Our go-to pair of snowshoes, the Evo Trail from MSR, has been updated for 2022. Again, we've put them through their paces, and found them to be worthy of your time and consideration.
A pair of snowshoes will allow you to explore your favorite trail or take a stroll in your backyard after the storm has passed and the sun has come out, without getting stuck in the snow up to your knees. Snowshoes prevent your feet from puncturing the snowpack by evenly distributing your weight across a larger surface area. So if you’d like to be more active in the wintertime, either in spite of—or because of—the snow, we recommend the MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes, which are short enough and light enough for you to strap to your bag if and when the terrain changes and you no longer need them It's not uncommon for this to occur. )
The demand for snowshoes skyrocketed in 2021, but supply constraints prevented us from testing a sample. However, since our team has tried on virtually every pair of shoes of relevance, we felt qualified to write a guide based on our own experience. Now that snowshoes are more widely available, we've revised this guide after extensive testing.
Inexpensive and durable, the Evo set can take a beating without breaking the bank.
As of this writing (*), the cost was $150.
The MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes are a great option for almost anyone looking to go for a walk in the snow this winter. In addition to being more long-lasting than less expensive alternatives, they are also able to accommodate a wider variety of footwear thanks to the sturdy straps that hold boots in place. We anticipate that the vast majority of snowshoe users will be traversing firm or packed down snow, which is ideal for these.
Tubbs Xplore offers multiple length options (21 and 25 inches for women's sizes, and 25 and 30 inches for men's sizes) to accommodate users of varying heights and weights. To put that in perspective, our top pick is 22 inches in length. In addition, a longer shoeshoe is a better design for traversing fluffy, untracked flakes if you are the type who enjoys a leg-burning slog in freshly fallen powder (we see you). If you want to stay afloat on the snowpack, like a boat does on water, you need shoes that are longer.
Winter ascents of California fourteeners, or mountains higher than 14,000 feet, had long captivated me and necessitated a lot of spiked footwear, but I didn't get my first taste of snowshoeing until 2014. Sometimes, snowshoes are used as well.
Early morning hikers who don't make it down before the sun softens the snowpack risk becoming dangerously stranded on the mountain. If the snow has softened, you can't walk back over it, and sometimes people get stuck on top of impassable, neck-deep drifts of snow that were solid only hours before.
I know that sounds superior, but it's the first thing any good mentor will teach you: either 1) don't get into this horrible situation in the first place, or 2) bring snowshoes. While snowshoes weren't always necessary for these long climbs, I always brought them anyway, and they saved my life at least once when I got stuck at the summit due to the wind and had to dig a snow cave to wait it out.
If I had to choose between winter and summer hiking, I'd choose winter every time. A chill that defies description Void paths No bugs It's my opinion that anyone, even those who have never been hiking before, should try it out during the off-season. However, if you happen to live in an area that receives snow and you intend to go outside, you'll need appropriate footwear.
You need snowshoes, in particular, because they stop you from postholing, which is when your foot punches through the surface of the snow and into the drift below, trapping you and preventing you from moving. Trying to get somewhere in the snow is the most discouraging and demoralizing experience possible.
Snowshoes are useful for this. They make a wide, flat bottom that spreads your weight across more of the shoe and stops your foot from "punching through." Considering that most people will encounter hardpack snow, we recommend a snowshoe designed for that type of snow, but snowshoes are beneficial in a wide variety of snow and weather conditions. You'll be able to cross soft banks that have been sitting in the shade all day and haven't hardened to walk on without worrying about your boots slipping around in the slushy afternoon conditions. (However, if you'll be doing a lot of walking on hard, icy surfaces, you may want to equip your regular winter boots with ice cleats.) )
Simply put, snowshoes are superior to regular boots because they allow you to traverse the snowy terrain with a degree of ease and grace that regular boots cannot.
We outlined these standards after poring over dozens of snowshoe buyer reviews, poring over online research, and taking into account my own personal experience snowshoe hiking for over a decade:
Different shoes are needed for various types of snow and ice, including packed snow, fluffy snow, deep fluffy snow, and ice. Another variable is the steepness of the trail you're hiking.
