So, you love hiking and running trails during the summer, but then winter comes along and puts a damper on your favorite pastime. Well, instead of sitting inside all winter waiting for the snow to melt, why don’t you look at getting a pair of snowshoes so you can continue to enjoy your favorite hiking trails even in the winter. Snowshoes provide you with solid traction to ensure you can enjoy your favorite hikes even when there are a couple of feet of snow on the ground. So for your next winter adventure, get some snowshoes and start exploring!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Top Ten Snowshoes
1. MSR Evo 22
The binding system could be more comfortable
MSR’s Evo Snowshoes are a great option for those who are just starting out with snowshoes and can accommodate beginners and intermediates with its basic and easy-to-use design. Plus, these snowshoes are very inexpensive, and also very durable, providing a lot of traction and grip.Read more
MSR’s Evo Snowshoes are made with solid toe crampons and side rails of steel, so they are strong and durable, even though they don’t cost too much. They do run a bit short, meaning they don’t perform as well in powder like some other options, but you can purchase optional six-inch tails to help improve this feature if you want.
The snowshoes themselves weigh 3.56-pounds. As for the weight of the user, these shoes can hold weight up to 180-pounds.
With brake bard and steel, traction rails both molded right into the snowshoe decks, you’ll get a great fit and a lot of comfort with these snowshoes. Plus, the Modular Flotation technology built into these snowshoes gives you a snowshoe you can maneuver easily.
Designed to be lightweight with weather-resistant features and excellent traction, you’ll get the grip you need while still getting the stability and control you’ll need to perform well as you hike. Also, these snowshoes are made with a DuoFit binding that helps handle rolling terrain well.
2. Crescent Moon Gold 13
Uniquely designed for women
A smaller model might be more suitable for groomed trails
The Crescent Moon Gold 13 for Women are uniquely designed for a shorter and more of a narrow stride. They provide women with a comfortable snowshoe specifically catered to them for an optimal experience in the outdoors.Read more
The traction system of these snowshoes is very versatile, however, it really shines in icy and hard-packed snow. It features a toe claw that makes the shoe ideal for climbing.
They are built to be lightweight and responsive to your movement so that trekking in the snow doesn't feel heavy or burdensome. They weigh in at 3.9-pounds per pair and can accommodate users up to 165-pounds.
What makes these snowshoes so special is that they have been engineered specifically for women with their teardrop shape. The shape allows for an easy stride that isn't forced or changed. Along with this, the binding system is a Single Pull Loop that has been toted as one of the best in the industry. The binds are made of a polymer that is flexible and wraps around your feet. This system ensures that your feet are firmly in place, and you can tighten or loosen it to fit your needs with only one hand.
The traction system of these snowshoes is also excellent and reviewers agree. With the aggressive crampon stainless steel traction, you will feel able to maneuver over the snow confidently. Overall, these Crescent Moon Gold Snow Shoes are an optimal choice for women based on their unique design, shape, and maneuverability.
3. TSL Symbioz Elite
They may not be suited for soft snow because of the narrow profile
The company TSL is based in France and may not be as well known to the American market, like other brands. However, these Symbioz Elite Snowshoes are a fantastic way to bring TSL to the forefront. Overall, these snowshoes offer a feeling of stability, comfort, and a high level of traction.Read more
The decking in these snowshoes is made of flexible, durable plastic that brings the ability to flex in a natural way while absorbing impact comfortably. This makes these snowshoes ideal for any terrain.
This technically designed snowshoe fits people who are 110-260 pounds, so there is a wide range of usability. The shoes themselves are slightly heavy, weighing in at 4.41-pounds.
These TSL's feature a HyperFlex technology that allows the frame to properly conform to almost any terrain while offering substantial grip. Along with this, the memory toe binding system allows you to customize the length you desire in just a matter of seconds. And the TSL Symbioz Elite has a ratcheting strap that you use to customize a secure and comfortable fit.
The HyperFlex technology provides you with great grip and traction on any terrain. Overall, the TSL Symbioz Elite Snowshoe is definitely a step in the right direction for a cutting edge, quality product that boasts comfort, quality, traction, and stability.
