Check out the best snowshoes for beginners, children, women and men whether you’ll be exploring groomed trails, rolling hills or deep powder.
We share our top choices along with our expert guide to find the right ones depending on the type of terrain you’ll be exploring.
Why do I need Snowshoes for Winter Hiking?
If you have ever tried walking in the snow with hiking boots then you probably know how easy it is to sink into powdery snow and how difficult it is to lift your foot out covered in heavy snow.
The right snowshoes have floatation so that you don’t sink as much. They also have traction on the bottom to keep you from slipping which keeps you safe.
Related Reading: Winter Hiking Gear: What You Need for Winter Day Hikes
The Best Snowshoes for Women/Unisex
When you plan to snowshoe:
- in deep powder
- in soft snow (i.e. making your own tracks vs snowshoeing on a groomed trail)
- rolling or steep terrain
- backcountry where it’s vital to have good quality gear
then you’ll want a more substantial pair of snowshoes. I love this type of snowshoeing but it’s MUCH harder so you’ll want snowshoes that offer better floatation and more secure snowshoe bindings so that they won’t come off as you lift your foot through deep snow.
If I had to pick my favourites of our recommendations below my top choices would be:
1) TSL Snowshoes Symbioz Access Snowshoes – because they’re so flexible which really helps you grip icy surfaces
2) Tubbs Snowshoes Xplore W – because they’re a well-known and respected brand and because they’re so lightweight
3) Atlas Snowshoes Helium-Trail Kit – because I LOVE their snowshoes and the heel lift option which makes climbing much easier and reduces the strain on your calve muscles.
The Best Snowshoes for Women/Unisex Comparison Chart:
The Best Snowshoes for Men
Men’s snowshoes are usually larger, and can hold more weight. They’re also designed for men’s gait which is wider than a women’s.
Men’s Snowshoes Comparison Chart
The Best Kid’s Snowshoes
Snowshoeing is a fun winter activity to do with the whole family. Look for groomed trails where kids can go a bit off trail into powdery snow which they’ll love and then back onto a groomed trail when they get tired.
Both the Yukon Sno-Bash and the G2 are good options if you’re looking for snowshoes that would work well on hiking and groomed trails.
The Monsta Trax are definitely the most fun but are better suited to snowshoeing in the yard, or in a local park than on an actual snowshoe trail.
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The Best Snowshoes for Beginners
- new to snowshoeing,
- just plan to do it occasionally
- plan to snowshoe on relatively flat trails
- plan to go on groomed trails
then these budget snowshoes will do the job. You can see our recommendations below:
The Best Snowshoes for Beginners Comparison Chart:
FAQs About Snowshoeing and How to Choose the Right Ones
The most important benefit is flotation – the snowshoes’ ability to keep you on top of the snow instead of sinking. This means you’ll be able to explore deep snow with less effort. Without snowshoes you’d keep sinking, making each step a lot of effort.
Once you get used to walking with your feet a bit wider than you normally would, it’s not harder than hiking. However, the extra weight from the snowshoes and snow takes more effort than regular hiking, making it a great workout.
YES! Snowshoeing burns ~ 472 calories per hour, similar to cross-country skiing and is an excellent low-impact cardiovascular workout that builds muscles at the same time.
It depends on the type of snow you’ll be walking on. If the trail is packed and you don’t sink, you won’t need the floatation that snowshoes provide. However, if you’re planning on going in the backcountry or want to explore deep powdery snow, then they’re totally worth it.
If you’re only planning on going once or twice, then you should rent snowshoes instead of buying them. If you only plan on doing easy trails then you can buy snowshoes for beginners which are cheaper than ones meant for deep snow. However, if you use them regularly they’re a great investment. I bought a high-quality pair of snowshoes which I use each season and have had them for over 10 years.
Most snowshoes fall into one of three categories: flat terrain, rolling terrain and mountain terrain. The cheapest will be the ones for flat terrain, while the most expensive (and the ones I have and love) are designed for mountain terrain.
Snowshoeing on Flat or Groomed Trails
Snowshoes for flat terrain are usually affordable with a simple binding and traction system. These are great if you like to snowshoe on easy, packed trails. A snowshoe intended for “Recreational” use is a good fit for this type of terrain.
