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Snowshoes: The great guide to the new winter trend

2023-12-09T07:09:55.866Z

Highlights: Snowshoes are flat, wide devices that you attach under your regular shoes. As a result, your weight is better distributed and you sink less into the snow. Snowshoes usually consist of a frame made of aluminum or plastic, which is covered with a net or membrane. On the underside there are climbing points or claws that provide grip and grip on different types of snow. Modern snowsh shoes are often flexible and ergonomically designed to make walking easier and take the strain off the foot. It is important that the shoes are waterproof, warm and comfortable and have a grippy sole.



Status: 09.12.2023, 07:56 a.m.

By: Nina Dudek

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It's finally winter! Perfect conditions to hike through the white winter wonderland with snowshoes. Here's everything you need to know.

Note to our readers: We create product comparisons and deals for you. To make this possible, we receive a commission from affiliates. This does not change anything for you.

Discover slowness! While lifts and ski slopes are overcrowded and many popular routes for touring skiers are overcrowded, snowshoeing is (still) an insider tip. More and more people appreciate this gentle winter sport as an almost silent way to hike through wintry white forests and over metre-thick snow-covered fields. In contrast to skis, snowshoes are an inexpensive winter sport that really anyone can do. No previous knowledge required.
All you need are snowshoes.

Table of contents

What are snowshoes good for? When do you need snowshoes?

What shoes to wear in snowshoes?

What do I have to consider when buying snowshoes?

What are the best snowshoes for men and women?

What are the best snowshoes for beginners?

What are the best intermediate snowshoes?

What bindings are there on snowshoes?

What are snowshoes good for? When do you need snowshoes?

Snowshoes are flat, wide devices that you attach under your regular shoes. In this way, you can increase the contact surface many times over. As a result, your weight is better distributed and you sink less into the snow. Snowshoes usually consist of a frame made of aluminum or plastic, which is covered with a net or membrane. On the underside there are climbing points or claws that provide grip and grip on different types of snow. At the top, there is a binding that connects the snowshoe to your shoe. The binding should be stable, adjustable, and easy to use. Modern snowshoes are often flexible and ergonomically designed to make walking easier and take the strain off the foot.

What shoes to wear in snowshoes?

You don't need special shoes for snowshoeing, you can use normal hiking boots or winter shoes. It is important that the shoes are waterproof, warm and comfortable and have a grippy sole. It is best to try out the shoes without snowshoes at first. Because only well-fitting shoes are fun when snowshoeing and do not pinch or rub.

These boots tick all the boxes and have particularly good reviews from other snowshoe hikers:

Viking Constrictor III BOA

Viking Constrictor III BOA © Viking

Order on Amazon

This shoe is a unisex model with an innovative BOA closure system that can be adjusted quickly and precisely. The robust gaiter keeps snow out, the grippy sole with spikes offers maximum grip. The shoe is adjustable up to shoe size 45 and weighs only 1 kg per shoe.

Salomon X Ultra Mid Winter CS WP

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Winter Thinsulate Climasalomon WP - Winter Shoes © Salomon

Order from Bergfreunde

This shoe is specially designed for women who are looking for a light and comfortable shoe for snowshoes. The waterproof membrane with an insulating layer keeps your feet dry and warm. The coarse tread offers optimal grip on slippery surfaces.

Lowa Renegade ICE GTX

Lowa Men's © Winter Boots Lowa

Order from OTTO

This shoe is a classic among hiking boots made of genuine leather, which is also suitable for snowshoes. A Gore-Tex membrane reliably protects against moisture, while PrimaLoft insulation keeps you warm. With a special Vibram Arctic Grip technology, this shoe offers maximum grip on slippery surfaces.

Snowshoes: an invention of the Indians?

To this day, it is not known exactly where snowshoes were invented. Scientists believe that they have been around for thousands of years. The Native Americans and other indigenous peoples in snowy regions are possible inventors. The first snowshoes were probably simple wooden frames, covered with leather or animal skins.

Alpidex snowshoes in shoe size 38 to 45 © Amazon

A visual gag for nostalgics: the Alpidex snowshoe in wood look including climbing aid carrying bag.

What do I have to consider when buying snowshoes?

When buying snowshoes, you should take into account some factors, which may vary depending on your personal preferences, body weight and area of use. The most important criteria are:

The size of the snowshoes depends on your weight. The heavier you are, the larger the contact surface should be so as not to sink in. Most manufacturers specify a weight class for their models, which you can use as a guide. However, you should also pay attention to the snow conditions: you will need larger snowshoes for powder snow than for hard or wet snow.

The following rule of thumb has been established: 22" (inches) to 70 kg, 25" for 70 kg - 100 kg, 30" over 100 kg!

