9 Best Snowshoes

We tested the best snowshoes on the market for 2023 and this is how they performed.

Updated on March 20th, 2023
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We tested the best snowshoes on the market today according to price, weight, size and use. Read on to see how they performed, which is best for you, and get some buying advice.

Best Snowshoes

The best snowshoes are:

The product comparison table below is sortable. Click the arrow in the heading cell to sort the models by preferred spec.

MODEL PRICE

WEIGHT

LENGTHS

WIDTH

FRAME
MATERIAL
DECK
MATERIAL
SCORE

1. MSR EVO Trail $149.95 3 lbs 12 oz 22 in 8 in Steel Plastic 9/10
2. WILDHORN OUTFITTERS Sawtooth $129.99-
$149.99
2.3 - 2.82 lbs 21, 27 in 11.6 in Aluminum HDPE 8/10
3. MSR Lightning Ascent $349.95 4 lbs 3 oz - 4 lbs 15 oz 22, 25, 30 in 8 in Aluminum Nylon 8/10
4. LOUIS GARNEAU Blizzard III $199.99 4.7 lbs, 5.4 lbs 25, 30, 36 in 8 in Aluminum Steel 8/10
5. CHINOOK Trekker 36 $137.10 5 lbs 4 oz 36 in 10 in Aluminum HDPE 8/10
6. LUCKY BUMS Youth and Adult Snowshoes $69.99-
$74.99
From 2 lbs 14, 19, 22, 26 in 8 in Aluminum Metal 8/10
7. CRESCENT MOON EVA $179 3 lbs 8 oz 24 in 8 in Aluminum Foam 8/10
8. TUBBS Mountaineer

$219.95-

$279.95

4 lbs 14.4 oz - 5 lbs 12.8 oz 25, 30, 36 in 7.87 in Aluminum Nylon 8/10
9. YUKON CHARLIE Sherpa $129.99-
$194.99
3 lbs 4 oz - 5 lbs 21, 25, 30, 36 in 8, 9, 10 in Aluminum HDPE 8/10

Best Overall Snowshoes

MSR EVO Trail

msr evo trail
Pros

✅ Lightweight

✅ Sturdy binding system

✅ Easy to use

Cons

❌ Less flotation than other models

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 3 lbs 12 oz
  • Length: 22 in
  • Width: 8 in
  • Frame Material: Martensitic Steel
  • Deck Material: Polypropylene
  • Binding Type: Paraglide™
  • Closure System: Roller Buckles

The EVO Trail is MSR’s recreational-level snowshoe for hiking. We love the bombproof unibody composite deck and the rock-solid strap system. Though it's classed as recreational, the EVO Trail has rugged side rails for grip on steep terrain, making it suitable for hiking in conditions that encounter occasional rugged terrain.

The short, 22-inch size gives it less flotation than other models, but we like that it supports add-on tails to navigate deeper snow when needed. We found the shorter size makes this an easy option to walk in. At under 4 pounds, the EVO is lightweight but by no means the lightest on our list. At $150, the EVO offers great value making it our pick for the best overall snowshoe.


Best Ultralight Snowshoes

WildHorn Outfitters Sawtooth

Price: $129.99-$149.99

WildHorn Outfitters Sawtooth Snowshoes
Pros

✅ Ultralight

✅ Inexpensive

Cons

❌ Binding system prone to cracking in extreme cold

❌ Less traction than other models

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 2.3 lbs per 21" shoe, 2.82 lbs per 27" shoe
  • Length: 21 in, 27 in
  • Width: 11.6 in
  • Frame Material: 6061 aluminum frame
  • Deck Material: HDPE decking
  • Binding Type: Ratchet-style
  • Closure System: Buckle

Wildhorn Outfitters Sawtooth snowshoes are inexpensive and one of the lightest options on our list. The 21-inch snowshoe weighs just over 2 pounds. The wider size of these snowshoes gives good flotation too. It does however make it a little awkward to walk in, requiring you to adjust your gait.

We found the decking less rugged than the MSR Evo Trail, but we liked that the HDPE Decking on the Sawtooth flexes for comfort and is durable enough for regular use. The crampons have some bite, and there are elevators to help on steep ascents, but we found the tubular frame tends to slip and does not have the traction you need in demanding terrain.

