how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips

Choose the right snowshoes

Want to venture out into the great outdoors in winter? To enjoy the snow without skiing? Then get yourself some snowshoes, and check out our tips for choosing the right ones.

When you like being outdoors, you want to be able <link href="/contents/880e7949-58d9-4fe4-9b52-b6faef87b695">to choose the right equipment </link>to enjoy it to the full. Do you know what matters when choosing your snowshoes? The most important thing is to feel confident, with showshoes that let you enjoy great hikes in safety. And to find this little gem, nothing beats following these tips on how to choose your snowshoes. Follow the guide!


Snowshoes were born from necessity: to get around more easily on snow, without sinking in with every step. Particularly widely used in frequently snowy areas, in the Far North, snowshoes were traditionally made from wood, the only material able to withstand temperatures of less than 0°. In Canada, wooden snowshoes are still used.

There are a much wider range of snowshoes available today! There are aluminium snowshoes, which are known as "tubular snowshoes". They’re light, perfect for wide, flat spaces and very deep layers of fresh snow. They also come in plastic, more durable, perfect for more rugged terrain, hilly and steep, like the Alps here in France. These are the most widely used.

Snowshoes can be classified according to the following three materials:

1. Wooden snowshoes

2. Plastic snowshoes

3. Aluminium snowshoes

how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips


To fully understand your snowshoes, and therefore choose the right ones, it’s important to get to know them properly. Here are the components of a snowshoe:

1. the deck

The deck is the part under your foot. It's like an extension of the sole of your shoe, but designed for snow-covered ground. Its purpose is to provide you with grip. The more you weigh, the wider the deck will be to keep you on the surface of the snow and prevent your feet from sinking.

2. the heel lift

The heel lift is a removable part that raises your heel so that it is more or less horizontal when you are going up a slope. It’s used in steep climbs to reduce the effect of the slope and thus reduce the effort required. Snowshoes fitted with a heel lift make walking up slopes easier and more comfortable. So you'll need one if you're taking paths that require a lot of climbing, and you don't want to be completely exhausted at the end of your outing.

3. the crampons

There are several types of crampon. As their name suggests, toe crampons are located at the front of your foot, underneath your toes. They provide good grip in snow when climbing. Some snowshoes also have them under the decking, to grip when the terrain is steeper or the snow harder. Side rails, which can be added to certain snowshoe models but are included with Quechua snowshoes, provide extra stability on slopes and downhill runs.

4. the bindings

Oh, the bindings! Without it, there’d be no snowshoeing outings. The bindings are an essential part of your snowshoes. They will enable you to become one with your snowshoe (a bit like the bindings on downhill skis, cross-country skis or snowboards). This is where you'll find the straps that you can use to adjust the snowshoes so that they fit to your shoes. When they are well adjusted, you can walk naturally and feel at ease on both fresh and hard snow.

how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips
How to choose your snowshoes

Range of prices for snowshoes

There are a number of different brands and ranges of snowshoes to suit all winter sport enthusiasts.

Quechua's entry-level model costs €65 for adults, but there are also other brands available for as much as €250 for the most technical models. If you compare the various snowshoe brands, such as Quechua, TSL, Evvo, etc. you'll find slightly different designs, but the basic functions remain much the same, even if the levels of technicality can vary greatly.

That's it, you know everything about snowshoes and their construction. Shall we help you find the one that best suits you now?


Snowshoes are designed so that everyone can use them and have fun. So women's models generally have a thinner decking and lighter frame to adapt to the female body shape. The bindings are also suited to thinner, smaller feet. Children's snowshoes have lighter bindings, are a suitable length and generally have more of a fun, cool look.

In any case, even if snowshoe models differ according to weight and morphology, they are designed to be used by different people because they have adjustable and easy-to-use bindings.

Are children’s snowshoes really any different from adults ones?

Just like adult’s snowshoes, children’s snowshoes must provide good grip. But they also need to accommodate children's boundless energy and tendency to run absolutely everywhere! Children's snowshoes have lighter bindings, are a suitable length and generally have more of a fun, cool look.

