Whether you go hiking or exploring in the backcountry, snowshoes are your best bet when moving on snowy terrain. An excellent pair of snowshoes keeps you from sinking in soft snow or slipping on ice, is comfortable to wear, provides superior mobility, and overall enhances your snow experience.
In this article, we present 11 of the best snowshoes available on the market you can choose from, along with a guide on how to choose a pair that suits you the most. In the end, we give our recommendations for the top snowshoes on our list.
The following table summarizes the snowshoes on our list. It includes available sizes, the most suitable terrain type, comparative prices, and other product specifications.
|Product||Length(s) Available||Weight per pair||Maximum Weight Load||Decking||Crampon||Heel lifts included?||Type of Terrain|
|Crescent Moon Gold 10 Backcountry Snowshoes||32 in||4 lbs 15 oz||225 lbs||Nylon||Steel||No||Trail (deep snow)||$$$|
|Tubbs Mountaineer Backcountry Snowshoes||25 in|
|4 lbs 14.4 oz|
5 lbs 4.8 oz
5 lbs 12.8 oz
|Nytex nylon||Carbon steel||Yes||Backcountry||$$$|
|Northern Lites Tru-Trak Backcountry Snowshoes||30 in||2 lbs 14 oz||up to 250 lbs||CoolThane||Duraluminum||No||Backcountry; Trail||$$$|
|Tubbs Flex VRT Snowshoes||24 in|
|4 lbs 8 oz||up to 200 lbs, 190 lbs, respectively||Plastic||Carbon steel||Yes||Trail; Backcountry||$$$|
|MSR Evo Trail||22 in||3 lbs 9 oz||up to 250 lbs||Plastic (polypropylene)||Steel||No||Trail; Backcountry||$$|
|MSR Lightning Ascent||22 in|
4 lbs 3 oz,
4 lbs 12 oz
|TPU-coated nylon||Steel||Yes||Backcountry; Trail||$$$$|
|MSR Revo Explore||22 in|
4 lbs 4 oz
|Plastic||Martensitic steel||Yes||Trail; Backcountry||$$$|
|Chinook Trekker||19 in|
|Atlas Montane||30 in||4 lbs 4 oz||250 lbs||Nytex nylon||Tempered steel||Yes||Moderate terrain||$$|
|Atlas Spark||20 in||2 lbs 5 oz||120 lbs||Nylon||Tempered steel||No||Trail||$|
|Atlas Run||22 in||2 lbs 5 oz||190 lbs||Nylon||Aluminum||No||Trail (flat terrain)||$$$|
The ease of putting on snowshoes is not negligible for a smooth winter hiking experience. The Crescent Moon Gold 10 Backcountry Snowshoes provide this ease with its single-pull loop (SPL) binding system. With this SPL system, you simply place your foot in the snowshoe and then pull the loop to secure it to your preferred tightness. Then, a sliding ratchet heel buckle secures your foot in place while providing a complete fit for any foot size. The Crescent Moon comes in a single length of 32 inches and has a maximum weight load of 225 pounds.
The Crescent Moon Snowshoes maximizes flotation via the design of its shoes, which come in a teardrop configuration. The teardrop shape of each shoe, wider at your forefoot and narrower at your heel, distributes your body weight naturally and helps you walk as naturally as possible. The frame and deck are also made to be lightweight enough to be suitable for deep snow, being made of aluminum tubing and TGS nylon, respectively – further adding to the flotation of this pair of snowshoes.
Traction for the Crescent Moon Gold is provided by a unique three-claw crampon system, unlike most snowshoes that only have a two-crampon system. The three crampons are made of stainless steel and are found at the ball of the foot, heel, and toe – locations that give you the most control for gripping terrain.
A downside to the Crescent Moon is that it is relatively heavier than other snowshoes, weighing at 4 lbs 15 ounces or almost five pounds. On the plus side, the Crescent Moon comes with a lifetime warranty.
The Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes are made to be suitable for almost any type of terrain, especially in the backcountry. Traction is essential for a pair of snowshoes to be considered all-terrain type, and the Tubbs Mountaineer doesn’t disappoint.
Tubbs Mountaineer Backcountry Snowshoes has an aggressive Python crampon under the heel that gives excellent traction when descending slopes and an Anaconda crampon under the toe with eight sharp teeth that ensure you have a consistent grip on whatever terrain you are in. Both crampons are made of carbon steel. These mountaineering snowshoes also have a SoftTec decking made of smooth and durable Nytex nylon.
