Best Snowshoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance
2018 has seen some great releases in the world of snowshoe gear and utilities from companies such as Evo, Alps, Tuggs, and many others. Picking the right snowshoes for the upcoming winter months is certainly something that shouldn’t be overlooked and you should make sure you know exactly what type of environment you’re going to be up against before making your choice.
- MSR Lightning Ascent
- Ergo Televator Traction
- Chinook Trekker
- UV Resistant Decking
- ALPS Adult All Terrain
- Aluminum Tubing
When searching for snowshoes you should try to keep in mind whether you’re going to be hiking through roaming hills, deep snow, or any sort of technical terrain in order to optimize your trailing experience to its fullest potential. Either way, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 snowshoes currently on the market with plenty of all-terrain options as well as shoes suitable for more experienced hikers so you can make sure you get the best bang for your buck.
10 Best Snowshoes
1. MSR Lightning Ascent
The attachment is freeze-resistant to help any footwear you are wearing to avoid any unnecessary freeze-related issues. It also provides a secure fit to keep your footwear from detaching from the snowshoes. The decking the PosiLock is attached to gives it a lightweight durability.
It’s a lift bar at the heel to help improve your efficiency while going uphill. This will decrease any fatigue and increase traction. The Ergo Televator flips up very easily giving you extra help and support on steep hills.
Cost and Value
The lightweight construction that improves traction, movement, and ability in any environment, terrain, and conditions make these costly but worth it. The advanced features give greater fit, security, and enhance your snow trekking skills. Skipping on these because of the cost is like skipping out on a quality climb.
Efficient and durable
All conditions, terrains
Rugged but lightweight
Ergo Televator efficiency
Decreased shock absorption
2. Chinook Trekker
The Chinook Trekkers may look like just an ordinary snowshoe, but include a couple features that may not be noticed right away. In addition to their heavy-duty build, the Chinook Trekkers also come standard with UV protection, making sure to protect your gear on the trails.
Crampons Made from Aluminum
One thing that you should always look for when purchasing a new pair of snowshoes is of course the quality of traction, and the Chinook Trekkers are no exception to this rule. The Trekkers include aluminum heel crampons allowing for fantastic traction and rotation for great control when you're trekking down the slopes.
Cost and Value
Coming in a variety of sizes and even including a carrying bag and other various accessories, the Chinook Trekkers are a great budget snowshoe capable with competing with even the most expensive options on the market. I personally think if your looking for a cheap and reliable pair of snowshoes, these are the ones your should shoot for.
Quick release straps
UV resistant decking
Different sizing options
Carrying bag and accessories
Only two straps
Bendable aluminum teeth
3. Alps Adult All Terrain
Quality lacings allow for circulation and security when on the trails; ALPS Fast-Loc buckles allow for putting your snowshoes on and taking them off quick and easy without a sacrifice in protection, a system every snowshoe should feature.
Lightweight Frame Technology
ALPS lightweight 6000 series features Easton aluminum tubing for the frames and Nytex material for the decking making for a perfect on the go shoe for attacking any type of slope at any time.
Cost and Value
With the inclusion of a snowshoeing pole and tote bag, the ALPS All Terrain snowshoes compete very well and come quite close in terms of the features they offer for a budget price. If your looking for a very comfortable snowshoe with optimized traction control, you may want to consider purchasing these over the Chinook Trekkers.
Adults and children
Fantastic terrain assistance
Comfortable bindings, lacings
Lightweight, durable materials
Hard trail limitations
4. 2018 Winterial
Functionality is one of the major strengths this snowshoe possess allowing a variety of trails and hills to be climbed as mentioned above. The aluminum teeth on the bottom of the 2018 Winterial snowshoes allow for increased traction and grip in the snow and in comparison to the MSR Ascents they are a real competitor.
Comfort is a major focus and selling point for Winterial as they attempt to optimize every shoe for maximum comfort, and this snowshoe is no exception. The sleek design and included anti-shock poles allow for the best possible snowshoe experience whether your traveling long of short distances.
