Here Are the Best Snowshoes for All Types of Terrain

Extend hiking season through the winter months

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Aiming to explore your town, state, or national parks more this winter? Arm yourself with a pair of snowshoes, and you’ll be able to tackle your favorite summer terrain even on the snowiest winter days. Snowshoes can seem like a goofy anachronism to the uninitiated, but hiking through snow can be dangerous (and frustrating) without them.

Whether you’re taking a winter trip to the mountains and want to explore, or you live in a snowy region and just want to get around easier, there’s a pair of snowshoes to help you stay afloat in all kinds of snow and terrain. Below are some of our top picks for the best snowshoes across several categories, so you can buy a pair that best serves your budget and needs for winter hikes, backcountry skiing, or even winter running. 

Read on to learn more about the best snowshoes available.

Best Overall: Atlas Range-MTN Snowshoes

Atlas Range-MTN Snowshoes

Atlas

What We Like
  • All-terrain snowshoe

  • Lightweight

  • Extensive crampons

  • Heel lift

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Sells out quickly

It’s hard to find fault with the Atlas Range Snowshoe (save for the price), and the name gives away what makes this snowshoe great: It excels on a  range of different types of terrain. It’s a top-of-the-line snowshoe made for all-mountain adventuring, which means down icy slopes, up crusty and sun-baked skin tracks, and through fluffy powder in the woods where it seems like you’re traveling across snow deeper than your waist. BOA tech—which you may recognize from your snowboard boots—makes clipping in a breeze, and traction rails running the length of the shoe cling to icy uphills. They’re very light at under 2 pounds per shoe, and the 19-degree heel lifts should help you climb steeper hills with fewer breaks by reducing foot and leg fatigue.

Sizes: 26, 30, 35 | Weight per pair: 3 pounds, 13 ounces | Dimensions: 26 x 7.5 inches | Max recommended load: 300 pounds (35-inch version)

Best Value: FLASHTEK Light Weight Snowshoe Kit

Light Weight Snowshoes

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Complete kit

  • Multiple color options

What We Don't Like
  • Aluminum is a bit heavy

  • Limited traction

  • No heel lift

This kit is an ideal buy for athletes who like to get out a few times a month (or a few times per season) but plan on spending most of their time in state parks and trail systems rather than attempting aggressive uphill climbs. The budget-friendly snowshoe kit includes poles, aluminum snowshoes, and a storage bag to keep your gear together when you stash it in the garage for summer. It doesn't have the heel supports, traction systems, or metal clips you’d want for extreme conditions or icy downhill pitches, but they’re an excellent choice for casual snowshoers and winter walkers. 

Sizes: 21, 25, 30 | Weight per pair: up to 4 pounds (30-inch option) | Dimensions: N/A | Max recommended load: 260 pounds (30-inch version)

Best for Comfort: Crescent Moon Eva Foam Snowshoes

Crescent Moon Eva Foam Snowshoes

Crescent Moon

What We Lie
  • Curved design mirrors natural step

  • Foam materials reduce foot fatigue

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Minimal traction

  • Sinks deeper into powder than a traditional snowshoe

  • Low max weight

Snowshoes are great for staying afloat and can be a game-changer if you’ve only ever snow-hiked in boots. Still, newbies can struggle with the added bulk and strange experience of having wide platforms attached to their feet. The Crescent Moon EVA Foam snowshoes are a wide platform, but by using the same compound as the soles of your running shoes, they’ve created a flexible platform that’s an easier transition for newcomers to the sport.

While they’re best suited for more well-traveled, packed-down trails, the EVA Foam shoes have seriously lugged soles for traction in the snow. Additionally, they are fully recyclable through sneaker recycling programs. Bonus: The Boulder-based company scrutinizes their manufacturing processes to ensure environmental friendliness.

Sizes: One size | Weight per pair: 3 pounds, 8 ounces | Dimensions: 24 x 8 inches | Max recommended load: 200 pounds

Best Women’s-Specific: MSR Women’s Lightning Explore Snowshoes

MSR Women’s Lightning Explore Snowshoes

MSR

What We Like
  • Narrow width

  • Quick step-in system

  • Very light, great traction

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Low max weight limit

A women-specific snowshoe doesn't just mean better color options. Most of MSR's women-specific options have the ideal blend between being lightweight and durable enough for all-day outings. Our favorite model is the Women's Lightning Explore. Like all shoes in the Lightning series, it has the HyperLink binding system, allowing users to step in and out of the bindings with just one strap. They're noticeably lighter than other equally capable shoes (and they're very capable, thanks to the sharp traction spikes running the length of the frame) and on the narrower side at 7.5 inches. That's ideal for women with shorter legs or who take smaller steps as it essentially eliminates the risk of clipping the inner edges against each other when navigating narrow uphill tracks. 

