How to choose the best snowshoes?
High-quality snowshoes are critical to snow travel in the winter season. Without proper snowshoes, it is easy to find yourself in dangerous conditions - that doesn’t just mean you’ll make poor time moving across snowy terrain and get wet snow into your pants and boots (i.e. frostbite, if you aren’t careful); it’s also a very easy way to end up with a broken leg or ankle. In short, the best snowshoes are essential, both for performance and safety, if you want to travel across snow-covered terrain.
There are a variety of styles of snowshoes, some made for flat terrain, some for rolling terrain, and others specifically designed for steep, mountainous terrain. In this article, we’ll cover the basic knowledge you need to find the best snowshoes in 2022, whether you’re looking for the best snowshoes for women, the best snowshoes for kids, or anyone else.
We’ll cover the three main types of snowshoe, as well as “What to Look for in Your Snowshoe”, going over a few of our top-picks, discussing cost, and answering some common questions, such as: “How do you tell what size snowshoe you need?” and “What are the best snowshoes for beginners?”
Which Type of Snowshoe Should I Buy?
In general, there are three main styles of snowshoe: flat terrain, rolling terrain, and mountain terrain. Below, you can find the differences between each, and the features you can expect in each category.
- Lowest price
- No heel lift
- Simple, basic binding system
- Moderate traction
Rolling Terrain (All-Terrain)
- Moderate price
- Semi-aggressive crampons integrated for traction on slopes
- Sturdy bindings
- A moderate heel lift
- Highest price
- Burly binding system that can fit larger, more technical boots (mountaineering, backcountry ski, etc.)
- Aggressive integrated crampons for traction on the steepest slopes
- Aggressive heel lift
In general, the best snowshoes for beginners and kids are going to be flat terrain shoes, or rolling terrain shoes, like our Outbound All-Terrain Lightweight Aluminum Frame Snowshoes, which sport a 120-pound capacity. If you’re a new snowshoer, a snowshoe like this will be perfect to learn on. The Outbound is also one of the best affordable snowshoes on the market, making it a great shoe for first-timers.
If you’re a more experienced outdoor enthusiast or plan on tackling steeper, icier terrain, you’ll want a mountain-style snowshoe with a more advanced binding system, aggressive crampons, and a heel lift to provide heel support to make climbing slopes less tiring. A great example is the Woods Sycamore All-Terrain Lightweight Aluminum Frame Snowshoes, which features a heel lift and a 250-pound capacity (in the largest model: other models with smaller length and lower weight capacity are also available). This is one of the best snowshoes for trails and other rugged backcountry terrain.
What to Look for in Your Snowshoe
The main things you need to keep in mind when purchasing your first pair of snowshoes are traction, binding, weight, and lift.
Traction refers to the crampons or other traction material on the bottom of the snowshoe, which give you grip on snow and ice. Traction is especially important if you’re walking on steeper, icier terrain, but even a flat terrain snowshoe should have moderate traction. Binding refers to the system used to attach your boot to the shoe. Weight refers to both the weight of the shoe and the weight it can carry. Lift refers to the added space under your heel, which is helpful if you’re walking uphill.
You should ask yourself a few questions to help you think about these features. Where do you plan to go? Will it be steep or icy? How much will you and your gear weigh? Some snowshoes have higher weight capacities, while others are designed to be the best snowshoes for women and children, and have lower weight capacities. Our best-selling Outbound snowshoes come in capacities ranging from 120 pounds up to 265 pounds, for example.
In addition, it helps to anticipate the type of snow or ice you’ll be moving across. If you’ll probably be moving on fluffy, dry snow, like freshly-fallen powder, a larger size shoe is better, since it disperses your weight over a wider area, keeping you up on top of the snow. If you’ll be on a hard-packed snowshoe trail or icier ground, a smaller, lighter size will work.