Recommendation of the German Alpine Club

The shape of the snowshoes influences the feeling of running and manoeuvrability. Round or oval snowshoes work well for flat or hilly terrain. Rectangular or fitted snowshoes are better for steep or alpine terrain, as they offer more stability and directional stability.

The climbing aid is a device that is particularly useful for alpine terrain. It folds up on steep climbs to change the angle of the foot. This relieves the calf muscles. The climbing aid should be easy to use without you having to bend down.

What are the best snowshoes for men and women?

Women's and men's snowshoes often differ only minimally. Many models are unisex and fit both sexes. When choosing snowshoes, individual needs, the intended use and personal preferences play a major role. Nevertheless, there are special women's snowshoes that adapt optimally to the shape of a woman's foot. Women's models are often cut a little narrower and the binding is also adapted to the narrower foot shape.
It is best to test different models to make sure that the shoes are comfortable and fit well. Fit and functionality are crucial, whether they are women's, men's or unisex snowshoes.

Snowshoe Test Winner 2023

Test winner Flex ALP25 snowshoes by Tubbs for women (right) and men (left) © Tubbs

The test winner of the outdoor outfitter Bergzeit is the Flex ALP25 from Tubbs. The test result is: "Strong all-round snowshoes with good rolling characteristics, a lot of comfort and strong grip on any terrain".

To the test winner men's model

To the test winner women's model

What are the best snowshoes for beginners?

Would you like to try snowshoeing or just trudge through the snow occasionally? Then somewhat simpler and cheaper entry-level models are the first choice. Beginner snowshoes are usually made of plastic, so you should definitely pay attention to the workmanship here. Because some "cheap models" don't last long.

We can recommend these three snowshoes for beginners:

  • WOLF Impression all-round snowshoe up to 120 kg – approx. 114 €
  • SH100 Mountain by Quechua, size L up to 90 kg – €69.99 at Decathlon
  • TSL Women's 418 Up&down Grip Snowshoe up to 120 kg – approx. 170 € at Amazon

What are the best intermediate snowshoes?

Bet you'll love snowshoeing! If you regularly walk through the powder snow with snowshoes or even want to do more challenging tours, you need more robust models for use. Advanced models are mostly made of aluminum, have a more comfortable and stable binding, as well as an optimized size and shape. They are well suited for steep or alpine terrain and also work well on different types of snow.

Recommended advanced snowshoes:

  • Tubbs Panoramic lightweight unisex model – about €226 at Amazon
  • SkinStar snowshoes with aluminium frame in a set incl. poles up to 130 kg – for 109 € at Amazon
  • 4-in-1 snowshoes with climbing aid, hiking poles, waterproof gaiters + carrying bag – from 80 €

What bindings are there on snowshoes?

In order to fix snowshoes safely and non-slip, very different methods have been established. Here you will find an overview of the most important ones.

Innovative: the BOA binding for snowshoes

Boa is a relatively new system that works with a knob that tightens the binding evenly. Boa systems are usually made of steel or plastic and score points with good support for the foot. An example of a boa bond is the boa binding of Tubbs.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Very comfortable and practicalDearer
Quick to adjustRotary system can freeze in extreme cold
Uniform pressure distribution
Easy to use even with gloves

Step-In Binding: Express Closure for Snowshoes
This type of binding is known from modern skis or snowboards. Entry and exit works with just one click. Simply press the weight of your foot onto the binding and snap it into place – no additional straps or buckles required. Examples of a model with step-in binding is the Symbioz Hyperflex snowshoe from TSL.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Fast and without complicated settingsRequire special shoes
Less manual adjustmentDearer
Intuitive, easy to useCan freeze in extreme cold

Snowshoe bindings with ratchets Ratchets
are buckles that can be closed and opened with a lever. They are usually made of plastic or metal and provide a good grip for the foot. An example of a ratchet binding is the ActiveFit binding from Tubbs.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Easy to adjustSlightly more expensive
Good fitOperation requires practice
Less manual adjustment than strap bindingCan jam or freeze in cold or snow conditions

Snowshoe binding with buckles

Buckles are fasteners that function like a belt. They are usually made of metal and provide a good grip for the foot. An example of a buckle binding is TSL's patented Classic binding.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Easy to useLimited customization options
Fits most shoe sizesDifficult to open or close in cold or snowy conditions
cheap
Robust

Strap binding for snowshoes
The narrow straps of this binding can be fastened with a Velcro fastener or a loop. The straps are usually made of nylon or rubber and provide a good grip for the foot. An example of a strap binding is the QuickPull binding.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Flexibly adaptableMay slip or come loose
Often uncomfortable on longer tours
Cheap

This article has been created with the help of machine support and has been carefully reviewed by editor Nina Dudek before publication.

Source: merkur

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