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For recreational snowshoers and those new to the sport, we think the Boa closure system is the easiest to use on the market. You simply slide your foot into the bindings, turn the nob, and the binding tightens down evenly over your boot. Aside from Boa technology, Louis Garneau has made some nice advancements. Last season we had the mostly plastic Boreal II here, but the Massif offers a sturdier aluminum frame, decently sized carbon steel crampons, and a design that should handle flat terrain and moderate inclines well the snowshoe lacks a heel riser for the steeps.
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See the Louis Garneau Massif. Questionable build quality, particularly the bindings and crampons. Yes, it costs quite a bit more, but will perform significantly better and last longer. These are basic, inexpensive snowshoes that will work fine for short jaunts in the snow.
As expected, virtually all of the components on the Trekker are of the budget variety. And the crampons on the bottom are aluminum instead of steel, which will bend and break more easily. We would grab the Evo and have them for years to come, but the Trekker is a decent value option.
See the Chinook Trekker. The most important decision you make when purchasing a snowshoe is the category: Trail or recreational snowshoes are great for most moderate hiking trails that fall somewhere between groomed and knee-deep in powder. These shoes are shorter than backcountry models and have simpler traction because you will be tackling rolling hills and not mountains. Backcountry snowshoes, like the Crescent Moon Gold 10 , are longer in length for more float in deep powder, and light enough that you can cover serious ground without feeling like you're wearing a ton of bricks.
You'll also see increased traction and features like heel lifts for steep terrain. Run or race snowshoes are self-explanatory: Running snowshoes place a premium on lightweight materials, comfortable bindings, and special traction designed to keep you moving.
Below is a quick rundown of the type of terrain and the corresponding category of snowshoe. Groomed and flat terrain: Once you get an idea of the snowshoe category you want trail or backcountry , choosing a length is the next step in making a successful purchase. Generally, shorter snowshoes are best for on-trail use and longer models are ideal for deep snow and the backcountry. However, your weight plays an important role in the decision too.
Heavier people need longer snowshoes to stay afloat, so try to pick a length that best hits your weight with gear. Some snowshoes have optional tails to add length depending on the user and conditions. A final pitfall in choosing the proper snowshoe length is relying purely on the weight ratings without taking snow type into account. Then there are areas like the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, which get a mix of the two.
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The binding system is your link to trail comfort and also plays a significant role in stability. A good binding should comfortably hold your feet for hours on the trail without requiring constant re-adjustments. Interestingly, the various systems are one of the few places where manufacturers differentiate significantly from one another. One commonality you will find is that no matter the brand, comfort and adjustability improve as the price goes up. Multiple Straps or Single-Pull The most common binding styles are either a plastic wraparound binding that is secured by a series of crisscrossing webbing or individual straps that are secured over the foot and around the heel.
Atlas and Tubbs utilize the more traditional binding and webbing design for their core models, while MSR has stuck with the strap systems. Crescent Moon has a binding system that shares characteristics of both, but its single pull loop system falls more into the traditional binding category. MSR makes absolutely bomber snowshoes, but we think their bindings fall short. Part of the reason is their commitment to a strap cinch system.
The logic behind the design is that the bindings can lay completely flat to easily haul along in a pack, but the result is that everything from their entry-level to high-end strapping systems are merely average in comfort and holding power.
Boa A third binding design gaining some serious traction is Boa. This system utilizes a pretty traditional wrapped binding, but the traditional webbing is replaced with wiring that is tightened with the turn of a dial the entire system cinches down on you simultaneously for impressive evenness and comfort. The amount of traction varies dramatically by model and price. While reasonable for casual walking on flats, it can be overmatched on hills or snowy conditions.
Frame rails run length-wise along the sides of snowshoes and are a source of excellent lateral stability should you find yourself traversing a slope.
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Keep an eye on the material and depth of your snowshoe traction. Occasionally manufacturers will look to save some money and use lower grade aluminum teeth that aren't quite as burly or tough over the long haul. Stainless steel bindings are found on most shoes, and the deeper and more aggressive the teeth, the better the grip.
There are two general types of snowshoe: Recently, hybrid models have popped up that use a partial aluminum frame toward the front of the snowshoe with a plastic tail.
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Aluminum Traditional aluminum-framed snowshoes are what most people are familiar with. The disadvantage is traction. Although some high-end models do a great job of incorporating as much traction as possible, they still fall short compared to plastic, particularly relative to their weight.