The ratchet binding system is easy to strap on, but we don’t love this binding style in extremely cold environments where they are prone to cracking. The Wildhorn Outfitters Sawtooth snowshoes are our top pick for an ultralight snowshoe that performs well on a flat and rolling terrain, all at a price that won't break the bank.


Best High-Performance Backcountry Snowshoes

MSR Lightning Ascent

Price: $349.95

MSR Lightning Ascent
Pros

✅ Best performing backcountry snowshoe

✅ Excellent binding system

Cons

❌ Expensive

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 4 lbs 3 oz, 4 lbs 5 oz, 4 lbs 15 oz
  • Length: 22 in, 25 in, 30 in
  • Width: 8 in
  • Frame Material: 7075-T6 Aluminum
  • Deck Material: TPU coated Nylon
  • Binding Type: Paragon
  • Closure System: Buckle

The Lightning Ascent from MSR is our pick for a high-performance backcountry snowshoe. We found they excel at steep inclines thanks to the elevators, which lessen the stress of climbing on your legs. The toothed frame with steel crampons gives these snowshoes outstanding traction in almost any condition.

On top of the rugged construction, we like that these are comfortable, thanks to the flexible nylon deck that acts as a shock absorber. The Paraglide bindings are tough and stay secretly strapped to your feet too.

We like the toe stop that makes them easy to align to your boot. And the mesh cradle instead of straps reduces the chance you may develop a hotspot from overly tight straps. We found the flotation isn’t quite as good as other backcountry options. Our biggest gripe is the price. At $350, these are the most expensive snowshoes on our list.


Best Budget Backcountry Snowshoes

Louis Garneau Blizzard III

Price: $199.99

Louis Garneau Blizzard III
Pros

✅ Easy-to-use binding system

✅ budget-friendly backcountry snowshoe

Cons

❌ Doesn’t excel in any category

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 4.7 lbs, 5.4 lbs
  • Length: 25 in, 30 in, 36 in
  • Width: 8 in
  • Frame Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum anodized Ergoshape+ frame
  • Deck Material: Carbon steel
  • Binding Type: BOA bindings
  • Closure System: Boa closure system

The Louis Garneau Blizzard IIIs are great, all-terrain snowshoes. We like that the flexible fabric deck provides extra shock absorption on rough terrain. And the longer length gives them good flotation in deep snow. We love the Blizzard's twist-to-tighten Boa system that is easy to adjust and one of the top binding systems we tested.

We found the Blizzard’s beefy crampon under the footbed holds tight. However, the tubular frame tends to slide in slippery conditions, especially since there are no side rails for extra grip. At $200, these are our most reasonably priced backcountry snowshoes. They are a great choice if you need something rugged but don’t want to shell out the extra cash for the MSR Lightning Ascents.


Best Snowshoes for Deep Snow

Chinook Trekker 36

Price: $137.10

Chinook Trekker 36
Pros

✅ Great in deep snow

✅ Inexpensive

Cons

❌ Heavy

❌ Large size can be cumbersome

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 5 lbs 4 oz
  • Length: 36 in
  • Width: 10 in
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Deck Material: UV resistant polyethylene decking
  • Binding Type: UV resistant polyethylene decking
  • Closure System: Buckle

The Chinook Trekker is an entry-level model for those who don't demand a lot from their snowshoes but need something beefy for deep snow. We love the affordable price of these snowshoes, one of the least expensive on our list.

The Trekker has a basic binding with two ratchet straps over the foot and a buckle on the heel. We found binding holds your foot securely, but it is not as comfortable or as easy to use as the competing binding systems from Tubbs or MSR.

We didn’t like that these only provide minimal grip, making them good for non-technical flat walks. We would not trust these snowshoes on steep terrain. What we love about these snowshoes is the excellent flotation thanks to their large size. If you’re hiking in deep snow, this is our top pick. However, we found the large size does make these more cumbersome to walk in than other models.


