Which high-end snowshoe is best?
Whether you’re looking to pick up winter trail running or want to tackle a far-off ridge at your favorite ski mountain, a pair of high-end snowshoes can help you do it. Snowshoeing is great because, unlike most other winter sports, you can do it without previous experience. However, with so many options to choose from and so much technical terminology to learn, finding the right pair of high-end snowshoes may feel like a more significant challenge than the hike you had in mind. If you’re looking for an excellent pair of all-around snowshoes that you can rely on for years to come, check out the MSR EVO Trail Snowshoe.
What to know before you buy high-end snowshoes
Not all snowshoes perform at their highest level in all snow conditions. If you tend to snowshoe in deeper snow, especially wet, consider purchasing a larger snowshoe that provides more float. If you frequently snowshoe in hard-pack or even rocky areas, you’re likely going to be better off with a pair of low-profile snowshoes.
Although snowshoes are highly versatile, high-end models tend to be oriented towards a specific use and terrain. If you’re a recreational snowshoer who sticks to flatter terrain, rolling hills or a trail, consider getting a pair of hiking snowshoes. On the other hand, consider a racing snowshoe that prioritizes weight saving if you’re looking for something to do winter runs in. If you want something that can handle anything, choose a technical mountaineering snowshoe that’s packed with features.
What to look for in a quality high-end snowshoe
Providing traction on slippery surfaces like snow and ice is the primary purpose of a pair of snowshoes, and quality options will have advanced traction technology. When you’re shopping for a new pair of high-end snowshoes, keep an eye out for well-made crampons with horizontal and vertical traction spikes.
There are numerous types of snowshoe binding, but high-quality options will offer the latest and most secure binding technology available. Look for snowshoes that use the super-fast, glove-friendly BOA or ratchet strap systems or an innovative alternative such as kick-in options.
Although premium materials are usually associated with heft, the highest quality snowshoes strike a perfect balance between strength and weight. Snowshoes attach directly to your boots, and the heavier they are, the harder they will be to maneuver, not to mention the fact that they’ll induce fatigue quicker.
How much you can expect to spend on high-end snowshoes
Entry-level high-end snowshoes cost around $200, while truly top-tier models usually cost around $300.
High-end snowshoe FAQ
Do you need to wear a helmet while snowshoeing?
A. Whether or not you need a helmet when snowshoeing depends on the terrain you intend to tackle. If you’re going mountaineering, taking on a steep descent or traversing an area with falling rocks or icicles, we recommend purchasing a helmet. However, if you’re going to stick to heavily trafficked paths and safe terrain, a helmet likely isn’t necessary.
Do you need special boots to use snowshoes?
A. Luckily, snowshoeing is one of the few winter sports that doesn’t require much gear beyond the snowshoes themselves. The vast majority of snowshoes are compatible with nearly every snow boot type imaginable, whether for snowboarding or construction. However, some mountaineering snowshoes are specifically designed to accept ski or snowboard boots.
What’s the best high-end snowshoe to buy?
Top high-end snowshoe
What you need to know: The Lighting Ascent snowshoes from MSR, an industry-leading brand, are extremely capable, lightweight and durable.
What you’ll love: With steel crampon and side rails, this snowshoe can take on everything from your backyard to the backcountry. With three different size options and tail-extension compatibility, you can maximize versatility and still get the perfect fit for you.
What you should consider: These snowshoes have more technology than most users will need for easy and intermediate terrain.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
Top high-end snowshoe for the money
What you need to know: The lightweight, high-performance Helium BC snowshoes from Atlas are optimized for backpackers and can take on challenging terrain with speed.
What you’ll love: Thanks to their helium composite decking, these snowshoes are exceptionally lightweight, which makes them easy to use over long distances as well as easier to transport in your pack. Amazingly, the weight savings don’t come at the expense of performance. With steel crampons, additional aluminum traction rails and an impressive 19 degrees of heel lift, the Helium BC snowshoes are more than capable of supporting you through steep, arduous terrain.
What you should consider: The unique pack-flat binding system on the Helium BC snowshoes requires larger footwear, ideally mountaineering or snowboard boots.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The Symbioz Hyperflex snowshoes have a seemingly endless list of technology and provide an unprecedented range of features.
What you’ll love: These snowshoes are packed with premium features that increase their durability and ease of use. In addition to carbon fiber inserts that increase strength, the bindings have a unique boa tightening system that allows the user to achieve a perfect, customized fit within seconds. Plus, there’s a comfortable heel ankle strap that provides an unmatched sense of security and grip. The standout feature of these snowshoes is that the carbon-reinforced frame is flexible enough to provide stability on highly uneven terrain.
What you should consider: The plastic decking can’t handle sharp rocks as well as other snowshoes at this price.
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William Briskin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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