Gear Review: TSL Escape Snowshoe

New to snowshoeing? Check out this stable snowshoe for beginners.

Best for Beginners

Most snowshoes are made with an aluminum frame connected to a plastic deck. The design reduces weight without sacrificing durability, but is not cheap to produce. These are made from a single piece of molded plastic composite, yielding an extremely rugged shoe at a lower price. That, plus a modest deck size that allows for natural striding (read: zero learning curve), make them ideal for novice snowshoers.

On Oregon's Mt. Hood, testers found them stable and grippy while ascending steep, forested slopes and while crossing wind-swept meadows with hard snow. The shape–with a narrow waist and rounded tips and tails–made it surprisingly easy to negotiate dense trees. The binding is secure: Broad heel and toe straps mount to a full-length footplate, locking you securely to the snowshoe whether you're wearing light winter hikers or heavy insulated pack boots. The footplate also eliminates heel drift, providing stable footing even on steep traverses. Downside: Flotation is limited, and the Escapes are heavy. Get these for day tripping with a light pack. $159; 4 lbs. 14 oz.; 25- and 29-inch; tslsnowshoes.com