Best Snowshoes - Woods Top Pick
If you’re looking for an excellent starter kit or pair of snowshoes for beginners, the Outbound Lightweight Aluminum Frame Snowshoe Bundle is an excellent place to start. It comes in five models, available in sizes ranging from 36 inches (265 lb capacity) to 30 inches (210 lbs), 25 inches (160 lbs), to 21 inches (120 lbs), and all the way down to 19 inches (90 lbs) (custom-designed for children). This makes it a great choice for men, women, and children of all sizes alike.
The bundle’s main attraction is the Outbound snowshoes, which feature stout aluminum crampons, aluminum frames, rotating toe cords, a double ratchet buckle system, and high-density polyethylene decking to evenly distribute weight. It also comes with twin poles with anti-shock mechanisms, and a durable bag for easy transport and storage. It’s the ultimate pick for beginner snowshoers and experienced users alike.
Best Budget Pick
If you’re looking for an excellent starter snowshoe or a budget option, the Outbound (included in the bundle above) can also be bought as a standalone product.
Again, the Outbound snowshoe is one of our best-selling products. It incorporates lightweight but sturdy aluminum crampons and frames, rotating toe cords, a double ratchet buckle system, and high-density polyethylene decking to evenly distribute weight. The adjustable Posi Lock binding offers a snug, secure fit that can be easily adjusted and taken on or off. Like the bundle, the standalone Outbound Snowshoes come in five different sizes, ranging from 36 inches (265 lb capacity) down to a 21-inch (120 lbs) model.
Best for Experienced Adventurers
If you’re looking for a burlier, more technical snowshoe, the ALL-NEW Sycamore is an outstanding choice. This Woods snowshoe is new to our lineup for the 2022 winter season, featuring a durable aluminum frame covered with tough plastic decking and thick EVA protective padding.
The one-handed adjustment system fits snug and allows you to adjust your bindings in a split second. The Sycamore also sports rugged crampons and a heel lift that makes uphill terrain a breeze. The shoe is available in 30-inch (250 lb) and 25-inch (200 lb) models, and also comes with a compact, durable carry bag for transport and storage.
How Much Should Snowshoes Cost?
The best snowshoes for beginners should be priced affordably, but as you move up in the rankings from flat terrain models to mountainous terrain models, you’ll begin to find that snowshoes will increase in price. This is due to the addition of more technical components, such as advanced crampons, burlier bindings, and an added heel lift, for example. In general, you should be able to find a great pair of beginner snowshoes for under $100, but you’ll probably need to pay a bit more for a more technical pair of snowshoes, like our Woods Sycamore and Woods Balsam models, which are new for the 2022 winter season and are designed to be sturdier for advanced snow travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Frequently Asked Questions
The sizing on your snowshoe will generally correspond to your weight. For example, our Outbound bundle comes in five sizes, ranging from 36 inches (265 pounds) down to a children’s model that’s a mere 19 inches (90 lbs).
This is because the heavier you are, the larger the area of your snowshoe will need to be to distribute your weight and keep you up on top of the snow. Be sure to buy a snowshoe that’s designed to carry as close to your weight as possible, since buying shoes that are much larger than you will increase the weight and clumsiness of your shoes
There are a variety of factors that play a role in how far you might sink into the snow. New snow is drier and fluffier, making you sink more, while packed snow is going to be firmer and result in less sinking.
In fresh snow, you may sink anywhere from 6 to 12 inches, while in older snow, you’ll probably sink 6 to 8 inches, at the most. In a well-packed snowshoeing trail, you can expect not to sink at all. A high-quality pair of snowshoes from Woods Canada will minimize any sinking that occurs when walking on snow, making snow travel simple, fast, and easy!
The best snowshoes for beginners are the Woods Canada Outbound All-Terrain Snowshoes (you can buy the 28-inch [190 lb] model HERE). These shoes come in a variety of sizes, ranging from large shoes able to carry up to 265 pounds to a small childrens’ snowshoe bundle, made for 90 pounds or less, which comes with adjustable poles and a compact carry bag for transport and storage.
With reliable traction, easy-adjust bindings, and an all-around lightweight build thanks to aluminum frames and high-density polyethylene decking, they’re an excellent choice for all beginner snowshoers.