Snowshoe Shapes Explained

Why do Snowshoes have so many different Shapes? While snowshoes have the same general properties, snowshoe shapes vary greatly between the different manufacturers. Here’s a run down of the basic philosophies and benefits of each shape.

Snowshoes have made a lot of progress since the old days! Traditionally, snowshoes were large and oval, but now the size has been reduced and the shapes are more streamlined, but still the snowshoes all have very different shapes.

There are two main shapes of snowshoes:

  • Rounded Tails
  • Pointed Tails

So what’s the difference?

The rounded tails (like Tubbs, Yuba, Sherpa, Atlas and some Redfeather snowshoes) are designed to give you maximum flotation and stability. By having a rounded tail, the snowshoe is more balanced and has more surface area to keep you “on top” of the snow. The disadvantage to the rounded tail is the loss of maneuverability. With the rounded tails, it is easier to trip on your snowshoe tails as you are walking since there is so much snowshoe in the way. Your stride has to be widened a bit more and can make it more difficult for some people (especially people with shorter legs!).

The other option is the pointed tail (like Redfeather and Crescent Moon snowshoes). The pointed tail is designed to make the walking process much easier. By cutting some of the snowshoe off of the tails, you can take more natural strides without having to worry about tripping on your snowshoes. Your legs can be closer together, more like a normal walking position. The disadvantage to the pointed tail is the loss of some flotation in deeper snow. They are also not quite as stable at the rounded tails, but if you have good balance, you won’t notice the difference.

Crescent Moon has taken the matter even further by introducing the first tear dropped shaped snowshoes. They are skinnier and longer than most. This provides you with a great deal of maneuverability while still giving you maximum flotation.

So what’s best for you?

That depends on what you plan to do with your snowshoes. Many people have more than one pair of snowshoes for different kinds of conditions. The choice is up to you as both designs have their positive and negative aspect