4. MSR Lightning Ascent
Can feel narrow in deep powder
MSR’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are made for hardcore winter adventures, so if you enjoy hitting the woods in the backcountry, you’ll love this lightweight, grippy, and strong snowshoe option. MSR’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are designed with traction that runs the length and width of the shoe, and can easily grab onto the iciest terrain around.Read more
MSR’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are built to handle ice well, but also can grab onto snow when it’s powdery, handling a variety of terrain and different weather conditions with ease.
Designed with a light nylon decking, the weight of these snowshoes tips the scales about four pounds, making this a very lightweight option.
The lightweight design of these snowshoes will help keep your fatigue level down if you have to travel far, and the straps on these snowshoes are also made to keep your feet comfortable. Designed to ensure an accurate fit on your fit, you’ll feel like you can go anywhere with these snowshoes on.
MSR’s Lightning Ascent Snowshoes are made with a 360-degree traction frame so that you get an excellent grip and a balancing effect from these shoes. Also, the AT bindings are made to be secure and won’t ever freeze while you wear them.
5. Atlas Montane
Great crampon technology
Atlas, as a brand name, offers several popular snowshoe options that are both high-quality and affordable, which gives beginners a great chance to grab some great snowshoes at a good price. Atlas’s Montane Snowshoe is made as an all-around versatile snowshoe, so it can handle a variety of terrain conditions on both the trail and in the backcountry.Read more
Atlas also designed their Montane Snowshoes with a crampon that has one large claw and traction bars on both sides, meaning these snowshoes are great in icy conditions, especially for their price. If you plan on handling powdery snow, you can buy the Montane in longer versions.
Depending on the size that you order, 25”, 30”, or 35”, the shoes can handle weight from 120-pounds to 300+-pounds.
Atlas’s Montane Snowshoes are also made with Nytex Decking and feature a Wrapp Swift Binding for added durability. With enough versatility to get you everywhere you’ll need to go, these snowshoes give you a lot of great features for their price. These snowshoes also have simple, easy-to-use bindings that are easily tightened over your feet, so the snowshoe design offers several quality features.
Designed with a traditional teardrop shape, Atlas’s Montane Snowshoes come with a Spring-Loaded Suspension which helps boost both your stability and your ability to move while out on the snow.
6. Chinook Trekker
Good starter shoe
Could be built for rougher terrain
Chinook’s Trekker Snowshoes offer a high-quality snowshoe that brings good performance for those who are just starting out with snowshoes. Designed to be durable and made to perform well, these snowshoes come at an average price, and also a lot of features and benefits that provide you plenty of bang for your buck.Read more
These snowshoes are made for beginners, and as such, aren’t designed for technical terrain. They function best in simple terrain, but mild ascents and descents are not a problem.
Designed to be lightweight so you won’t feel fatigued as you move, these snowshoes also feature a strong aluminum frame that is also made to be comfortable for easy walks. They can handle weights from 180-pounds to 250-pounds. The shoes themselves weigh about 4.95-pounds per pair.
Chinook designed their Trekker Snowshoes to be basic and simple, so they are easy-to-use and great for newbies using snowshoes. They feature UV resistant polyethylene decking, and the dual ratchet bindings and heel straps on these snowshoes are very easy to use and adjust, giving you great comfort and boosting your performance. They are excellent for those who want to try snowshoes for the first time and come with enough features to keep you having fun all day long. Chinook’s Trekker Snowshoes also come with a carry bag with backpack straps, side handles, mesh ventilation, and Velcro pole carriers. They perform well in the snow and offer you just want you need to start out in the sport.
The aluminum rotating crampons and heel crampons provide great traction for descending on mild slopes. They easily grip in both powder and ice.
7. Atlas Aspect
Some found the design of the crampons to be frustrating and not backcountry suitable
The Atlas Aspect is a relatively new design that was created to be lighter and more convenient for you. The new design has a lighter construction that boasts 1/2 a pound less than previous models. The length of 24" or 28" makes these well-constructed snowshoes a fantastic addition for any mountaineer.Read more
The Spring-Loaded Suspension, or SLS, is a patented design suspends the Aspect shoes so they are close underfoot, and this makes them responsive and offers freedom of movement for a more natural stride. They work well over many different terrains, including ascents and descents.
