Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

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What Size Snowshoe Do I Need?

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Snowshoes typically come in three sizes: 8″ x 25″, 9″ x 30″, and 10″ x 36″.

There is also a slightly smaller shoe built with women in mind: 8″ x 21″, and even smaller shoes intended for children: 6″ x 15″ and 7″ x 18″.

These measurements are often stated, in some form or another in the snowshoe name, and are the width of the snowshoes in inches by the length of the snowshoe in inches. This will help you visualize the snowshoe when it is not sitting in front of you.

There are general sizing charts associated with all snowshoe brands, but don’t use these as a strict guide to your final sizing decision. IN GENERAL, an 8″ x 25″ snowshoe fits snowshoers weighing 120lbs – 180lbs. A 9″ x 30″ snowshoe fits snowshoers weighing 160lbs – 220lbs., and a 10″ x 36″ shoe fits snowshoers weighing over 200lbs.

Again, these are not hard and fast rules, so let’s consider some different scenarios.

You say:

I weigh 170 pounds, but I typically use my snowshoes in the backcountry with a 20-pound pack.

If your answer sounds something like this, you need to consider your total weight with gear. It is important to first determine how much you will typically weigh when you are ready to hit the trail. This includes excessive weight linked to footwear, hydration, a loaded pack, extra clothing, etc. If you will typically weigh an extra 20 pounds when you hit the trail, you will be more likely to sink if you are wearing a snowshoe that only holds your weight.

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You say:

I weigh 170 pounds, but I never venture off packed trails.

If your answer sounds something like this, you need to consider your snow conditions and terrain. These are very important considerations, because of the link between snowshoe size and flotation. The purpose of a snowshoe is to keep you afloat and provide traction when you are walking on snow. If you typically stay on packed trails, you will be a lot less likely to sink with each step than you would if you were walking off the trail into deep snow.

Once you get off the trail, what type of snow are you stepping into? If you live in an area with thick, heavy, wet snow, you will be a lot less likely to sink deep into the snow, than if you are stepping into dry, light, powder. The general rule to take from this scenario is the harder the snow pack, (a packed trail being one of the hardest), the less likely you are to sink, and therefore the less flotation you need.

So, you have decided on your activity and snowshoe size, what’s left? FEATURES. And we will cover that in our next article.

This is part of a larger article covering all aspects of purchasing snowshoes. This is one section of that series on how to pick the perfect pair of snowshoes. To read the entire article, please click here.

Comments

36 Responses to “What Size Snowshoe Do I Need?”
  1. John Buchanan says:

    I’m thinking about getting a recreational snowshoe for my wife. She likes to go out and feed the birds and walk around our yard. She’s about 5’0″ and weight around 100 lbs. You say, “There is also a slightly smaller shoe built with women in mind: 8? x 21?, and even smaller shoes intended for children: 6? x 15? and 7? x 18?.” Shoe size is 6 1/2. What’s your recommendation?

  2. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi John – If you wife is going to be primarily using the snowshoes to venture through the yard, etc I would highly suggest a women’s size 8×21 (ish) for her. That should work perfectly with her weight, height and shoe size. If you have any future plans to take it a step further into hilly terrain, or carrying a backpack, she might want to consider a 25 inch snowshoe, but for what you described, the 21 inch version should work great!
    Here are a few of my top choices.

    Of these, the Atlas 923 would probably be my top suggestion. Enjoy!

  3. Luanne says:

    My husband and I are researching snowshoes. I already have a pair, but he is looking to buy now. I’m not sure what size he needs and we want to buy used. He weighs about 165-170.