Cost and Value
For the rather minimal price tag for a pair of snowshoes that would last you quite a while, the 2018 Winterial snowshoes are a great option for seasoned hikers and offer a great value with the included poles and features. Seven colors are also available as well as kids sizes allowing you to tailor your experience to its greatest potential.
Kids and adults
Control and traction
Lightweight built, bindings
Difficult strap adjustability
5. MSR Evo 22
Like almost all of MSR’s snowshoes, versatility is one of their selling points, and the Evo 22’s with their optional add on tails for increased flotation allow for these shoes to carry quite a heavy load without sinking too deep into the snow while also maintaining traction on beginner level trails and rolling hills.
Delivering a freeze proof, glove friendly, and secure binding the Evo 22s are able to accommodate a large range of footwear and while also being able to slip on and off with ease. In addition to the versatility of the bindings, they also are well built and durable in a variety of conditions.
Cost and Value
You can never go wrong with a pair of MSR snowshoes as currently in my opinion they offer the best snowshoes there are on the market. In terms of the Evo 22’s at a relatively low price their a great snowshoe for all terrains skill levels in addition to great traction and not to mention comfort due to the spikes being on the underside of the shoe.
All terrains adaptable
Comfortable, durable bindings
Loud decking noise
6. Crescent Moon Gold 10
Although the Gold 10’s may not be as grippy as the MSR Lightning Ascent listed at the number one spot on this list, they are able to attack a much wider variety of trails making them a great option for all skill levels with the addition of an optional climbing bar as well for climbing steep hills.
Adjustable SPL bindings
Unlike some of the other snowshoes on this list, the Moon 10’s allow for adjustable bindings to fit virtually any shoes size rather than just picking a particular size and hoping for the best. The SPL bindings wrap all the way around your foot provide great support and making sure you stay put when roaming the trails.
Cost and Value
The big price tag comes in due to the U.S. manufacturing of this product, but for many that's exactly what they want. Durability has been a huge factor in whether or not a snowshoe is bought and for many this fits their needs perfectly. If your looking for a great all round American made snowshoe, then this is exactly what you're looking for.
All trails adaptable
Quality flotation built
Plenty of bottom claws
Great control, handling
Two color options
Average performing traction
7. Tubbs Snowshoes FLEX Ridge
With a couple cranks of the boa dial you’ll be ready to hit the trails in seconds making these shoes the easiest to use and one of the best bindings on the market. They allow for great mobility as they don’t have as much as a clunky underfoot as other snowshoes on the market may have and make sure to keep your feet nice and tight so they don’t slip off.
Tubbs also integrated their new FLEX Ridge technology that allows these shoes to travel over many different terrains while also offering a very flexible and lightweight build.
Cost and Value
An amazing amount of technology went into these snowshoes and ultimately their probably the most fun snowshoes to use due to their integrated FLEX Ridge, lightweight build, and ease of use. The only downside really to these snowshoes is their ability to handle technical terrain and it’s expensive price tag, but personally I believe these snowshoes are extremely underrated and worth trying out.
Easy to use
Boa Closure system
Simple and attractive
Traction for every trail
Versatility, trail handling
FLEX Ridge technology
Very high cost
Esoteric trail handling
8. Enkeeo All Terrain
Without any sacrifice in weight these snowshoes come with a completely metal build making them really reliable and resistant to constant wear. The overall strength of these shoes, thanks to the aluminum build, support up the 210 pounds as mentioned above allowing you to travel long distances with a lot a lot of supplies without any worry of your snowshoes failing on you.
The PE Decking on this pair of snowshoes is great for all snowy scenarios providing you with great flotation in deep snow and aluminum crampons for a reliable and stable bite into the snow. However, traction when trekking downhill is a little iffy so that should be taken into account when considering these snowshoes.
Cost and Value
All in all, these are a great pair of all-around snowshoes for beginner and intermediate snowshoes alike. Coupled with their cheap price they provide a nice package for mild trail-blazing but when attacking more technical terrain with rolling hills you should consider putting up a little more money for better traction.
