family, there’s another aspect of this choice which must fit like a hand and a glove. You need to consider the right boots which would fit into the snowshoes.

The boots should be waterproof and appropriate for the task or function at hand. They should also be insulated to you wouldn’t end up freezing your toes off in the cold. Remember, don’t underestimate the snow. Simply wearing insulated socks is not enough.

Compatibility of snowshoes

Other than the boots, you should also consider the binding system of the snowshoe. A good binding system is one that’s easy to figure out and straps on tightly but not so tightly that it bites into your flesh.

Size

The other factor is the amount of load you would be carrying while trekking.  A smaller sized snowshoe would be more suitable for persons carrying lighter loads, and the larger sizes would be more suitable for persons carrying heavier loads.

As you can see in the table above, the recommended loads for the shoes change depending on their size, even though they are shoes of the same make and model.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Now that we’ve dealt with the complicated details of snowshoes, let’s see our top pick list.

Chinook Trekker Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $51Chinook Trekker Snowshoes

Weight: 3.91 pounds (size 19), 4.01 pounds (size 22), 4.3 pounds (size 25), 4.95 pounds (size 26), 5.43 pounds (size 36)

Dimensions: 18.9 x 5 inches (size 19), 22 x 8 inches (size 22), 25 x 8.3 inches (size 25), 30 x 8.6 inches (size 26), 36 x 10 inches (size 36)

Specific features: Heel straps with quick release buckles, UV resistant polyethylene decking, lightweight and strong aluminum frame, easy to use dual freeze-resistant ratchet bindings, heavy duty aluminum crampons, includes carry bag

Best use: Hiking through trails and forest, flat terrains, perfect for first-timers

Description: The Chinook Trekker Snowshoes is a series of snowshoes which provide great traction and comfort on packed snow and moderate terrains. Each is designed and built to provide a great enjoyable experience in the winter months, and the makers at Chinook have devised a system to ensure that you buy the snowshoe that best suits you.

Commonly referred to as a great ‘entry level snowshoe’, the Chinook Trekker is the top choice for recreational snowshoeing. They hold up pretty well and are sturdy enough for long hours of snowshoeing fun. They are also very lightweight thanks to the aluminum frame, so even beginners who are not used to walking in snowshoes should have no problem with these.

It isn’t advised to use these trekkers for rugged terrain because they are not built very sturdily. The manufacturers clearly prioritized achieving a light weight over durability, so you might want to go a bit easy on this one, but overall, it’s a great choice. It’s also quite flexible thanks to the freely rotating aluminum crampons.

PROS:

  • Flexible thanks to the rotating crampons
  • Easy to wear and carry
  • Affordable price

CONS:

  • Not suitable for rugged terrains
  • Not very durable, especially the aluminum bend

Related: Chinook also supplies an assortment of hiking poles and hiking accessories which can be used with their snowshoes. Take this Chinook Badaxe Insulated Boot as example. These should be able to fit right into the snowshoes with no problem at all.

Check the price on Amazon

ALPS Performance Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $50ALPS Performance Snowshoes

Weight: 6.7 pounds

Dimensions: 28 x 11 x 5.5 inches (packed height)

Specific features: 3 available sizes: S-21, S-30 and S-34, sturdy alloy frames made with 6061 alloy material, deck made with TPU-85 plastic material, special frame design, not gender specific, fits most shoe sizes, easy Fast-Loc buckles

Best use: For kids, teens, adults with a small frame, beginners, for groomed trails and some off-trail in deep snow

Description: The frames of these ALPS Performance Snowshoes have a reputation for durability, being made of lightweight 6000 series Eastern aluminum tubing. With this particular snowshoe, ALPS takes a step further by making it capable of withstanding rugged terrains.

This snowshoe rated low when it came to flotation. It’s not suitable to extended travel in deep snow. They perform better on groomed and packed snow.

Fitted with two crampon components; one under the ball of the feet and the other under the heel of the feet, this traction system is somewhat semi-aggressive. The bindings offer limited foot mobility.

