Categories: Gear GuideHiking

The Top 5 Best Snowshoes for Winter Hiking – Essential Buying Guide

The selection criteria for a pair of snowshoes for winter hiking are based on several points that determine its bearing surface.

Indeed, with snowshoes with a too small decking, you could sink into the snow.

With a pair too large, the risk this time would be to find yourself walking like a penguin.

A pair of snowshoes can weigh from 2.2 lbs to 4.4 lbs (from 1 to 2 kg) for a length varying from 21 in to 28 in (53 to 70 cm), it is important to choose it well so as not to find yourself with cluttered feet.

The prices for a pair of snowshoes vary from $80 to $300. Most models are made of composite, an economical and resistant material.

These snowshoes are versatile and suitable for all activities.

Aluminum ones are intended for an experienced and extreme practice or extreme cold (Alaska, Canada, Lapland, Siberia...).

Discover here the best snowshoes for your need and how to choose them wisely.

In a hurry! I had a crush for the TSL Snowshoes Symbioz Elite

Click here to check the TSL Snowshoes Symbioz Elite on Amazon!


1- MSR Lightning Ascent - Performance Snowshoes

Model

22 in

25 in

30 in

Weight per pair

4 lbs (1.81 kg)

4 lbs 3 oz (1.89 kg)

4 lbs 12 oz (2.16 kg)

Width

8 in (20 cm)

8 in (20 cm)

8 in (20 cm)

Length

22 in (56 cm)

25 in (64 cm)

30 in (76 cm)

Load

Up to 180 lbs (80 kg)

120 - 220 lbs (54 - 100+ kg)

150 - 280 lbs (68 - 127+ kg)

Heel lift

YES

YES

YES

Warranty

3 years

MSR was once again able to build a comfortable, high-performance model for winter hiking from one to several days. Of course, the price may put off more than one, but the performance is there.

No doubt these MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes will seduce those looking for ultra-light equipment without questioning the bearing or quality of grip. Still, the lightness has a price: the delicacy of certain materials will require to be careful.


2- MSR Lightning Trail - Ultralight

Model

22 in

25 in

Weight per pair

3 lbs 3 oz (1.45 kg)

3 lbs 6 oz (1.52 kg)

Width

8 in (20 cm)

8 in (20 cm)

Length

22 in (56 cm)

25 in (64 cm)

Load

Up to 180 lbs (80 kg)

120 - 220 lbs (54 - 100+ kg)

Heel lift

NO

NO

Warranty

3 years

The MSR Lightning Trail snowshoes, a model of superior range at a justified price, seduce by their great versatility, their lightness and their reliability which contributes to making an easy trail, especially in the powder.


​3- MSR Revo Ascent - Durable All-Terrain

Model

22 in

25 in

Weight per pair

4 lbs 5 oz (1.92 kg)

4 lbs 9 oz (2.04 kg)

Width

8 in (20 cm)

8 in (20 cm)

Length

22 in (56 cm)

25 in (64 cm)

Load

Up to 180 lbs (80 kg)

120 - 220 lbs (54 - 100+ kg)

Heel lift

YES

YES

Warranty

3 years

In short, these snowshoes are very comfortable to walk in all types of snow. At first glance, the apparent lightness is scary regarding strength, but ultimately, this model is flexible and ​robust at the same time. A model that does not look like usual snowshoes and is a good alternative.


4- TSL Snowshoes Symbioz Hyperflex Elite - Comfort at All Levels

Model

20.5 in

23.5 in

27 in

Weight per pair

4 lbs 2 oz (1.85 kg)

4 lbs 5 oz (1.95 kg)

4 lbs 12 oz (2.16 kg)

Width

7.5 in (19 cm)

8 in (20 cm)

8.5 in (21.5 cm)

Length

20.5 in (52 cm)

23.5 in (59.7 cm)

27 in (68.5 cm)

Load

65 - 180 lbs (30 kg - 81 kg)

110 - 260 lbs (50 - 118 kg)

150 - 300 lbs (68 - 136 kg)

Heel lift

YES

YES

YES

Warranty

2 years

The TSL Symbioz Elite are snowshoes for expert mountaineers, for alpine terrain and long hikes. The French brand TSL displays with this model its will to stay at the forefront of innovation using quality materials and thus improving the comfort of the user. Snowshoes made for adventure!


