Which men’s snowshoes are best?
Snow has frosted the trails and made hiking seem impossible. However, with a good snowshoe, the gate to hiking in winter becomes wide open. It is similar to hiking in other seasons, though using snowshoes takes getting used to, and specific techniques are required to help you brave the frosty trails.
For those that want to make hiking in the snow a regular part of their winter, the Sawtooth Snowshoes is the clear winner. MSR has been leading the industry with innovative snowshoes with great traction and binding that is safe and maneuverable while keeping the weight down.
What to know before you buy a men’s snowshoes
Consider the terrain
The terrain affects the kind of winter hiking you will be doing and what kind of snowshoe you need.
- Flat terrain is the easiest to walk on, so spending a ton of money isn’t necessary. You also don’t need a lot of traction since there won’t really be any steep slopes. Big shoes that are affordable with simple binding work well.
- Hilly terrain has some inclines that could be moderately steep with some ice. You will want a more durable snowshoe that is a bit smaller with more aggressive traction. It is also good to have a heel lift for ascents.
- Mountainous terrain is the most intense kind of winter hiking. This requires a snowshoe that has a tight binding, aggressive crampons and a heel lift. Price and quality should not be compromised for winter mountaineering.
Snowshoe sizes vary depending on the type of shoe
In general, a heavier load requires a bigger, sturdier snowshoe, so you need to calculate your total weight and make sure your prospective snowshoe can handle that.
For flat terrain with powdery snow, large snowshoes float better and are generally preferable. For steeper terrain, it is better to have smaller snowshoes that are more lightweight and lean. If you are unsure about the size, the general rule is to get the smallest size shoe that can handle your weight and terrain.
Snowshoeing has slightly different techniques than regular hiking
There are a few critical differences between hiking in and out of the snow.
- With snowshoeing, your stride should be wider, so you don’t step on the other snowshoe.
- When going uphill in soft snow, you may need to kick into the snow with your toes to get proper traction. With harder snow, you can rely on the traction system and crampons.
- When going uphill, use the heel lift to avoid straining your feet and ankles.
- When going downhill, keep your poles in front of you to keep balance.
- Keep your weight back to maintain proper balance.
Snowshoeing isn’t hard to learn, and most of the techniques are relatively easy to pick up.
What to look for in quality men’s snowshoes
Traction and foot support
Snowshoes use crampons on their underside to create traction. The more crampons there are, the more aggressive the traction will be. It is also essential that the crampons are evenly distributed to stop any part of the shoe from slipping.
Weight load and size
Snowshoe size doesn’t work like a typical shoe. Snowshoes range between 17-35 inches. The longer the shoe, the more weight it can carry. However, having a shoe that is too big for the job means more weight and more clunkiness.
Since your actual shoe will slip inside the snowshoe’s bindings, it is also essential to consider the kind of shoe you are wearing. A mid-cut shoe will be easier to bind than a mountaineering boot. Wearing bigger boots means you will need a larger snowshoe. Since sizing is not universal, it is best to check the individual manufacturer’s page to get the proper size for your weight and shoe type.
Binding type is a personal preference, but good binding should be easy to strap into, keep your foot secure and allow you to walk as if you were wearing any other kind of shoe. They are often hard to replace, and MSR is one of the few companies that fully replace bindings without needing to buy new snowshoes.
There are many different kinds of binding, including TruTrak, speed, pivotal hinge and so on. It is always good to make sure you know how the binding on your prospective snowshoes work before actually buying them.
Men’s snowshoes FAQ
Should I use trekking poles when using snowshoes?
A. It is always wise to use trekking poles with snowshoes. Not only do they keep you balanced and help you keep pace, but they really help when going downhill on icy terrain. They also prevent you from falling down if you accidentally step on your other snowshoe.
What is a heel lift?
A. A heel lift is a small device on the back of some snowshoes. It allows you to keep your feet even level and balanced, even when going uphill or downhill. This will take some of the strain off your heels and ankles, and it generally makes the experience more comfortable.
What’s the best men’s snowshoe to buy?
Top men’s snowshoes
What you need to know: This is the improved version of Sawtooth Snowshoes. base on feedback from the 2018 model.
What you’ll love: They are made from lightweight aluminum and have a reliable design and sleek looks. Some of their key features are adjustable binding, steep incline heel lift riser system and heal strap auto-locking system. Their boot grip, slip-resistant textured pads and an excess heel strap clip will cradle your foot to hold you in place and prevent sliding.
What you should consider: Although they are lightweight and cheap, there are some complaints about their durability. So for long-term use, higher quality product will be better.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top men’s snowshoe for the money
What you need to know: These are the best snowshoes for under $200 and come with an excellent binding system and strong traction.
What you’ll love: The binding comes with interchangeable straps in case one breaks. Crampons line both sides of the shoe, and it comes with a heel lift to help you keep your pace.
What you should consider: Those who do a ton of winter hiking might be better off with the Lightning Ascent snowshoes.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is an ideal snowshoe for hiking on flat terrain for long distances, and it is surprisingly light for its size.
What you’ll love: Great traction with crampons, and it comes with a heel lift. The shoes are large and have holes to filter out snow. Great for flat or slightly hilly terrain.
What you should consider: The large size of these shoes doesn’t make them ideal for steep climbs and mountainous terrain.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Stephen Morin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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