As a pair, these snowshoes weigh in at 4.15-pounds. They can accommodate a weight of 130-pounds to 225-pounds.
Overall, these snowshoes are designed to optimize surface coverage, durable, and responsive, and the unique shape created by Atlas means that less snow will be pulled in to slow you down. These are a solid option for any mountaineer, but it should be kept in mind that they have been created with the intention of fitting bigger boots.
The Atlas Aspect has been optimized to provide you with the ability to cover a good amount of surface in comfort and good stride. And these shoes have an Infinite Decking system that integrates both the deck below and the inner frame so that they are protected from abrasion. This allows them to be durable and last longer. Pair all of this with 4-point steel binding crampons, and you’ve got great traction over a variety of different terrains.
8. Crescent Moon Gold 10
Great binding comfort
Handles a variety of conditions
Traction could be better
Crescent Moon is an outdoor brand that’s known for focusing in on their snowshoes since that’s the only type of product the company creates. With their excellent formula and excellent manufacturing, this company has managed to make excellent snowshoes that are free of harmful chemicals, and also come with a lifetime warranty.Read more
These snowshoes are able to handle a bevy of terrain and weather conditions, from trails to hills in either the ice or powdery snow. Also, these snowshoes are made with a nice shape that feels athletic and flexible, helping you stay comfortable as you move.
As a pair, these snowshoes weigh 4.95-pounds. They can accommodate users up to 225-pounds.
Made with SPL bindings, these snowshoes will help keep your weight distributed equally over your feet as you move. Also, the TGS decking material built into these shoes keeps them stable and strong, and also helps to extend their life so you’ll get a lot of use out of these snowshoes.
Crescent Moon’s Gold 10 Snowshoes are some of the best and highest quality snowshoes available on the market today. These snowshoes have five additional inches on them when compared to the popular Gold 9 version, and also include an extra set of claws on them.
9. Tubb's Flex Trek
Good range of motion
These snowshoes are very easy to use. They feature a one-pull adjustment system that easily allows you to find the perfect fit. Reviewers are impressed by their durability and traction. They feature jagged teeth on the bottom that makes gripping snow and ice a breeze.Read more
Getting you through many different terrains, these shoes only sink a couple of inches into the snow. Reviewers say that they are thoroughly impressed and that the slight sinking is not enough to hinder mobility. The jagged tooth construction provides a great grip on snow and ice.
From a size 22, these weigh about 3.4-pounds. As for their weight limit, according to Tubb’s website, they can handle up to 250-pounds, including the weight of the wearer and their gear.
Ease of use and comfort are two of the best features of these snowshoes. They are easy to step into and feature a one-pull tightening system. The pivoting frame allows you to walk normally. Additionally, the flex tail enables you to walk further with less stress and the 16-degree heel lift reduces strain on the Achilles and reduces calf fatigue.
You’ll feel confident in almost any terrain with these snowshoes. The carbon steel cobra crampon provides constant contact with the ground. The teeth are made from aircraft-grade aluminum.
Comes as a kit including ski poles and carrying case
Has a lifted heel
Some say the shoes are noisy
The Redfeather snowshoes feature a live-action hinge that moves with you, increasing speed and mobility. They are specifically designed for women and have a narrower stride and a slightly shorter length. Additionally, the crampons are powder-coated and easily shed snow.Read more
Whether you find yourself in powder or packed snow, this snowshoes will get you where you want to go. The wester tail provides great flotation. Additionally, the live-action hinge works with you and raises the tail of the shoe for increased speed and mobility.
These lightweight shoes are specifically designed for women. The framework of the shoe is custom-made for shorter strides. The weight limit of the shoes depends on the size that you order. The shoes are available in sizes 22-36 and accommodate weights from under 150-pounds to over 220-pounds.
The SV2 binding provides a secure and comfortable fit. The shoes are easy to put on and feature a one-pull adjustment system. The powder-coated stainless steel crampons are abrasion resistant and shed snow easily. The Red Feather shoes are sold as a kit and come with three-piece ski poles and a nylon carrying case.
Great traction is brought to you by a 6,000 series aircraft aluminum frame paired with stainless steel front and rear crampons. They offer superior puncture and great traction.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When trying to select what the best snowshoes will be for your needs, you want to consider what types of places you’ll be going when you have your snowshoes on, and what the terrain and weather conditions will be like. So, first evaluate whether or not you plan to hit the trails only, backcountry only, or a combination of both.
