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The Best Snowshoes of 2023

Testing snowshoes in Crested Butte, CO; (photo/Jason Hummel)
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After hours of research and months of testing, we found the best snowshoes for every use and budget.

Whether you’re looking to explore local snowy trails or hike into the powder-filled backcountry, snowshoes are the answer. As technology continues to evolve, winter exploration opportunities continue to expand. And while we’re excited to see so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose.

After spending a year testing in the Rocky Mountains, we’ve narrowed down the field and found the best snowshoes on the market. While testing, we looked for durability, ease of use, packability, and comfort. We also paid attention to the overall value and extra features available.

And while there isn’t a single pair of snowshoes that’s best for everyone, we’ve broken the list into helpful categories to help you find the best fit. And if you need more help deciding, be sure to check out the comparison table, buyer’s guide, and FAQ at the end of this article.

The Best Snowshoes of 2023

Best Overall: MSR Lightning Ascent — Men’s & Women’s

MSR Lightning Ascent

Built to conquer all terrain with a lightweight design, the Lightning Ascent ($350) is at the top of its class, with 360-degree Traction frames that provide a lot of grip, especially on traverses. Steel DTX crampons offer even more traction for steep and icy conditions, and Ergo Televator heel lifts are engaged to bring you up steep grades with ease.

The Lightning Ascents come with 22-, 25-, or 30-inch-length frames. And the optional tail additions ($65) allow for even more flotation in the deepest powder.

The Paragon binding is one of our favorite features. This freeze-resistant strap allows for a comfortable, secure fit without any pressure points. And the solid toe stop helps align your foot properly.

These aren’t the cheapest snowshoes available, but great functionality and quality build make them a worthy investment.

They’re available in men’s and women’s versions.

Read our in-depth full review for the MSR Lightening Ascent.

Specs:
  • Weight: 4 lb. 2 oz./4 lb. 5 oz./4 lb. 14 oz.
  • Lengths: 22″/25″/30″
  • Heel lift: Yes
  • Max weight: 180 lb./220 lb./280 lb.
Pros:
  • All-terrain traction
  • Additional flotation tails are available
  • Durability
  • Secure bindings
Cons:
  • A bit heavy
  • Expensive

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Best Budget: MSR Evo

MSR Evo

The MSR Evo ($150) is one of the most versatile and affordable options out there. And it’s no surprise they’re a go-to for beginners. The steel traction bars are strong enough to withstand heavy use and provide dependable traction.

The bindings aren’t the highest-tech option, but they work well. The straps stayed pliable even in frigid conditions, and we were able to adjust without removing gloves.

The Evo comes in a 22-inch length and has a max weight of 180 pounds. You can add on modular 6-inch tails ($50) for increased flotation and a max weight of 250 pounds. The plastic decking can be loud on hardpack trails. And while this isn’t a deal-breaker, it can disrupt your winter wonderland enjoyment.

All things considered, these are a quality set of snowshoes that can handle a variety of conditions. If you plan to snowshoe heavily throughout winter or take on big-mile excursions, it may be worth paying more for something with a more comfortable binding or lighter weight. But for general use, these are an excellent choice.

Specs:
  • Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz. (men’s 25″ version)
  • Lengths: 22″
  • Heel lift: No
  • Max weight: Up to 180 lbs., 250 lb. with add-on tails
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Solid traction for the price
Cons:
  • Low max weight
  • Not ideal in deep snow

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Runner-Up: Atlas Montane Snowshoes — Men’sWomen’s

Atlas Montane Snowshoes

These snowshoes tick all the important boxes. They’re comfortable, grippy, durable, and easy to use. The spring-loaded suspension makes for a more natural feel and energy-saving rebound.

On the Atlas Montane ($250), the heel lift is easy to use and makes the well-suited to mountainous ascents; and the flexible frame maximizes grip on uneven terrain by allowing the binding and crampon to move independently. The technical-fit binding system feels secure in steep terrain. If you’re looking for a pair of snowshoes that can do it all, this all-mountain pair is a winner.

For this season, Atlas also has a new women’s specific model with the same heel lift design, the Range Trail Snowshoe ($230).

