There are three types of snowshoes available in shops – recreational shoes for easy walks and general day-to-day business, aerobic\fitness shoes for exercise, and shoes created specifically for hiking and backpacking activities. Which snowshoes are the best to buy for you depends greatly on what exactly you intend to use them for.
As might be expected, recreational snowshoes form the most basic selection of shoes, and are perfect for people who are trying out snowshoes for the first time, or who don’t intend to use them for anything other than basic activities (i.e. no running or serious hikes). Recreational snowshoes work best if the terrain they will be worn on is fairly level, with no major ups or downs.
Aerobic and fitness shoes are better for people – such as runners – who are already used to using snowshoes, and have experience in what they need and like. The selection of snowshoes available for fitness are normally sleeker than the recreational ones, and are made of tougher materials in order to withstand the extra demands on them.
Snowshoes for hiking and backpacking are naturally the toughest ones on the market. The frame is made from aluminium, other materials are made durable for flotation purposes, and the bindings on them support all types of winter boots and shoes. These snowshoes are the best to get if you are already very experienced in using snowshoes, or need them to go for long hikes over rough and hilly terrain.
As with most things, you get what you pay for. That being said, snowshoes are generally fairly inexpensive. For snowshoes on the lower end of the scale (such as recreational snowshoes), look to be paying around one hundred dollars. For snowshoes on the higher end of the scale, such as the better types of aerobic snowshoe and hiking snowshoes, expect to pay three hundred dollars or higher.
Quite often, a retailer selling snowshoes will offer a package deal to customers which includes poles and a snowshoe bag with the initial purchase. While these are good deals, they quite often only involve one type of snowshoe, so it is best to ensure that the snowshoe included is the type you want\need. If you are in the market for anything other than a basic recreational model, most package deals will not meet your needs.
It’s best not to buy used snowshoes of any kind, but if you find yourself needing to do so, make sure to inspect them thoroughly for damage before committing. Check the frames for damage, including any cracks or chips in the frames, check the bindings for signs that they are worn or overstressed (and this likely to snap), and check the flotation material for any holes or rips which could compromise it.
Finally, one of the most important element of choosing appropriate snow shoes is to choose the best size from what is available. Snowshoes are measured in inches, and the pair you buy will depend on the weight that will be put on them. Leaving aside snowshoes which are made for children, the most common sizes that they are available in are twenty five, thirty and thirty six inches. If you are unsure about which size to get, employees should be able to help you.