Best Budget Snowshoes

LUCKY BUMS YOUTH AND ADULT SNOWSHOES

Price: $69.99-$74.99

Lucky Bums Youth and Adult Snowshoes
Pros

✅ Inexpensive

✅ Ultralight

Cons

❌ Low flotation

❌ Can be difficult to walk in

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: From 2lbs
  • Length: 14 in, 19 in, 22 in, 26 in
  • Width: 8 in
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Deck Material: Metal
  • Binding Type: Ratchet bindings
  • Closure System: Buckle

The Lucky Bums youth and adult snowshoes are designed for families who want to get outside in the winter. Unlike most snowshoes that start at 21 inches, the Lucky Bums youth snowshoes are sized as low as 14 inches. This smaller size is ideal for kids eight and under. And at under $100, these are our best budget pick for snowshoes making it easy to buy the whole family a pair.

We also like the weight, some of the lightest snowshoes on our list. The snowshoes are equipped with ratcheting buckles on both the foot and heel. We found them to be less user-friendly than other ratcheting systems we tested. They also have small crampons that are safe for kids.

Unfortunately, their low-profile teeth won't provide enough grip to traverse steep or slippery terrain. We recommend sticking with flat trails or rolling terrain. We found the tear-drop shape made them difficult to walk in, especially for young children. Kids under six may not have the coordination or leg strength to walk with their legs slightly apart.


The Other Noteworthy Models

CRESCENT MOON EVA (LUNA FOR WOMEN)

Price: $179.00

Crescent Moon EVA
Pros

✅ Lightweight

✅ Easy to use

Cons

❌ Velcro bindings require more frequent readjustment

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 3 lbs 8 oz
  • Length: 24 in
  • Width: 8 in
  • Frame Material: Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • Deck Material: TGS
  • Binding Type: Simple, secure hook and loop bindings.
  • Closure System: Velcro

Crescent Moon revolutionized the industry when it introduced foam snowshoes. Unlike other snowshoes on the market, the EVA snowshoes have a flexible deck that flexes with your foot as you walk. If you are accustomed to walking in a regular snowshoe, the Crescent Moon snowshoes can feel awkward at first.

We like that the rocker at the front makes the transition easy, and after a few short hikes, you'll wonder how you ever hiked in a solid deck or framed snowshoes. The foam also makes them one of the lighter options on our list. We like that the velcro makes these simple to use with winter boots or even sneakers. However, we found that velcro was prone to loosening over time, meaning more frequent re-tightening is needed.

The EVA foam snowshoes have lugs for traction, but we think they work best for running or rolling hills. Crescent Moon includes short metal screws that fit into pre-drilled holes on the bottom of the snowshoes for extra grip.


TUBBS MOUNTAINEER

Price: $219.95-$279.95

Tubbs Mountaineer
Pros

✅ Good flotation and bindings

✅ Good backcountry performance

Cons

❌ Heavy

❌ Expensive

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 4 lbs 14.4 oz, 5 lbs, 4.8 oz, 5 lbs 12.8 oz
  • Length: 25 in, 30 in, 36 in
  • Width: 7.87 in
  • Frame Material: Aluminum Pro-Step Frame
  • Deck Material: Soft-Tec Nytex nylon Decking
  • Binding Type: Rubber pin-in-hole straps
  • Closure System: Buckle. Ratchet Strap

Available in extended sizes, the Tubbs Mountaineer strikes a near-perfect balance between performance in deep snow and steep terrain. Though it has a tubular frame, the Mountaineer has an 8-point crampon under the foot, two short side rails, and a heel crampon.

We found they don’t slip on steep or slippery terrain. One of the highlight features for us is the Active Fit 2.0 binding system. We love that it only takes seconds to adjust, thanks to two easy-pull cinch straps and a quick-fastening buckle at the heel. We don’t like that these are the second most expensive and heavy snowshoes we tested.

If you need a mountaineering snowshoe, we’d suggest either saving a few bucks on the Louis Garneau Blizzard III or spending more to get the MSR Lightning Ascent. The Mountaineer also is available for women in both 21-inch and 25-inch sizes.


YUKON CHARLIE SHERPA

Price: $129.99-$194.99

Yukon Charlie Sherpa
Pros

✅ Lightweight

Cons

❌ Binding system prone to cracking in extreme cold

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 3 lbs 4 oz, 4 lbs 2 oz, 4 lbs 8 oz, 5 lbs
  • Length: 21 in, 25 in, 30 in, 36 in
  • Width: 8 in, 9 in, 10 in
  • Frame Material: Ultra strong 6000 aluminum frame
  • Deck Material: HDPE deck material
  • Binding Type: Quick Click II™ Ratchet Binding
  • Closure System: Hook and Loop

The Yukon Charlie Sherpa is an entry-level recreational snowshoe that is one of the lighter options on our list. We found this classic snowshoe design with HDPE decking and an aluminum frame is sturdy and durable.