Coupled with the crampons which seem to collect a good amount of snow while trekking, the traction is significantly reduced. Occasions may occur where constant stopping and clearing away of the crampons of the accumulated snow would be required in order for them to function well enough.

These snowshoes are however quite easy to use, as they utilize a simple ratchet system. Even a novice would be able to figure out the basic anatomy of this snowshoe, based on the design of the frame, binding and decking system. They are sized as unisex which simplifies the buying process for snow trekkers.

PROS:

  • Great for traveling across packed snow
  • Great for beginners
  • Highly durable

CONS:

  • Not for traveling across unpacked snow
  • The crampons get clogged up with snow quite often

Related: Because this snowshoe will often accumulate snow, it’s best if you could protect your feet against the excess cold and weight using these InnoLife Unisex Leg Cover Wraps, especially if your shoes don’t do all that well against water and moisture.

Check the price on Amazon

Tubbs Men’s Flex VRT Snowshoe

Price: Approx. $250Tubbs Snowshoes FLEX Vertical Snowshoes

Weight: 4.5 pounds (size 24), 5 pounds (size 28)

Dimensions: 24 x 8 inches (size 24), 28 x 8 inches (size 28)

Specific features: 19 degree active Heel Lift, Viper 2.0 steel toe crampon, Tubbs DynamicFit binding and Boa Closure System, torsion deck design, curved, non-parallel traction rails, a soft strike zone

Best use: For walking on packed snow, variable terrain, steep ascents, and primarily hardpack or icy alpine conditions, for backcountry trekking

Description: Launched in 2014, the Tubbs Men’s Flex VRT Snowshoe is designed to deliver top backcountry performance. The Boa Closure DynamicFit system will keep your feet in all-day comfort.

Once tension is distributed evenly around your feet, the Patented FLEX tail design purpose is then realized, to ease the stress on the joints.

The award winning Flex tail design allows the snowshoe to roll from heel to toe so that you can maintain your natural gait of walking. The carbon steel crampons make it possible for traversing uphill and downhill with ease.

The traction is ideal for trekking on uneven terrain and the binding system is one of this snowshoe’s most important features because it’s really easy to fix, so you can put the snowshoes on and off without much delay.

All customer reviews on this snowshoe has been optimal, so there’s no reason to doubt them. They are great for all kinds of terrain and they can handle all kinds of snow—be it packed or unpacked. If you can afford to spend a bit more cash on snowshoes, these are a great option.

PROS:

  • Great binding system for easy on and off
  • Great for all kinds of snow and all kinds of terrain
  • They feel comfortable
  • The Flex tail allows you to walk as usual

CONS:

  • Expensive

Related: After a good, satisfying day of traveling across the snow in these snowshoes, you’ll have to go through the usually arduous process of carrying them back to the cabin. That wouldn’t be much of a problem with this Tubbs Napsack. You can just put the snowshoes in to dry. The nylon mesh design will keep the water from damaging the other gear you’ve got in this sack.

Check the price on Amazon

MSR Revo Men’s Explore Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $200MSR Revo Men’s Explore Snowshoes

Weight: 3.9 pounds (size 22), 4.1 pounds (size 25)

Dimensions: 23 x 7 x 9 inches (size 22), 25 x 9 x 9 inches (size 25)

Specific features: ExoTract deck, HyperLink binding, built-in televator heel lift, serrated perimeter rails, pivot toe crampon, flexible reinforced nose, includes a set of 10” extra-long straps for use with oversize boots, versatile modular adaptability with the Revo tail, MSR lifetime warranty

Best use: For steep, varied landscapes in any winter condition

Description: Whether you’re exploring rolling trails, or ascending a mountain flank, traction is essential for safety and efficiency when snowshoeing. The MSR Revo Men’s Explore Snowshoes have long set the standard for advanced grip through the terrain devouring perimeter traction.

The flexible reinforced nose with added shovel traction dig in for excellent stability. That’s why it’s great for all kinds of snowy terrains. Be it packed or unpacked fresh snow, you should have no problem traveling across it in these snowshoes.

