How to buy Snowshoes
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. It’s that easy! Let us help you find the right pair.
Modern snowshoes have certain basic components to help you move through snow: A tubular metal frame, nylon or plastic decking to float your feet, webbing or rubber bindings to attach your boots, and a pivoting crampon. The bindings accommodate winter or hiking boots, which is great as the weather changes.
You’ll find two kinds on the rack: Trail and backcountry (in Eastern Canada running and racing snowshoes are also becoming popular). What’s right for you depends on where you’re headed. Here are the main differences:
These are great for trails where the snow is packed and the grade is fairly level. They have moderate traction on the bottom of the metal tubes and a simpler binding that holds on around your boot. These are perfect for city trails, golf courses, and backyard fun.
These have more traction for steep uphill climbs so they bite into the snow. There is more strapping across the foot to help you float on deeper, un-tracked powder. And if you’re doing switchbacks in the mountains, these snowshoes have a heel lift that can be flipped up to take the stress off your calves and achilles tendons.
Another thing you’ll notice is the more aggressive crampons.
Backcountry snowshoes are used by people heading off-trail for winter hiking, and also by backcountry riders who need to get up tight spaces in steep terrain. Some models are even modular and can be taken apart for easy packing, and up to six inches of length can be added to the tails for increased flotation.
Choosing the Right Size
It’s all based on weight, so be honest (and include winter clothing in your calculation). You want them to float you on the snow. The deeper the powder, the longer the snowshoes you’ll need.
The smallest women’s size is 19-20 inches and can be used for young teens.
Remember that snowshoes will still sink, but in the deep backcountry powder it will be a lot less than with regular boots.
Purchase good hiking poles and simply switch out the regular baskets for powder baskets. Buy adjustable poles so that when you’re side-hill on a long switchback you can simply shorten one pole.