The Tubbs Mountaineer has a continuous Pro-Step frame, with a longer and lower nose height and tail bend that helps enhance flotation and reduce impact to your joints; this is in excellent combination with its R2 articulation system which absorbs side-to-side impacts. These snowshoes come with an ActiveFit 2.0 binding that uses a thermoplastic polyurethane cinch strap that is easy to use and decreases ice build-up.
This backcountry snowshoe also comes with an ActiveLift heel lift that reduces fatigue to your calves when climbing steeper slopes. A downside to the Tubbs snowshoes is that it is comparatively the heaviest on our list, with its smallest size already weighing 4 lbs 14.4 oz or almost 5 lbs per pair; this makes these snowshoes not very suitable for long distances.
If you are after a lightweight and easily packable pair of snowshoes, then the Northern Lites Tru-Trak Backcountry Snowshoes are what you’re looking for. Weighing only 2 pounds and 14 ounces per pair, the Northern Lites is one of the lightest pairs of snowshoes on our list. The snowshoes also come in one size, with a length of 30 inches, and can carry up to a maximum weight load of 250 pounds while still providing excellent flotation over deep snow.
The Northern Lites has a deck made of CoolThane material, a very tough polyurethane coated nylon mesh that is highly resistant to puncturing. The deck is smooth enough that fresh snow doesn’t build-up, keeping your snowshoes as light as possible as you walk. The frame is also made of an ultra-lightweight aluminum frame which further adds to the lightness of your hiking experience.
Traction for the snowshoes is provided by crampons, which are made of duraluminum – material that has very high abrasion resistance and allows for traction on almost all types of terrain; the crampons are placed on the toe and heel parts. Nylon deck clips also add traction to the snowshoes by acting as perimeter cleats while absorbing underside wear.
The Northern Lites Backcountry Snowshoes don’t come with a heel lift which would otherwise greatly help with ascending steep slopes. Instead, the snowshoes each come with a heel strike plate that has plenty of ridges for traction and keeps your heel in place when you climb. These snowshoes also come with a Tru-Trak binding system, which uses durable PU straps that hold onto any type of hiking boots and flip hooks to avoid slippage.
The only downside with the Northern Lites is that its duraluminum crampons don’t provide as reliable traction as steel ones.
If you are looking for the best snowshoes that provide maximum comfort, the Tubbs Flex VRT Snowshoes is the definite choice for you. Its DynamicFit binding incorporates soft and firm EVA foam that distributes pressure evenly around your boots and a BOA Closure Fit System that makes use of a dial you can turn to secure your footwear to your preferred tightness.
The Tubbs Flex VRT has a plastic Torsion deck that allows maximum articulation of each foot, resulting in a more natural walk than other snowshoes while also providing traction. The Tubbs Flex also comes with a flex tail which absorbs shock to your heels and saves your joints. These features make this pair of snowshoes an excellent choice for the trail and even technical terrain.
Traction for the Tubbs Flex is provided by Viper 2.0 carbon steel toe crampons and 3D-curved traction rails. The aggressive crampons have a jagged tooth construction for traction, while the rails provide excellent side grip, which is very applicable for steep and icy terrain.
Other features of the Tubbs Flex include a rotating toe-cord limiter articulation system, which allows you to shed snow from the tail of the snowshoe, and an ActiveLift 19-degree heel lift that reduces fatigue to your calves when ascending steep terrain.
A downside to the Tubbs Flex is that its plastic deck might be a bit noisy when it crunches down on the snow.
Another great choice of snowshoes for the trail is the MSR Evo Trail Hiking Snowshoes. The Evo Trail has each snowshoe having a single UniBody deck made of polypropylene, which already provides a lot of stability for relatively flat terrain.
Several more features provide additional stability for these MSR snowshoes. First off are steel crampons, which are powder-coated and attached to a 360-degree pivot binding system that gives you a more comprehensive range of movement. Several brake bars, which are molded directly into the Unibody deck, give you more grip options on slightly steeper terrain, along with the snowshoes’ steel traction rails.
The Evo Trail comes in one size, at a length of 22 inches, weighs 3 pounds and 9 ounces, small and light enough to help you walk more comfortably over packed snow while also making them quite packable. Additionally, each snowshoe can carry a load of up to 250 pounds.