Kids and adults
Perfect for beginners
Great affordable price
Strong crampon traction
Lightweight, durable aluminum
Adjustable heel straps, bindings
Heel piece freezes
Traction climbing issues
9. Wildhorn Sawtooth
Coming in two 21 and 27 inch sizes these snowshoes also feature adjustable bindings for a much better fit when out on the trails. The simplicity present in these snowshoes come quite close to the ease of use of the Tubbs FLEX Ridge but instead feature ratchet style buckling and with no lacing compared to other snowshoes on the market, great for keeping you secure when hitting the trails.
Hard Pack Grip Teeth
Each Sawtooth snowshoe comes standard with two fantastic sets of reinforced and heavy duty crampons for great traction on icy surfaces. In addition, these snowshoes also feature a steep include heel lift riser providing traction and control when trekking up and down hills, a great and convenient feature perfect for those newer to snowshoeing.
Cost and Value
At an extremely cheap and affordable price, the Wildhorn Sawtooth snowshoes are the best all-around snowshoes you can get on the market with no real downside. The build is durable and lightweight while the traction and heel support is great for any type of environment, ultimately providing one of the best snowshoeing experience at a low price.
Easy, quick put-on
Heel plate trekking
Strong crampon traction
Great material construction
Small toe cut-out
Heel straps degrade
10. Atlas Endeavor
The narrow frame design makes these shoes great for stepping over obstacles and long distance travels. Zero tripping or fumbling is present when using these snowshoes because the decks are so small, allowing for long distance travels with ease.
Flexible urethane bindings
As mentioned above these shoes are great for bringing with you on a trailing vacation as they collapse neatly and attach easily to any backpack. In addition, the binding are extremely comfortable as the straps zig zag across the foot and allow for a lot of flexibility when putting on and taking off when hitting the trails
Cost and Value
Ultimately with the exception of the expensive price tag, the Atlas Endeavors are a great snowshoe for winter time nomads who are always on the move. The ease of use in terms of its storage are great for snowboarders and skiers and they offer a really nice all in one package.
Made for travel
Easy slip-on/off bindings
Aluminum, composite decking
No extreme tails
Easily kicks up snow
In the end, whatever snowshoe you decide to buy all depends on the type of environment you’re going to be in and what you’re looking specifically. If you’re willing to drop a little money for one of the best shoes on the market then the MSR Lightning Ascents are for you. If you’re looking for comfort and ease of use then you should shoot for the Tubbs Flex Ridge. Knowing what you’re up against on the trails is quite important when snowshoeing for the first time; there are plenty of great options on this list and we really hope we helped with making your decision.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Snowshoes
Types of Snowshoes
Where do we begin? There are so many factors when searching for the best snowshoes and many of these come with experience, but every buyer should be familiar with the different types of snowshoes. It’s critical that you understand the three main types of snowshoes: flat terrain snowshoes, rolling terrain snowshoes, and mountain terrain snowshoes. It’s also imperative that you know which snowshoe is best for which type of snowshoeing, as being prepared with the correct snowshoe is vital in this winter activity.
Let’s first talk about Flat Terrain Snowshoes, which are snowshoes designed specifically for walking on flat to rolling terrain. These snowshoes are often best for beginners or casual snowshoers, making them an excellent choice for those enjoying the recreation of the activity, but aren’t prone to becoming advanced hikers or snowshoers. Flat terrain is known as less-aggressive terrain needing a weaker traction system. Flat-terrain snowshoes are also easy to wear and adjust, making them different from advanced snowshoes.
Rolling Terrain Snowshoes are best for backpackers or moderate hikers. These types of snowshoes are designed for rolling, intermediate terrain and are suitable for almost all conditions. Meant for backpacking, they can also sustain a heavy amount of weight. Rolling Terrain snowshoes are designed for more aggressive trails and are equipped with beefier bindings, making them safer but a difficulty for beginners.