More, the decking materials are more vulnerable to tears and the occasional rivet can come out of the nylon decking. Much more than with a traditional snowshoe, plastic has a harsher and louder heel impact when your foot comes down on hard pack. To summarize, plastic is cheaper and easier to attach traction to, but louder and slightly easier to damage. Unlike hard plastic or aluminum frame models, the unique Eva is built with two layers of foam—a softer compound on the top for shock absorption and a firm layer on the bottom for toughness.
We did have some initial concerns about durability, but our pair has held up well through a year of rough use. The design is geared towards beginners and the lack of a crampon underfoot does impact traction, but it has a nice cushioned feel that is noticeably quieter than a traditional snowshoe when walking on firm or icy snow. Heel Lift Climb Bars Most high-end recreational and nearly every backcountry and mountaineering snowshoe come with a heel lift. The feature is exactly as it sounds: The raised bar plays the role of a rigid mountaineering boot, keeping you from dropping your heel while climbing up a sustained grade.
The benefit of this feature is reduced calf fatigue, but is it really worth it? But customer demand has remained strong, so Crescent Moon has acquiesced and has added the functionality to their lineup.
From our use, heel lift bars have come in handy a couple of times during long climbs, say a spring snowshoe to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier. A grippy snowshoe and poles play a much greater role in making climbing easier, and therefore we feel that this feature is overrated.
Flotation Tails One of our favorite snowshoe accessories—and an underrated one at that—are the additional snowshoe tails offered with MSR snowshoes. Do I Need Poles? Poles make uphill and downhill travel on snowshoes much easier and increase stability. This model comes in four different sizes from 18 to 30 inches — the largest size supporting up to pounds.
The metal frame is super durable and resistant to regular wear and tear. Despite the almost all metal build, the aluminum construction keeps these snowshoes nice and lightweight about two to three pounds each depending on size. The double ratcheting bindings are compatible with most footwear and cinch down firm on both the front and middle of the foot as well as the heel. The PE decking provides great flotation while the aluminum crampons give you some good bite into frozen ground for maximum traction. All in all, the simple but effective design of these snowshoes coupled with their low price makes them a great choice for any beginner to intermediate snowshoer!
The all terrain snowshoes by Alps are designed with an aluminum frame and a lightweight, Nytex deck. Both materials employed in the construction have been selected due to their low weight and tough, built-to-last durability. The bindings have been specifically molded to eliminate any pressure points while walking — the aim is to cradle and pad the arch and ball of your foot once properly adjusted. These are a comfortable, easy to use pair of snowshoes that are ideal for beginners. The aluminum crampons assist with more gnarly terrain, but customer reviews insist you should probably buy a higher performing snowshoe if you want to really get off trail.
As far as sizing goes, the 21 inch model is ideal for users 80 to pounds while the 25 inch model is optimized for users to pounds. The largest size at 30 inches is suitable for users — pounds. Alps includes a nice quality carry bag with this pair so you can keep them packed nice and neat. For the cost, this is an excellent choice for the beginner snowshoer. Find more Alps All Terrain Snowshoes information and reviews here. I really like these snowshoes by Lucky Bums for kids and teens.
These make solid snowshoes for adults as well, but the largest size available 26 inches has a weight limit of pounds.
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A ton of parents rave about these snowshoes for their superior quality over other affordable units for kids. The frame is built with aluminum for minimum weight while the bindings have been designed to be as simple as possible for the kiddos. When fitted properly, each step is supposed to engage a hinge that lifts the back of the snowshoe, increasing mobility and adding some extra lateral support. For a budget pair of snowshoes geared towards children this set by Lucky Bums is a pretty kick-ass option.
These are my favorite highly affordable snowshoes on this list for moderate to intermediate terrain. The Trekkers by Chinook have an awesome look and come at a killer price. The heel strap is also adjustable so you can find that perfect fit specific to your boot. Heavy duty aluminum crampons are present on the sole for some much needed added traction. Customer reviews insist these snowshoes both bite frozen terrain well and perform just fine in deeper, unpacked powder. Although these snowshoes are geared towards more leisurely outings, Chinook has really built this pair to last for many seasons of trekking.
The included carry bag is a nice added touch for travel and for packing up your shoes mess-free. Find more Chinook Trekker Snowshoes information and reviews here.
The smallest size 22 inches is ideal for users 80 to pounds while the largest size 35 inches is optimized for users to pounds. These are aluminum frame snowshoes that employ the classic elongated shape for maximum flotation on deeper snow. Although these are built with light weight materials, they are not terribly light coming in at about three and a half pounds each. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime.
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