Using snowshoes to backpack in the winter!
Using snowshoes to backpack in the winter!

Snowshoeing is a wonderful winter outdoor activity to enjoy the beauty of the wilderness in the most majestic time of the year.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you must give it a try.

Snowshoeing is how I “hike” in the winter and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of snow covered landscapes.

Snowshoe Shopping tips

  • Figure out what weight the snowshoes can support. Snowshoes are designed to carry specific loads (you and your pack) over snow. The level of your “flotation” will vary with different snow conditions, but you should make sure that the weight specifications are suitable for your body weight and anything else you carry with you (ie, a backpack with your 10 Essentials, extra clothing layers, food, water, etc.) Some snowshoes have attachable “tails”, which you can add on if you are taking a heavier backpack with you on your snowshoe adventure.
  • Where do you plan to go snowshoeing? If you plan to spend the majority of your time on relatively flat terrain, then you don’t need some of the bells and whistles that some higher end snowshoes have. However, if you are like me and enjoy snowshoeing up and down steep slopes, look for a pair with a heel lifter. It will greatly reduce the strain on your calves as you head up hills. Also, if you are going to be in icier, steeper conditions, make sure the “crampons” on the bottom of the snowshoe grip well.
  • Women’s specific snowshoes. Snowshoe manufacturers are finally realizing that women have narrower feet than men and shorter strides. Therefore, they have decided to design a few women’s snowshoes that are specially designed to be narrower and lighter.
  • Easy access bindings. Look for snowshoes that have step-on bindings that open wide so you can easily slip your boots in and strap in and begin your day of fun. Fumbling with tricky bindings is not how I like to spend my winter mornings.

Hiking Lady’s Favorite Snowshoes:

Women's MSR Lightning Ascent 25 SnowshoesWomen’s MSR Lightning Ascent 25 Snowshoes: I love these snowshoes! I’ve used them in the local Southern California mountains and in Yosemite. If you’re looking for bells and whistles, this pair has it. They are super light weight (you’ll be thankful of this after a day of snowshoeing!), have excellent crampons, a heel lift (MSR calls it the “Televator”), and they’re designed specifically for women. In the past I’ve always had unisex snowshoes, and have wondered why they feel so bulky and why I have had to force my stride to be much wider than comfortable. One of my friends bought these Lightning Ascents last season and when she let me borrow them I loved them so much I decided that this year I was going to buy myself a pair.

MSR Denali Evo Ascent SnowshoesMSR Denali Evo Ascent Snowshoes: These snowshoes are technically men’s, but I’ve used them in the past and have several female friends who use them. The main benefit of these compared to the MSR Lightning Ascents is that you can add on “tails”, so if you want to go backpacking, you can simply snap on a tail and it will be able to handle the extra weight. They are heavier than the Lightning Ascents, but are less expensive and still highly durable.


MSR Denali Tyker SnowshoesMSR Denali Tyker Snowshoes: For the kiddies! ๐Ÿ™‚

How I Store & Transport My Snowshoes:

MSR Snowshoe BagMSR Snowshoe Bag: Since my Lightning Ascents have excellent traction, it also means they tend to snag on everything in the car and my closet. So I bought this bag and my snowshoes fit in perfectly, plus I can slip my trekking poles in the straps along the side.


After a long day of snowshoeing, my legs and feet are tired! Two things that I recommend:

Happy trails!

Back to Hiking 101


  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Heather,
    I’ve never had any damage to my boots from using snowshoes. I think the ridges on the back of boots you’re referring to are for crampons…I have a pair of mountaineering boots I wear with crampons for hiking mountains in extremely icy conditions.
    Hope that helps!

  2. Heather says:

    I’m worried that the snowshoe binding straps will damage my hiking boot (wear at the boot upper). I’m wondering if i should get specific winter boots with snowshoe binding strap ridges on the back

  3. Cynthia says:

    Thank you so much! I will check out the kamik sutton boots. It will be a choice between those and a pair of asolo 70 waterproof boots. Have a great weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Cynthia!

    Thanks for the compliment ๐Ÿ™‚ Yep, you definitely can use your hiking poles for snowshoeing. You’ll want to get a pair of snow baskets for your trekking poles if you don’t have some already.

    As far as boots, the Merrell Moabs are great (super comfortable!!), but not great for snowshoeing. They have way too much mesh…although they are “waterproof”, that means that rain should bead up and not get inside. Even with a pair of good snow gaiters on, snow will likely permeate the mesh on those Moabs. Therefore, I’d highly recommend that you wear a pair of leather hiking boots or a pair like these Kamik Sutton winter boots. Your feet may get a bit hot in boots like the Sutton that are lined with synthetic fur depending on where you go snowshoeing. I typically wear leather boots that I protect with Sno Seal.

    Have fun out there!

  5. Cynthia says:

    Can I use hiking poles for snowshoeing? Also, can I use my Merrill Moab waterproof hiking boots for snowshoeing? In your response to Martha, you recommend full leather hiking boots or winter boots. BTW this site rocks! It is my go to site for everything hiking related and then some!

  6. Lucas Meadows says:

    I have to say that for the last few of hours i have been hooked by the impressive articles on this site. Keep up the good work.

  7. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Martha! great question. If you own a pair of full leather hiking boots (no mesh), you can use a product like Tectron Sno Seal to waterproof them and then they’ll be great for snowshoeing. If you own winter boots, then definitely wear those! They’ll keep your feet drier and warmer. Be sure to wear a pair of snow gaiters to keep snow out of your boots!

  8. Martha says:

    Thanks for your inspirational site. What type of boots do you recommend for snowshoeing? Are hiking boots OK, or should I wear winter boots? Thanks for any suggestions!

  9. Hiking Lady says:

    Wow you’re so lucky! 20 inches of snow sounds like IDEAL snowshoeing conditions! Enjoy it while it lasts and stay warm ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Activechic says:

    Last weekend MN got 20 inches of snow again!!! This has been a GREAT winter for snowshoeing in MN :). 5 hrs Sat and 6 hrs Sunday!!!

    Only thing I don’t have – is a bag to carry my shoes in… wd40 comes in handy too, for when the shoes get squeeky ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Love your site!!

  11. Geogreen says:

    Awesome timing… with a fresh 2″ of snow here in Minnesota, this has been on my mind lately. I have been wanting to get started snowshoeing.

  12. Random Walker says:

    MSR has updated their snowshoe line this season with some great innovations! Could well be time to upgrade your Ascents there Hiking Lady ;-]

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