How to Use Snowshoes: A Beginner’s Guide for Hiking in the Winter

by Ben Jackson
How to Use Snowshoes: A Beginner's Guide for Hiking in the Winter

It snows in the winter, and for avid hikers like us, that means snowshoe season has arrived! Snowshoes are perfect for exploring snowy trails (maybe summer biking trails) and help you cover more ground with less effort. This is a great way to get your kids outdoors in the winter. If you’re new to snowshoeing, or perhaps haven’t done it since you were a kid, this guide will get you started. Read on to learn about different types of snowshoes, tips for selecting the right pair for your needs, and how to use them safely and effectively while hiking.

What is a snowshoe?

A snowshoe is a sturdy footwear that is designed to fit on your feet like a pair of shoes. In the winter, snowshoes are equipped with special crampons that hook into the snow to help you walk safely and with less effort on snowy trails. Snowshoes are used for hiking and exploring during the winter months when there is snow on the ground. Most snowshoes are made out of a light and rigid material to prevent fatigue from carrying the added weight. Snowshoes usually weigh between 2 and 5 pounds, which is significantly less than a pair of hiking boots and is largely unnoticeable after a few minutes of use. Snowshoes are easy to use and come in many different shapes and sizes. This makes it easy for almost anyone to use them, regardless of your mobility or strength level.

Types of Snowshoes

– Backcountry snowshoes are designed for exploring off-trail terrain in remote areas. They are typically lightweight and compact and have a good balance of traction and flotation.

– Fitness snowshoes (or all-mountain snowshoes) are designed for moderate off-trail use. They are usually a bit more durable than backcountry models and provide good traction, flotation, and are also fairly lightweight.

– Trail snowshoes are designed for frequent on-trail use and moderate off-trail terrain. They are typically more durable and feature higher traction than fitness models and offer good flotation.

– Traditional snowshoes are wider than other models, which makes them ideal for deep powder and heavy snow. They are typically the heaviest snowshoes available and are best used on on-trail terrain.

Here are some of the Best Selling Snowshoes:

Bestseller No. 1
21/25/30 Inches Lightweight Snowshoes with Toe Box and Heel Lift, 3-in-1 Aluminum All-Terrain Snowshoes Kit with Adjustable Trekking Poles and Heavy-Duty Carrying Tote Bag for Women Men and Kids
  • ❄【Toe Box and Heel Lift】- Designed with a toe box and heel lift that provide extra support and stability on steep terrain. The toe box helps to keep your feet from sliding forward, while the...
  • ❄【Lightweight Aluminum Frame】- The aluminum frame of our snowshoes is lightweight, making it easy to carry and maneuver in the snow. It also provides excellent durability and strength, allowing...
  • ❄【Durable HDPE Decking】- The high-density polyethylene (HDPE) decking of these snowshoes is built to withstand harsh winter conditions and resist damage from rocks and other obstacles. It is...
  • ❄【Fast-Ratchet Bindings】- All of our snowshoes equip with fast-ratchet bindings that allow for quick and easy adjustments to fit a variety of boot sizes. The bindings are also designed to stay...
  • ❄【Trekking Poles and Carry Bag Included】- A pair of adjustable trekking poles and a carrying tote bag are included, making it easy to transport and store your gear. The trekking poles are...
Bestseller No. 2
G2 25 Inches Blue Light Weight Snowshoes for Women Men Youth, Set with Trekking Poles, Tote Bag, Special EVA Padded Ratchet Binding, Heel Lift, Toe Box
  • ❄【STRONG MATERIAL】- G2 snowshoes used high quality & lightweight HDPE as its deck to provide a nice floatage in snowfield so that users can save their energy and go further.
  • ❄【PROFESSIONALLY DESIGNED】-Fast ratchet binding is designed for low-temperature environment. It can be fastened easily by lift the one-pull buckle with just one-finger even when your hands are...
  • ❄【IMPROVED CRAMPONS】- This sharp crampons is made of high quality aluminum, which gives an excellent grip in snowfield or ice, keep you from dangerous.
  • ❄【MORE COMFORTABLE】- We padded soft EVA foam inside of snowshoes to provide a warm and comfortable feeling, protect your feet during cold winter.
  • ❄【SPECIAL STRUCTURE】- Flex pivot bar and heel lift makes users feel more natural no matter in flat or uphill, enable your to enjoy your winter hiking more.
Bestseller No. 3
FLASHTEK 21/25/30 Inches Light Weight Snowshoes for Women Men Youth Kids, Aluminum Terrain Snow Shoes. (25", Honeycomb Black)
  • SIZES & WEIGHT CAPACITY: 21 inches snowshoes optimized weight range: 65 - 155 lbs / 30 - 70 kg;25 inches snowshoes optimized weight range: 110 - 220 lbs / 50 - 100 kg; 30 inches snowshoes optimized...
  • DESIGN & DESCRIPTION: Standing atop the Series, the snowshoes are packed with features to tackle your favorite winter hikes, with the lightweight, smooth-striding design, comfort of the TPU binding...
  • HEEL LIFT RISER: On steep climbs, calf muscles tire quickly and traction decreases when your foot matches the slope angle. The heel lift Riser eases fatigue and ties directly into Advanced Aft...
  • LIGHT WEIGHT MATERIALS: Flashtek Use Long lasting lightweight 6000 Series aircraft aluminum frame. Durable UV resistant HDPE decking. Heavy duty steel crampons. Meet max floatation and fast movement...
  • SNOWSHOE TOTE BAG & TREKKING POLES: Adjustable trekking poles and a zippered snowshoe tote bag for easy carrying and storage.
Bestseller No. 4
Odoland 4-in-1 Snowshoes Snow Shoes for Men and Women with Trekking Poles, Carrying Tote Bag and Waterproof Snow Leg Gaiters, Lightweight Snow Shoes Aluminum Alloy, Black, Size 30''
  • ⛄🎁The Ultimate Snowshoes For Women and Men: Odoland snowshoes made of lightweight high quality materials to guarantee ease of use and equipped with handy bag, this set is ideal for your snow...
  • ⛄🎁Lightweight & Easy-to-Put Snowshoes: The women & men snow shoes made of lightweight and strong aluminum frame, the snowshoes feature an ergonomic design to ensure comfortable and easy walk.
  • ⛄🎁Great Flotation & Hard Grip Sawtooth: Large flat surface area of aluminum frame, the shoes provides you with maximum flotation. Each shoe has two sets of reinforced, heavy duty saw tooth for...
  • ⛄🎁Adjustable Treeking Poles: Easily changing the height of these telescoping poles from 25.5 to 54 inches is a breeze even when you're wearing gloves or trekking in wet conditions.
  • ⛄🎁Waterproof Leg Gaiters: Made of pongee fabric, provides excellent water and tear & puncture resistance. The perfect Christmas gift, share Odoland snowshoes with families, friends, and freely...
Bestseller No. 5
AMBIO Light Weight Snowshoes for Men Women Youth Kids, Aluminum Snow Shoes with Trekking Poles and Carrying Tote Bag (Grey,25 Inch)
  • [Sizes & Weight Capacity] : 14 Inches:30 - 70 lbs / 14 - 31 kg; 21 Inches: 70 - 150 lbs / 31 - 70 kg; 25 Inches : 120 - 200 lbs / 55 - 91 kg ; 30 Inches:180 - 250 lbs / 81 - 126 kg
  • [Lightweight Snowshoes] : Made of lightweight and strong aluminum frame , the snow shoes feature an ergonomic design to ensure comfortable and easy walk. With upgraded double ratcheting bindings, it's...
  • [Fully Adjustable Snow Shoes] : Double ratcheting bindings easily adjust to most footwear and enable a secure fit for maximum efficiency during outdoor treks; one-buckle tightening mechanism coupled...
  • ADJUSTABLE TREEKING POLES: Easily changing the height of these telescoping poles from 25.5 to 66 inches is a breeze even when you're wearing gloves or trekking in wet conditions.
  • [Package Included] : Snowshoes + Trekking Poles + Carrying Bag

