Snowshoe Sizing

5 Min Read

Hiking in winter can be challenging, especially in snowy conditions. Snowshoes make this significantly easier, allowing you to take in the beauty of winter without post-holing. Choosing the right size snowshoes can be confusing though, especially for first-timers.

In our guide to snowshoe sizing, we cover everything you need to know about choosing the best fitting snowshoes, from sizing charts to selecting snowshoes for different conditions.

Disclaimer: This guide was created for educational purposes and neither offers nor replaces medical advice.

Table of Contents

Snowshoe Size Chart

Somewhat confusingly, different snowshoe brands have different lengths and there is often overlap among snowshoe sizing between brands. This means that sizing charts vary, depending on the manufacturer of your snowshoes.

A good general measure of snowshoe sizing can be found below.

Your weight (fully loaded) Length
80-160 lbs
21-23”
120-200 lbs
24-27”
150-260 lbs
30-34”
180-300+ lbs
35-36”

1

Snowshoe Sizing by Gender

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking all snowshoes are unisex.

Men weigh more than women on average. This means that men’s snowshoes will fit larger boots and carry heavier loads.

Women’s snowshoes are narrower than male-specific or unisex models and the bindings are more likely to cater to smaller boots.

2

Snowshoe Sizing by Weight

The whole purpose of snowshoes is to provide adequate floatation when traversing snow. Longer snowshoes cover a larger surface area, helping to evenly distribute weight. Yet, the longer your snowshoe is, the harder it is to manoeuvre. To strike the balance right, you should aim to get the smallest snowshoe for your weight.

When you are measuring your weight, you should always do this fully loaded. Wear the specific clothes you intend to wear when snowshoeing and don’t forget your daypack too. It is this fully loaded weight that you will need to consider when buying snowshoes.

As snowshoe sizing varies across brands, you should always try shoes on before you buy. You will find a recommended maximum weight on the product specs which is a good starting point when looking for the right size snowshoe. Do not exceed this weight as it will make the snowshoes harder to handle, making your feet feel heavy.

3

Snowshoe Sizing by Snow Conditions

The terrain and conditions are an essential part of choosing the correct size snowshoe.

There are generally three different types of snowshoe available:

  • Flat terrain snowshoes
  • Rolling terrain snowshoes
  • Mountain terrain snowshoes

The recommended maximum load weight that you find marked on snowshoe product specs will be for dry and light snow conditions.

If you’re walking through powder, you’ll need larger snowshoes than you would on compacted wet snow. Icy terrain requires smaller snowshoes with good traction. These are easier to manoeuvre and more fit for purpose.

Snowshoe Sizing FAQs

Is there a right and left snowshoe?

Snowshoes will fit on both your right and left feet. However, it is generally recommended to have the buckles facing outwards.

What is the difference between a man’s and a woman’s snowshoe?

Women’s snowshoes tend to be more narrow. This is because generally, women walk with a narrower gait than men. As women typically weigh less than men, their snowshoes also tend to be shorter.

What kind of footwear should I use when snowshoeing?

Hiking boots are the best footwear for snowshoeing. Look for something insulated, warm and ideally waterproof. This will result in the most comfortable snowshoeing experience.

Good To Know

  • You don’t choose snowshoes based on how big your feet are
  • Snowshoe sizing is determined by weight, gender and terrain
  • A general rule is that the heavier you are, the longer snowshoe you will need
  • If you fall between two sizes and are taller, choose the longer size
  • The drier or lighter the snow, the longer your snowshoes will need to be

Conclusion

The most important factor to remember when buying snowshoes is your fully-loaded weight. This is essential information that you will need when using snowshoe sizing charts. As well as this, bear in mind that women’s snowshoes will typically run more narrow than men’s. The terrain is also an important consideration when buying the correct sized snowshoes.

Writer:

Colin Slager

Last Updated:

March 6, 2022

DR. KARIM MAGHRABY

Dr. Maghraby is a medical doctor and published physician scientist. He’s an avid runner and a user of sports compression gear.