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How to Choose the Right Snowshoes

A fresh blanket of snow covers the ground and the air is still and calm. You dream of leaving your footprints in the new-fallen snow as you climb the tallest mountains and scale the highest summits to never look back… but you don’t have any snowshoes. To avoid sinking up to your knees in the snow and hating winter forever, we will guide you through how to choose your snowshoes and tell you exactly why you’ll love them.

Which snowshoes are right for you?

The first question you should ask yourself before buying a new pair of snowshoes is, “how will I use them?” If you plan on taking mellow winter walks in the fields behind your home or want to amble along the groomed trails in your neighbourhood park, recreational snowshoes are your best bet. If you’ll be exploring off-trail in the backcountry of your favourite national park, mountain snowshoes (models with more aggressive crampons) are the way to go. If you plan on running through a snow-covered winter wonderland, you are going to want a pair of curved running snowshoes that are specifically designed to provide more spring and bounce on all types of terrain.

Each snowshoe will offer you a completely different experience. To make your experience as enjoyable as possible, using the proper walking technique and investing in the right accessories, such as gaiters, trekking poles and a headlamp, will make all the difference.

Snowshoeing involves little more than putting one foot in front of the other. Look straight ahead, keep your legs slightly apart and make sure to keep your feet as flat as possible. Using these techniques will help you find your own unique rhythm and ensure that you make the most of your purchase.

Snowshoes Snowshoes accessories

What size snowshoes are right for you?

Shopping around for a pair of snowshoes is like looking for a new pair of shoes. The only difference is that snowshoe size isn’t measured based on your foot length, but on your weight (including anything that you will be carrying with you). Do you plan on bringing along a tent, mattress, sleeping bag and canned goods? Or will your winter outings only require granola bars and bottled water? The heavier the load, the more snowshoe surface area is required to provide the right amount of “flotation”.

The type of terrain that you plan on trekking will also come into play when figuring out what will be the best size of snowshoes for you. Winter bushwacking adventures on powdery, untouched snow will require a wider pair of snowshoes than if you were casually wandering around on groomed trails. You may want to opt for a narrower pair of snowshoes to help you wind your way through the trees if you plan on blazing your own trails.

Be careful! Don’t choose a wider or narrower pair of snowshoes “just in case.” If your snowshoes are too short, it will feel as though you are trudging through the snow in your winter boots. If your snowshoes are too wide, it will feel as though you are being bogged down by lead weights. Snowshoes come in a range of sizes from about 20 to 36 inches in length. To give you a general idea of the snowshoe length you will need, take a look at the chart below. Remember to also check the sizing chart provided on each individual snowshoe label.

Snowshoe length
Total weight 20–23 inches 24–27 inches 30 inches 36 inches
80 lbs. Good Okay
100 lbs. Good Okay
120 lbs. Good Good Okay
140 lbs. Good Good Okay
160 lbs. Okay Good Good
180 lbs. Okay Good Good
200 lbs. Okay Good Okay
220 lbs. Okay Good Good
240 lbs. Good Good
260 lbs. Okay Good
280 lbs. Good
300 lbs. Good

Which snowshoe materials are best?

Most modern snowshoes are made from aluminium, as it is lightweight and durable. However, there are also a few other things to keep in mind. For example, the number of steel crampons on the snowshoe, their placement and their shape will all determine whether or not you will be able to tackle icy trails or climb steep slopes.

The bindings and buckles that keep your feet in place vary tremendously from one model to the next. To get the best fit, bring the boots you plan on wearing with your snowshoes when trying on different models. You want to make sure that the bindings fit snug around your foot and aren’t going to slip.

If the mountains are calling, look for snowshoes with heel lifts or climbing bars that will keep your heels lifted when ascending a steep slope to give your calves a bit of a break.

A good pair of snowshoes should be lightweight, ergonomic, durable, portable and easy to take on and off (especially for beginners).

To make sure that you choose the right snowshoes, ask one of our in-store sales-staff for help and try on as many pairs as your heart desires.