Lastly, Mountain Terrain Snowshoes are for the advanced hikers who mountaineer or backcountry snowboard in excessively extreme conditions. These snowshoes are equipped with climbing-style crampons and rugged bindings and should be avoided for beginners. They are made of highly durable material and are both lightweight and perform well in the deepest snow and the steepest slopes. They have an excessive grip that can hold onto just about anything including ice patches.
In choosing the type of snowshoe, it’s important to remember what type of snowshoer you are. Are you an avid snowshoer, or just prefer it as a recreational activity? Do you require more durable snowshoes or ones you can use once in a while? Do you trek on flat, moderate, or extreme terrain? By asking yourself these questions, it is easy to choose whether you should choose Flat Terrain, Rolling Terrain, or Mountain Terrain Snowshoes.
In addition to these three, there is also something called a Running Snowshoe, which have become increasingly popular as people are discovering the benefits of exercising in the snow. This type of running can also be better for those with feet problems, who suffer from running on hard terrain. Snow is much softer and provides a generous cushion to ease the shock. For those interested in Running Snowshoes, they tend to be shorter and narrower than your average snowshoe and don’t focus on flotation, but rather on speed and running ability. This makes Running Snowshoeing generally done on flat or rolling terrain, avoiding harsh terrain at all costs. They are also ultralight and should be used only on a groomed track.
Since Running Snowshoes have only recently become a known form of snowshoeing, many snowshoe stores are quickly growing in their popularity. Nevertheless, unless you are specifically going snowshoe running, these types of snowshoes should be avoided for traditional snowshoeing.
To conclude, there are three main types of snowshoes with the Running Snowshoe coming in as an optional fourth in specific snowshoe racing on groomed tracks. Knowing this, you can now easily choose between Flat Terrain, Rolling Terrain, and Mountain Terrain Snowshoes.
Knowing Parts of the Snowshoe
Knowing the parts of the snowshoe is essential because it allows you to compare the features of each snowshoe with each other. Understanding the following features—Frame Type, Crampons, and Binding System—is crucial when buying snowshoes and for snowshoers.
First, let’s talk about Frame Type. The Frame is the outer part of the snowshoe normally made with a tubular aluminum or any thin, flexible material. Some new designs, however, have started to incorporate plastic frames or flat metal frames.
Tubular Frames are a traditional choice for Frame Type. The design is good for softer surfaces when you don’t need tons of grip. Tubular Frames are often found in Flat Terrain snowshoes while also sometimes in Backcountry models for deeper snow.
Flat Stock Frames are a new design that features a metal frame with serrated edges and rubber decking. This design is often better when climbing in advanced or moderate terrain, as it helps with steep hills or icy pitches.
Plastic Decking is also a new concept, and this lightweight design generally doesn’t include a separate frame. The decking is made of stiff plastic, which makes them slippery on slick surfaces and not ideal for icy pitches. Plastic Decking isn’t the best for flotation, either, and this Frame Type is generally chosen by those who want to save space and money.
There is also a hybrid of Plastic Decking with Partial Tubular Frames, making them lightweight with better flotation, offering both of both worlds.
Now, there’s also Crampons, also known as the Traction. Crampons on snowshoes are most frequently made of steel or metal composites since they offer a strong foundation with a good grip. Aluminum can also be found on lightweight snowshoes, though most crampons feature a two-prong design at the toe made for grip. Some crampons, such as Backcountry snowshoes, include a set of teeth on the underside of the snowshoe, making them better for downhill trekking or icy pitches. When buying snowshoes, make sure your Crampons are made of quality material, such as steel, so you know they’ll be durable and have good traction. If you’re an avid snowshoer who encounters harsher terrain with ice, crampons with spikes underneath can also be an option.
The Binding System is an important part of snowshoes, and often one that confuses beginners. Different types of snowshoes are often categorized by their binding, as Mountain or Backcountry snowshoes have stiffer bindings that offer more support, usually with bigger snowshoes. Running snowshoes are designed with light but strong bindings so the wearer can move freely.
