What are the different types of snowshoes?
There are several variations of snowshoes and some are better for walking on trails suitable for beginners, while others are better for those who want to get off the trails completely.
Recreational / flat land: Entry-level models fall into this category, as these rackets are aimed at beginners. They are made for walking through a field or on a beginner’s trail. They have simple systems to gain traction and work well for packed snow. You will often see a wide tail on these types of shoes to help with balance.
Running / rolling ground: When hiking on normal trails in hilly areas, these types of snowshoes provide a good mix of performance and comfort. They aren’t made for the steepest conditions, but they do have solid bindings and mid-level crampons. This will be the most common style of racquet for most people. If you want more aerobic training, look for a shoe in this category with a tapered tail.
Off-piste / mountain terrain: When hiking difficult trails or hiking in a remote area for snowboarding, you will need top of the line snowshoes. These shoes are often small, allowing the wearer to have more control when hiking on icy and steep terrain. You will find strong and highly adjustable bindings on these shoes to ensure they stay on your feet, as well as aggressive studs for maximum control.
How do I choose the right size of rackets?
When you think about the size of the racquet, you don’t want to think about the fit on the foot like you do with other types of shoes. A racket size refers to the coverage area of the racket. Use the correct size racquet and you will have even more fun wearing it.
Bigger shoes: A larger racquet will have a large area, for example 10 by 30 to 36 inches. Snowshoes for men will be larger than those designed for children or women, so they can support more weight. You will also need a larger area if you plan to carry a large backpack on a hike. Aluminum shoes offer the most surface area, although composite racquets can accommodate tails to gain more surface area. Snowshoes with a larger surface work best on powder snow.
Medium size shoes: For people of average height, you can use an area of medium height, such as 9 by 25 to 30 inches. If you are going for a hike with a day pack, a medium sized snowshoe should work well. Aluminum sized shoes are available in this size, or you can use a composite style shoe with a smaller tail.
Small shoes: Kids’ snowshoes and some women’s shoes will fall into this category, where you will see shoes that are 8 x 25 inches and smaller. If you are going for a day hike with little to no extra equipment, a small size of snowshoes works well. Aluminum and composite racquets fall into this category. If you are walking on icy surfaces or hard packed snow, a smaller size snowshoe will work fine. You will probably want to use the smallest shoe or boot possible, as smaller shoes are easier to control.
When looking for a snowshoe, you should see a recommended load or user weight range for individual pairs of snowshoes. This number can help you determine the best racquet for your weight and the load you will be carrying. Some people even have multiple sizes of snowshoes to suit different snow conditions and the loads they will be carrying on any given day.