The Evo Trail comes with DuoFit bindings, which are freeze-proof and can accommodate multiple types of shoes or boots. The DuoFit bindings also provide stability and control for rolling terrain.
A downside to the Evo Trail is that the bindings may not fasten properly, leading to slippage. Also, the plastic deck can be a bit noisy when walking.
If you’re searching for the best snowshoes offering excellent grip for any terrain, look no further than the MSR Lightning Ascent. The main traction features are crampons made of durable steel DTX, which are placed under the forefoot and heel part of each snowshoe. You can find two rows of spikes under the forefoot part; the first row has two prominent claw-like points, and the second row has two claws and several smaller ones.
Another main traction feature of the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes is its 360-degree frames which act like traction rails. These frames are vertical, instead of the usual-rounded structures, and are serrated, providing even more grip than you would get from other pairs of snowshoes. These features alone make the MSR Lightning Ascent undoubtedly the best snowshoes for technical terrain. The Lightning Ascent also has excellent flotation making it applicable for soft, deep, or packed snow.
These versatile snowshoes have a flexible deck made of TPU-coated nylon, are tough and durable, and have high abrasion resistance. The Lightning Ascent also comes in three sizes for different foot lengths, weighs from 4 lbs up to 4 lbs 12 oz, and can carry a load of up to 280 lbs. For securing your feet, the Lightning Ascent makes use of a Paragon binding system consisting of mesh straps that can wrap around most boot sizes and has toe stops to keep your feet in place. The straps are also resistant to freezing – an excellent feature for long expeditions.
The MSR Lightning Ascent comes with Ergo Televators, heel lifters that reduce fatigue when climbing steep terrain while providing more traction.
A downside to the MSR Lightning Ascent is its price point, which is relatively high compared to most snowshoes. Also, the heel straps may be a bit short for securing larger-sized hiking boots.
A different choice of snowshoes for you in terms of ease of wearing is the MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes. This Revo Explore comes with its Ratcheting HyperLink bindings, which are part of a simple two-strap binding system, with each of the ratchet straps being over your foot and heel. This pair of snowshoes come in two sizes, being up to 25 inches long, can weigh up to 4 pounds and 4 ounces, and have a maximum weight load of up to 220 pounds.
The Revo Explore has an ExoTract deck made of plastic, which is durable and makes the snowshoes excellent for gripping snow. The deck is also lined with serrated teeth from front to back for traction made of martensitic steel. These crampons, along with the plastic deck, make these snowshoes suitable for packed trails and even the backcountry.
The Revo Explore also comes with Ergo Televators, which are heel lifts that help greatly relieve fatigue when climbing steeper sloped terrain. You can easily engage these heel lifts by simply nudging them with one of your trekking poles if you have them.
A downside to Revo Explore is that the plastic deck can lead to a noisier winter hiking experience. Also, the binding straps of the snowshoes may be too short for boots of larger sizes.
If you are on a budget and are on the lookout for an affordable pair of snowshoes, the Chinook Trekker has got you covered. It has the lowest price of all the snowshoes on our list and comes with the most number of size options too. The Chinook Trekker comes in five sizes, with lengths ranging between 19 and 36 inches, weighs between 3.91 and 5.43 pounds, and maximum weight loads between 90 and 300 pounds – these snowshoes will fit a variety of foot sizes.
The Chinook Trekker has a deck made of durable polyethylene and is UV-resistant. On the other hand, its crampons are made of aluminum, lightweight but strong, and freely rotate to provide a firmer grip on snow; its heel crampons also help with braking when going down a slope. These snowshoes are most suitable for groomed trails.
A great plus with the Chinook Trekker is that it comes with a carry bag that includes backpack straps, side handles, mesh ventilation, and Velcro pole carriers – a handy feature not found with other snowshoes.
On the other hand, a downside to the Chinook Trekker is that its straps and deck might break down relatively more quickly when you try to use them in more challenging and steep terrain. Also, the snowshoe bindings might slip off more easily when you try to use the snowshoes in deep snow.
A unique feature of the Atlas Montane is its Spring-Loaded Suspension (SLS) system, which suspends these snowshoes close to the ground and helps them absorb shocks, flex laterally, grip terrain better with deeper penetration of crampons, and move more quickly.
