The 9 Best Snowshoes of 2021

Extend hiking season through the winter months

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The Rundown

Best Overall: MSR Evo Snowshoes at L.L. Bean

"Built for rolling and flat terrain, MSR’s Evo snowshoes are a great fit for men and women."

Best Value: Flashtek Lightweight Snowshoe Kit at Amazon

"Save money with these basic snowshoes that come with trekking poles and a carrying bag."

Best Splurge: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes at L.L. Bean

"This tricked out snowshoe is durable enough to handle a variety of terrains and snow conditions."

Best for Beginners: Crescent Moon EVA Foam Snowshoes at Amazon

"Simple, lightweight foam snowshoes make for an easy transition from hiking boots."

Best for Women: MSR Revo Trail Women's Snowshoes at Amazon

"Engineered specifically for those with a narrow stride looking to stay afloat on mild winter walks."

Best for Men: Atlas Helium Men's Snowshoes at REI

"A light, performance-oriented men's snowshoe for moderate terrain."

Best for Hiking: Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes at Amazon

"The Mountaineer snowshoes feature more aggressive crampons, which help with walking up and down hills."

Best for Running: Crescent Moon Gold 12 Running Snowshoes at Amazon

"These are about as light as snowshoes come, so you can cover more distance on winter runs."

Best for Backcountry: TSL Highlander Adjust Snowshoes at Amazon

"Handle steep inclines and variable conditions with a built-in snowboard-like BOA binding system."

Snowshoes can seem like a goofy anachronism to the uninitiated, but if you know, you know that hiking in snow can be a frustrating, dangerous affair 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. We rounded up our top picks for snowshoes across several categories, so you can buy a pair that best serves your budget and needs for winter hikes.

Read on to learn more about the best snowshoes available.

Our Top Picks

01 of 09

Best Overall: MSR Evo Snowshoes

MSR Evo Snowshoes

Courtesy of L.L. Bean 

Built for rolling and flat terrain, MSR’s Evo snowshoes are a great fit for most men and women no matter how they plan to snowshoe. Crampon-like steel rails are built into the frame for a durable traction device moving up- or downhill. Actual crampon teeth are built into the toe for additional grip where your foot makes the most contact with the snow.

There’s also an optional tail accessory (sold separately) that helps the shoes float in deep powder, so you can get better traction in one of the most frustrating conditions for winter hiking. At about 3.5 pounds for the pair, these snowshoes are relatively light, meaning you can take longer hikes without feeling the strain of a heavy shoe.

02 of 09

Best Value: Flashtek Lightweight Snowshoe Kit

This kit delivers a set of powder-basket trekking poles and a pair of snowshoes for less than the cost of most snowshoes on the market. For the occasional snowshoer who doesn’t pursue extreme winter terrain, this set gives you what you need to stay afloat above the snow and enjoy your winter hikes instead of getting stuck and wet. The unibody 6000 series aluminum frame provides a solid base and is paired with aluminum toothed crampons under the toe and heel. These aren’t designed for extreme conditions or steep pitches, but for most snowshoers, they’re good quality for less.

03 of 09

Best Splurge: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes

 Courtesy of REI

While the Lightning Ascent is a more tricked-out version of MSR's base model, it's still a great all-around snowshoe that comes with some additional features and attention to detail. For starters, the unibody mesh toe strap Paragon bindings are freeze-proof and offer a tight grip on a wide range of boot shapes and sizes. The Lightning Ascents also feature metal heel risers that can be flipped up with a ski pole to create a more natural, flat foot position when hiking up steep ascents.

These snowshoes are built for durability too, which means you can count on them in the field and they'll last for multiple winter hiking seasons. Overall, this model is a great pick for those who do a lot of snowshoeing year over year and don’t want to have to buy new ones often.

04 of 09

Best for Beginners: Crescent Moon EVA Foam Snowshoes

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 your feet. The Crescent Moon EVA Foam snowshoes still 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 to 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, and the Boulder-based company scrutinizes their manufacturing processes to ensure environmental friendliness.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Best for Women: MSR Revo Trail Women's Snowshoes

A women-specific snowshoe doesn’t just mean better color options. The women’s edition of the Revo snowshoe is narrower which prevents you from crossing your snowshoes over each other and tripping. They also have the same great features men’s and unisex models do—such as fully toothed metal edges, toe crampons, dual security strap bindings, and molded plastic decks. The toe crampons pivot up with your boot to keep them from dragging and only digging in when they should. If you're walking around in deep snow conditions, you can add on MSR's EVO tails, which are sold separately. Best of all, each shoe weighs less than 2 pounds so you won’t tire as quickly on your winter hikes.

06 of 09

Best for Men: Atlas Helium Men's Snowshoes

Atlas Helium Men's Snowshoes

 Courtesy of REI

These performance snowshoes for men offer lots of features at a reasonable price in a streamlined, light design. The rubber wraparound binding gets cinched into place by the innovative Wrapp system that resembles a performance sandal. Heel risers make these simple snowshoes easy to use on extended steeper ascents.

The aluminum decking is a single piece that features venting to help shed snow and keep the weight down at a very light 3 pounds, 5 ounces. The steep angle of the toe keeps you from diving your snowshoes into deeper snow, while the steel traction rails bite into harder snow to prevent slipping.

07 of 09

Best for Hiking: Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes

Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes

Courtesy of REI 

The Mountaineer Snowshoes from Tubbs look similar to most basic snowshoes in terms of shape and build, but they stand out as an uphill hiking shoe due to their more aggressive crampons. Toe and heel crampons have extra-long pointed teeth to really bite into the snow when it matters most. 

Tubb's Mountaineer toe crampons span both the toes and the pad of the foot, underneath a solid toe plate that creates a solid platform that can be driven into snow. The equally aggressive heel crampons prevent slipping on the way down. Ratcheting ActiveFit 2.0 bindings have a simple two-strap design that cinches securely to keep the shoes firmly attached.

08 of 09

Best for Running: Crescent Moon Gold 12 Running Snowshoes

The most obvious difference between the Gold 12 Running Snowshoes from Crescent Moon and more traditional snowshoes is the shape. The extreme teardrop shape tapers sharply to a pointed tail end for a narrower base. Another big difference is the weight—at 3 pounds, these are about as light as snowshoes come which matters when you’re covering distance on a winter run.

Additionally, the race bindings are built to fit with more normal running shoes versus bulkier bindings made for winter boots. These are running-specific snowshoes, so they aren’t right for climbing mountains in deep snow, but they’re perfect for extending running season straight through the winter.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Best for Backcountry: TSL Highlander Adjust Snowshoes

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, while snowshoes allow you to walk normally and carry your regular snowboard on your back attached to a pack. But since you’re looking for a decent pitch to ride, your snowshoes need to be up to the task and uphill-oriented.

The TSL Highlander Adjusts are designed with this pursuit in mind and feature a lightweight molded plastic frame with stainless steel crampons and the same BOA binding system featured on many snowboard boots. The lateral teeth provide grip when traversing a slop perpendicular to the fall line.

Why Trust Tripsavvy?

Justin Park 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.

FAQs

What shoes should I wear with snowshoes?

Snowshoes will keep you above the snow, but because you still may end up stepping into deep snows, 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.

Should I wear gaiters?

Also 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 snows.

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!

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 Rails: 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.

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