Shoes designed for regular hiking trails tend to be designed for more mobility, meaning they run shorter and don’t float as well. So, you’ll get the traction and support you need for trails, but not if you know you’ll be handling powdery snow conditions. If you plan on hitting the backcountry in your snowshoes, you’ll probably need to consider snowshoes that are longer in length.
Snowshoes that are longer tend to offer less mobility but perform better in backcountry conditions and can float well in powdery snow, so there is a tradeoff here. Some snowshoes are designed to handle both conditions but can cost you more for their versatility. So, if you know you’ll only be hitting the trails, you can save a bit of money by purchasing snowshoes that are designed to handle trails only.
Some snowshoes are designed specifically for either trail or backcountry trips only. A good backcountry snowshoe, like the Crescent Moon Gold 10 mentioned on our list above, comes with a longer length to help you float better in powder, and also come with a lightweight design to prevent fatigue when you’re tackling the major terrain. Backcountry snowshoes also focus on giving you great traction and offer other benefits like heel lifts for taking on a deep terrain. Other shoes come designed for runners and racers and are made to be very lightweight and help you run or trail jobs during the wintertime. Most snowshoes developed for running and racing conditions are made to be comfortable with traction that will help keep you going all day long.
If you get snowshoes that are more specialized for the backcountry orrunning, they can cost you a bit more, so make sure you need that level of snowshoes before you invest in your purchase. If you don’t need specialty snowshoes, you’ll be able to save a little more money on your purchase.
After you understand what types of snowshoes you need (trail, backcountry, or otherwise), the next step is to figure out what length you’ll need in your snowshoes. Depending on what snow conditions you will encounter, you need to think about whether or not you need something longer to float over the powdery snow if you are likely to run into that type of snow where you plan on adventuring.
In our snowshoe list above, we’ve got a wide range of length options made by various manufacturers. Some run as short as twenty-two inches, while some are as long as thirty-six inches. Shorter snowshoes work best when you’re on the trail, and your longer snowshoes will help you tackle backcountry snow. However, you also need to factor in your weight when you’re trying to figure out the length since most snowshoes come with a recommended weight range, called the “recommended load” which factors in body weight and carry weight, and lets you know where your weight range will fall. If you are a heavier person, you’ll need longer snowshoes to keep you floating on the powdery snow and remember to also factor in the weight that you’ll be carrying. A few snowshoe designs feature optional tails you can purchase, which can help add length to your snowshoes when you need it.
The last thing you need to be careful of is factoring in snowshoe length only based on weight, and without thinking about the snow conditions you’ll discover when you are out and about. Depending on where you live, you’ll encounter different types of snow conditions. In the Mid-West and Pacific Northwest, you’ll get a mix of hard and powdery snow, while some areas in the East are harder, and areas in the West typically get more powdery snow. The type of snow you usually find where you’ll be adventuring is an important factor, and if you know you live in an area that usually has more powdery snow, then you’ll want to make sure you also consider the length you’ll need to float as well as your weight. On the other hand, if you know you’ll be on hardpack snow only, you won’t need to worry so much about flotation in your snowshoes.
Snowshoe bindings are another important feature to consider because they will dictate both your level of comfort and stability, depending on the quality of the bindings. Bindings that are higher-quality will keep your feet in place with a lot of comforts for many hours on the trail without you needing to adjust their fit. So, the better the bindings, the better your snowshoes will feel and the less frustration you will experience. Different manufacturers use a variety of binding methods on their different snowshoe styles, and you’ll find a lot of differentiation between brands when looking at bindings. However, typically, the easier the bindings are to adjust and the more comfortable they are, the more expensive they cost.
If you are shopping on a budget, bindings are still something you want to consider when you make your decision. If you know you won’t be out on the snow for long periods of time, then you may not need something that supports you as well as somebody who plans to be out on the trails for many hours. Depending on your style on the trails, you’ll need to consider exactly what you need with this feature.
