How To Buy Snowshoes


Mention snowshoeing in a conversation and depending on who’s part of the group, you’ll hear a couple of different sayings over and over. “Snowshoeing is so hard!” wails one person. “If you can walk, you can snowshoe,” insists another. So, which is it?


Both. Your snowshoe trek can be a pleasant walk in the (snowy) park, or a tortuous ascent up what feels like Mount Everest – and feeling nearly immobilized the next day. Knowing a bit about snowshoeing for beginners and how to buy snowshoes will alleviate some of this pain.


When it comes to snowshoeing for beginners, a gentle walking trail in a city park that’s been packed down by many passing feet, or a groomed trail in a snow park is a good bet for a fun experience. Save the deep powder and steep slopes for when your body is used to this new way of hiking.


Consider your level of fitness. You don’t have to be a world-class athlete or gym rat to successfully snowshoe. On the other hand, even folks who exercise a few days a week should take it easy at first. It’s like any other type of new exercise. If you plunge into the activity no-holds-barred and make it into something akin to a marathon, the morning after will not be fun.


What type of snowshoe should I buy?


The two most popular types of snowshoes are recreational and backcountry. The recreational are the most common and are used on flat to rolling terrain. They have less aggressive traction systems and are simpler than backcountry models, thus they’re a lower priced option.


Backcountry snowshoes are built for more difficult terrain. They have more aggressive crampons and the bindings tend to be better and larger. But these types of snowshoes aren’t just for deep powder and scaling icy mountains – they can be used on flat, hard-packed paths as well. A couple of good examples of this are Yukon Charlie’s Advanced Snowshoe Kit, and their National Park Snowshoe Kit.


Don’t let the word “Advanced” scare you. These snowshoes feature an advanced design; you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy winter hiking with these ‘shoes. With their ultra-strong 6000 aluminum rocker frame, HDPE Decking, Fast Fit II™ “Easy Pull” Binding, and SNOW MOTION™ Axle System (pivots with your movement), you’ll enjoy your outings no matter your skill level.


Yukon Charlie’s National Park Snowshoe Kit is another excellent choice, especially if your snowshoeing expeditions will include steep, icy terrain. Like the Advanced snowshoes, the National Park has essentially the same features as the Advanced, with a few exceptions.


These snowshoes also feature a toe hold with the binding and the Free Flex™ axle system which allows for more natural, free-floating movements on slopes. They also have an integrated heel lift, making a steep ascent much easier and saving a lot of stress on the calves and achilles tendons. Simply flip them up before tackling that incline and then flip back down when you’ve reached kinder terrain. Both the Advanced and National Park models come in a complete kit that includes the snowshoes, poles, and a travel bag.


How to size snowshoes


The length of the snowshoe corresponds with your total, loaded-down weight. This means all your layers of clothes, boots, backpack and contents. For example, if the total weight is 200 pounds, you’ll need snowshoes that are roughly 25”, although this may vary slightly depending on the type of snowshoe and the manufacturer.


Snowshoe Boots


For those who don’t enjoy cold feet, a good pair of insulated winter hiking boots, like the 100% waterproof Muck Men’s Apex Lace-Up Hiking Boots or the Muck Women’s Lace-Up Hiking Boots are excellent choices.


These high-quality boots make outstanding snowshoe boots. They’re stiff enough to stand up to the bindings, waterproof, give excellent ankle support, have a dual-density footbed with memory foam, a breathable mesh lining, plus odor and moisture control. They also feature a lugged rubber outsole for great traction when the snowshoes are off and they look great and are super comfortable!


Let’s Get Started


For more information on how to buy snowshoes, snowshoeing for beginners, snowshoe boots and more, check out our snowshoe guide.