Sizes: 22, 25 | Weight per pair: 3 pounds, 8 ounces (22-inch version) | Dimensions: 22 x 7.5 inches or 25 x 7.5 inches | Max recommended load: 210 pounds (25-inch version)

Best for Kids: Yukon Charlie SNO-Bash Youth Snowshoes Kit

Yukon Charlie SNO-Bash Youth Snowshoes Kit

Yukon Charlie

What We Like
  • Unisex

  • Very affordable

  • Anti-fatigue foot-flex design

What We Don't Like
  • Maxes at 100 pounds

  • Limited mostly to flat and very gentle slopes

Help your budding athlete learn to move across the snow with the SNO-bash kids' snowshoe from Yukon Charlie. The one-pull binding system makes it easy for kids to put them on all by themselves, and the flexible foot panel will help them stay out for longer without leg fatigue. Of course, that same foot rotation also means they're not the best for serious climbs. But since they cap at about a 100-pound weight limit, they're really best for younger kids not quite ready to tackle any real winter summit attempts, anyway.

Sizes: 19 (one size) | Weight per pair: 2.2 pounds | Dimensions: 16 x 7 inches | Max recommended load: 100 pounds

Best for Backcountry: TSL Highlander Elite

TSL Highlander Elite

REI

What We Like
  • Rocker design

  • Hourglass shape

  • Heel lift

  • Excellent float

What We Don't Like
  • Can be expensive

  • No women’s-specific model

Many snowboarders look to snowshoes as a simple, intuitive way to get off-piste for untouched lines in the backcountry. Splitboarding gear can be heavy and cumbersome, but on snowshoes, you can walk normally and carry your regular snowboard (or skis) on your back. But since you're probably climbing up pretty steep slopes in search of the perfect downhill line, your snowshoes need to be both up to the task and uphill-oriented.

The TSL Highlander Elite is designed with this pursuit in mind and features a lightweight molded plastic frame with stainless steel crampons, a BOA binding system, a rocker shape to encourage a natural stride and reduce foot fatigue, and an hourglass shape so you don't knock your inner edges and take a tumble down the skin track. It also has lateral teeth to provide grip when traversing a slope perpendicular to the fall line or moving up icy slopes. 

Sizes: S, M, L | Weight per pair: 2.2 pounds | Dimensions: 20.5 x 7.5 inches (S), 24.2 x 8 inches (M), 27 x 8.5 inches (L) | Max recommended load: 300 pounds

Best for Powder: Tubbs Panoramic Snowshoe

Tubbs Panoramic Snowshoe

Backcountry

What We Like
  • Great on powder

  • Foot articulation system to reduce leg fatigue

  • Extra crampons under the toes for steep uphills

What We Don't Like
  • A little on the heavier side

  • Some users reported pressure points in certain footwear

If you're reading online reviews of snowshoes before making a purchase (which is always a good idea!), you'll probably see the Tubbs Panoramic Snowshoe generally has high ratings when it comes to float (or how well it stays on top of powder).

No snowshoe is going to prevent some degree of sinking, but the Panoramic's lightweight decking distributes weight well and does an excellent job of keeping you on top of the freshies. The Panoramic also comes in a downright massive 36-inch version, which will keep snowshoers up to 300 pounds afloat. If you plan to snowshoe on super-dry snow, like what most of the Rocky Mountains receive, consider buying a size up to further maximize your weight distribution.

Sizes: 25, 30, 36 | Weight per pair: 4 pounds, 8 ounces | Dimensions: 25 x 9 inches, 30 x 9 inches, 36 x 9 inches | Max recommended load: 300 pounds (36-inch version)

Best for Ice and Hard Pack: TSL Symbioz Hyperflex

TSL Symbioz Hyperflex

Backcountry

What We Like
  • Massive crampons for extreme grip

  • BOA system

  • Very light, unique shape prevents tripping on narrow paths

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Sinks a bit in powder

  • Slightly narrow heel cup

With a small footprint that makes narrow tracks a breeze and sharp crampons that could serve as a weapon in a pinch, the Symbioz Hyperflex snowshoes excel when it comes to hard-packed trails and ice. If you need a pair of snowshoes for winter hiking along narrow singletrack or ascending the north faces of icy slopes, these are your best bet. The heel lift stays in place exceptionally well and the BOA system makes quick work of on-mountain adjustments. Depending on the terrain near you, they may also work quite well for backcountry days when you’re moving across icy, crusty layers. 

Sizes: S, M, L | Weight per pair: Between 2 and 2.4 pounds | Dimensions: 20.5 x 7.5 inches, 23.5 x 8 inches, 27 x 8.5 inches | Max recommended load: 300 pounds (size large)

Tested by TripSavvy

We really enjoyed snowshoeing in the TSL Symbioz Hyperflex snowshoes. The BOA locking system is a true no-brainer. The BOA dial is easy to access and loosen on the fly, unlike with buckles and clips that can be hard to adjust and unlock when caked in snow. We also really liked the narrow heel design of the Symbioz. They’re shaped almost like an ice cream cone, coming in handy when snowshoeing in narrow tracks or on icy slopes where your feet may not always be perfectly straight. It’s nearly impossible to hit the heels together or accidentally step on the back of your opposite snowshoe, reducing the likelihood of tripping.  

