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Which budget snowshoes are best?

Snowshoes have made an impressive resurgence over the last few decades thanks to a modern makeover where they were redesigned to accommodate recreational use. 

This timeless activity is simple to learn, thoroughly enjoyable and provides safe, easy access to stunning winter landscapes. And when it comes to outdoor hobbies, it’s inexpensive.

With that in mind, there are a few budget-friendly options you should consider when you’re seeking an affordable yet useful pair of snowshoes. None provide as much bang for your buck as the Retrospec Drifter. These snowshoes share the overall quality and preferable features of their more costly competition but without the steep price tag.

What to know before buying budget snowshoes

Before purchasing just any pair of affordable snowshoes, there are a few important things to keep in mind. 


Generally speaking, budget snowshoes work best on flat or slightly rolling terrain. If you want a pair of snowshoes that have the features needed to handle more rugged and mountainous ground, you’ll likely see an increase in the price. If your immediate goal is to challenge yourself with more difficult trails and terrain, look for something more substantial that can meet your adventurous needs. 

Shapes and sizes

Take time to review the various shape, length and width options for snowshoes. Often, snowshoes are categorized by weight and it’s important to find the set that accommodates you specifically. Sizes that go by weight are usually presented in the product description. 

In other cases, size becomes a factor based on the specifics of the snowshoeing activity and the consistency of the snow or ice on the ground. You should therefore read the specifications of each product to make sure that the model purchased will meet your needs and environment. 

Snowshoe accessories

Snowshoes are unique not only in design, dimensions and construction, but also in how they are packaged and presented. Some snowshoes have a set of poles or a convenient carrying bag while others may not. Depending on your needs, you may decide that it’s worth spending a  few more dollars to get all the required accessories. 

What to look for in quality budget snowshoes

Considering that snowshoes come in a wide variety, it is imperative to know precisely what to look for when trying to optimize quality and affordability.


Durability is something that you should not ignore. Not only do you want to get the most out of your product for as long as you can, but you also want to avoid any potential for injury.  

Quality snowshoes utilize sturdy, tough and capable materials that can withstand extreme temperature or impacts. They should also have an impressive amount of flexibility, as is generally required for optimal movement.


Poorly crafted snowshoes add to the likelihood of experiencing muscle soreness and fatigue after a long hike in the snow. Weight distribution, maneuverability and ergonomics are all factors that should influence your decision. Make sure the snowshoes allow for unrestricted movement so you’re less likely to feel soreness or pain later on. 

Straps and fastens 

It takes time to become accustomed to the various adjustments required for putting on or taking off your budget snowshoes. This can become quite an inconvenience, particularly when you’re trying to make adjustments to your snowshoes in cold and snowy conditions. 

Try to find a pair of snowshoes that are easy to attach and remove, specifically ones with quick-release fasteners. You should be able to determine the specific closure methods by reviewing the product imagery and descriptions from the manufacturer. 

Additionally, it’s a great idea to practice how to put on and take off your snowshoes indoors. That way you won’t have to become acquainted with the fasteners and straps in harsher conditions with numb fingers.

How much you can expect to spend on budget snowshoes

Budget snowshoes vary in price depending on materials, features and size. Generally speaking, you can anticipate spending between $60-$110 on a good quality pair of budget-friendly snowshoes. 

Budget snowshoes FAQ

How long should my snowshoes be?

A. Snowshoe length is directly related to body weight. Most brands will give you a sizing chart so you can find the right fit for your weight. For example, if you’re 150 pounds or lighter you will want to find something between 21-24 inches long. If you’re more than 250 pounds, you’ll likely need a pair of snowshoes 30-35 inches long.

What are the typical components of contemporary snowshoes?

A. Each modern snowshoe consists of an outer frame that is built with aluminum tubing or an enduring, composite plastic. This is fastened to the deck and outlines its shape, holding all parts in place and providing the support that you need.   

  • The deck is the area built between the frame and your actual foothold. Today it consists of a full panel constructed from strong plastic or other synthetic materials. Decking is necessary for function and design, providing you with ergonomics and support.
  • Bindings are fixed to the deck for the purpose of properly fastening the snowshoe to your foot. There are different types of bindings, ranging from a basic strap that allows more movement, to a full step-in system that is more secure and geared towards difficult terrains.   
  • Lastly, the crampons on the bottom function a lot like baseball, soccer, or football cleats; they effectively grip the snow and ice, digging like sharp, metallic teeth into uneven ground, inclines, and other comparably tricky spots. The crampons are what truly differentiate snowshoes from other athletic, winter footwear.

What are the best budget snowshoes to buy?

Top budget snowshoes

Retrospec Drifter

Retrospec Drifter 

What you need to know: The Retrospec Drifter offers the conveniences and features you’ll need for a great day on the snowy trail. They have a durable, almost flawless construction and are a perfect option for good-quality, budget snowshoes.

What you’ll love: The double-ratchet binding system makes for easy removal and fastening. It has a lightweight alloy frame with polyethylene decking to give you unparalleled support. Lastly, the floating pivot system and built-in heel lifters help handle steeper terrain without slowing a person down or wearing out their legs. 

What you should consider: If you’re hoping for a new set of poles as well, you will be required to make the purchase separately, which is not always the case with other budget snowshoes.  

Where to buy: Amazon

Top budget snowshoes for the money

Franklin Sports Arctic Trails

Franklin Sports Arctic Trails

What you need to know: While these are not as high in overall quality as competitors, they are the best snowshoes for a tight budget.

What you’ll love: The heavy duty, rotating aluminum crampons provide significant traction, particularly when descending gently sloped terrain. Furthermore, the lightweight, aircraft grade aluminum frame is comfortable and durable. 

What you should consider: Some consumers felt these snowshoes break down more easily even from general wear and tear. 

Where to buy: Macy’s and Amazon

Worth checking out 

Carryown Xtreme

Carryown Xtreme

What you need to know: Although pricier than the competition, you can adjust the height of these snowshoes to accommodate different users and terrains. Plus, they come with trekking poles.

What you’ll love: The upgraded, double-ratchet bindings allow you to adjust the snowshoe to any footwear for a secure and comfortable fit. They also have a TPE heel strap which provides incomparable support.

What you should consider: Though these snowshoes may seem surprisingly cheap, there is a significant price increase if you need to go up a size. 

Where to buy: Amazon


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Michael Joffe writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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