How to Fit Snowshoes

How to Fit Snowshoes
Snowshoes are designed to allow you to walk through snow by keeping you from sinking straight down to the ground. Snowshoes are able to do this by increasing the surface area that makes contact with the snow. In order to get the best performance, you need enough surface area to support your weight. Therefore, getting the right size is very important.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Scale Winter boots
  • Scale
  • Winter boots
Step 1
Weigh yourself on a scale. Weight is a factor in snowshoe sizing so you'll want to have an accurate, updated weight prior to shopping for snowshoes.
Step 2
Take into consideration any packed weight you'll be carrying. If you intend to carry a backpack full of gear, this load will be placed onto your snowshoes as well, so you'll want to factor this in to your overall weight. When possible, weigh your gear on a scale for accuracy.
Step 3
Find snowshoes that you like. Snowshoes come in many different varieties, including back-country snowshoes, race snowshoes and recreational snowshoes. Each is aimed at a specific type of snowshoeing, so consider your intended use. Many newcomers who just want to hike through flat, snow-covered terrain will do fine with recreational snowshoes. Some snowshoes are women-specific to optimize performance for women. For some types, such as composite, sizes will be limited to one size. Composite snowshoes use separate tails to increase area and flotation.
Step 4
Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for your correct size, based upon weight. Snowshoes generally range in size from 20 inches to 36 inches and each size will be optimal for a given weight range. This size may vary from one model to the next, so double check each model's sizing guide to make sure. Remember that the total weight of your load will include both your own body weight and the weight of gear you carry.
Step 5
Consider the nature of the terrain where you'll be hiking. Light, deep, dry powder will demand the largest surface area to keep afloat, so if this is the type of snow that is typical in your area, opt for a larger size shoe that encompasses your weight. On the other hand, if the snow is heavy and compact, you won't need as much surface area to stay afloat and can opt for smaller shoes for your weight. It's often wisest to get the smallest shoe for your weight because smaller snowshoes are easier to handle and will be more nimble, especially when climbing or navigating tight spaces. Getting the largest shoe for your weight is primarily useful if you hike in very dry, deep powder.
Step 6
Try the snowshoes on. Wear the winter boots that you intend to use while snowshoeing and strap into both snowshoes. Decide how easy the binding is to use and how comfortable the snowshoe feels. If at all possible, take the snowshoes outside and try using them in the snow to get a feel for how well they maneuver. For reference, compare several models.

Tips & Warnings

If you're not sure what type or size of snowshoe will be most comfortable, try renting or demoing a pair or a few pairs to put some time on them. Then you can make a more confident purchase.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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