Here are the different types of bindings and their materials:
- Nylon straps – these are often found on entry-level snowshoes and are lightweight and simple to use. They also offer tons of adjustability, which is their capability to be used with different types of snowshoes. Nylon, however, is less supportive and less durable than other bindings.
- Ratchet straps – these are similar to the type of straps you might find on snowboard bindings, so you know that they will keep you strapped in. They offer also offer a high adjustability and are easy to use, making them also a choice for beginner snowshoers.
- Rubber straps – these are the most common types of straps and are found on most snowshoes. They can also be used on a range of snowshoes and are durable, especially in freezing conditions. Rubber straps can be found anywhere from Flat Terrain to Mountain Terrain snowshoes.
- Boa Closure – this is a new type of strap that’s becoming more popular in the snowshoe industry. It offers a secure fit and is extremely easy to use, but this can mean that they are more expensive. They are generally made for beginner snowshoers.
- 3 strap vs. 2 strap system – snowshoes also come in a 3-strap or a 2-strap system. The 3-strap is the best as its the most secure and won’t come undone or freeze shut. The 2-strap system might be lighter but it is less secure, though it is still sufficient in keeping your foot in place.
Similar to the frame, the bindings on a snowshoe should be one of the most important features to look for because it is exclusive for each and every snowshoe. Make sure to find a binding that is made of quality materials like the ones listed above.
So, to restate, when buying snowshoes, first look at the bindings, then the frame, then the crampons. Doing so will ensure you prioritize the most important parts of the snowshoe. Try to look for quality materials and avoid cheap materials as durability is the most important aspect of snowshoes.
Sizing and Weight
Unlike the sizing of regular shows, snowshoes use a diverse sizing that measures not only your shoe size but the size of the frame to provide the best amount of flotation. First, it’s important to know that there’s a difference between Men’s and Women’s snowshoes. Men’s snowshoes tend to be larger and can carry heavier weights, while Women’s snowshoes are narrower and have a more contoured frame design, while their bindings also fit women’s shoe sizes.
The size of your snowshoe depends on the weight you are carrying, which includes your equipment. Here is a guide for size and weight:
- 20 inches – 85-100 lbs
- 25 inches – 120-200 lbs
- 30 inches – 170-250 lbs
- 36 inches – 220-300 lbs
Again, this measures the length of the snowshoe and approximates it to the weight you will be carrying, including yourself and your equipment, while snowshoeing. If you are planning to snowshoe trails or tightly packed snow, it’s fine to wear a smaller snowshoe than your accommodated weight. However, if you are snowshoeing in powdery or backcountry snow, it’s imperative that you follow this sizing guide to get the best type of snowshoe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the three types of snowshoes?
A: The three types of snowshoes are Flat Terrain, Rolling Terrain, and Mountain Terrain snowshoes. Beginners should stick with Flat Terrain snowshoes while advanced snowshoers can go for Mountain Terrain snowshoes specifically designed for steep terrain.
Q: What is Running Snowshoes?
A: Running Snowshoes are snowshoes specifically designed to be lightweight and narrow so they can be used to run or jog in thick snow. These types of snowshoes should be used only on groomed tracks.
Q: What are the most important parts of the snowshoe?
A: The most important areas of the snowshoe to look at while buying are the Frame Type, the Bindings, and the Crampons.
Q: What is a Frame Type?
A: The outer part of the snowshoe that is usually made of tubular aluminum or a durable steel material.
Q: What are Crampons?
A: Crampons are the traction underneath the snowshoe that provides grip. They are usually made with steel and Mountain Terrain snowshoes often include teeth for crampons located under the frames.
Q: What are Bindings?
A: Bindings are what you use to secure your foot with the snowshoe. Bindings should be an important part of binding as they are unique for each snowshoe and you should make sure you buy one with bindings that fit your shoe and needs.
Q: What are the differences between Men’s and Women’s snowshoes?
A: Men’s snowshoes tend to be larger and heavier while Women’s snowshoes are lighter and narrower, and can also fit the shoe size of women.