Snowshoeing is no new invention. For over 3,000 years people have been making tools to walk over snow. However, today’s high-tech snowshoes have little in common with early examples made from branches and fur. Here’s an overview of the currently available snowshoes, the main purchase decisions to consider and advice for choosing the right footwear.

Snowshoes have a relatively simple design. They distribute the weight of the wearer over a larger surface area so that the foot does not sink in the snow. The same key question applies to choosing snowshoes as to buying new boots – what do you intend to use them for?

Intended use: First decide where you intend to use your snowshoes, i.e. on what kind of terrain. Is it to be steep, icy slopes or gently rolling terrain? This will help you determine which design you need: aluminium, composite or – seen less frequently – wood. 

Snow type: The next important factor is the type of snow you intend to use them on. Are we talking dry powder or packed snow? Ambitious snowshoe enthusiasts often own more than one pair, to keep all options are covered.

Weight: The greater the total weight of the wearer (with gear), the larger the surface area of the snowshoe should be.

Design: Traditional snowshoes are still made with a wooden frame. These models are primarily intended for flat, open terrain and fresh, loose snow. Modern composite snowshoes are more versatile and have a smaller surface area than their wooden counterparts. Sharp teeth in the sole provide the required grip. There are even models with crampon-like side rails and sharp front points for high-alpine terrain or hard firn. The same also applies to aluminium frame snowshoes. Although, they generally provide greater flotation (spreading your weight evenly over the snow), but less friction. They are the best option for loose snow and terrain that is not too steep.

The Right Boots

Once you’ve found the right snowshoe, make sure you’ve got the right boots. Here too, terrain and intended activity are decisive factors. A winter boot for snowshoeing should also have a high upper and a sturdy sole. The high upper keeps the snow out, provides more insulation and prevents you from twisting your ankle. And it gives you a better footing in the snow.

The right type of sole is also crucial. It should be sturdy enough, i.e. stiff, to allow efficient movement on snow. And snowshoe enthusiasts should ensure that their boots have a deeper, more aggressive tread so that they can still move freely on paths and trails that been cleared when not wearing snowshoes.

Good waterproofing and insulation are paramount. We equip our specialist winter boots with additional insulation underfoot, a warm lining and a thermo footbed. The Hanwag Abisko GTX®, Fjäll Extreme GTX® and Fjäll Expedition also come with a removable thermal inner boot.

For multi-day trips or bad winter weather, gaiters are indispensable. They prevent snow ingress and stop you getting wet and cold. Our warmest winter boot, the Abisko GTX® has an integrated gaiter. Of course, separate gaiters are also very effective.

The Abisko GTX®Fjäll Extreme GTX® and Torne GTX® are all equipped with a special snowshoe compatible heel. It allows the snowshoe to be attached more securely and fits most bindings. Our snowshoe compatible heel has a special rubber attachment point. The snowshoe strap lies on it and it is prevented from slipping while you are walking. And should you decide to leave your snowshoes at home, the attachment point won’t get in the way.

Which snowshoe and which boot to choose? 

Extremely tough composite snowshoes with large toe crampons and longer teeth are ideal for steep ascents in alpine terrain. 

The right boot: Fjäll Extreme GTX®

Versatile aluminium-frame snowshoes with medium teeth are ideal for use in hilly or alpine terrain.

The right boot: : Torne GTX®

Lightweight composite snowshoes with six short teeth in the sole are the perfect companions for winter hiking in flat or rolling terrain. 

The right boot: Xerro Plus Winter GTX®

Our tip:

Snowshoe bindings can vary greatly. Hanwag’s tip: when buying a pair of snowshoes, take your winter boots with you to try the snowshoes on – while wearing thick winter gloves. 

For guaranteed delivery before Christmas, order within 2016-12-16T00:01:00 Last order date for Norway: December 12th; Estonia & Latvia: December 14th. All last order dates