Choosing between snowshoes and grips for snow hiking: Quechua’s tips

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or spikes, what equipment is for you ?

Do you have a planned hike on snow but no suitable equipment? We can help you find the accessories you need to walk at altitude without slipping!

Snow hiking is adaptable to all tastes and is practised in all conditions, you just need to adapt your equipment depending on the terrain and type of snow. You might need snowshoes or spikes for good stability and grip on the snow. We help you choose the product suited to your needs. And if you are still unsure, don't hesitate to choose from our snow hiking shoes.

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?

How to walk in the snow?

To walk safely in the snow, it’s ideal to be equipped with shoes designed for walking on snow. These are designed to keep your feet warm and to give you a sole that grips and sticks to the snow. Shoes or boots, the choice is yours! A little additional information to help you choose the right shoes: the comfort temperatures of our snow hiking footwear are calculated in active and static conditions. If you are planning to stand in a snowy landscape: you are watching your kids ice skating for example. You won't feel the cold in the same way as if you’re active. Take a good look at the product sheet and the weather forecast before making your choice.

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?

How and why should you walk with snowshoes for a hike?

To enjoy the beauty of snowy mountain landscapes in winter, there is nothing better than a hike. But in winter, hiking in the snow is not something you can improvise. If you are in a resort, you can find out about groomed and marked routes or opt for an adventure in the powder snow, provided you are accompanied by a mountain guide. Snowshoes with their deck let you walk in fresh snow (powder) without sinking completely. The deck widens the area of weight distribution and gives you lift, so that you don't sink into the snow as much.

Safety rules: If you are going into the powder with a guide you will be equipped with specific avalanche search equipment. A pole or probe, a shovel and an avalanche transceiver (or search device) will be in your backpack. If you don't know how to use this equipment, your guide will provide you with the necessary explanations and train you. You can also take part in avalanche search training sessions organised by the rescue teams of the ski resort where you are staying. If you are also an off-piste or ski touring enthusiast you should be trained before you go.

Always follow your guide’s advice: they know the snowpack, the weather conditions, the routes and their specificities, and are responsible for your safety.

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?
Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?

How to choose the size of my snowshoes?

Choose your snowshoes according to your activity, your build and weight and not your size. At Decathlon, each deck is designed for a specific weight capacity:

Kids snow
shoes : 15 to 50 kg

Medium deck: from 40 to 75 kg

Large deck: from 60 to 90 kg
Find the perfect snowshoe for

Don't hesitate to ask for advice at your Decathlon store to choose those that will suit you best. Especially if you’re torn between 2 sizes.

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?

Which snowshoes to choose for a winter hike?

Our latest snowshoe innovation is the EASY snowshoe. We have created it specifically so you can hike easily on packed snow. Perfect for those who like to hike on well-packed trails. More flexible than classic snowshoes, they are also more discreet when the snow is hard (yes, snowshoes make noise). You will be able to run, jump or go backwards in snowshoes without any risk of falling (at least in theory).

Easy snowshoes are available in kids’ sizes and in M or L deck.

Discover the Easy snowshoe

If you’re going to hike in powder snow at several metres above sea level, choose classic snowshoes instead.

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?

How to use snowshoes in winter?

To use snowshoes you’ll need hiking shoes, ideally hiking shoes for snow that are warmer than your usual ones.

Place your foot on the deck and check that the fastening system is on the outside. Then tighten the straps to secure the snowshoe.

When to lock the snowshoes during a mountain hike?

You go for a day hike in the snow, and you follow a rather flat trail, until... you have to go up in altitude. And then the slope is steep. Fortunately, your snowshoes have been designed to accompany you everywhere and help you in your effort. They are indeed equipped with a heel lift.

Ideally, you’ve taken the time to study your route before leaving and to make sure that if you have a difference in altitude your snowshoes are equipped with a heel lift.

Snowshoes or grips, what equipment for a winter hike?

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?
Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?


If the snow is packed or frozen there is a greater risk of sliding. Adding spikes to your shoes, much like chains to car tyres, lets you walk freely without the risk of falling.

Snowshoes or grips, what equipment for a winter hike?

Snowshoes in fresh snow and more...

By increasing the contact area with the snow, that is the bearing capacity, the snowshoes stop you from sinking, particularly in powder, or when the snow layer is deep and loose. Try to walk in your boots for an hour sinking up to the knees and you will quickly realise that it's unpleasant, wet and very tiring!

On more packed snow, even frozen, snowshoes have their use as they have front crampons for grip on slippy ground. That said, they will be very noisy. If you have spikes you’ll be happy to enjoy the quiet of the snowy expanses.

Take poles even if you're going for an hour or two!

Walk with poles! They distribute your effort on the flat, support you on the climb, hold you back on the descent and help you to keep your balance on slopes. For snow hiking, poles should have wide baskets that don't sink in the snow.

even better: take adjustable poles

Poles with adjustable height are perfect for adapting their length to the height and texture of snow.

Advice on adjusting the height of your poles: take your pole by the handle and make a 90° angle with your arms (your hand should be the same height as your elbow), the tip of the pole should touch the ground. Your arm's angle should not be lower than 90° (your hand should not be higher than your elbow).

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?

Where to go walking in the snow with snowshoes?


Walking on flat ground with snowshoes is easy and pleasant. But in “rollercoaster” mode, it's good too! Even if their use has its limits on steep slopes, some snowshoes have heel lifts. These heel lifts support your activity by artificially compensating for the slope... it's practical and comfortable!

It’s fun on the way down! Hitting a slope spraying snow, racing between the fir trees... this is the reward after climbing the slope.

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?

When to go for spikes?

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?


When your chosen route is very rugged with tight forest passages, steep slopes, difficult passages with obstacles, snowshoes will more often hinder you than help. The same is true if there are sections of the hike with paved roads. So go for spikes for freedom and flexibility!

Hiking on snow: snowshoes or snow spikes?


You're walking on a well packed trail with shady and sunny areas, forest sections... The ground can be slippy only in certain places. Spikes are easy to use and you can decide when you need them!

When to go for spikes?


Whether you decide to go hiking off piste or on a marked trail, get details well in advance about the weather, the ground type and topology so you are equipped appropriately.

How do you care for your snowshoes and spikes?

Whether you’ve invested in a pair of snowshoes or spikes, you want to keep them in good condition for as long as possible. The good news is that with a few simple steps and almost no equipment you can maintain them.

After your outings, resist the urge to bang one snowshoe against the other to get the snow off. Yes, it's effective, but it can damage them, especially if they’re old and the plastic has become brittle. Instead, use a brush, such as those found on windscreen scrapers for example. It stays in your car to remove snow from it and your walking gear. Then dry the metal parts of your snowshoes or spikes with a dry cloth. This will slow down the rust on the metal and stop your boot getting wet.

Finally, don’t store your equipment in the boot of your car. Large temperature changes can weaken the plastic. You should look for a dry place (better to avoid the cellar) and temperate place to keep your snowshoes and spikes between uses. If you still have their cover, it's even better!

A little more information about rust:

With your snowshoes and spikes you walk on snow and sometimes on areas that have been salted to avoid ice formation. Salt is abrasive and may facilitate the appearance of rust on the metal parts of your equipment. This is almost inevitable and on snowshoes and spikes it won’t diminish the technical performance of the equipment (unless it’s really old). So the aim is to slow down the onset of rust rather than to prevent it completely.


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Whether with spikes or snowshoes, snow hiking adapts to all levels, all terrains and all tastes! Enjoy yourself by always being careful and forward-looking. So, what will be your snow hiking destination this winter?

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Hiking enthusiast, especially in the snow