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Much like every other outdoor endeavor, snowshoeing has never been more popular.
It’s clear to see why: all you need is a pair of snowshoes, poles and the proper winter clothing and you can head straight to your nearest snowy trail. Snowshoeing has the lowest barrier of skill needed for a winter sport, and it’s an interesting alternative to hiking when the trails are covered in more than just a dusting of white.
When shopping for snowshoes, you’ll find a range of materials from foam and plastic on the cheaper end to high-grade aluminum and fully-customizable fits in more expensive models. Most snowshoes are designed for hiking at slower speeds, but some models are built with lightweight materials and fewer features for speedier snowshoeing, although that’s saved mainly for experienced users.
So what are the year’s best snowshoes for beginners and seasoned pros alike? Keep scrolling to see our picks for the best snowshoes of 2021.
What Type of Snowshoes Do You Need?
Snowshoes are divided by the type of terrain they can manage: flat, rolling and mountain. As for sizing, ask your local gear shop for the smallest size that will support your weight. Sizing can vary slightly between brands.
- Flat Terrain Snowshoes: Designed for beginners and casual users, these have simple traction and bindings, lack a heel lift and are typically less expensive. If you don’t know where to start, chances are you should start here.
- Rolling Terrain Snowshoes: These are the mid-level option in both function and price. Rolling terrain snowshoes are designed to tackle terrain ranging from entirely flat to slightly sloped and feature somewhat aggressive crampons for traction. However, these snowshoes are not intended to be used in steep or icy conditions.
- Mountain Terrain Snowshoes: These snowshoes have the full capabilities for unpredictable terrain and conditions. At the top of the price pyramid, you’ll pay for the aggressive crampon system, complex binding system and secure heel lift, all designed to manage steep and icy terrain as well as the flat or slightly sloped terrain of those above.
As with any winter sport, it’s essential to have some baseline knowledge of trails, weather and avalanche danger before heading out. Additionally, having the right snow jacket, pants and layers are crucial to having a good (and safe) time.
Most winter areas have pre-groomed trails for newer snowshoers as more experienced adventurers tend to enjoy making their own trails in less-traveled areas. The good news is, you can have a great time either way. Check out eight of our favorite snowshoe options below.
1. Atlas Helium
The Helium is proof that you don’t need to break the bank to get a high-quality snowshoe. Here, you get three sizing options with an easy-to-use binding and tempered steel traction. Atlas is a long-trusted brand in snowshoes, and you get a few of their performance elements typically saved for more expensive models. The biggest downside is that they don’t come with poles or a carrying case, but the lower entry price should leave some room to acquire those essentials.
2. Tubbs Xplore Snowshoe Kit
BEST SNOWSHOE KIT
The problem with snowshoes is that they often don’t come with poles and other basic gear needed for those new to the sport. Minus a carrying bag, this Tubbs kit has all you need to get moving. The Xplore snowshoe has a basic strap binding with low- to medium-level traction ideal for groomed trails with the occasional rough spot. The included gaiters are a nice addition that’ll help prevent snow from getting into your boots (because wet socks equal a terrible time).
3. MSR Revo Ascent
BEST HIGH-END SNOWSHOE
If you’re ready to make the leap to something more aggressive, the Revo Ascent highlights advancement in mountain-terrain snowshoeing with a feature-packed layout. The proprietary Paragon binding is freeze-resistant and holds the foot in place while offering superior grip below. Although these snowshoes may look flimsy at first glance, they’re anything but. MSR put a lot of R&D into this model, and this writer can report that they withstand rough use and climb through unexpected rocks and obstacles with ease.
Read More: Best Snow Pants
4. G2 Lightweight Snowshoe Set
BEST UNISEX SNOWSHOE
Families looking to get into snowshoeing may want to opt for “unisex” snowshoes that may not include as many features but are just fine for the occasional snowshoe. This option from G2 has all the casual snowshoer needs to get moving, and the carrying bag is a big plus to save your car from getting wet post-trail. The addition of foam inside the binding is a nice touch for some extra comfort, and you get some of the same capabilities as more expensive models.
5. Crescent Moon Luna
BEST RUNNING SNOWSHOE
A unique alternative to the traditional rigid snowshoe is this foam option from Colorado-based Crescent Moon. The key here is simplicity, both in the binding and shape, making this an excellent choice for runners or those just wanting something more lightweight. These snowshoes have much more give and bend than other models and come in at a very reasonable price point.
6. L.L. Bean Men’s Winter Walker Snowshoe Package
This package is a great gift set with all you need to get moving on the trails. This would be an excellent Christmas gift for the outdoorsman in your life, or a great way for a beginner to discover the joys of snowshoeing for themselves.
7. Tubbs Flex Esc Snowshoe
A value-packed snowshoe with a comfort-focused fit and solid traction, this shoe provides good function at a great price.
8. Yukon Charlie’s Pro Snowshoes
This pair from Yukon Charlie’s is an ideal snowshoe for all levels, with a slightly wider stance. That makes these the best snowshoes for men with larger feet, and it’s priced very reasonably if you don’t want to invest too much into the sport.