Since we assumed that most recreational hikers would be interested in using their snowshoes on packed snow rather than the more fleeting powder, we set out to find a pair that would be better suited for this terrain.
In terms of length, you shouldn't wear shoes that are any longer than is absolutely necessary. Broad, long snowshoes are ideal for floating on the surface of new snow, much like a boat does on water. When hiking on packed snow, where the challenge is less about floating on top and more about preventing your boot from punching through the hardpack, shorter shoes are more advantageous.
There is a direct relationship between the length of a snowshoe and the weight of the wearer; longer shoes help heavier hikers stay above the snow.
Snowshoes range in price from a few dollars for those made of aluminum and plastic to several hundred dollars for those made of nylon and steel.
The material of the spikes under your feet is the most important consideration for the casual hiker. Aluminum shanks and spikes are standard on low-quality footwear. The spikes are usually (but not always) attached to the rails, the metal framework beneath one's feet. Over time, without proper maintenance, those parts can deteriorate, warp, and break. Higher quality, more durable footwear is typically indicated by the presence of steel rails and spikes at the bottom of the shoe.
The weight penalty is always a consideration when working with steel. Because of this, snowshoe frames (not the spikes) are often made of aluminum, especially when they are particularly long and designed to aid flotation in light, fluffy snow.
As for the snowshoe's attachment system, the most common method involves using plastic straps to fasten the shoe to your boot. That's fantastic news. Only straps made of sturdy material can withstand the repeated pulling force of your boot on your shoe.
They can be secured with a ratchet mechanism or buckles. Straps can be made of a variety of materials, including nylon and metal cables. However, the process of putting on snowshoes is largely the same: you simply slide your foot in between the straps and tighten them.
You'll be putting your snowshoes through a surprising amount of abuse, from clomping endlessly through the snow to making casual missteps to banging them around on the pavement before and after your hike, so it's crucial that your foot is secure in the shoe.
The MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes are our top pick.
The lovely Connie Park (in her own photo)
The Evo pair is affordable and durable despite being made of lightweight materials.
*The cost at the time of publication was $150.
The MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes are the toughest snowshoes you can buy for the money, and they're made specifically for hiking up and down rolling hills on packed snow.
If you've never tried snowshoeing before, you might be surprised by the amount of abuse your snowshoes can take. The binding system is stressed, the platforms are worn down, and the soles are damaged by dragging along the ground's surface, rocks, and debris. Because of its sturdy and comfortable attachment system, plastic platform, and steel rails and spikes underfoot, the Evo design is a favorite of ours. (The Evo shoe's steel rails and spikes are more durable than aluminum parts, so the shoe's frame and teeth can withstand more scraping than those of cheaper snowshoes.) This synergy of qualities makes these snowshoes rugged enough to withstand use, without the need for gimmicky add-ons that would drive up the price.
There are some issues, but they aren't dealbreakers.
If you're going to be using these snowshoes for any kind of uphill hiking, you might want to invest in a pair that does have a heel lift, as opposed to the ones shown here. More expensive models, such as mountaineering-specific snowshoes, may feature heel lifts, but we don't think you'll miss them unless you intend to hike up particularly steep, wintry slopes.
You have to manually flip up the small metal riser that serves as a heel lift whenever you need it. It's usually not worth the effort to carry them up short inclines. (Oftentimes, they'll freeze to the snowshoe's sole, necessitating a trip to the ground to chip them loose. Then, when everyone else is waiting for you, you feel a growing sense of annoyance. )
When compared to other snowshoes, the Evo Trail's 22-inch length is relatively short. This makes them more convenient to transport and manage, and the shorter length isn't a problem when navigating crowded paths. The main disadvantage of these snowshoes is that their maximum weight capacity is only 180 pounds due to their shorter length. See our suggestion for a longer shoe, which provides more floatation if you weigh more than that, down below.
To increase the Evo pair's weight rating so that it can support a hiker weighing up to 250 pounds and to make this snowshoe functional in fluffier snow, MSR offers an optional flotation tail. longer snowshoes are needed for deeper powder.