Specs:
  • Weight: 4 lb. 4 oz. (23″ women’s version)
  • Lengths: 23″/27″ (women) 25″/30″/35″ (men’s)
  • Heel lift: Yes
  • Max weight: Depending on snowshoe size, max weight varies from 160-300 lbs.
Pros:
  • All-terrain traction
  • Additional flotation tails are available
  • Durability
  • Secure bindings
Cons:
  • A bit heavy
  • Expensive

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Best for Beginners: Tubbs Xplore Kit — Men’sWomen’s

Tubbs Xplore Kit

An all-inclusive kit is a great way to start out. And Tubbs provides an excellent option with the Xplore Kit ($200). Each kit includes a pair of Xplore snowshoes, trekking poles, and gaiters. Available for both men and women, this kit will have you trekking through snow in no time.

The Xplore snowshoes are perfect for easier trekking on trails. The Quickpull bindings are easy to adjust, and we appreciate that they release with a single press of a button. Our testers found the upturned tails made for easier trekking and were more intuitive for beginners.

The adjustable poles worked well, and we found the gaiters compatible with a variety of boots. All in all, this is a great all-inclusive, beginner-to-intermediate option.

Specs:
  • Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz. (men’s 25″ version)
  • Lengths: men’s: 25″, 30″ women’s: 21″, 25″
  • Heel lift: No
  • Max weight: Depending on snowshoe size, max weight varies from 150-250 lbs.
Pros:
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Good value
Cons:
  • No heel lifter
  • Not ideal for steep or technical terrain

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Backcountry

Most Comfortable: TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Elite

TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Elite

Looking for a pair of snowshoes that support your natural gait? Meet the TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Elite ($280). Many people experience hip and knee pain while learning to walk with snowshoes. The sleek ergonomics of the Hyperflex Elites do away with that.

Eight large stainless steel crampons provide strong traction. And the heel lift allows for comfortable uphill travel. We also found the heel lift kept our feet in a comfortable position.

This binding is among our favorites and provides excellent support. We like that you can set the toepiece to your boot size and then use the cam-lock release to enter and exit. This added security and made it easier to get going each time. And you can adjust both the width and length to accommodate almost any boot.

Specs:
  • Weight: 4 lb. 1.6 oz. (23.5″)
  • Lengths: 20.5″, 23.5″, 27″
  • Heel lift: Yes
  • Max weight:  Depending on snowshoe size, max weight varies from 220-300 lbs.
Pros:
  • Comfortable
  • Good traction
  • East on the joints
Cons:
  • Not the best floatation in light snow

Check Price at REICheck Price at Amazon

Best for Running: Atlas Race

Atlas Race Snowshoes

The Atlas Race snowshoes ($320) are designed to allow anyone to, well, race. These are a must-have for sprinting in snow. The Z-speed race binding easily stays snug against any running shoe for long distances.

The zig-zag design means you can quickly tighten it with one hand. Or you can remove the bindings completely and direct-mount running shoes for additional weight savings.

The adjustable spring-loaded suspension can be fine-tuned to find your desired level of rebound. And the titanium heel and toe crampons give plenty of grip without adding weight. They’re light, they’re fast, and they’ll make you as nimble as possible in the snow.

The only downside of the Atlas Race snowshoes is that they’re solely for racing and running. The sleeker shape means they don’t perform well in powder or for general use. But if you’re looking for a running snowshoe, the Atlas Race will have you sprinting on snow.

Specs:
  • Weight: 2 lb. 9 oz.
  • Lengths: 22″
  • Heel lift: No
  • Max weight:  190 lb
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Great for trail running
Cons:
  • Not suited for beginners or general use

Check Price at Amazon

Best of the Rest

Crescent Moon EVA Snowshoes

Crescent Moon Eva Snowshoes

These all-foam snowshoes ($179) are unlike anything else out there. Boulder, Colorado-based Crescent Moon made quite the splash when it introduced these unusual snowshoes in 2017. The upper layer of foam is softer for better rebound and cushioning. And the lower foam is sturdier and more durable.

As one reviewer noted, “Unlike rigid aluminum or carbon snowshoes, the soft, upturned foam deck comfortably cruises over hardpacked snow and encourages agility. Below deck, hard plastic cleats bite into icy terrain, providing plenty of grip, especially on hillsides.”

They don’t do as well on technical terrain as other options. And without a heel lift, they aren’t as suitable for uphill climbs.