  4. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Luanne – We will need a little more information to give you a concrete suggestion, but here are my thoughts on what you’ve said. Assuming that your husband is taller than 5’5″ or so, I would probably suggest a 9×30 snowshoe for him. It really depends on what you’re doing though and where you’ll be going. If you’re looking for something on more packed trails or heavier snow, an 8×25 may be adequate. The deeper the snow as well as the heavier the load and the faster you plan to walk, the larger shoe you’ll want. I would suggest a 9×30 more than likely, but an 8×25 may work. If you’d like to tell us more about what kind of terrain you anticipate as well as height and goals for the use of the new snowshoes we can narrow it down even further for you. Thanks for your interest in esnowshoes.com!

  5. Regina says:

    What will happen if my snow shoe is too small? Will I sink into the snow?? Help

  6. Kim says:

    I want to buy snowshoes for my neice (12 years old) and nephew (10 years old) for Christmas but don’t know what size I should get? Can somebody tell me?

  7. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Kim – It really depends on the kind of use they will be getting, how tall the kids are, etc, but for the most part, I would suggest somewhere in the 8×21 range. You could probably go a little smaller with the 10 year old boy if he’s not very tall. Best bet would be to contact one of our premier retailers like Altrec.com or Backcountry.com. Good luck!

  8. Julia says:

    I weigh 130lbs and I’m 5’5″ My husband is 5’8″ and weighs 133lbs.

    I can’t decide on which snowshoes to get so I want to get 2 different models. Will my husband be able to use a pair of women’s snowshoes given our similar weight?

    My husband takes a size 9 shoe.

    I like the earlier comments about getting beginner snowshoes, only to regret it later when I want to venture into the backcountry.

  9. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Julia –

    Yes, your husband can get away with wearing an 8×25 women’s model. The challenge will be the boot. Typically woman have narrower feet and thus narrower boots so the bindings are designed as such. Our only concern would be getting your husbands boots to fit within the binding. If you are looking at two different models, I would suggest getting a men’s and women’s and seeing which one works best for your particular boots and feet :)

    Here is a good place to start: Snowshoe department

    Happy snowshoeing!

  10. Kerry says:

    Hi, thanks for offering your expertise here! I’m little confused as to which size snow shoe I will be needing.
    I’m a 144lb female; about 5’5”. The heaviest pack I would be carrying would be my camera bag and some water, which will never weigh more than 10lbs (we plan on going out in a group and distributing weight that way). Any suggestions? There are some great deals coming up at Canadian Tire!
    Thanks.

  11. cathy says:

    We have been looking at the Atlas Electra 8 series. I really wish there was a 25, but I have to choose between 23 and 27. I weigh about 144 and am 5’6″, but I would have on some outdoor gear and maybe
    a water bottle. Better to be on the high end or low end. I will be doing mostly parks and trails . thoughts?
    thank you

  12. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Kerry –

    Sounds to me like you are going to need an 8×25. That seems to be the size that will offer you the most versatility and ease of use. Enjoy!

  13. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Cathy –

    I can see you’re dilemma there! You are right on the edge between sizes. Here is what we would suggest. You mentioned parks and trails which makes me think a more mellow terrain. If that is the case, that is a plus toward the smaller. BUT, depending on where you live, if you have light fluffy snow, I’d suggest the larger size, if you typically have more dense snow, I’d lean toward the smaller. Overall I’d say if you live in a humid climate, go smaller, if you live in a dry climate, consider the larger, but you might still be fine with the smaller if you are trekking moderate to mild terrain.

    Hope that helps!

  14. Kristy says:

    My husband has wanted snowshoes for a long time. The problem is his size. He wears a size 15 shoe. He is 6’4 and about 200 pounds. We live in MA, and he wants to hike trails etc. What is the best size for him?

  15. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Kristy –

    There are snowshoes out there that will work great for your husband’s larger boots. Here is what you’ll want to look for. You need to look for a snowshoe with a binding with an open (or mostly open) toe. This will allow for a larger boot. These bindings are typically found on the most advanced series of snowshoes as the users usually wear larger boots. Size wise, I’d probably lean toward a 10×36 since he’s so tall (and the binding may be larger) but if the snow in MA is super dense and you don’t sink a ton, he might be able to get away with a 9×30.

