What to Look for in Quality Snowshoes

What to Look for in Quality Snowshoes

Winter should not mean the end of outdoor adventures. Snowshoeing is a great way to get out into nature, meet new friends and stay fit. If you are ready to invest in your own pair of snowshoes, there are a few important details you should keep in mind. This quick guide will provide you with snowshoe-buying information to help you pick the best shoes for your winter adventures.

Why Do I Need Snowshoes?

If you are planning any type of winter outdoor activities that will require long walks in the snow, snowshoes are a must. Plowing through deep snow in regular boots is tough. We’ve all been there. But snowshoes provide you with the ability to simply float on top of the snow, so that you can go on great winter hikes, and get to your destinations more quickly in the snow.

Snowshoeing is also a popular winter outdoor activity. Groups and individuals plan snowshoe tours and hikes through snowy areas that are usually too difficult to navigate in the winter without snowshoes.

Qualities to Look For In Snowshoes

The snowshoe is a special type of footwear that distributes your weight evenly. This enables you to stay above the snow rather than sinking down into it. Snowshoes are used for all types of winter activities, including hiking, trail walking, exploring, and running. Let’s look at a few important factors and qualities you should look for in a quality pair of snowshoes.


Snowshoes come in two common types of frames: aluminum and composite. The type of material you choose will be heavily dependent on the type of terrain you will be using the shoes most on. For instance, composite is often better for packed snow or ice, while aluminum is better for deep powder snow.


The fit of the snowshoe will be determined by your weight. Because the snowshoes work to distribute weight evenly, the key factor in determining the size shoe you will need is not based on the size of your foot, but rather on the weight of your body. Snowshoes will come in “load” sizes. You should also remember to include the weight of the gear you will be carrying as well.

The heavier the person, the bigger the snowshoe will need to be.


You will also need to keep in mind the type of terrain you will be using the shoes on. If you are primarily using snowshoes in powdery snow, you will want larger shoes. If you are mostly in hard-packed snow or ice, you will want to choose smaller, more compact shoes.


Snowshoes are made in men’s and women’s sizes. There are also children’s or youth sizes available as well. Be sure that you carefully look at all of the details of the shoes you are buying to ensure you are getting the perfect pair for your needs.


Another consideration when shopping for snowshoes will be the binding. Snowshoes come with either free-rotation bind or fixed binding. Free rotation bindings will pivot and move with your foot. Fixed binding provide a more secure fit and do not move.


Traction is essential to snow navigation. Snowshoes will have crampons that are similar to cleats. This will give you great traction to ensure that your snowshoe adventures are safe. Crampons come in a few different styles.

  • Toe crampons
  • Heel crampons
  • Side rails or traction bars


If you are using snowshoes in steep terrain, you can get shoes with lifts. This feature will lift up the back of your foot to cut down on calf and Achilles strain.

Don’t Forget Your Footwear

If you are a true beginner, you should be aware that snowshoes are not shoes. You will need to have other footwear on with the snowshoe. Fortunately, snowshoes are made to work with any type of warm, winter boot or shoe. Some snowshoes are even designed to work with running shoes so that you can enjoy your runs all winter long in any conditions.

Shop Northern Lites for top-rated, lightweight snowshoes, available for any ages. Known for snowshoe racing, these high-quality snowshoes are designed with innovative materials.

Check out all of our snowshoes and snowshoe accessories.

Day Hiking / Beginner Snowshoes - Ultralight Trekking Series Snowshoes - Snowshoe Carry Bags

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