Specs:
  • Weight: 3 lb. 8 oz.
  • Lengths: 24″
  • Heel lift: No
  • Max weight:  240 lb
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Poor traction off of groomed trails

Check Price at REICheck Price at Amazon

Atlas Helium Trail

Atlas Helium Trail

These unisex snowshoes offer an excellent balance of performance and affordability. The Helium Trail ($150) uses a composite deck that sheds snow efficiently without adding weight. They aren’t made for intense, steep, or icy terrain, but they excel on the trail.

They also prove light at only 3 pounds 5 ounces, which is impressive considering the robust crampons and steel traction rails. The Wrap bindings are simple and easy to use, and they’re a generally great choice for beginners.

Specs:
  • Weight: 3 lb. 2 oz. (23″), 3 lb. 7 oz. (26″), 3 lbs. 12 oz.
  • Lengths: 23″, 26″, 30″
  • Heel lift: Yes
  • Max weight: Depending on snowshoe size, max weight varies from 160-270 lbs.
Pros:
  • Extremely durable
Cons:
  • Not ideal for technical terrain

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Flashtek Snowshoes

Flashtek Snowshoes

Another solid and affordable choice for beginners is Flashtek’s snowshoes ($75). This kit comes with a carrying bag and trekking poles, but unlike the Xplore Kit, there are no gaiters included. The Flashtek snowshoes sport an aluminum frame as well as aluminum crampons for added stability.

For such a cheap pair of snowshoes, they do perform relatively well. They don’t have great traction, and the bindings are reported to often come undone. That being said, if this is just for a beginner, especially in their youth sizes, it could be an affordable option.

Specs:
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Lengths: 21″, 25″, 30″
  • Heel lift:  No
  • Max weight: Depending on snowshoe size, max weight varies from 155-280 lbs.
Pros:
  • Excellent value
Cons:
  • Not very durable
  • Poor traction on ice and deep snow

Check Price at Amazon

Snowshoes Comparison Table

Snowshoe Price Lengths Weight Heel Lift Max Weight
MSR Lightning Ascent $350 22″/25″/30″ 4 lb. 2 oz./4 lb. 5 oz./4 lb. 14 oz. Yes Up to 280 lb.
Atlas Montane $250 23″/27″ (women) 25″/30″/35″ (men’s) 4 lb. 4 oz. (23″ women’s version; other weights unknown) Yes  Up to 300 lb.
Tubbs Xplore Kit $200 21″, 25″ (women) 25″, 30″ (men) 3 lb. 8 oz. (women’s 25″; other weights unknown) No Up to 250 lb.
MSR Evo $150 22″ 3 lb. 10 oz. No Up to 180 lbs., 250 lb. with add-on tails
TSL Symbioz Hyperflex Elite $280 20.5″/ 23.5″/ 27″

4 lb. 1.6 oz./ 4 lb./ 4.8 oz./ 4 lb./ 12.8 oz.

Yes Up to 300 lb.
Atlas Race $320 22″ 2 lb. 4 2 lb. 9 oz. No 190 lb.
Crescent Moon EVA Snowshoes $179 24″ 3 lb. 8 oz. 900-fill down 240 lb.
Atlas Helium Trail $150 23″/ 26″/ 30″ 3 lb. 2 oz. /. 3 lb. 7 oz./ 3 lbs. 12 oz. Yes Up to 270 lb.
Flashtek Snowshoes $75 21″/ 25″/ 30″ Unknown No Up to 280 lb.
DSC06245 copy
From casual jaunts in the park to grueling alpine hikes, snowshoes offer unlimited access to snow-covered landscapes; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Why You Should Trust Us

To compile this list, we completed a research frenzy and hit the snow for miles of on-snow assessment. After spending several hours combing the internet, talking with brands, and roaming about in all sorts of winter conditions, we’ve identified the best of the best.

With a team dispersed across Colorado and Minnesota, we have a lot of winter-loving testers who use snow shoes on a regular basis. Once a year, our team gets together to compare winter gear and debate which projects deserve a spot in our “best of” roundups.

While testing snowshoes, we pay careful attention to comfort, traction, float, durability, ergonomics, and weight.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Snowshoes

When trying to decide what snowshoes will fit your lifestyle best, there are plenty of things to keep in mind. This buyer’s guide includes all the information you will need to identify the right pair.

