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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.