The Atlas Montane comes with sharp, serrated, All-Trac crampons made of steel located on the front, back, and sides for multi-directional traction. A Stabilock heel crampon also helps distribute your body weight evenly when going over more challenging terrain while providing traction.
The Aluminum Reactiv frames of the Atlas Montane snowshoes have an elliptical design which helps to increase load capacity and distribute weight for more enhanced flotation. The snowshoes also come with a Wrapp Swift binding system, which makes use of toe locators to keep your feet in place, EVA foam padding for more comfort, and straps that cinch seamlessly.
The Atlas Montane has a deck made of Nytex nylon, comes in one size with a length of 30 inches, weighs 4 lbs 4 oz, and has a maximum weight load of 250 lbs. This pair of snowshoes also includes a 19-degree heel lift which helps reduce fatigue when going up steeper slopes.
A downside to these Atlas snowshoes is that their decks might break down relatively more quickly than other snowshoes with sturdier deck material.
If you’re looking for the best snowshoes for your kids, look no further than the Atlas Spark. The Atlas Spark Snowshoes are made so that your kids can wear them comfortably, made possible by its Grom binding system.
The Grom system makes use of a comfortable EVA foam padding, which, when paired with the soft molded base of the Grom straps, keeps your kids’ feet warm, distributes weight evenly, and relieves pressure, and is very easy to put on and off. Fixed toe cords also keep your kids’ feet in place, which is essential, especially for activities involving running around.
Also essential for any kids’ snowshoes is excellent traction, which the Atlas Spark provides. Heel cleats and toe crampons made of solid and durable tempered steel give the necessary grip for movement over varied terrains and slopes. These easy-to-wear snowshoes have a lightweight V-Frame – a V-shaped frame that enhances flotation over deep powder and helps provide a more natural gait when moving over snow.
The Atlas Spark measures 20 inches long and is ultra-lightweight at 2 lbs 5 oz, with a maximum weight load of 120 lbs. This pair of snowshoes is also a very affordable option. The only downside to it is that it is quickly outgrown.
Are you looking for the best snowshoes when it comes to running? The Atlas Run is comprised of multiple features that will fit your needs perfectly well.
The Speed V-Frame of the Atlas Run is a V-shaped frame that is durable, lightweight, and designed to provide maximum flotation over deep snow, enabling you to comfortably run straight at full speed. Its Spring-Loaded Suspension (SLS) system also helps absorb shock and allow lateral flexing for better maneuverability when you sprint even over uneven terrain; this is an excellent combination with its flexible but durable Nytex decking.
The Atlas Run comes with Dual-TRAC crampons made of lightweight but strong aluminum, decreasing weight but still provides traction. Heel cleats also add traction and stability when climbing sloped terrain. Furthermore, the SLS system increases grip by making the crampons penetrate deeper into snowy and icy terrain.
The Boa closure system of these snowshoes uses stainless steel laces for even distribution of pressure across your feet and is easily adjustable. Combined with Speed Helix bindings that are the fastest in the Atlas line of snowshoes, the Atlas Run keeps your feet very secure.
The Atlas Run is incredibly lightweight, weighing only 2 lbs 5 oz. It has a length of 22 inches and has a maximum weight load of 190 lbs. A downside to this running snowshoe is that it might not fit larger foot sizes.
Different hikers have different purposes when they go out hiking in the snow. As such, you should get snowshoes that fit your specific needs so you can make the most out of them and enjoy your snowshoeing experience to the fullest. The following are some of the primary factors people take into account when buying their snowshoes.
In general, there are three types of snowshoes, categorized mainly by the type of terrain they are made to be suited to and what activity you plan to use them for.
Trail or recreational snowshoes are made for use in mostly flat terrain or groomed trails. These snowshoes are generally shorter than backcountry types since they aren’t typically used for more challenging terrain, requiring larger-sized ones with better flotation and traction.
Backcountry snowshoes are made for technical terrains, which have many obstacles and steeper slopes. As such, these types have excellent traction and flotation for soft and deep snow – which is also why they are generally larger than trail or recreational snowshoes. They also typically come with heel lifts to help reduce calf fatigue when climbing uphill.
Running or racing snowshoes are typically lightweight to ultra-lightweight, which enhances movement speed. Since they’re also made to be smaller in size, they also have less flotation than other snowshoe types and are best suited to flatter terrain and groomed trails.