Snowshoe Straps and Single Pull-Ons
Your typical, standard binding style usually features a plastic wraparound feature that is set in place with webbing or straps placed over the foot and around the heel to keep your foot in place. Different designers use different types of straps and bindings, although many do follow the more traditional method. MSR’s snowshoes usually feature strap systems, while Crescent Moon’s snowshoes, on the other hand, has a single pull loop system.
The bindings you find on your snowshoes will also affect your comfort level when you are out in the snow or ice and how good the bindings are will affect your performance overall. However, bindings themselves aren’t always equal to the quality of the snowshoe. For example, MSR makes great snowshoes, but their binding systems aren’t typically as stellar as those offered by some other brands. With MSR, you get bindings that lie flat and the idea is it’s easier to carry items on your back this way, but the way the system is designed affects comfort and stability overall. So, different brands do develop their bindings with different trail and backcountry methods in mind, and it’s important to factor that into your decision. Depending on how you feel about the comfort level and the adjustability of your straps, bindings and their usefulness can vary based on personal preference. It would be a good idea to figure out what types of snowshoes you are interested in and try them on to check out the bindings.
Some snowshoes are designed with the boa system to help the shoes fit better and to also adjust more easily. Boa systems are made to function in the classic wrapped style, and traditional webbing replaced with wiring that can easily be tightened simply by turning a dial. Once you turn that dial, the system will cinch down and you’ll feel your snowshoes even out while also experiencing a boost in comfort. Boa systems originally came from designers like Tubbs and Louis Garneau, and are becoming a popular feature to have in snowshoes that are available on the market today.
The boa system on a snowshoe will make it very easy to get the shoes on and off, even with your gloves on, so they are a useful item to have. It can be difficult sometimes to make the boa sit right on your feet since you can’t make minor adjustments to it, but this doesn’t seem to be a major turn-off to the way snowshoe boas are designed. Most people prefer to have them if they are available in the snowshoe desired, but they do tend to make the snowshoes cost a bit more. So, deciding on a snowshoe boa can depend on your budget, and whether or not you feel you really need it.
Traction is another important feature you’ll want to consider before you purchase your snowshoes. No matter where you plan to hike, you want to ensure you’re getting a pair of snowshoes that give you plenty of traction so you have the grip and stability you need when you’re out on the snow or ice.
Depending on the brand and style of snowshoe you decide to buy, the type of traction you’ll get can really vary. Price can also affect the level of traction you get since models that cost less are designed with a small steel crampon on your toe and some cleats on your foot, but not much else in the way of traction. If you do need snowshoes with a lot of traction because you’ll be out in adverse conditions, you’ll want to make sure you get the level of traction you really need so you have the comfort and support you want. Less traction can be fine for flatter trail type hiking, but if you’re out when it’s very snowy, you’ll need more traction in your snowshoes. Some backcountry snowshoes are designed with frame rails that have rails length-wise on the sides of the snowshoes, which helps give you a lot of stability and support on steep hills. Having better traction is really necessary if you know you’ll be going up and down steep hills. Most backcountry snowshoes are made with frame rails to help increase your support, and these frame rails work well not only in powdery snow but in thick, hard-packed snow or icy conditions as well.
Also, when looking into snowshoe traction, you’ll want to also look at materials used to create the grip. Some brands use lower-quality aluminum teeth, and these types of teeth won’t be strong enough to give you the traction you need if you will be on steep hills, in powdery snow, or going up and down steep hills. The best types of snowshoes come with stainless steel bindings to increase traction, and while this can cost more, you won’t want to skimp out on the price for this if you need to hit harder climates and terrains.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you are looking for extra support when you snowshoe, look at investing in some poles. Poles will help give you extra stability and allow you to trek through tougher terrain as you will have the poles to help you push through. Poles and snowshoes go together like PB & J.
No, it's not a marketing gimmick- the gender of snowshoes really does make a difference. While a typical men's snowshoe is about 25-inches in length, a women's snowshoe is only about 23-inches. The shape of the shoe is also narrower, adjusting to the natural stride of a female. Additionally, women's snowshoes tend to be slightly lighter in weight than a man's snowshoe.
