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Winter Gear Guide

​​’Shoe-ins: The Best Gear for Winter Snowshoe Hikes in 2022

This kit will take you deep into the frozen backcountry, no matter the conditions.

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Snowshoeing is perhaps the most serene way to experience winter in the woods. It avoids the all-out strain of ski touring, but achieves the sensation of floating over the snow that you won’t get by tromping around in boots.

Strapping on a pair of snowshoes isn’t the only thing you need to do to prepare for your outing, though. Choosing the right layers, footwear, and accessories is just as key for staying comfortable and making the most of your walk through the woods. Our 2022 Winter Gear Guide has you covered: Out of the dozens of products in the guide, here are the ones I’ve hand-selected for your next ’shoe, whether it’s a leisurely stroll or an all-day adventure.

Retrospec Drifter snowshoes
The Retrospec Drifter is low on price, but big on features. (Photo: Retrospec)

Retrospec Drifter

Most snowshoes will get you down the trail, so opting for a budget model is the way to go if you’re starting to build your kit. In that respect, going with the Drifter is a no-brainer: It outperforms its $80 price point with all-around performance that glides over everything except the deepest powder. This snowshoe’s double ratchet binding is easy to cinch and never needs readjusting, and its two-stage heel riser offers a boost when you decide to head uphill. An underfoot crampon and plenty of teeth on the frame grip slick trails, and the Drifter’s aluminum frame and thick plastic deck mean it will last for years of winter hiking.

$80; Read the full review

Houdini Mono Air Houdi and Fjällräven Keb Wool Padded Jacket
The Fjällräven Keb Wool Padded Jacket (front) is incredibly versatile.
(Photo: Matthew Stacey)

Fjällräven Keb Wool Padded Jacket

Snowshoe hikes come in all shapes and sizes, from gentle rambles to slick, sidehilling-filled ascents. As the most versatile insulating layer in the Gear Guide, the Keb Wool Padded Jacket is the right pick for nearly any outing you choose. Its lofted wool insulation will keep you warm down into the teens as you slog along, but isn’t so heavy that you’ll swamp out if the mercury climbs into the 30s. Two zippered chest pockets and two hand pockets keep snacks, sunscreen, and a phone handy so you don’t have to interrupt your stride to access a pack. Plus, the Keb’s PFC-free DWR coating sheds precip well enough that you can enjoy walking through moderate falling snow without worrying about becoming wet and chilled.

$280; Read the full review

Mystery Ranch and Exped Best winter packs 2022
This winter pack from Mystery Ranch (left) excels at regular, hard use. (Photo: Matthew Stacey)

Mystery Ranch Gallatin Peak 40

Durability and accessibility make this pack ideal for snowshoeing, whether you’re on a dayhike or a long-haul trek. The Gallatin Peak is made from 320-denier ripstop nylon—with an ultratough 840-denier strip on the front—that will ward off damage from tree branches, using the pack as a seat during breaks, and attaching your snowshoes to the Gallatin if the terrain calls for it (beefy side straps help with the latter). This pack’s 40-liter volume is large enough to fit enough gear for a winter overnight, but slim-and-tall shape means it will stay tight to your body if you’re navigating gnarly sidehills or steep terrain. The Gallatin Peak is designed with a zippered backpanel that flays open to reveal the entire main packbag, which is handy for keeping your gear out of the snow as you reach for layers or water.

$249; Read the full review

best snowpants of 2022 - columbia kick turn
Columbia’s Kick Turn snowpants will keep you warm on the chilliest days.

Columbia Kick Turn II

Snowshoeing is generally slower-paced than, say, ski touring or normal winter hiking. (Or at least, I like to take my time doing it.) For frigid days when you’re not exactly stoking your furnace with fast movement, the Kick Turn II will keep your legs from turning into icicles. This pant is filled with synthetic insulation and has a reflective interior lining made of metallic dots; combined, the fill and lining kept one tester warm down to a grimace-inducing -30°F. (That tester was not me, and I’m thankful for that.) The Kickturn II is made from waterproof/breathable material, and it also has zippered vents to release some heat should conditions warm up. Bonus: Reinforced cuff guards mean you won’t pull the ol’ rip-and-trip should you catch a snowshoe on your leg.

$160; Read the full review

Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion - best socks of winter 2022
When comfort is your priority, the Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion is your sock. (Photo: Courtesy)

Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion

Having extra weight on your feet can result in hot spots where you don’t normally get them. To prevent foot discomfort, slip on the Hike Light Cushion. This sock has extended padding up the Achilles for protection, as well as thicker sections underfoot. A mesh portion on top of the foot vents excess heat and sweat, and the 42-percent nylon content maintains shape and prevents the sock from bagging out and slipping during your excursion. (The Hike Light Cushion also contains 56 percent merino wool for temp regulation and 2 percent elastane for stretch.)

$23; Read the full review

How to Pack for Backcountry Skiing

Get to know the winter safety gear you need in your pack.