Snowshoeing on Rolling Hills
The best snowshoes for rolling terrain are moderately priced and have slightly sturdier crampons and bindings. They may also have heel lifts allowing you to get up steep slopes more easily with less strain on your calve muscles.
Snowshoeing on Mountainous Terrain
This requires sturdier snowshoes which are more expensive but worth the money. They are made with strong crampons and sophisticated bindings that work well with alpine hiking boots, although you can also wear them over regular hiking boots. Look for snowshoes that are intended for “Backcountry.”
If you want snowshoes that are suitable for most conditions then choose ones where your weight falls in the middle, vs the top end. For example, according to Tubbs’ sizing the 21W is suitable for women weighing up to 150 lbs (68 kg), while the 25W size is suitable for weights from 120 – 200 lbs (54 – 91 kg). If you weigh 145 lbs I’d recommend the 25W size. That allows for your pack weight and will provide you with better flotation in deeper snow.
Ideally, you want insulated, waterproof winter boots with thick soles. However, if it’s not too cold, then sturdy waterproof leather hiking boots are also fine. You’ll also want warm wool or synthetic socks that wick moisture away. Bring an extra pair in case yours get wet.
Technically poles aren’t necessary however I recommend them because they help you balance and on steeper terrain – both going up and down. You can use ski or hiking poles – just make sure they have snow baskets on the ends to stop them from sinking.
It depends on the terrain. You should avoid steep avalanche-prone slopes and know how to assess the risk of an avalanche. WEMountains online classes on mountain safety are a great place to start.
Related Reading: 18 Best Hiking Leggings to Keep you Comfortable on Your Hike
Best Boots for Snowshoeing
Although hiking boots are good for snowshoeing IF they’re waterproof and IF it’s not too cold, you may want a warmer and sturdier boot. And you’ll definitely want a snowshoeing boot if you’re hiking in the backcountry or in extreme temperatures. These boots are designed to withstand cold and wet conditions. There’s nothing worse than having freezing feet.
Best Women’s Boots for Snowshoeing Comparison Chart
Best Men’s Boots for Snowshoeing Comparison ChartTable could not be displayed.
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If you already have hiking poles you can use these when you go snowshoeing, just make sure they have snow baskets (to prevent them from going unnecessarily deep into the snow). Although snowshoes will make it much easier for you to traverse the icy terrain, snowshoe poles provide further assurance against slipping and make it easier to go up inclines. Plus when you snowshoe with poles, you’ll get the added bonus of an upper-body workout.
Related Reading: Best Hiking Backpacks: Our Top 13 For Every Budget
High quality and lightweight, the Cascade Mountain Tech is great for snowshoeing in frigid temperatures and difficult terrain.
These poles are extendable and feature a quick lock, making it comfortable and sturdy at any length. The cork grip gives you added comfort while walking. These poles come with a selection of tips for every type of terrain.
The Hiker Hunger is 100% carbon fibre which is light and durable. These poles are great to use when snowshoeing.
The Hiker Hunger is a heavy-duty hiking pole that is great for icy and mountainous terrain. With all the attachments, you can use these anywhere.
The cork grip is moisture-wicking and conforms to your hand to provide you with extra comfort.
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Best Dog Snow Boots
If you love taking your furry buddy out on your snowshoeing adventures then they may need a good pair of dog snow boots, depending on the breed and how cold it is. Here are our top recommendations
If you are looking for tough dog booties that will hold up in the snow, salt and ice, you can’t go wrong with Kurgo Dog Shoes.
They’re lightweight and can be adjusted for a custom fit. These are also water-resistant and feature LED light-up soles with reflective trim that will help you find your dog at a distance. Plus, they’re also slip-resistant helping keep your dog safe.
Made with reflective material and skid-resistant you can count on your dog being safe, even in low light.
These dog boots are waterproof, perfect for snowy and rainy conditions. Your dog will have great traction in most conditions with the special grooved sole.
Related Reading: The Best Hiking Footwear for Every Hiker