How to Choose the Right Snowshoes

A good pair of snowshoes will take you almost anywhere you can walk, but to find the right snowshoes can sometimes be confusing and frustrating.

Before you make buy your next pair of snowshoes, here are four tips you should take into consideration.

TERRAIN

The first thing to consider before purchasing a pair of snowshoes is what type of terrain you plan to travel.

  • Fitness snowshoes are designed for running on packed trails and are typically small and light.
  • Recreational snowshoes are designed for hiking on flat terrain and stomping around in the backyard.
  • Backcountry snowshoes, perhaps the most popular style, are designed for ascending steep terrain and typically provide more flotation.

FRAME

The next thing to consider is the frame and decking of the snowshoe. Frames made of all plastic are typically small and light. Plastic frames are well suited for fitness snowshoes.

Recreational and backcountry snowshoes usually have an aluminum frame with a deck made of rubber. The combination of aluminum and rubber provides a very strong frame with significant floatation.

BINDINGS

Another consideration is the type of bindings on the snowshoes. The two common styles of bindings are fixed and floating.

  • Floating bindings are designed for climbing steep terrain.
  • Fixed bindings make stepping over trees and back-stepping easier.

Before purchasing snowshoes, it's a good idea to make sure that your winter boots will fit the bindings. Optimally, you should be able to adjust the bindings while wearing mittens.

WEIGHT

The right size snowshoe depends on the total weight of the user and their gear. Most manufactures list a weight range for the different sizes they offer. The list below is a general guideline of snowshoe sizes.

  • 8x25 - 100-175 lbs
  • 9x30 - 165-210 lbs
  • 10x36 - >200 lbs

Try to cover a large variety of terrain on as many different pairs of snowshoes as you can before committing to a purchase.

Take time to choose the right snowshoe; it will pay off in the years of enjoyment that you get from them.


Erie Outdoor Recreation Examiner Bali Warner is a whitewater rafting guide and freelance writer.

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