I have old snowshoes which were fine for hiking in TGO when I was younger, but they are too large now for comfortable walking in TLO (The Little Outdoors), by which I mean walking up and down an unplowed 300 foot driveway and stomping down snow to make a firm surface for birdseed to supplement the birdfeeders. We expect a snowy winter here, which means a lot of trips down to my car at the bottom of the driveway and up with mail, groceries and other stuff. I also want the snowshoes to be very easy to put on and take off.

What features should I look for in a snowshoe that is adequate for the tasks described above? I am 5'9", weigh 135 pounds and am unusually strong for my age, which I am not going to tell you. However, I am not strong enough to enjoy postholing down a long driveway or to stomp down the driveway comfortably in my old 30 inch long Sherpa snowshoes, which are a pain to put on.

The logical question is "why not get the driveway plowed?" It may come to that, but I would prefer not to, mainly because I do not want to drive down and up a steep, narrow, icy driveway with a 15 foot drop on one side and because, well, because. Also, a plow really messes up a gravel driveway.

Addendum to make Q more TGO-ish: Such a snowshoe would be useful for hiking on snowy trails for people who do not want to manipulate (pedipulate?) large snowshoes. I'd probably use them to take short hikes in Great Falls National Park or on the trails at Scott's Run and Difficult Run.


At your weight and height I would look for 23" snowshoes. When in doubt about size, it is usually best to lean toward the small size. Smaller snow shoes are easier to walk in, particularly in wetter or crustier snow. For powder you can easily attach floats to the back of the snowshoe to make it bigger and more supportive.

MSR makes nice ones. Particularly the Revo, with metal teeth on the sides and bottoms for better grip.


A lot depends on the type of snow you get. Ojibwa regarded snowshoes as 'disposable' You made them for the current conditions, used them for a week or a month, or a winter, and threw them away.

Heavy wet snow, like you get in Eastern Canada, you can get by with a small snowshoe. The 30" x 8" sherpas are just fine.

Out here in western Canada when I weighed 150 pounds, I used 60" x 12" Faber ojibwa style snowshoes. And many times I wished for 72's. Even with that size, I would sink in over a foot. OTOH I've done orienteering in plastic 18" snowshoes when we had about 8 inches of snow. No floatation at all, but it bridged the gopher mounds and sticks, gave me grip crossing beaver ponds, and saved a lot of wear and tear on my ankles.

Wet snow allows you to use a coarse mesh: Dry snow needs a finer mesh. Sugar snow is the worst.

If you are using traditional ash and rawhide (babiche) and are using them in wet snow, pay attention to the varnishing. They should be done in spar varnish (more flexible, breathes) not a hard varnish. In dry snow you don't care.

If you are buying used snowshoes check the bottom side for wear, either on the neoprene for modern ones, or partially broken babiche on traditional ones.

Opinion here:

I don't think a smaller snowshoe will help. Your present ones may be a pain, but they are at least packing a trail for you. Generally I've found that going over a trail twice will leave a trail that will set overnight. You will get a better trail if you have 2 people go over it twice, or if you haul a sled. Sled can be empty. It just smooths out the bumps.

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