The decking comprises the bulk of the body of your snowshoes, which is why it is essential to consider the material it is made of. The two most common types of decking are nylon and plastic.
Snowshoes with nylon decking are more flexible and durable and typically have a strong aluminum frame for protection from obstacles. A downside is that they’re on the more expensive side.
On the other hand, plastic types generally have better traction than nylon ones and are frameless. They cost less too but are more prone to breaking and are also noisier on snow.
Traction is another essential component to consider, as it is what keeps you on your feet while you’re moving over snow. Typical traction features come in the form of toe and heel crampons located on the underside of your snowshoes. Steel crampons dig deep into soft snow, are more durable than aluminum, and provide better grip.
Other traction features that also provide excellent grip are frame or traction rails. Frame rails have a vertical configuration instead of typical rounded ones, which give you an enhanced side grip for lateral movements.
Bindings secure your feet to your snowshoes, so they don’t slip off while you’re in an activity. Because these will be engaged as long as you’re on the snow, you will want your bindings to feel as comfortable as possible. Also, you’ll want a system that is intuitive and easy to use instead of being complicated.
Single-pull straps (SPL) are an easy type of bindings to use, as you simply place your foot in your snowshoe, then pull the loop until you get your preferred tightness. Dials are also very intuitive as you just have to turn them until your footwear is suitably secured.
For added comfort, look for binding systems that incorporate EVA foam padding, which is soft and firm and helps distribute pressure evenly across your feet.
Of course, having the proper size for your snowshoes is very important if you want to be able to comfortably wear or even fit them at all. Also, snowshoes typically have a maximum weight load that considers your weight and the weight of your gear and varies depending on the snowshoes’ length, so you’ll also want to keep that in mind.
Different lengths also provide different levels of flotation, with longer snowshoes providing more flotation than shorter ones.
If you plan on hiking on terrain with steep slopes, heel lifts are an essential consideration to have for your snowshoes. They help reduce fatigue in your calves and make climbing much less straining.
Flotation tails are add-ons you can attach to your snowshoes that add length and provide better flotation over deeper snow.
What is the best brand of snowshoes?
The best snowshoes for each individual will vary as there are many factors each one considers differently. Some might place traction as their number one priority, while others view comfort as the most important. What is important is that you identify your needs first. It is easier to find the best brand of snowshoes for you that way.
What are the best snowshoes for beginners?
Even though they are designed as running snowshoes, the Atlas Run still showcases features that appeal to beginner snowshoers. These snowshoes are very lightweight and, combined with their V-shaped design, help provide more effortless movement and excellent maneuverability over snow. The Atlas Run also incorporates a suspension system working with crampons for deep snow penetration and better traction. Furthermore, the binding system is easy to use and allows for quick adjustments.
Do I need trekking poles?
It is much easier to go snowshoeing with trekking poles than without them; this is especially true for deep and icy snow and steep or technical terrain, where it is harder to keep your footing. Trekking poles or ski poles provide the stability you need in such landscapes.
The best snowshoes providing excellent traction for all types of terrain are the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. Its steel crampons paired with 360-degree serrated vertical frames provide all the grip you need for sloped and difficult terrain. The Lightning Ascent also has a flexible deck, excellent flotation, comfortable bindings, and a heel lift. While these features do cost a bit, you won’t find a better substitute for these snowshoes.
The best snowshoes when it comes to comfort are the Tubbs Flex VRT Snowshoes. The Tubbs Flex has a DynamicFit binding system that uses a soft EVA foam padding that evenly distributes pressure across your feet and a convenient dial for securing your hiking boots to your preferred tightness. Other features such as a flex tail, toe cords, and a heel lift, provide you further comforts and enhance your snowshoeing experience.
If you are looking for the best snowshoes available for a relatively lower budget, then the Chinook Trekker is the choice for you. The Chinook Trekker comes in multiple lengths, allowing for a fit of various foot sizes. It also comes with freely rotating crampons for better grip and even comes with a carry bag for your gear. The materials that make up the Chinook Trekker might not be the best for technical terrain, but for its price point, you can make do with using it on more groomed trails.
There are many types of snowshoes available that cater to different individual needs. Once you identify your own needs, finding the most suitable snowshoes for you will quickly follow.