Other Factors to Consider
The durability of an item is always something to look into before purchasing. For snowshoes, it comes as no surprise that they will be coming in contact with harsh circumstances. Crashing into snow-covered rocks and tree roots, you'll need to be sure that the crampons and overall construction of the snowshoes are top-notch. Aluminum crampons are lightweight and great for approaches, however, they are not corrosion-resistant and tend to wear out faster than stainless steel crampons. Stainless steel crampons tend to cost and weight a little bit more but they are tougher and can handle rocks and roots better. You'll also want to check the durability of the straps and the overall shoe itself. It's always a good idea to check the customer reviews for time-tested opinions or to see if the manufacturer offers a warranty.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What do I need to know about Snowshoe frames and decking?
As far as snowshoe frame and decking is concerned, you’ll be dealing with two categories. Either your snowshoes will provide you with an aluminum outer frame made with flexible nylon decking, or you’ll get a frameless solid deck that’s comprised of plastic or other composite materials. Some brands have created hybrid versions that combine features of both, usually utilizing an aluminum frame and a plastic tail.
-Aluminum is the more classic style of frame that most people already recognize and know when they purchase their snowshoes. Aluminum-framed snowshoes give a lot of efficiency in their design and can keep you safe from obstacles and hazards while still keeping your feet comfortable for many hours on the snow. However, these types of snowshoes typically don’t offer a great level of traction unless you’re willing to pay more and buy a better model. When compared to plastic, the weight and traction you’ll get with aluminum will feel lacking. Also, materials used on aluminum-framed snowshoes are also not as durable and can tear or malfunction more easily. However, if you do buy a pair from a quality brand like the ones we have discussed on your list, you’ll probably get more out of your snowshoes.
-Plastic or composite. Plastic and composite decking usually costs less than good aluminum frames, and also allows you to add more traction to them if you need them. Plastic is not as strong as aluminum, however, and can break or malfunction more easily. Also, plastic frames can sound noisier in the snow—which is something you’ll need to decide if you can deal with, since plastic has a louder heel impact, especially if you are walking on snow that is hard-packed. So, with plastic, you get something that’s cheap and easy to add traction to but has less durability than aluminum.
In the end, the type of snowshoe frames and decking you pick will depend on where you plan to be, how often you’ll use your snowshoes, and the level of durability you really need. You’ll be able to figure out if you want extra durability or traction, and then you can factor in where you’ll be when on the trails. With that in mind, you should be able to make an easier decision about what snowshoes to purchase.
q: How do heel lifts and climb bars on snowshoes help?
Heel lifts are generally found on higher-end recreational snowshoes, as well as pretty much all backcountry snowshoe you’ll find on the market. Heel lifts are the metal bar you’ll find underneath the heel area, and you can raise them up and lock them in place when you climb. If you know you’ll be hiking on some steep terrain, heel lifts can really help when you are going uphill on a steep mountain.
The raised bar on snowshoes with heel lifts will help keep your heel from falling or dropping as you climb up, and help you scale steep uphill climbs more easily while preventing your legs from experiencing fatigue. Still, many people wonder if they are worth the money, although the demand for them has increased in popularity recently.
If you know you’ll be doing a lot of hardcore uphill climbing, then a heel lift can be a very beneficial feature, especially if you like adventuring and hiking for long periods of time. Many people that use heel lifts on their snowshoes find that they do assist with uphill climbs. However, if you are shopping on a budget, and know you won’t be doing a lot of hardcore uphill climbing, you can probably live without this feature.
So, when determining whether or not you’ll need a heel lift, consider the types of things you’ll be doing when you’re outdoors, and the types of terrain you’ll encounter. Once you know that, it should be easy for you to make your decision.
q: How do I know which Snowshoes will be best suited for me?
When you’re trying to decide on the best snowshoes for your outdoor winter adventures, you’ll need to think about what you’ll be doing, your style, the terrain you’ll encounter, and the types of snow and ice conditions found in your local area. Once you know exactly what you plan to be doing, you can start making decisions about the types of features you need, how much traction you want, how long your snowshoes should be, and what you’ll really need to enjoy all of your outdoor outings.
q: Should I try on the snowshoes I am interested in before I buy them?
After you know your style and what you’ll be up against, finding the perfect snowshoe should be quite easy, although, we do recommend trying some on before you finalize your purchase decision. You’ll know which ones are perfect for you when you try them on, and you’ll get hours of fun in the outdoors once you get the best snowshoes for your needs.