When snowshoeing, snowshoe size is an important factor. Snowshoes come in a variety of different sizes and selecting the right one for your needs can make snowshoeing easier or more difficult and ultimately influence how much fun you might have.
If you are snowshoeing uphill, racing, going downhill, and depending on how much snow you are hiking in, snowshoe size can play a large factor. In this article, we discuss how to pick out the perfect snowshoe size for your specific activity and needs.
Why Do Snowshoes Come in Different Lengths?
Snowshoes come in different lengths to optimize comfort with walking in the snow without sinking.
Snowshoe length is typically determined by user weight but it can also be adjusted based on snow conditions and the desired trail that you want to hike. See our information on snowshoe length based on conditions below.
Typically, the more that a person weighs, the larger you want your snowshoes to be to help keep you from sinking into the snow. The greater the size of the snowshoe, the more the surface area there is to spread out the weight of the user and prevent sinking into the snow.
What Sizes Do Snowshoes Come in?
The most common snowshoe size is between 22-27 inches long. This is a great middle-of-the-road snowshoe range to use almost any snow condition.
For lighter snowshoers, there are smaller snowshoes that can be as short as 20 inches long.
Longer snowshoes can go up to 30 inches long and is perfect for people in the 225 lbs or greater.
There are even kids snowshoes that come as small as 16-inches long and are designed for those that weigh less than 50 pounds.
For an in-depth guide on our favorite snowshoes for beginners be sure to check out this post.
How Do I Find My Snowshoe Size?
Snowshoes come in a variety of different snowshoe sizes and it can be difficult to determine which size is best for you without some research beforehand!
To do this, you can measure your snowshoe size by measuring the length of one snowshoe.
If you are planning on snowshoeing in more shallow snow conditions (less than 12 inches deep), then go with a smaller snowshoe that is 23-25 inches long.
For heavy snow conditions or for people who weigh more than 200 lbs, snowshoes that are 26-30 inches long would be perfect for you.
For snow conditions between 12 and 24 inches deep, snowshoe sizes anywhere from 27 to 30 inches will work fine.
If you have a larger weight or plan on going through deeper snow depth often then it might be best to go with snowshoes that are 30-34 inches long.
What Length of Snowshoe Should I Get?
If you are looking for leisurely hikes you’ll be fine to get snowshoes based on your weight and modifications for shoe size. However, there are some instances where you might want to change what length of snowshoe you get.
Snowshoes are Based on Weight
For snowshoeing, snowshoes are normally measured by weight. For example, a snowshoe that is 25 inches long can be used for someone who weighs between 90-125 lbs.
The size of the snowshoe will typically increase with increasing body mass or total weight (i.e., if you weigh more than 200 pounds, snowshoes of 30 inches are the appropriate length).
The snowshoe lengths can be categorized as follows:
- under 90 lbs, snowshoe is typically less than 20 in. long
- between 91 and 125 lbs., snowshoe will range from about 20 to 25 inches long
- between 125 and 200 lbs your snowshoes should range from 25 to 27 inches long
- over 200 lbs., snowshoe will be greater than 30 inches long
Are Snowshoe Sizes Based on Gender?
Snowshoes are not based on gender and most are unisex styles. However, there are some women’s specific snowshoes that have bindings that fit smaller shoe sizes.
These snowshoes are also sometimes a little bit more narrow to accommodate a smaller step width.
Functionally, there will be no difference between a women’s specific snowshoes vs a unisex snowshoe.
What Snowshoe Length is Better For Deep Snow?
If you are snowshoeing in light snow, then a shorter snowshoe will suffice for your activity.
If there is deep snow that needs to be packed down, then a longer snowshoe size can help distribute weight more evenly so it’s easier to pack the snow down.
The bigger and longer the snowshoe, the less the user will sink with each step. However, sometimes longer snowshoes are harder to maneuver and hike with so it’s best not to go too extreme in getting a bigger size.
What's the Best Snowshoe Length for Hiking Uphill?
The snowshoes that are made for uphill snowshoeing tend to be longer than snowshoes used for leisurely hiking. This is because the snow conditions (depth, consistency, etc.) can change drastically when traveling uphill compared to going down. The added length of these snowshoes makes them better distributed on your feet and more efficient to use.
In addition, look for a snowshoe that has a heel lockout to make it easier to hike uphill.
What's the Best Snowshoe Length for Racing?
For snowshoe racing, snowshoes are typically between 22-24 inches long. This length is short enough to make it easier for turning and maneuvering but still big enough to get good foot for turning and maneuvering but still big enough to get good footing in the snow.
What Size of Snowshoe is Best for Kids?
The snowshoes that are made for kids generally range from 16 inches-22 inches long.
For kids that are under 50 pounds, we typically recommend trying a 16-inch snowshoe.
For kids between 50 pounds and 100 pounds, we recommend going with 17-19 inch snowshoes.
For kids that weigh more than 100 pounds, it’s best to go with women’s specific 22-inch snowshoes that are a little more narrow and the bindings fit a smaller shoe size.
Kids snowshoeing in deep snow should use a snowshoe that doesn’t cause them to trip or walk with their legs way out to the side. This could be harmful long-term for joint health.
What's the Best Snowshoe Length for Running?
For snowshoe running, snowshoes are typically between 22-24 inches long. This length is short enough to make it easier for turning and maneuvering but still big enough to get good foot for snow running.
Snowshoes come in a variety of different snowshoe sizes and it can be difficult to determine which size is best for you without some research beforehand.
For lighter snowshoers, there are smaller snowshoes that can be as short as 20 inches long and on the extreme end, longer snowshoes can go up to 30 inches or longer.
To determine what snowshoer length is best, you should consider the snow conditions that you will be in (i.e., how deep or packed down), your gender and weight, snowshoes for snow running vs hiking, and any other trail conditions you might want to hike.