The Different Types of Snowshoes: Which is Right for You?

The Different Types of Snowshoes: Which is Right for You?

Are you ready to venture into the winter wonderland and explore the snowy terrain? Snowshoeing is a fantastic way to experience the beauty of nature while getting a great workout. However, with so many types of snowshoes available in the market, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. In this article, we will guide you through the various types of snowshoes and help you find the perfect pair that suits your needs and preferences. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced snowshoer, our comprehensive guide will assist you in making an informed decision. Let’s dive in and discover which type of snowshoes is right for you!

Types of Snowshoes

Traditional Snowshoes

Traditional snowshoes are a timeless and classic choice for winter enthusiasts. These snowshoes have a distinctive design that has been used by indigenous people for centuries. They are typically made from wood and feature a webbing or rawhide lacing that provides excellent traction on snowy terrain. Traditional snowshoes are perfect for those who want to experience the nostalgia and historical significance of snowshoeing.

Running Snowshoes

Running snowshoes are designed specifically for those who want to enjoy the sport of snowshoe running. These snowshoes are lighter and more compact than traditional snowshoes, allowing for faster movement and agility. They often have a sleek frame made from lightweight materials like aluminum or carbon fiber. Running snowshoes also have aggressive crampons and a streamlined shape that enhances speed and performance. If you are a fitness enthusiast looking for a thrilling winter workout, running snowshoes are the perfect choice for you.

Backcountry Snowshoes

Backcountry snowshoes are built for adventurers who crave exploration and off-the-beaten-path experiences. These snowshoes are designed to handle rugged and challenging terrains, including steep slopes and deep snow. They typically feature a larger frame and aggressive crampons that provide exceptional stability and traction. Backcountry snowshoes also often have additional features like heel lifts and adjustable bindings to enhance comfort and efficiency. If you are an adventurous soul seeking to conquer uncharted winter landscapes, backcountry snowshoes are the ideal option for you.

Remember, choosing the right snowshoes depends on your personal preferences, intended activities, and the type of terrain you plan to explore. Whether you opt for the traditional charm, the thrill of snowshoe running, or the adventure of backcountry exploration, there is a perfect pair of snowshoes waiting to accompany you on your winter escapades.

Considerations for Choosing Snowshoes

Terrain and Activity Level

When choosing snowshoes, it is important to consider the type of terrain and the level of activity you will be engaging in. Different snowshoes are designed to perform optimally in specific terrains and activities.

If you plan on trekking through flat, packed trails, smaller and lighter snowshoes will be suitable. These snowshoes offer better maneuverability and are ideal for activities such as casual hiking or walking. On the other hand, if you are venturing into steep and rugged terrains, larger and more robust snowshoes are recommended. These snowshoes provide better stability, flotation, and traction, allowing you to navigate challenging trails with ease.

Snowshoe Size and Weight Capacity

The size of the snowshoes you choose should be determined by your weight and the weight of the gear you will be carrying. Snowshoes come in various sizes, and each size has a recommended weight capacity. It is essential to select snowshoes that can comfortably support your weight without sinking too deep into the snow.

If you are on the heavier side or plan on carrying a heavy backpack, opt for larger snowshoes with a higher weight capacity. This will ensure proper flotation and prevent you from sinking into the snow. Conversely, if you are lightweight or only carrying minimal gear, smaller snowshoes with a lower weight capacity will be sufficient.

Bindings and Traction

Bindings and traction are crucial factors to consider when selecting snowshoes. Bindings are the mechanisms that attach your boots to the snowshoes. They should be easy to use, secure, and provide a snug fit to prevent your feet from sliding around.

Different bindings are designed for various types of boots, so it is essential to ensure compatibility. Some snowshoes come with adjustable bindings, allowing you to customize the fit to your boot size.

Traction is another vital aspect to consider, especially if you will be traversing icy or steep slopes. Look for snowshoes with aggressive crampons and traction bars. These features provide better grip and prevent slips and falls on slippery surfaces.

Choosing the right snowshoes involves considering the terrain and activity level, selecting the appropriate size and weight capacity, as well as assessing the bindings and traction. By taking these factors into account, you can find snowshoes that suit your needs and enhance your winter adventures.

Additional Features

Heel Lifts

Heel lifts are a valuable feature to consider when choosing the right snowshoes for your outdoor adventures. These small, adjustable platforms are positioned under the heels of the snowshoes and provide additional support and comfort while ascending steep slopes.

When you encounter uphill terrains, heel lifts reduce the strain on your calf muscles by elevating your heels. This allows for a more natural walking motion and prevents excessive fatigue. Heel lifts are particularly useful when climbing long and steep hills, making them an essential feature for hikers and mountaineers.


Crampons are metal spikes or cleats attached to the underside of snowshoes. These essential features provide traction and grip on icy or hard-packed snow surfaces. Crampons dig into the snow, preventing slippage and ensuring stability while traversing challenging terrains.

There are different types of crampons available, each designed for specific conditions. Micro-crampons are ideal for light snow and packed trails, while aggressive crampons with longer spikes are better suited for icy or steep terrains. Choosing the right type of crampons based on the conditions you are likely to encounter will greatly enhance your snowshoeing experience and safety.


When venturing into snowy environments, gaiters are indispensable accessories that complement your snowshoes. Gaiters are protective coverings worn over your boots and lower legs to prevent snow, debris, and moisture from entering your footwear. They act as a barrier, keeping your feet dry and warm throughout your outdoor activities.

Gaiters come in various materials such as nylon or Gore-Tex, offering different levels of water-resistance and breathability. They typically feature adjustable straps or closures to ensure a secure fit. By wearing gaiters, you can confidently navigate through deep snow, slushy terrains, or even wet conditions without worrying about discomfort or moisture seeping into your boots.

In conclusion, the additional features of heel lifts, crampons, and gaiters play crucial roles in enhancing the performance and safety of snowshoes. Whether you are tackling steep slopes, icy surfaces, or wet environments, considering these features will help you choose the right snowshoes that perfectly match your outdoor pursuits.

In conclusion, choosing the right snowshoes can greatly enhance your winter adventures in the snow. With various types available, each designed to cater to different terrains and activities, it is important to consider your specific needs and preferences. Whether you are a beginner looking for versatility or an experienced hiker seeking advanced features, there is a perfect pair of snowshoes out there for you. By understanding the different types of snowshoes and their unique characteristics, you can make an informed decision and ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience in the winter wonderland. So, gear up and get ready to explore the snowy landscapes with confidence and ease.