Sizing

For proper snowshoe sizing, you need to consider both the maximum load on your snowshoes (your body weight plus the gear you’re carrying) and the type of terrain you’ll be navigating.

Check the specs of the snowshoes. They will list a “maximum recommended load” and the recommended type of terrain. If you’re only taking day trips, the max load should be around 20 pounds above your body weight. For overnight trips or mountaineering, it would be 30-60 pounds more than your body weight to accommodate your pack.

For the length, a longer snowshoe makes it easier to travel through powder because there’s a larger surface area. However, a longer snowshoe is more challenging to take up and down steep terrain. If you expect to travel on hardpacked snow in mostly flat terrain, a shorter snowshoe will do just fine.

Bindings

snowshoe bindings
Snowshoe bindings should be comfortable and easy to adjust; (photo/Jason Hummel)

When snowshoe bindings are challenging to get in and out of, or they don’t stay tightened in place, a peaceful adventure can quickly turn into a frustrating experience. Most snowshoe binding systems are a rotating or floating model, meaning they move separately from the frame of your snowshoe. Running snowshoes tend to have a single flank to reduce the shoe’s flapping and increase cushioning and quietness.

The three main strap materials are made of either nylon, rubber, or cable lace. They’re formatted in a system of either straight straps, ratchet straps, pull webbing, or a BOA system.

The pull webbing and the BOA cable lace bindings both provide a snug and secure fit, as well as a quick and easy in and out of your snowshoes. (Snowshoes themselves are also made of different materials, but the most common are made of some sort of hardened plastic with carbon, steel, or aluminum.)

Traction & Heel Risers

Under the snowshoes, you’ll see the traction, which ranges from similar to a winter hiking shoe to the sharp teeth of a crampon for mountaineering. Running snowshoes are mostly foam and rubber with a few metal studs for traction. All others will have steel crampons underfoot (toe and heel), some with the addition of side traction along the frame.

This traction is crucial for any icy conditions or inclines. I’ve managed fine with just the toe and heel crampons, but the side traction is especially vital for traversing.

Heel risers are a key feature if you plan to do any ascents up steep terrain. Trying to snowshoe uphill without heel risers will result in immediate calf fatigue. You may think that hiking sideways up an incline to create switchbacks is a solution, but trust me, this is awkward unless there’s an established flat trail of switchbacks.

DSC05900 copy
Traction rails are helpful when traversing steep snow-covered terrain; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Poles

Snowshoeing without poles is possible but awkward, especially when traveling through deep powder or on a steep incline. The most important feature of snowshoe poles is the basket — the circular piece about 2 inches above the spike that stabs into the ground. Many trekking poles used for hiking come with baskets, but they’re often not made for light, fluffy, thick snow.

Ski poles will have a large enough basket, but the poles you use to ski may not be the correct height for you to snowshoe. The best option is to purchase trekking poles for use while hiking or backpacking. You can also purchase the additional snow basket to swap onto the pole during the winter.

FAQ

What Are the Best Snowshoes for Deep Snow?

The MSR Lightning Ascent with the additional 6-inch tails will provide incredible flotation in deep snow. Remember, snow is just frozen water, and we still want to stay afloat. Look for snowshoes with high flotation ratings.

Do You Need Poles?

While you may not need poles, they are highly recommended. When starting out, snowshoes can make the most agile person rather clumsy. Using poles will help increase the balance of the upper body and engage the arms in an otherwise very leg-focused sport.

On more aggressive and technical terrain, you will need poles. They can be a lifeline when you’re near precarious ledges and want the extra layer of security.

What Shoes Do You Wear With Snowshoes?

A good pair of hiking boots or winter boots are recommended for most snowshoeing situations. Look for something that will keep feet warm and dry without compromising mobility. Check out our reviews of the Best Men’s Winter Boots and Best Women’s Winter Boots for top picks.

Adding gaiters to your setup is also a good idea to keep snow out — because dry means happy.

What Size Snowshoes Do I Need?

As mentioned above, the sizing of snowshoes depends largely on your height and weight (including pack weight). Check the sizing and weight recommendations for the brand and model you’re interested in.

For the length, a longer snowshoe makes it easier to travel through powder because there’s a larger surface area. However, a longer snowshoe is more challenging to take up and down steep terrain.


the author wearing a Phunkshun balaclava underneath a helmet, she is gazing out over the snow

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