This boot-and-snowshoe combo makes clicking in a breeze. The system mimics a ski tech binding: Align the toe with the pins on the snowshoe, press down, and the pins secure the toe in place. But the Step-In isn’t a gimmick: “This ’shoe has better walkability than any I’ve used,” one tester says. The high flexibility of the fiberglass-reinforced plastic helps it hold onto steeps, conforming to the shape of the hill and letting the eight V-shaped rows of steel teeth bite into the snow. Our tester had no problems zipping through trees and stepping over obstacles. Tradeoff: The snowshoes can only be used with the Treks, and the full setup is expensive.
Suede ankle protection and a waterproof, zip-up tongue flap make the boots stiff enough for sidehilling but pliable enough for a natural gait. The boots work well on their own for winter walks, but they’re heavy.
“They float extremely well. I watched another ’shoer my size posthole 20 times, while I only fell through the snow once,” said one tester after 70 miles on Canada’s Prince Edward Island.