    Backcountry.com seems to have the best selection at this point in the holiday shopping season, here’s a link to their

    snowshoe department

    . Enjoy!

  16. Pieulle says:

    Hi, I’m looking to buy some snowshoes for this winter, but totally confused on the size situation. I’m 5’8 190lbs and I use different packs ranging from 10lbs-30lbs depending on the trip.

    Could you please help on what size I’d need?

    Thanks

    P.

  17. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi P –

    Sounds to us like the best fit for you will be a 9×30 snowshoe. There are variables that would make an 8×25 work, but only if you are in fairly wet snow. Happy Holidays!

  18. Melanie says:

    Hi there,
    I’m a runner and would like to try running in snowshoes this winter; I’m told this requires a slightly smaller shoe. I am 5’0″ and just over 100 lbs. Can I get away with wearing a child’s model?
    Thanks!
    Melanie

  19. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Melanie – Great Question. If you were just going to go walking I would say that you could potentially get away with a decent child’s snowshoe, but given the fact that you are going to be running with them I would suggest another option and not kids snowshoes. There are two reason for my thoughts. 1) Running is extremely hard on equipment (including knees sometimes :) ) and kids snowshoes are not designed for that kind of repetitive abuse, especially at their maximum weight threshold. Secondly, and this will apply to all snowshoes, running snowshoes are designed differently than all other snowshoes. They have a more contoured design that allows for a more natural stride when you are running. Typically they have a tapered tail and the tail is bent slightly upward creating less pounding on each stride.

    I would highly suggest looking at a good pair of running snowshoes if you are serious about running this winter, but if you are still unsure about whether you will enjoy it, try calling local sports rental shops and ask if they rent running snowshoes. The really good stores will be able to rent you a nice pair of running snowshoes for the weekend for a fraction of the cost to buy them, so it’s a nice way to try before you buy.

    Good luck on your adventures and have a Happy New Year!

  20. Sue says:

    Hi, I am an overweight woman and from what I understand snowshoeing is an excellent exercise form to help lose weight because it ii so low impact. What would you recommend for a woman around 250lbs who plans on doing some back country and some more suburban snowshoeing?

    Thanks

  21. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hello Sue – I think the final decision on size for you will be based on your height. If you are 5′ 7″ or taller, I’d suggest a snowshoe in the 9×30 range for the deeper snow especially, but if you are under 5′ 7″ the width of the larger shoes could become cumbersome, so I would then lean toward an 8×25 size. It will also depend on whether you are typically in light/dry snow or heavy/wet snow. If you are in heavy/wet snow, you might be fine in an 8×25 regardless of your height. Hope that helps and have a great time out there snowshoeing!

  22. Sara G says:

    Hello,
    I am looking at buying wooden Indian snowshoes. What size should I consider, as they seem to vary greatly. I am 130 lbs. Also, if I think I will be blazing my own trails along with regular packed trails, would bearpaw style be better than the “tennis raquet” style?
    Thanks,
    Sara

  23. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Sara – I’m super sorry, but to be honest, we are not familiar at all with the traditional wooden snowshoes. I would hate to even take a guess :) I would however suggest asking the folks at snowshoe.com, they are the wooden snowshoe experts!

    Happy Snowshoeing

  24. Em says:

    hi, I’m looking for some shoes but looking for help on the size.
    I am 5’9″ female, 155 pounds. Mostly going to be using to supplement running on the snowiest days, so probably not carrying much of anything.
    Also, do you have brands that you absolutely love or brands that I should stay away from?

  25. Megan says:

    Hello. I am interested in buying snowshoes for myself and my husband. There are looks of woods in the neighborhood we live in so they would be used for more leisurely winter walks, probably not much mountain hiking.

    I am between 125-135 female and he is around 170-185. Which size would you recommend? Do I have to be women specific shoes?