We like that the steel crampons and a brake bar provide traction for rolling hills, but we would not recommend them for steep or technical terrain.

A quick-release ratcheting system makes it easy to secure and remove the snowshoe with minimal fuss. Like most ratchet systems, they are prone to cracking in extremely cold conditions. Price-wise, these fall in the middle of the models we tested.


Key Factors To Consider When Choosing

PRICE

Snowshoes range widely in price. Inexpensive options are often best for short hikes or hikes in milder terrain. Premium snowshoes are designed to have exceptional traction on steep slopes and provide the best flotation in deep powdery snow.

Snowshoes that provide the greatest value:

Most Affordable snowshoes:

Premium snowshoes (most expensive):

WEIGHT

The weight of a snowshoe depends on two main components. The size (length and width) of the snowshoe and the material it is constructed from. Aluminum framed snowshoes with a semi-rigid deck are middle of the pack weight-wise. Unibody snowshoes, made from composite plastic, are the heaviest. Foam snowshoes are the lightest.

The Lightest snowshoes:

SIZE and USE

Length and width influence how much you will float on top of the snow. You want a snowshoe that is long enough to keep you on the surface of the snow but small enough that it is still maneuverable. A more narrow snowshoe helps preserve your natural gait, while a wide snowshoe may require you to walk with your legs a bit further apart. For steep terrain, make sure your snowshoe is equipped with crampons, breaking bars, and side rails for the most traction.

The best snowshoes for deep snow:

The best snowshoes for steep terrain:

The best snowshoes for moderate conditions:


Other Things to Consider

Traction

Traction is essential on snowshoes. It helps you power up inclines and prevents you from slipping down descents. There are three basic forms of traction: crampons, side rails, and braking bars.

CRAMPONS: Crampons are found on the toe or instep portion of the snowshoe. They are positioned on the rotating part of the footbed and are used to dig into the snow or ice as you climb.

SIDE RAILS: Side rails are located on the edge of the decking and provide extra grab, especially when you are ascending or descending at an angle. BRAKING

BARS: Braking bars are located behind the footbed and help you from slipping backward when climbing a steep ascent. Some recreational snowshoes have one or two forms of traction, while most mountaineering snowshoes have all three.

Frame and Decking

Most recreational and mountaineering snowshoes use a frame and decking design. Some snowshoes use a unibody design that lacks a frame; they rely on different materials.

FRAME-STYLE SNOWSHOES: Traditionally, the decking (body) of a snowshoe often is integrated into an aluminum or steel frame. Decking material in these frame-style snowshoes runs the gamut from a semi-rigid HDPE to flexible and lightweight nylon. A more flexible fabric absorbs impact and flexes when you walk but may not be as durable as a more rigid material.

In recreational snowshoes, the frame often is tubular, which is inexpensive to use but does not provide any significant traction. On the other hand, mountaineering snowshoes typically have a frame with integrated teeth for optimal traction and durable decking that’ll withstand harsh alpine conditions.

UNIBODY SNOWSHOES: Frameless snowshoes, either composite plastic or foam for their decking. Composite plastic is the most common option because it is nearly impossible to break and affordable. This durability comes at a cost - composite snowshoes tend to be stiff and on the heavy side.

Foam snowshoes may not be as durable as their plastic counterparts, but they flex when you walk in them. They also are so feathery light you may forget you're even wearing them.

foam vs. aluminum frame snowshoesFoam unibody (left and middle) vs. aluminum frame + HDPE decking (right)

Bindings

Bindings attach your foot to the snowshoe. There are two main types of bindings: a floating or rotating binding that pivots along with your foot and a fixed binding that is integrated into the deck of the snowshoe. Almost all snowshoes use a rotating binding which makes it easy to walk in a snowshoe.

The most prominent exception is Crescent Moon's foam snowshoes which have a fixed binding. This unibody foam snowshoe uses a curved deck instead of a movable binding. Not having a binding makes the snowshoe lighter, but you will have to change how you walk, especially if you are already used to traditional snowshoes.

