So what are the best snowshoes for 2018?

Taking the first step

Are you new to snowshoeing ? Do you know little, if anything, about what makes a good snowshoe? Asking yourself how do I pick the best snowshoes for me and my family?

Well, it isn’t rocket science, so don’t fret about it.  There are some basic questions you should ask yourself.  How much money do i want to spend? What kind of hiking or snowshoeing do i expect to do, and then, who makes snowshoes?.  In a very short period of time you’ll arrive at a long list of on-line and brick and mortar retailers and a short list of manufacturers and their brands.

Where do I shop for the best snowshoes?

Did you know that 51% of all snowshoe transactions start on Amazon.  Of course, there are lots of local stores and other on-line vendors who carry snowshoes, but that’s a pretty amazing percentage to begin with.    Perhaps it speaks to the cultural change of buying habits in general, but also to how mainstream snowshoes have become.  Regardless of where you end up purchasing your snowshoes, we suggest you Google “snowshoes” and any variety of adjectives in front of that and voila, lots of snowshoes will populate your screen.   You could start with “best snowshoes”, but pick whatever preempt sounds right for you.  Maybe you’re looking for women specific, or running, or trail snowshoes.  Whatever your initial search term is,  spend a moment or two comparing the 4 things that are most important in any snowshoe you might consider.

  1. Bindings – because that’s what holds your foot on the snowshoe
  2. Size and Shape – the Goldilocks principle
  3. Traction- how much do you need?
  4. User specific – what kind of snowshoer are you?

You could also look at reviews, just be aware of the fact there are “fake” reviews.  A fake review is one that’s submitted by someone who has been given the product, called an incentive, in exchange for a favorable review.   Or, a disgruntled employee or customer.   Common sense should help you discern what’s real and what isn’t.  Just be aware that it does happen.

What to look for first

best snowshoes made by Crescent Moon
Continuous adjustments use cam locking buckles

Bindings:  the best snowshoes have a good one, which will make your outdoor experience so much better. A bad binding will do the opposite.   Your foot should be both securely attached and comfortable at the same time.  Specifically look at the design of the binding, is it intuitive?  Simple?  Is it anatomically shaped? In other words, is it left and right specific?   The fit will be better if they are (unless of course, you put them on the wrong foot).

The attachment system should be simple as well.   In other words, does it adjust easily and are the components intuitive and understandable to use.  Some of the bindings you’ll see use elastic, rubbery straps that wrap around a metal tooth, like an MSR snowshoe.  Straps that offer continuous adjustments, like a cam-locking buckle, are more comfortable and tend to offer a better fit.  Velcro straps are perhaps the simplest and easiest to use.

Components are always important to consider because you really don’t want parts breaking on you – particularly if you’re a long way from a repair.  So look for quality parts and simple designs that have reliable performance and reputations.

What size is best for me?

Size and Shape: Use the Goldilocks principle, get a shoe that’s just right for you. Even if you weigh more than 200lbs, if you’re mostly on trails you can, and should, use a smaller snowshoe, which is less than 28″ long and generally 8 to 9″ wide.  Check the recommendations made by the manufacturer for each model, but they’re just guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

On the other hand, or foot, if you’re spending most of your time off trail and in deeper snow, you’ll appreciate a larger snowshoe frame.  For people over 200lbs who are breaking trail, a 30″ to 32″ frame works well.   If you’re really packing some weight in deep snow, a 36″ long frame is appropriate.  Keep in mind, as your snowshoes get larger your maneuverability will decrease, but your flotation will increase.  The opposite is also true.

What’s all that on the bottom of the snowshoes?

Traction:  Metal cleats, or crampons, made of stainless steel are recommended for icy and steep terrain.  The best snowshoes have traction located underfoot,  some have “rails” that work well for traversing such as Atlas and MSR.

On packed trails where the terrain is moderate recognize that the more metal you have, the heavier the snowshoe will be.   Most technical snowshoes feature multiple sets of traction components and when you need it, traction is important.  But if you don’t need the traction because you’re walking the golf course or the lake trail, consider a lighter more comfortable snowshoe.   Crescent Moon makes a model of snowshoe, the Eva All-Foam, which is made entirely of foam.   It is uniquely positioned for recreational snowshoeing and offers surprisingly good traction in moderate terrain.

What about me?

Eva-the-all-foam snowshoe

User Specific:  Our research shows most snowshoers are recreational, weekenders, or “occassionalists” (we just made that word up).  The point is, if you’re spending most of your time on trails and hikes which are non-technical then you may not need a $300 pair of snowshoes.   Maybe your snowshoe needs can be filled with something less expensive.   And  they would still provide you with all the rewards of being outside on a beautiful day, or night using snowshoes that you bought for less than $200.  That’s particularly applicable to a family or multiple snowshoers under one roof (fraternity?).

So, who makes the best snowshoes?

If you’re new to the sport and you’re needs are simple, find a lightweight, comfortable snowshoe like the Crescent Moon Eva All-Foam snowshoe.  Or maybe you’re breaking trail and you need a bigger shoe, there are a number of good choices from Atlas to MSR to Fimblevetr.   If you’re a snowshoer who spends lots of time climbing and traversing on steep and deep snow, MSR makes a good shoe for those conditions.   And if you’re looking for the best bang for the buck, again, Crescent Moon and TSL both make snowshoes which are easy to use, flexible, lightweight and not so hard on the pocket book.  Pick the one that makes the most sense for you and your circumstances.Snowshoeing; into the future

Here’s a list of the most reputable and quality oriented snowshoes on the market.  We sure you can find the best snowshoes for you and your family among these excellent manufacturers;

  1. Crescent Moon
  2. Atlas
  3. MSR
  4. TSL
  5. Louis Garneau
  6. Fimblevetr

For specific models in the 2017 2018 Top 10 list, check out the reviews and list made by Switchback Travel.  But there are many opinions and we hope you find a pair that’s just right for you .  So get out there and make tracks for the best snowshoes you can get.

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