Quechua has designed some really clever, innovative and easy-to-use snowshoes to cope with children's high energy levels and to make sure they feel really comfortable while walking.

Children’s snowshoes need to be lightweight if they are going to be able to walk on snow as well as on solid ground (they don't want to feel like they’re wearing lead boots!). That’s why the Easy JR snowshoes (and the equivalent model for adults!) have an EVA-foam deck. This material is used in the soles of sports shoes. The spikes are integrated into the sole, and you can add four metal tips to them. It's a single piece of foam that's both super-strong and super-flexible so that you can walk naturally (and kids can be kids and run around).

The tightening mechanism is also child friendly. Made up of two hook and loop straps, the tightening system couldn't be simpler or more fun for children to use! What's more, this tightening system has a preset buckle, making it easier to adjust the back strap.

Also, this model doesn’t have any steel toe crampons, so it is safe for children to handle them and learn to put them on on their own.

Finally, to help your children to become independent and to do everything like the older ones do, the designers and engineers on the Quechua design team have added markings to the front of the snowshoe so that your child can position their foot in the snowshoe quickly and easily.

The Quechua Easy snowshoes have been adapted for adults, with three hook and look fastenings and larger sizes. They're an excellent choice for beginners who are looking for an easy way of enjoying the snow and who’d like to go for simple walks in the snow.

2. How to choose the right length – the right size: select snowshoes according to your weight

Like skis, snowshoes have to support your weight and offer lift on snow, so you don’t sink in too far. And like skis, the principle is simple: the greater the weight, the longer the snowshoe should be, each one being designed to be effective for a given weight range. Also, the greater your weight, the wider the deck will be so that it can provide you with enough support.

Models are generally classified as follows:

how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips

Our advice on buying the right snowshoes for your weight

As you can see, the most important factor in choosing a snowshoe is your weight (and the size of your boots). Even though women's feet tend to be smaller and thinner than men’s on average, some women will find they are more suited to snowshoes with larger decks, and some men may be more suited to the medium or small decks. The most important thing is to choose snowshoes that are the right size for your weight, so that they give you the best support on the snow.

Remember that you may also be carrying a backpack filled with equipment, so take this additional weight into account when choosing your pair of snowshoes. If you turn the problem on its head, you may also need to carry your snowshoes on your backpack for a while as you search for the perfect trail for snowshoeing. If you're hiking for a long time or over several days, lightweight snowshoes are preferable (aluminium snowshoes, for example). And if you don't have room in or on your backpack to carry your snowshoes, you could use removable snowshoe holders that clip onto the top of your usual hiking backpack.

What size snowshoe should I choose?

Snowshoes are generally available in a range of sizes, meaning that one snowshoe will fit several shoe sizes. They’re also adjustable. This means they fit to the many different models of hiking boots on the market! And above all, two shoes that are the same size but that have different designs may take up a different amount of space in the snowshoe depending on the model.

In general, you'll find snowshoes that fit a range of between 7 and 11 sizes, for example snowshoes in sizes 35 to 41, or 36 to 46, depending on the brand. If the deck is larger, the snowshoes will be able to accommodate larger shoe sizes. Some brands also use the well-known sizing system: "S" for "small", "M" for "medium" and "L" for "large".""

Finally, snowshoes labelled "junior" or "child" come in very small sizes, such as 30, which corresponds more or less to the average shoe size of children aged around seven years old.

how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips

3. Choosing the right snowshoes for your level of activity

Depending on your terrain, and the quality of the snow, you'll choose snowshoes with decks, with or without heel lifts, and so on. For example, not all decks provide the same level of grip on the snow – it all depends on whether the snow is packed, fresh or frozen! By the way, if you aren’t used to assessing the state of snow, read our advice on how to read snow – it could come in handy!

So, which snowshoes should you choose for your terrain? Let’s find out:

How to choose your snowshoes for hiking

In strolling mode, on flat or hilly terrain

When walking near the chalet, on flat or hilly terrain, you’ll need easy-to-use snowshoes with normal lift. In terms of traction, you should have enough that you can tackle gentle slopes safely, but you don't need extreme grip.