Binding Closures

Though there are two main types of bindings, how they attach to your boot varies greatly between snowshoes. Some snowshoes have velcro straps, some use a quick-release ratcheting system, and others are equipped with a strap system.

VELCRO: Velcro is found on running and recreational snowshoes because it is easy to tighten and loosen even with gloves. It can be cinched tightly, but its hold may loosen over time.

RATCHETING SYSTEM: A quick-release ratcheting system is found on both recreational and mountaineering snowshoes. It is more secure than Velcro, but it can be harder to adjust, especially if you undo the closure completely. The plastic parts are also prone to breaking in extremely cold weather.

STRAP SYSTEM: Many recreational and mountaineering snowshoes have a strap system that is easy to secure, even with gloved hands. The straps tend to be durable, holding up well even in arctic temperatures. It does take some practice to get the right fit with straps. They can come loose if you don’t pull them tight enough at the start.

ratcheting system vs velcroQuick-release ratcheting system (left) vs. Velcro (right)

Add-Ons

Some snowshoes can accommodate a flotation tail that connects to the back of the snowshoe and adds several inches of length. This allows you to use a shorter snowshoe when you need maneuverability and then add length when you need more float in deep snow.

Weight Limit

Most models of snowshoes come in a variety of sizes. Longer and wider snowshoes, those with more surface area, provide the highest weight limit. When choosing a weight limit, think about the total weight the snowshoes will need to support. That’s the weight of your body plus any extra gear, like a backpack or heavier winter boots, you may be wearing.

Durability

Snowshoes have many potential breakpoints. Frame, decking, and bindings are all prone to breaking if not well manufactured. The most durable snowshoes have solid aluminum or composite plastic frames with a flexible strapping system. Foam snowshoes and plastic ratchet bindings tend to break more easily.

How To Size Snowshoes

ACTIVITY: Deciding what size snowshoe to purchase depends first on how you intend to use the snowshoe. A shorter snowshoe (25 inches or less) provides more maneuverability and is designed for running and hiking in technical terrain where being able to scramble over rocks, logs, and other obstacles are important. Longer snowshoes (over 25 inches) provide extra float and are ideal for activities that require you to walk in deep snow, such as hunting, following animal tracks, or collecting maple syrup.

WEIGHT: Once you decide whether you need a longer or shorter snowshoe, then you can factor in your hiking weight, which includes both your winter clothing and your backpack. The higher your final weight, the longer the snowshoe you will need. Manufacturers usually provide a recommended weight range or maximum weight for each snowshoe, so be sure to consult these charts before finalizing your purchase. You also can use our table below to help you choose the correct snowshoe size for your backcountry adventures.

  • 17 TO 22 INCHES: The shortest snowshoes are best suited for children and runners because they are lightweight and highly maneuverable. They are ideal for moving fast over flat or rolling terrain. If you are buying a pair of running snowshoes, don’t go too small, as the United States Snowshoes Association rules require snowshoes that are at least 7 inches wide by 20 inches long. Snowshoes in this size support weigh up to approximately 125 pounds.
  • 22 TO 25 INCHES: These shorter snowshoes (22-25 inches) are more maneuverable, making them suitable for both walking on flat or rolling terrain or hiking on steep and technical terrain. It also makes it easy to carry on your backpack. In this size range, weight also begins to factor into the buying decision. The longer a snowshoe, the more weight it can support without sinking into the snow. In general, folks who weigh over 175 pounds should lean towards a 25-inch snowshoe, while those from 125 to 175 pounds should choose a 22-inch snowshoe.
  • OVER 25 INCHES: These longer snowshoes provide more float on the snow and are designed for walking in deep snow on flat or rolling terrain. Choose these snowshoes if you often walk off the beaten path while hunting, following animal tracks, or collecting maple syrup. If you weigh less than 150 pounds and need a snowshoe for walking in deep snow, choose a 25 inch snowshoe. Those over 150 pounds should choose a 28 inch snowshoe, while anyone over 175 pounds should choose a 30-inch or longer model.
Justin Sprecher photo

About Justin Sprecher

Justin is a thru-hiker and writer with a passion for wild backcountry. He's thru-hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail, LASHed the Great Divide Trail and Arizona Trail, and clocked up 1,000s of miles on long-distance trails around the world.

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