5- Tubbs Men's Flex Alp - Traction as its Best

Model

24 in

28 in

Weight per pair

4 lbs 8 oz (1.92 kg)

5 lbs (2.26 kg)

Width

8 in (20 cm)

8 in (20 cm)

Length

24 in (61 cm)

28 in (71 cm)

Load

Up to 190 lbs (86 kg)

up to 220 lbs (100 kg)

Heel lift

YES

YES

Warranty

3 years

With the Tubbs Flex Alp snowshoes, you can have a real crush. This is an excellent pair of snowshoes adapted to mountain terrain that provides​ very ​impressive traction and grip.

The comfort is surprising. The cushioning is just as important.

Too bad that a storage bag is not delivered with the product.

A smaller female model also exists: the Tubbs Flex Alp 22.


How to choose snowshoes for winter hiking

A pair of snowshoes is the essential equipment for hikers who want to walk in the snow in winter.

Powder, groomed trail, steep trail, there are models suitable for all types of terrain.

How to find your way around all these models to choose your first pair of snowshoes?

Here are some answers to these questions.

The bearing surface area (the deck)

For a snowshoe to properly perform its supporting role, it must have a sufficient surface (its deck) to support your weight in the snow.

The width of a snowshoe is more or less 8 in (20 cm).

If tall people can opt for wide ones, for shorter ones, it is better to choose a narrow pair so as not to end up walking with your legs spread.

As for the length, it generally varies between 21 in to 28 in (53 to 70 cm). Its choice depends on your weight and the type of snow you will encounter.

Don't underweigh yourself, because you have to take into account the clothes, which are bulky (heavy) in winter, but also the weight of the backpack.

This is why for an itinerant hike with a well-filled backpack requires a pair of snowshoes with a larger bearing surface than for a day hike.

​Typically, each pair of snowshoes indicates the ideal weight for its use in its datasheet. All you have to do is choose according to your total weight: your body weight with your clothes + full backpack.

Of course, the load-bearing surface also depends on the snow that you will encounter.

On hard snow with little depth, on marked paths in ski stations, for example, it is possible to choose a smaller pair of snowshoes than ​usual.

On the other hand, for off-piste hikes in a spruce-fir forest, where there is ​much powdery snow, care must be taken to respect the recommended weight of the snowshoe and not to minimize it.

Also if you exceed the weight indicated by the pair of snowshoes, there is a risk of breaking them.

Walking assistance

Some models of snowshoes have smart options to help you walk in the snow.

The first, which is mandatory to be able to walk ​correctly, is the heel lock.

This hook disengages the heel from the racket to have a more natural, more fluid walk.

​However, on the downhill so as not to end up with a snowshoe that ​keeps turning around, it is ​essential to keep the heel together with the deck.

The second is a hinge that raises the heel.

It is used in steep climbs to reduce the effect of the slope and thus save energy. This is an important option when choosing your pair of snowshoes.

Not all systems that offer heel lift and locking hooks are equal. It is ​critical to assure that they are easy to use and if they can be used with a hiking pole, so you don't have to bend down.

This is a real plus, because once on the field, in the cold, with mittens, it is not always easy to carry out these manipulations.

There are also some top-of-the-range models that are flexible to allow the foot to roll off more naturally.

Spikes, crampons, and bindings

Virtually all models are equipped with crampons under the deck and spikes on the front of the foot.

For hiking in resorts on hard trails or in the forest in the powder, they are not very useful.

It is therefore not important to dwell on this point; the basic cleat systems will be enough.

For hikes at higher altitudes (above the tree line), where the wind hardens the snow, sometimes even turning it into ice, it is ​essential to pay attention to the crampons and spikes.

There are various systems for attaching snowshoes to your shoes. It is, of course, preferable to try on your winter shoes when you buy them to ensure that they are properly maintained but in general, the new generation of snowshoes are adapted to a full range of hiking shoes.

Also, make sure that the system is simple and can be handled with gloves. Some models have a memory system for tightening settings that eliminates the need to adjust straps, clips... each time you put on the snowshoes. A little something extra ​which is very useful.

With a pair of snowshoes, it is ​crucial to combine a pair of waterproof and warm shoes, as well as gaiters to avoid getting snow inside. Feel free to consult our article "What equipment/material for hiking in winter? " to perfect your equipment.

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Published by
Lara Sein

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