On top of the excellent flotation, these shoes are also extremely durable. They can handle rocks and packed dirt with no problem. You can even do some steep climbing with these shoes.

On the downside, the quality and fit of the bindings come to the surface. The straps are often described as too short or just plain uncomfortable. The binding system isn’t necessarily bad per se. It’s designed for easy on and off so you shouldn’t have too much trouble with it even though you’ll have to deal with the relatively uncomfortable way they dig into your shoes for the duration of the travel.

PROS:

  • Great traction
  • Great for all kinds of snowy terrain
  • Great flotation
  • Durable

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Uncomfortable bindings

Related: Although the MSR Explore have great flotation on its own already, if you’re planning to go through some real fresh or unpacked snow and you’d like to be as prepared as possible, you can add this MSR Revo Flotation Tail to increase the stability.

Check the price on Amazon

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $290MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Weight: 3.8 pounds (size 22), 4 pounds (size 25), 4.6 pounds (size 30)

Dimensions: 22 x 8 x 6 inches (size 22), 25 x 8 x 8 inches (size 25), 31 x 10 x 16 inches (size 30)

Specific features: Available in black and silver, 360 degree traction frame, PosiLock AT binding, low friction speed straps, built-in Ergo televator heel lift, serrated perimeter rails, true-hinge steel crampon, versatile modular adaptability with the lightning tail, MSR lifetime warranty

Best use: For steep, varied landscapes in any winter condition

Description: Whether you’re exploring rolling trails, or ascending a mountain flank, traction is essential for safety and efficiency when snowshoeing. The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes have long set the standard for advanced grip through the terrain devouring perimeter traction.

It is a great snowshoe, although it has its own downsides, such as having a weak frame and binding system. It is recommended for users to keep their feet apart when using so that they would be able to regain the balance lost due to those caveats.

The MSR Lightning Ascent is not the cheapest snowshoe out there on the market, but that’s just because it offers a great value for money. These snowshoes offer extraordinary performance even in the toughest circumstances and across all terrains.

It has great flotation as long as you don’t run it through rocks and packed dirt or such because once the frame bends, the flotation will be thrown out of whack and the shoe will lose one of its most notable upsides.

PROS:

  • Great flotation
  • Great traction
  • Can be used to travel across all terrains

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Not very durable
  • The binding system is lacking

Related: Be sure to equip yourself with this MSR Snowshoe Bag whenever you plan to travel using the MSR Lightning Men’s Snowshoes. You can attach the snowshoes to the hooks attached to this bag for easy carrying.

Check the price on Amazon

MSR Evo 22 Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $140MSR Evo 22 Snowshoes

Weight: 3.6 pounds

Dimensions: 8 x 22 inches

Specific features: Available in dark blue, mineral, and red, Evo Unibody polypropylene deck, weather resistant DuoFit binding, unisex, free-floating pivoting binding, in-molded horizontal break bars, versatile modular adaptability with the Evo tail, MSR lifetime warranty

Best use: For most winter conditions, mountain snowshoeing, and general snowshoeing

Description: These are high-tech snowshoes for winter, backcountry adventures. The MSR Evo 22 Snowshoes remain a favorite of the trekkers around the world. This snowshoe is compatible with optional Evo tails (sold separately).

They are great for beginners because you wouldn’t have to keep your feet wide apart while you walk the way you usually have to with other snowshoes. These shoes are designed to allow you to keep to your usual walking gait.

They have great traction and flotation and can generally be used for any kind of snowy terrain, although they work best on deep, powdery snow.

Despite the overall great specs of these snowshoes, they do come with their fair share of caveats. Some users felt that the snowshoe bindings were too complicated to figure out, were very hard on the knees and the extension tail made it worse. These shoes also have a design that makes them catch on minor obstacles like rocks or mounds of snow rather easily up front.

Keeping in mind that there is a strategy and skill to everything, we’re sure that with practice and constant use, the negative outlook should change. These shoes may take some getting used to at first, but once that is done and over with, you’ll have an easy time walking in them.

