Seeking a little fresh air and a change of environment after months of being stuck at home, people have been heading to the great outdoors in record numbers as of late. While activities like hiking and camping dominated the outdoor adventure scene during summer and fall, during winter, snowshoeing has emerged as the outdoor sport du jour. Great for beginners, inexpensive, and easy to learn, people are now flocking to this classic winter sport in droves.
If you’re one of these new disciples, the most important thing you need is the right pair of snowshoes. As with any kind of outdoor gear, investing in a good, high-quality pair of snowshoes is sure to turn first-time triers into devoted fans for many winters to come. We’ve rounded up the best choices for snowshoes for 2021.
Tubbs Wayfinder Snowshoes
Whether your trail is a snow-covered meadow or golf course, Tubbs Wayfinder is the perfect snowshoes to keep you on your feet. These snowshoes have secure and easy-to-use bindings for a fuss-free time. The bindings also provide a comfortable and optimal fit. On top of that, these snowshoes have aluminum Fit-Step™ frames. These frames can help significantly reduce the musculoskeletal impact on your hip, knee, and ankle joints by 10 percent. These snow shoes bite deeply in the snow for a firm and even step each time.
Atlas Helium Trail
Ideal for flat trails and gently undulating terrain, the sleek and minimalist Atlas Helium Trail combines length (either 23 or 26 inches long) and an airy helium frame and deck to help you go long distances fast. The larger the shoe, the more surface area it covers, which helps keep you walking on top of the snow instead of sinking down into it. The modern design easily sheds snow, making it easy to keep weight off, and crampons and serrated blades provide grip and traction. The crisscross foot binding is also extremely user-friendly.
Redfeather Snowshoes Men’s Hike
With a strong but lightweight aluminum frame strung with tear-proof vinyl decking, Redfeather’s Men’s Hike recreational snowshoe is one of their most popular options. Available in four different sizes, the design and materials are well suited for rugged exploring, as well as comfort and convenience. The SV2 Bindings are especially handy, as they operate with a one-pull strap that allows you to easily loosen or tighten the bindings. It can accommodate up to 225 pounds in weight, and features front and back crampons for traction and grip.
TSL Symbioz Elite
Combining function with ergonomic comfort, the TSL Symbioz Elite is one of the most agile and natural-feeling snowshoes on the market. The composite frame easily flexes and folds to adjust to your gait and the terrain, with eight stainless steel crampons providing grip and contact with the ground when while the frame is flexing during a stride. This makes it a great choice as a running snowshoe. An underfoot heel lift also helps you tackle uphill climbs with ease, sparing you the foot and leg pain after.
WildHorn Outfitters Sawtooth
These bestselling men’s and women’s snowshoes are a versatile option for exploring a wide range of landscapes in different snowy conditions. Available in 21- and 27-inch lengths, the aluminum frame is optimal for flotation, and two sets of hard pack crampons grip icy grounds and provide traction. The heel lift riser also helps provide comfortable leverage while heading up inclines. And users rave about the adjustable binders, which operate in a ratcheting style.
What to look for when choosing snowshoes
Now as you’ve seen above, there are a lot of options when it comes to selecting the right snowshoes for you. From comfort to utility, there are many factors to consider. Here are some you’ll want to keep in mind.
Unlike with regular shoes, when referring to size in regards to snowshoes, the focus is on how big the actual shoe is. A larger snowshoe with a bigger frame and deck span will cover more surface area, making it ideal for navigating deep powder or long hauls in the backcountry. But that also makes it more awkward to maneuver. In comparison, a smaller snowshoe is better for increased agility and flexibility, making it ideal for more difficult, technical terrain.
You should also consider how much weight you’ll be carrying, which includes both your body weight and the weight of your pack and gear. For long trips where you’ll need a lot of equipment or you’re carrying gear up to a desirable ski or snowboard run, you want a snowshoe that will support all that weight without sinking down into the snow, which makes going more difficult and tires you out more quickly. In comparison, on short day trips where all you need is a light day pack, you won’t need to worry about the combined weight as much.
Different kinds of snowshoes work best in different terrains. Larger snowshoes with bigger decks are optimal for deep snowfalls, whereas if you’re into mountaineering and alpine explorations, you need a model with plenty of crampons and blades that will grip the icy and rocky slopes. These types of snowshoes are also generally more durable since they’ve been built for more strenuous technical challenges. You can also find models that are a happy middle ground, with spacious decks and frames but sturdy grips and traction for less extreme uphills and downhills. So, when deciding, you need to consider what kind of terrain you generally spend most of your time in.
One of the most important parts of the snowshoes is the bindings, which physically bind your boot to the snowshoe. You want a binding that is snug and secure, but also comfortable during long hours of use. User-friendliness is also key, especially for being able to take off or put on your snowshoes with ease. Bindings can range in style from sneaker-esque crisscrosses to ratchet straps and are generally made of nylon, cable lace, or rubber.
While some snowshoes are unisex, snowshoes are generally divided into men’s and women’s styles. The women’s models have a more tapered, elongated tail and are widest at the front, having been designed to fit a women’s natural stride and relieve physical strain on the hips and knees. On the flip side, men’s models are boxier, with no tapering or widening at either end. And unisex models are a bit of both.
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