Snowshoes open up a winter wonderland. Thanks to the flotation and traction they provide, you can walk on anything from packed tracks, to dedicated snowshoe trails at ski resorts, to untracked powder.
Generally speaking, snowshoes are easy to put on and use. The longer and larger the snowshoe, the more flotation they provide. But, that’s not to say that a five-year-old should be put in a standard 8-inch wide by 19-inch-long snowshoe; they’d be too cumbersome for a five-year-old to walk comfortably. Finding the length that’s appropriate for the size of your child, plus the best binding, traction, and intended usage for your needs is the key to happy snowshoeing.
I had eight kids, ages 7 to 10, test different snowshoes on a winter hut trip and various other outings to see just how easy each pair was to put on, keep on, and enable fun. (While snowshoes for toddlers and smaller kids do exist, we limited this test to snowshoes for elementary school-aged children.)
One caveat: A couple of the kid testers wore snowboarding boots in the snowshoes, while others wore winter boots or weather-treated hiking shoes of some sort. We recommend high-top boots and thick, wool socks to keep feet warm, and waterproof pants, like ski pants, to help keep kids dry as their 'shoes will flick up snow agains their behinds.
Get more tips, trips, and stories about family outdoor adventures on BACKPACKER’s Families Gone Wild.