Hitting the trails or backcountry in snowshoes is a great winter activity, provided you choose the right snowshoes.
How much do you weigh?
Snowshoes sizes are not based on the size of your foot, but rather how much you weigh. The heavier you are, the deeper you’ll sink in the snow, so you’ll need longer snowshoes to give you better “flotation,” as it’s called. Shorter snowshoes provide sufficient float for lighter people and children.
Check the tag
Check the tag on the snowshoes. It will tell you the maximum and minimum weights for the size. If you’re planning to carry a backpack full of gear with you, remember to factor that weight into the equation.
There are teeth on the bottom of snowshoes called crampons that provide traction. You need different levels of traction based on the terrain you’re crossing.
If you plan to snowshoe mostly on packed snow that may include icy areas, or you want to have good control when ascending or descending hills, you’ll want shoes with larger crampons to give you good grip. For snowshoeing in powdery, fresh snow or on gentle, flat trails, you will be fine with smaller crampons. However, since extra traction won’t ever have a negative effect on your experiences, you’re always better to choose too much traction rather than too little.
While some snowshoes are designed to be unisex, gender-specific snowshoes do have a subtle design difference that may make your experience more comfortable. The difference is in the tail on the back of the shoe. Since women tend to take narrower steps than men, the tail on women’s snowshoes is narrower to compensate.