However, we found the tail's performance to be merely average in light, fluffy snow. In conclusion, no one should have to shell out more money for a pair of snowshoes because they are a different size.
And, the men's and women's Tubbs Xplore snowshoes are fantastic.
Picture by: Connie Park
Having a sturdy and secure boot-attachment system and steel spikes underfoot (though the rails and deck are aluminum and nylon, respectively, to save weight), the Tubbs Xplore Snowshoes are a recreational model comparable to the MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes.
The most noticeable distinction is in how sophisticated their sizing is. Sizes are available for both men and women, allowing for a more personalized and comfortable boot fit. The snowshoes come in three different length options of 21, 25, and 30 inches, with the longest option being suitable for a user weighing up to 250 pounds (that's 70 more than the maximum allowed by the MSR Evo). (Those between 250 and 300 pounds may want to look into the Tubbs Wilderness, another snowshoe we find to be reliable in thick, new snow. )
You can also opt for the 25- or 30-inch length of the Xplore shoes if you prefer a pair of snowshoes that are better suited to light, fluffy snow. The fact that you'll be putting more pressure on each foot should be taken into consideration.
Finally, these footwear options are also offered in kits for both men and women, which feature poles and gaiters. On the other hand, snowshoeing doesn't necessitate any specialized trekking poles; the ones you already own will suffice.
The fit system that secures the Tubbs snowshoe to your boot was less satisfying to us than that of the MSR Evo design, which is loved by everyone we've asked about snowshoes. Honestly, we don't think you'd be able to tell the difference. Heel lifts are typically only found on more expensive snowshoes, but as we mentioned before, they can be more of a hassle than they're worth.
The MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes, available in both men's and women's sizes (unlike the Evo Trail shoes), have more tiny spikes underfoot than sharks have teeth, making them ideal for ascending and descending steep slopes and ice. These snowshoes are among the best on the market, and I own a pair. They're surprisingly lightweight for their durability. These snowshoes are great for mountaineering, but they are very pricey and are designed for more advanced mountaineering tasks, so unless you regularly hike up steep, icy slopes, there is no need to invest this much money in a pair of snowshoes.
The Alps snowshoes are the least expensive pair we found, and you can find them at my local Costco for around . My dental hygienist also owns a pair, and she told me over the course of a routine teeth cleaning that she had used hers for about two years before something broke, so I guess they're pretty popular among mountain vacationers. she was content with them in general These snowshoes are made of aluminum like most cheap ones, but they should get the job done if you're on a tight budget. There isn't a better, more affordable option; if you're concerned with quality of construction, the next level up from these is MSR's best model.
We recommend the Tubbs Wilderness Snowshoes (in both men's and women's sizing) for anyone planning on going on a hike in the snow. Our top pick is 25 inches long, but these come in 30, 36, and even 48 inches, which is useful when the primary concern is floating on top of fluffy snow. (A shorter 21-inch length is also available for women.) The spikes are made of carbon steel, but the frame is made of aluminum to help offset the extra weight brought on by the length. The largest pair of snowshoes we've found is 36 inches, and they can only support 300 pounds of weight.
The steel-cable laces on the Tubbs Panoramic snowshoe are secured with a dial that is turned. I have gone through three sets of snowshoe Boa lace replacements. A random poll among my backcountry-traveling pals showed that opinions were evenly split: roughly half said they had no issues with Boa laces, while the other half kept complaining about how easily they snapped. Boa lacing may be effective on some shoes (cycling shoes, for example), but I wouldn't put my faith in it for snowshoes.
Recreational snowshoes like the Atlas Helium Trail come close to our top picks, but we ultimately decided against them due to our preference for the attachment system on our top picks, the MSR Evo.
These G2 snowshoes from an Amazon snowshoeing package are comparable to the Alps snowshoes we discussed earlier, but they are more expensive.
Christine Ryan revised and edited this piece.
Former Wirecutter senior staff writer and outdoor and travel writer Eve O'Neill Books like "Into Thin Air," "On the Road," and "The Call of the Wild" from her childhood library inspired her in this direction. She has always been curious about how to interact with and have fun in nature.
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