How to Select the Right Snowshoe for You

The main factors to consider when selecting snowshoes are the amount of use (frequent/occasional) and terrain you’ll be using them in (off-trail/on-trail), as this will help you determine which features are most important for you. Frequency of use – If you plan to use your snowshoes frequently throughout the winter, it may be worth spending a little extra money on a high-quality pair. Cheaper snowshoes are often not made to last for multiple seasons and will sometimes break during your first trip out. Terrain – If you’re planning to use your snowshoes on off-trail terrain, you will want to select a pair with good traction features like crampons or wide, aggressive teeth. If you’re using your snowshoes on on-trail terrain, you will want to opt for a model with good flotation, like a lightweight model. You can also check out our women’s hunting boots guide or our best hunting boots for cold weather. Or maybe use them to go

Learning to Walk with Snowshoes

Once you’ve selected the perfect pair of snowshoes, you’re ready to head outside and start hiking. The first thing you’ll want to do is fit your snowshoes properly. Make sure that the toe of the shoe is about an inch behind the toe of your boot, and that the back of the shoe is touching your heel. Next, practice walking in your snowshoes, taking shorter and more deliberate strides than normal. This will help you maintain your balance, as snowshoes are very wide. Once you are comfortable walking with your snowshoes, you can start moving a little faster and later try some steeper hills.

Advanced Techniques for Using Snowshoes

– Skinning – A great way to explore off-trail terrain with your snowshoes is to “skin” up the trail. To skin, simply attach a piece of climbing skins to the bottom of each shoe and walk up the trail as you normally would. This will help you cover more ground and get a great workout in the process. – Traction Steps – If you find yourself hiking on a trail covered in ice or snow and don’t have climbing skins on your shoes, you can use a technique called “traction steps.” Simply place the toe of your snowshoe into the ground, lift your foot up, and then stomp down on the same spot with the other foot. You can also do this by putting both feet into one snowshoe.

Tips for Safe and Happy Hiking with Snowshoes

– Stay Warm – When working outside in the winter, it’s important to stay warm and dry. Make sure you have the proper clothing on, including a waterproof jacket and warm, water-resistant boots.

– Stay Hydrated – It’s important to stay hydrated, especially during the winter when you’re moving more and generating more body heat. Bring a water bottle with you and make sure you take frequent sips to stay hydrated and energized.

– Be Mindful of Others – When hiking during the winter, you’ll want to be mindful of other hikers, especially those who may not be prepared. Make sure you’re visible and make loud noises when you’re hiking to make sure people can see you.


Snowshoes are a great way to explore during the winter months. They are easy to use and come in many different shapes and sizes. Snowshoes are a great way to get a cardiovascular workout in while enjoying the beauty of the winter landscape. These also can make a great gift for someone who like to hike or walk outdoors. If you’re new to snowshoeing, now is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the winter landscapes. With the right pair of snowshoes, you’ll be able to travel on packed and unpacked trails with ease and enjoy an active way to stay warm in the winter.

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