    THANKS!

  26. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Em – your size would be perfect for a standard 8×25 size. Are you running on your snowshoes? or just snowshoeing instead of running? If you’re running, I’d highly suggest considering a pair of running snowshoes, Atlas’ and Crescent Moon are my fav’s, or if you are just going out snowshoeing, I’d look at Atlas, Tubbs and Crescent Moon. All great brands with many price and feature options. Have a great time!

  27. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Megan – sounds like you would need an 8×25 and your husband could use a 9×30. Those should work great for you both. As far as women’s specific go, no, you don’t have to have a women’s specific snowshoe. The main differences are in the binding (they are narrower for smaller feet) and sometimes they are not quite as wide so you can take more natural strides. And color :) Either a unisex or a women’s will work great.

    Enjoy!

  28. Diana says:

    Hi,
    i weigh196 pounds and 614 feet tall, and i’m looking for snowshoes that would be used for fun, but not used on trails. I walk mostly in the country on flat fields.
    I currently have Faber 28inch snowshoes (23x77cm), but every time i use them i sink in at least 3/4 of a foot into the snow.

    Do you have any suggestions on what kind i should get? I bought my last ones at Canadian Tire but i’m just not sure if I bought the right ones for me.

    Thanks!

  29. Roxanne says:

    Hi,
    My two children have been using snowshoes during their after school program and love it! I would like to turn this into a family activity. What size snowshoes would you recommend for my husband and myself? I am 5’5″ and weigh 160 lbs. My husband is 6’1″ and weighs about 170 lbs. We’ll probably just be trekking around the bike trail (unplowed in winter) that runs through our town and “easy” places like that to start. Thanks for the help!
    Roxanne

  30. Kristy says:

    I have a pair of Yukon Series 930 mens snowshoes. Can my husband who is 300lbs. use these snowshoes

  31. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Diana – That’s a tricky one in some cases. If you came to us with no back story at all, we would steer you toward a 9×30 snowshoe (which is bigger, but not much than what you have now). It sounds like you are walking in untouched snow and it must be fairly light (dry) snow, so if that is the case, you might want to consider a 10×36. The best thing to do would be to rent them first to see if you like them and if they work for your needs. That way you don’t need to spend another $100 to $250 on a new pair only to feel disappointed again. I would consider keeping your other pair though vs selling them as you may find yourself in situations where you will want a smaller snowshoe (more packed trails, wetter snow, etc).

    Hope that helps, we would love to hear how the 10×36 works out for you if you try those!

    Have a great day.

  32. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Rozanne – That’s great that your kids have been able to enjoy snowshoeing as part of an after school program! Very cool. I think you will find snowshoeing to be a really fun family activity, especially if your kids already love it!

    Size wise, I would suggest the following based on what you wrote:

    For you, I’d look at a womens 8×25 snowshoe and for your husband, I would suggest a 9×30. Those sizes should work great for both of you on the bike trails, etc.

    Have a great time out there!

  33. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    Hi Kristy –

    Good question. The answer will depend on a few additional factors. Technically, yes, the 9×30 can work for your husband, but only if you are snowshoeing on fairly wet snow and either decently traveled or somewhat compressed (sun’s been shining and melting it a bit) conditions. If the snow is deep and dry, I would suggest a 10×36 size. That will do a better job for him.

    Hope that helps a bit!

  34. April says:

    A local store has snowshoes on sale right now and I believe they are 25″. Would they work for me (5’4″ 155 lbs) and my boyfriend (6’0 170 lbs). We would probably be using them on trails or packed snow.

  35. eSnowshoes.com Team says:

    HI April – The 25″ snowshoes will work great for you, although they might be a little small for your boyfriend. He’s in the weight range, but at 6’0 they might be a little tiny. He’ll be right on the edge though, so you might be just fine. If you stick to the packed snow and trails, no problem at all :)

    Have a great week!

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