Dion Model 120 Laser LT (from $ 145)
Dion, based in Vermont, makes some of the lightest and most versatile racquets on the market. The frames themselves are light for a model built for speed, at just 1.3 pounds, and depending on conditions, you can swap out the standard cleat with ice or deep snow models. The easy to use but robust the bindings stay in place for long distances, but if you’re not a fan just use a drill and some basic hardware to mount the LTs on your favorite trail runners.
Crescent Moon Luna Foam Shoe ($ 120)
A few years ago, Crescent Moon launched the Eva, the very first all-foam snowshoe, which one tester called a “fat bike for your feet”. The Luna is a smaller version, measuring seven by 20 inches compared to the Eva’s eight by 24 inches, but it has just as much cushion and a similar rocking shape, as well as optional screw-in studs that provide extra traction in freezing conditions. Not that you’ll be getting rid of it anytime soon, but when you do, it will be recyclable through athletic shoe recycling programs.
Atlas Helium-Trail ($ 140)
It’s not often that snowshoe makers come out with brand new models, so testers were excited about Atlas’ new Helium series of models for backcountry, off-road and trail walking. Our favorite, the Trail, is an all-purpose composite snowshoe that comes in 23 and 26 inch sizes and flexes gently as you walk. Steel studs keep you upright on icy terrain, traction is built into the deck for added stability, and an easy-lift heel riser takes the edge off steep climbs.
TSL Highlander Adjust ($ 250)
A fantastic all-rounder snowshoe, the French-made TSL Highlander Adjust is available in three sizes. Once you have selected your model, a unique adjustment adapts the binding to the length of your entire shoe. From that first use, all you need to do is get into the binding, tighten the Boa on your toes, and secure a strap around your ankle. “I had the whole system set to accommodate my boots in under two minutes,” said one tester, who added that the Adjusts were also nimble and confident on the spring melt, ice, hard bed and deep drifts. .
Garneau Premiere Premiere ($ 245)
The company updated its popular Premiere backcountry snowshoes with a new Boa closure system that tightens the binding evenly around the toe and heel with the twist of a single button, without pulling on straps or play with the buckles. Available in two sizes, the Première proved to be well designed for clearing trails in deep snow.
Northern Lites Honey Badger ($ 299)
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you needed snowshoes and ice crampons, what you really needed was Honey Badger. Named after “the most fearless animal in the world,” these snowshoes feature aggressive stainless steel studs, very sharp and extra long, from toe to heel to keep you stable on slippery and steep surfaces. And at just 25 inches long and 3.75 pounds, they’re neither bulky nor overly heavy, although testers who weigh over 175 pounds may want a bigger racquet or risk sinking in deep powder.