We tested these after a major snowstorm, trekking across a roughly three-foot base with another 10 inches of powder on top. While the Symbioz of course sunk partially into the powder, as all snowshoes do, the snow easily fell through the open spaces on the shoe, making each step feel just as light as walking on the snow. We didn’t feel any foot fatigue while wearing these despite taking high steps through powder. 

The only qualm we had with the snowshoes was the width of the heel box, as we were unable to wear them with some of our wider hiking boots. But aside from that, the adjustable footbed should make it easy to fit nearly all shoe lengths. — Suzie Dundas, Product Tester

Final Verdict

For a best all-around snowshoe, we like the Range-MTN from Atlas (view at Moosejaw). It's going to handle most terrain for the most amount of snowshoers. However, if you're not going to be snowshoeing more than a dozen or so times in a season, you might want to consider the more budget-friendly option of the Flashtek Kit (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in Snowshoes

Size and Shape

A larger snowshoe is generally better suited for deeper powder snow, while smaller shoes are more effective in hard snow conditions and steep uphills. You don’t necessarily want an ultra-wide snowshoe as you’ll increase the likelihood of stepping on your own feet and because increased flotation is usually achieved with longer snowshoes than wider ones. MSR offers an add-on accessory tail that you can employ in deeper snow conditions.

Crampons and Teeth

While the surface area is what keeps you afloat, the integrated crampons, teeth, and rails are what provide traction. The more aggressive the traction elements, the better-suited the snowshoes are for steeper terrain going up or down. Look for teeth along the rails of the frame, crampons on the toe and/or the heel, as well as braking bars behind the heel area. The more these elements are employed, the better the snowshoes will perform in hilly terrain. However, if you’re mostly traveling in flat zones, you can opt for less expensive snowshoes that skip many of these traction features.

Materials

While classic snowshoes feature leather webbing stretched across a wood frame, most modern snowshoes are made from either an aluminum frame or a composite deck. Both materials are lightweight and strong but have different designs with different pros and cons.

Aluminum frames mostly mimic the classic design where a material such as nylon is stretched across the frame to create the deck. Composite snowshoes often feature a single-piece construction where a plastic composite makes up the bulk of the deck. Composite snowshoes are often smaller and hence are better suited for more mountaineering type adventures, while aluminum frame snowshoes can be wider, longer, and retain structural integrity, making them superior for deep, light snow.

Price

You really do get what you pay for in snowshoes. Higher-priced snowshoes will generally be better performing and longer-lasting than cheaper models. That said, if you are only an occasional snowshoer or just want a pair for a winter trip where you’ll go for a moderate hike once or twice, the budget options may be a great choice. The most expensive snowshoes are generally more streamlined, traction-heavy mountaineering snowshoes which may not be the right fit for your adventure, so remember that “better” may not actually be the best option for you.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What shoes should I wear with snowshoes?

    Snowshoes will keep you above the snow, but because you still may end up stepping into deep snow, you generally want to wear some kind of insulated, waterproof winter hiking boots in your snowshoes. The aggressive tread of hiking boots will also help keep your feet in place once strapped into the snowshoes. Avoid bulky winter boots (think classic Sorels or muck boots) which can create conflicts with the straps and toe cutout in the snowshoes.

  • Do I need snowshoes?

    No, you don't need snowshoes for winter hiking. (Although, they will certainly make it more enjoyable). If snow shoes aren't your thing, consider a pair of gaiters, which connect to your boots and keep snow from getting in around the ankle. These lightweight additions effectively extend the snow-deflecting capabilities of a regular pair of hiking boots up above the calf, which is a must when traveling in deep snow.

    Gaiters are especially essential when wearing shorter hiking boots (which I recommend). Sure, you could wear extra-tall boots such as muck boots, but those types of boots aren’t very athletic and the stiffness can cause blisters and discomfort over a long hike.

  • Do I need trekking poles?

    Trekking poles aren’t essential but can be a nice gear addition if you go snowshoeing often. Winter trail conditions can be variable with hard-packed snow, light powder, and crusty layers that you punch through. These conditions can all result in unsteady footing and a supportive pole can keep you upright when you make a wrong step. 

    Make sure to look for poles with a larger skiing-type powder basket on the bottom as many summer trekking poles have small or non-existent baskets. The basket helps keep poles from sliding all the way down through light, unconsolidated snow which can throw off your balance as badly as a wrong step!

Why Trust TripSavvy

Suzie Dundas lives in Lake Tahoe and is a freelance adventure writer and gear tester. As much as she loves snowboarding, on busy weekends at the resorts she turns to another pastime: snowshoeing. While most of her routes are steep uphills, she’s also a fan of snowshoe tours around the perimeters of lakes and state parks, which gives her a wide variety of terrain for testing. For items she wasn’t able to test in person, she relied on expert feedback, online reviews, and Q & A with brand representatives to get the scoop on tech and performance. 

Justin Park also contributed to this roundup. He lives in Summit County, Colorado with one of the longest winters in the country due to its elevation and snow-generating peaks. From skis to sunglasses, he’s always looking for the latest innovations in winter gear, and he’s tried nearly every shape and style of snowshoe on the market.

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