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March Into Winter With a Great Pair of Snowshoes

Photo: Alec Moore (Unsplash)

Prior to the 20th century, the most technically-savvy snowshoes in North America were created by Indigenous peoples who used the floatation devices for hunting before horses were introduced. Fashioned from wood and rawhide lacing, the traditional snowshoe was efficient, but nowhere near as fancy as their modern counterparts.

Today, snowshoes are seeing a bit of an evolution with new bindings, flexible frames, and a bevy of lightweight construction materials. If you’re a hardcore ‘shoer or simply looking to dabble in the activity, read on for five great snowshoes on the market.

MSR Lightning Ascent

MSR’s Lightning Ascents are perennial favorites, and their aluminum frame makes them among the most durable show shoes out there.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

If you opt to head into burlier terrain, don’t forget your Lightning Ascents. MSR is a perennial favorite in the snowshoe mix and these ‘shoes are a big reason why. Solid traction provides precise footing around the entire frame, and their classic aluminum frame is tough as nails. Plus, the new bindings are uber comfy so you’ll never experience any hot spots.

TSL Symbioz Elite

The design and carbon reinforcements of the TSL Symbioz Elites allow you to walk with a natural heel-toe gait.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

TSL was the first to bring a flexible snowshoe frame to market a few years ago, and they continue the Symbioz line with the Elite model. Thanks to carbon reinforcements, ‘shoers can capitalize on a more natural, heel-toe gait when wandering through the woods. Eight, stainless-steel crampons will hold fast on moderate terrain, making this a comfy options for everyday users.

Crescent Moon Gold 10

Crescent Moon’s Gold 10 shoes are extra long, which means you’ll get extra flotation above the snow.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Colorado-based Crescent Moon makes snowshoes that are entirely constructed in the USA. The Gold 10 is five inches longer than the previous Gold 9, providing ample floatation in deep snow. Three stainless steel crampons grip-and-rip on packed terrain, but struggled a bit on steep, icy inclines. Bonus: The Gold 10 use materials that are completely free of harmless chemicals.

Tubbs Xplore

While they’re not the best-performing snow shoes out there, the Tubbs Xplore Showshoe is a great budget option if you’re just getting started.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

The Xplore aren’t the best-performing on our list, nor are they the fanciest. But, they are a solid-performing snowshoe that clocks in at a budget-friendly price that appeals to a variety of people. The bindings are a cinch to use, and the aluminum frame is lightweight and durable. If you’re looking to cruise around a family cabin or spend an hour on a well-traveled trail, you can’t go wrong with these.

Fimbulvetr Hikr

Designed unlike any other snow shoe out there, the Fimbulvetr Hikr offers some of the best flotation in the industry.
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Powder junkies rejoice: the Hikr snowshoes will keep you afloat in pretty much anything. This unique Norwegian snowshoes don’t look like anything you’ve ever seen, and that’s because Filbulvetr set out to reinvent the snowshoe. Flexible, thermoplastic decking handles powder like a champion, although the wider frame creates an awkward gait.

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About the author

Heather Balogh Rochfort

Heather Balogh Rochfort is an outdoor expert and full-time freelance writer and author in the outdoor industry.