What to consider when you are buying a SNOWSHOE:
Once you thought about the type of snowshoeing you'll be doing, think about the features you want the shoes to have.
Size: How big a shoe you need depends on the conditions where you snowshoe. Most manufacturers make recommendations based on your weight plus the weight of the gear you’ll be carrying, such as a backpack. If you snowshoe where the snow is deep and powdery, choose a larger snowshoe than if you snowshoe in icy conditions or groomed tracks.
Traction: Traction on snow-covered terrain is provided by a variety of crampons mounted on the bottom of your snowshoe--metal claws under your toe and heel on the underside of the deck. The flatter the terrain, the less traction you need. For snowshoeing on a bike path or a meadow, choose minimal traction. For hiking rolling terrain, choose medium-aggressive underfoot grip.
Bindings: A snowshoe’s binding secures your foot comfortably to the snowshoe. You can save money with a standard ratcheting strap binding, which uses two or three straps to cinch your boot to the snowshoe. Or, chose a binding with Boa lacing, which secures the snowshoe to your foot in a more distributed manner and provides enhanced comfort. Boa adjusts with a twist of a knob and snugs up the binding for a custom-feeling fit that won't have uncomfortable pressure-points.
Decking: Snowshoes either have an aluminum frame with a plastic-coated fabric deck strapped or riveted onto the rails, or they use a single piece molded composite deck, which doesn’t require rails. Composite snowshoes will often have additional traction, called braking bars, molded into the body of the snowshoe. Some composite shoes also have toothy side rails that can be especially effective side hilling. Aluminum frame snowshoes are often lighter than composite snowshoes. But, composite shoes can be more affordable.
If you’re striving to summit a peak, choose aggressive traction. Blunted teeth under the ball of your foot and your toe will make it easier to walk in low snow or flat conditions. When you’re climbing steeply, sharp, pointy teeth will give you tenacious grip. Some composite snowshoes have traction bars molded in to complement or replace claws.
For long treks on steep terrain, choose a shoe with a heel-raiser climbing bar, a metal piece that flips up to support your heel. Engaged, it takes strain off your calves by supporting your heel when you’re trekking uphill for a long time.