A thick blanket of snow can make a hike look immensely inviting, but you aren’t going to get very far without a quality pair of snowshoes. This footwear uses a wide frame to evenly distribute your weight, allowing you to travel freely on the surface of the snow.
Not all snowshoes are created equal, however, and the quality of the construction can vary greatly depending on the model. That said, if you want versatile, high-quality snowshoes from a trusted brand, the MSR Evo Trail 22-inch Hiking Snowshoes are the top pick.
The use of snowshoes dates back thousands of years. This simple footwear works by distributing weight across a large surface area, thereby allowing the user to “float” on the surface of the snow instead of sinking into it. Ancient snowshoes were crafted using a wooden frame with animal skin lacings. Modern footwear follows a similar concept but uses lightweight metal and plastic instead. Today’s snowshoes also incorporate a raised toe design and crampons for improved maneuverability and traction.
Snowshoe size is typically measured in inches that correspond with the user’s weight. For example, adults that weigh between 120-200 pounds (including clothing and gear) can use a snowshoe that’s 25-27 inches long. To maximize mobility, try not to overestimate your weight when choosing snowshoe size.
Many snowshoers use ski poles to maintain balance when walking, while others may wear gaiters to keep snow out of their boots. If you plan to snowshoe frequently, consider purchasing a specially designed snowshoe bag to carry your gear to and from the trail. Hand warmers can also be used for those particularly frigid days.
The cost of snowshoes can vary widely depending on the quality of the construction and the size of the frame. Most users can expect to spend around $80-$200 for a pair of simple snowshoes, and specialty models regularly exceed $300.
A. Any regular hiking boots can be worn with snowshoes. Try to wear a water-resistant pair to keep your feet from getting wet.
A. Some snowshoes have a left and a right, but most can be worn on either foot without any issues.
What you need to know: These versatile, durable snowshoes are built for a variety of terrains.
What you’ll love: Backed by an industry leader, these lightweight and versatile snowshoes have an alloy steel frame with durable, carbon steel crampons. Users note the ease of use and maneuverability offered by this footwear.
What you should consider: Some users felt that these snowshoes were noisier than they’d like.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
What you need to know: These affordable snowshoes boast a sleek design and come with a free storage bag.
What you’ll love: Perfect for casual snowshoeing, this budget-friendly footwear features an aluminum frame and quick-release bindings. The purchase also includes a carrying bag with straps, side handles and a compartment for ski poles.
What you should consider: These shoes are designed for flat terrain only. Mountain and rolling terrain hikers may want to look elsewhere.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This is a user-friendly snowshoeing kit that includes everything you need to get started.
What you’ll love: This comprehensive kit comes with a pair of lightweight, green and black snowshoes, two ski poles and a mesh storage bag. The “quick-click” bindings make getting in and out of the shoes simple and easy, and the hardened steel crampons are great for gripping snow.
What you should consider: A few users received shoes without the advertised accessories.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.