PROS:

  • Durable
  • Affordable price
  • Great traction and flotation especially on deep, powdery snow

CONS:

  • Catches on stuff rather easily up front
  • Complicated bindings
  • Puts tension on the knees

Related: So you wouldn’t accidentally trip on anything and fall, you should have a dependable pair of trekking poles supporting your balance on the snow. These VAIKEEN Premium 3K Carbon Trekking Poles are a great choice overall due to their amazing durability.

Check the price on Amazon

Atlas Company Montane Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $115Atlas Snowshoes

Weight: 4 pounds (size 24), 4.5 pounds (size 28)

Dimensions: 25 x 8 x 10 inches (size 24), 28 x 14 x 12 inches (size 28)

Specific features: Available in bright chartreuse, durable composite decking, spring-loaded suspension, aluminum Reactive Trac composite V Frame, PVC-free composite tail, heel lift bar, Atlas BC utility strap, stainless steel Holey 1-toe crampon, PackFlat binding with urethane Z-strap, saw-toothed traction rails

Best use: For backcountry and outdoor enthusiasts looking to head into the mountains

Description: The Atlas Company Montane Snowshoe combines the aluminum V frame with a resilient composite deck to maximize durability. It is easy to strap on and use. The binding rail rests under the ball of the foot for easy positioning. The binding also locks on pretty securely so trekking is made even easier on all types of terrain.

The Endeavour creates good side hill traction with its lateral traction bars. The bindings are effective enough to keep this snowshoe underfoot without slipping. Overall, this snowshoe provides good traction, above par flotation, easy to use bindings and light weight.

On the other hand, though the heel lift has the enormous task of reducing tension on the calves, getting it to open and close can be a bit of a chore and may bruise some fingers. Other reported downsides include the noise the snowshoe makes on crusty snow (but that’s to be expected a little right?), and there can be some slight snow balling on the toe crampons while trekking especially in heavy, wet snow.

PROS:

  • Good traction
  • Good flotation
  • Good bindings
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • The heel lift is difficult to open and close
  • The crampons may accumulate snow

Related: You should have this Atlas Snowshoes Unisex Deluxe Tote Bag with you for easy carrying. It’s got a mesh window that you can use to dry your snowshoes on once you’re done with them.

Check the price on Amazon

Tubbs Wilderness Women’s Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $180Tubbs Wilderness Women’s Snowshoes

Weight: 4.2 pounds (size 21), 4.5 pounds (size 25), 4.6 pounds (size 30)

Dimensions: 8 x 21 inches (size 21), 8 x 25 inches (size 25), 9 x 30 (size 30)

Specific features: Available in white/green, 180 Pro binding, FitStep 6000-series aluminum frame, ActiveLift 16 degree heel, rotation limiter, cobra crampons, SoftTec decking, rotating toe cord, also available for men

Best use: For day hiking or going backcountry in all conditions

Description: Whether you’re exploring backcountry or day hiking, The Tubbs Wilderness Women’s Snowshoes are easy to use. The rotating toe cord shreds snow when you walk. While the rotation limiter prevents the snowshoe from over rotating.

The frame design reduces impact on the hip, knee and ankle joints. The durable decking enhances the flotation in the soft snow and the heel lift minimizes fatigue on the legs on upward or steep climbs.

All those features make for one amazing snowshoe that’s designed to minimize the tension and burden placed upon the user. In fact, this snowshoe is said to put 10% less burden on the users than other snowshoes in general. That’s why this is one of the best starter options for beginners.

Despite being designed for versatility and flexibility, the durability of this snowshoe is not to be underestimated. The bindings are great too. Unfortunately, the plate under the binding doesn’t seem to be as durable as the rest of the shoe. Also, the parts that are made of plastic are naturally less durable.

PROS:

  • Great for beginners
  • Lessens tension and burden placed upon the user
  • Great bindings

CONS:

  • Some parts of the shoe are not that durable

Related: As these snowshoes are for women, we are going to recommend the perfect gaiters specially created for women also. Tubbs Women’s Snowshoe Gaiters will keep your legs safe and warm throughout the journey.

