You might get the impression, if you don’t know very much about snowshoes, that they’re all basically the same piece of gear, with maybe a few subtle differences. But like many other pieces of outdoor equipment there is a big difference between the best rated snowshoes and the rest of the snowshoes. And that difference will be very noticeable in your snowshoeing experience. The difference between a good and bad snowshoeing experience has a lot to do with the quality of your snowshoes.
Best Rated SnowshoesWhat to look at when shopping for the best rated snowshoes.
- Intended Use – One of the more important things to know about snowshoes is that there’s more than one kind of snowshoe. Big, feature rich snowshoes intended for tramping through the backcountry, for instance, will be a poor choice for going running in, even if they’re the best rated backcountry snowshoes.
- Materials – Aluminum snowshoes are generally better than plastic, though there are some great plastic snowshoes too. But even within the aluminum snowshoes, there are different qualities of aluminum that will have an appreciable difference on your snowshoeing experience.
Best Rated Snowshoes SnowshoesSome of the very best rated snowshoes for men and women.
- MSR Evo 22 Snowshoes - First, a great pair of general hiking or recreational snowshoes. These are plastic, not a metal frame, but there are two benefits of plastic. First, it weighs less. At 3 pounds 7 ounces, which is 1.55 kilograms, these are some of the lightest general hiking snowshoes on the market. Plastic also costs less, making these some of the cheapest general hiking snowshoes on the market, though they certainly lack nothing in terms of quality, and get great reviews. The one possible failing is that they're relatively small, and will carry just 180 pounds, though you can buy attachable tails to boost that maximum to 250 pounds.
- Atlas Run Snowshoes - If you want something lightweight for just established trails, or if you want to do some running in your snowshoes, then the Atlas Runs are ideal. At 2.7 pounds, which is 1.22 kilograms these are fantastically lightweight, which is always a good thing when you're running. They also have a spring in the suspension system that helps you keep a natural gait, which is no small thing when you're wearing snowshoes. They will only carry 190 pounds, but then these are really meant for established trails where maximum weight isn't the most critical thing.
- Atlas 12 Series (Women's Version) - If you plan to strap on a backpack and head in to the backcountry then you need a backcountry, or mountaineering snowshoe like the Atlas 12 Series. The series is comprised of three different lengths, 25, 30 and 35 inches, each of which has a different maximum weight. The longest, 35 inch version will carry 300+ pounds, which is enough capacity for most people plus a heavy backpack. It uses high quality, 7075 aluminum to help keep the weight down, but mountaineering snowshoes are never going to be the lightest snowshoes out there. Still, despite extras like a heel lift bar and plenty of crampons for grip, the medium weighs just 4.46 pounds, which is 2.02 kilograms, which is a respectable enough weight.