Walking or hiking snowshoes, without a heel lift, would be perfect. A small claw at the front, a strap attachment with rip-tab tightening for ease of use are the things you need to look for. It's the ideal snowshoe for beginners or occasional outings, easy to use and affordable for all budgets.

In terms of the deck, these snowshoes are generally wide enough for you to walk easily in all types of snow.

how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips

What are the best snowshoes for adventurous mountaineering in powdery snow?

Are you looking to go on a mountain adventure that involves defying gravity and soaring down powdery slopes? If so, you'll need snowshoes that are a little more technical for deep, powdery snow and rugged terrain with a steep gradient. If you are to get a good grip and traction, heel lifts are a must, and you’ll need crampons underneath the snowshoes, toe and heel crampons, and potentially side rails, which are already included on Quechua snowshoes.

And if you're a fan of powdery snow, you can get snowshoes with a wider deck that will give you greater buoyancy, both uphill and downhill. Wide decks are also effective on soft snow. But greater width also means a little more weight under your foot.

how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips

3. What type of snowshoes should I use for running?

You can even get snowshoes designed specifically for running, whether for competition or for those who simply like to up the pace a little. Intended for flat, groomed terrain, these snowshoes are in no way made to float in powder... Yes, there's a snowshoe for every type of snow! But these lightweight snowshoes will make all the difference over time. They're also short and narrow, so they follow your strides as you run and enable you to work hard on the snow without wearing yourself out. Isn't that great??

how to choose your snowshoes, quechua snow hiking tips


Whatever your preferences, whether an introductory walk or an adventure in the great outdoors, remember to stay safe. For that, there's nothing better than setting off with a professional mountain guide. For example, ask for the services of a guide or a mountain leader (you can find them at the guide office or via the tourist office), who can show you incredible routes while keeping you safe, and give you advice on how to continue your hike. Some of them are real storytellers, well-versed in the science of the natural world around them. They'll be able to explain the subtleties of the snow and snowshoeing, and take you on trails where there are mountain animals.

BONUS: is it worth buying poles for snowshoeing?

Beginner snowshoers often forget them but poles are an invaluable aid on uneven terrain. They give you greater stability and prevent you from falling downhill and ending up as a snowman at the bottom of the slope.

If you already own a pair of poles for hiking on snow-free terrain, you'll be able to use them on snow as long as you change the washers for a wider model. Otherwise, you won't have poles but a probe that will cut through the snow until it hits a harder obstacle. And that’s not the goal.

If you don't have any yet, take a look at our article <link href="/contents/09c68c0f-86de-443c-a58c-0eb11c66623b" target="_blank">on choosing your hiking poles.

In summary, to choose your snowshoes:

  • Start by finding the right size to match your weight

  • then find the right compromise for a snowshoe that can take you safely on the terrain you use at your own pace

  • don’t forget your poles, essential for improved stability, because without them, there’s no snowshoeing

How to choose your snowshoes

Snowshoe use in a nutshell:

Once you have chosen your model, it is important to follow a few rules when using your snowshoes.
1) <link href="/contents/012b75b6-fc15-4a18-804e-e04fb36439e4">Put on and adjust your snowshoes correctly</link>
2) Adapt your equipment for snowshoeing: <link href="/contents/abf6061f-2edf-47cb-a1f0-8d26147b8d0d">choose the right outfit</link> and wear <link href="/contents/a2c0536b-b289-4264-a07c-362a57461afb">warm, waterproof footwear</link>.
3) Maintain and store your snowshoes properly so that you can use them season after season. For easy, effective care, rinse your snowshoes in clean water after your outing, and leave them to dry in their own time in a dry, well-ventilated place (especially not stuck to a heat source like a fireplace or radiator!).

Now you know how to choose your snowshoes, have you thought about what you’ll wear? We have tips to help you choose that, too! And as for places to go snowshoeing, we’re always on the look-out for ideas, if you have any? A favourite hike to share?

Discover snow hiking with Quechua by Decathlon


Quechua communication team

A keen snowshoer and nature lover!


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