Check the price on Amazon

MTN 25 Venuss Performance Snowshoes

Price: Approx. $56MTN 25 Venuss Performance Snowshoes

Weight: 4.8 pounds

Dimensions: 8.4 x 29 inches

Specific features: 6000 series aluminum frame, durable Nytex decking, FastLoc buckles, unisex, includes Nordic Pole and free tote bag

Best use: For beginners, for non-heavy-duty snow trekking

Description: Brand new from the MTN company, the MTN 25 Venuss Performance Snowshoes are, as the longer name implies; for men, women, kids and youth of all ages. These snowshoes are made lightweight Easton 6000 series, making them very durable and lightweight.

The bindings mold around the boot to cradle and pad the arch and ball of the foot to alleviate pressure points. The lacing system holds feet securely in place to avoid slipping and accidents. The FastLoc buckles create ease for donning and doffing.

The Nordic poles sport a comfortable grip handle, handle loop to the top. To the middle, is the anti-shock cushion and at the end of the poles are the sinking stoppers and anti-skid tips.

These are the perfect shoes for beginners or those who’d just like to have fun on the snow. They have all the necessary qualities without going overboard with them, so the price is fair too. However, for heavy-duty snow trekking, these shoes may not be quite up to the task.

They are durable but not so much that they can be used for climbing. They have good traction and flotation but not so much that they can be used for all terrains.

PROS:

  • Great for beginners
  • Great for all non-heavy-duty terrains
  • Reasonable specs all around
  • Affordable price

CONS:

  • Not for heavy duty snow trekking

Related: If you still plan to use these snowshoes to challenge heavy duty snow trails, you better equip yourself with these BlizeTec Traction Cleats. The extra traction can be a lifesaver. You don’t want to slip and cause yourself injuries—be it minor or major.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

Though it can be said that there are other snowshoes on the market which perform just as well or maybe even better than those on our list, we’d like you to consider something.

First of all, our focus was on the best of 2017 and secondly, coupled with the many features, designs, styles and colors available, our focus was on those with the least number of negative aspects and a high ratio of positive deciding features.

Best snowshoes

Therefore, you can be sure that all of the snowshoes we’ve reviewed above are tried and true. They will definitely hold up well when faced with the real challenge of a snowy terrain.

Which snowshoes did you like best? Do you have another pair that you prefer? If you think there are other snowshoes that deserve to be on our list, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell McCarty
Russell McCarty

Russell considers backpacking one of his great passions in life. He actually managed to transform his passion into a living becoming a professional adventurer. Russell loves long-distance backpacking and he enriched his portfolio with famous trails like the Alaska-Yukon Expedition or the Appalachian Trail. With thousands of miles under his feet, Russell is the expert to consult when it comes to how to prepare for a successful outdoor adventure.

  • Christian Miller

    Hello! I am an experienced backpacker, and I’m looking for snowshoes. I like to travel light, so they should be very lightweight. I will walk not only on snow but also on icy terrain such as glaciers. I suppose that I need some special type of snowshoes. What do you think?

  • Russell McCarty

    I believe the The Tubbs Men’s FLEX VRT Snowshoes will fit you perfectly. It’s designed for rugged terrain, steep accents and even on icy conditions. If you’re carrying a lot of gear, then its superior traction and binding system will ensure you’ll be able to walk comfortably without slipping. It may be steep in price, but oh so worth it! It’s the ideal pal for the experienced backpacker like yourself.

  • Deborah Cooper

    Hi there! Me and my boyfriend are staying in Vancouver for the next three weeks and we are planning to go on our first snowshoe hike tomorrow. We bought The Alps Performance Snowshoes With Poles And Tote Bag for both of us. Hope, it will be a comfortable journey.

  • Russell McCarty

    Vancouver is just cool (excuse the pun!) and I know you’ll both enjoy the experience with all your new camping gear. Those are excellent products that won’t disappoint so enjoy your vacation and keep safe and warm!

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