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Winter Gear Guide

The 4 Best Snowshoes of 2022

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

Best Value: Retrospec Drifter

  • Price: $80
  • Weight: 4 lb. 3 oz.
  • Best for: Basic ‘shoeing
  • Buy Now

As with many other categories of outdoor gear, the price of snowshoes has skyrocketed in recent years. The Drifter, though, harkens back to a more affordable era thanks to aluminum alloy frames built around a plastic deck. Yet, it’s still durable for long-term use, and futziness isn’t an issue: On multiple trips through variable conditions in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, we cinched the double ratchet binding tightly with one hand and never needed to readjust. The back heel strap stayed locked in while we hiked, but we easily adjusted it to slip our feet in and out of the bindings with winter boots on. You wouldn’t expect a budget snowshoe to come with a heel lift—which reduces strain on your calf muscles while climbing—but the Drifter has a two-stage riser that felt sturdy as we traversed undulating terrain. We did sink down to our knees in deep powder, though, so this shoe is best for dense or packed snow. Thanks to the 10 sharp, 1-inch-long teeth under the ball of the foot and the 43 smaller teeth on the back of the Drifter, we had no problem ascending hills in slick conditions. Bonus: It comes with a mesh carry bag.

Crescent Moon Powder Ski Snowshoes
The truly massive Crescent Moon Powder Ski Snowshoes (Photo: Crescent Moon)

Best for Deep Snow: Crescent Moon Powder Ski Snowshoes Gold 17

  • Price: $280
  • Weight: 5 lb. 3 oz.
  • Best for: Fresh pow
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Nearly the size of a longboard, this monster snowshoe is meant for off-trail routes in deep snow. All 190 pounds of one Alaska tester and his pack stayed afloat while navigating 3 feet of fresh powder on the Mountain Vista Trail in Denali National Park. With a width of 10 inches and a length of nearly 37 inches—one of the largest snowshoes we’ve ever tested—the Powder Ski also plows ahead through breakable crust and other undesirable snow conditions. The binding cinches tightly with a single heel strap and double straps on top, providing equal tension all around. In fact, the Powder Ski can hold up to 300 pounds and a shoe size up to 14. The three stainless-steel, built-in crampons on the bottom were ready for shoulder season and stretches of terrain with more ice than snow. Caveat: The bulk of this beast means striding is somewhat awkward on hardpack, making it cumbersome for strolls in your local park on groomed trails.

Atlas Range-Trail snowshoes
The Atlas Range-Trail snowshoes fit small feet especially well. (Photo: Atlas)

Best Fit: Atlas Range-Trail

  • Price: $220
  • Weight: 3 lb. 9 oz.
  • Best for: Petite feet
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The search for a snowshoe that fits small feet can be a frustrating one, as bindings usually don’t cinch tight to all footwear. That is, until now: One narrow-footed female tester says she’s never worn a snowshoe that hugs her boots as well as the Range-Trail. During a 12-mile overnight in Glacier National Park with a 45-pound pack, she didn’t have to make any adjustments to the binding. “The two buckles connect to an overlay of mesh, which secured my whole foot,” she says. “Plus, getting in and out was painless, and the bindings never froze up.” The Range-Trail has a 19-degree heel lift for hills, a five-point toe crampon for traction, and spikes around the perimeter of the snowshoe, so she barely felt any calf fatigue, even on the steepest ascents.

yukon charlie's snowshoes
The Yukon Charlie’s minimalist kit includes everything you need to get started. (Photo: Yukon Charlie’s)

Best for Beginners: Yukon Charlie’s Minimalist Kit

  • Price: $144
  • Weight: 4 lb.
  • Best for: First-time forays
  • Buy Now

For beginner winter adventurers, this all-in-one package—which includes snowshoes, two-section telescoping aluminum poles with snow baskets, and a storage bag—is an attractive starter kit. The shoe’s one-pull system, which cinches the rubber-and-plastic binding from the heel, is so user-friendly that one Montana tester with no snowshoeing experience dialed in his fit with expert precision on his first day out. The shoe’s thick, 8-inch-wide plastic decking (even wider in the 30- and 36- inch versions) stayed afloat in deep snow in Bitterroot National Forest, and the nearly 60 total crampon teeth performed well on icy trails, allowing our tester to plant and dig into slick slopes with reassuringly solid steps.

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