Best Snowshoes for 14ers
If you’re hiking or climbing 14ers in winter months here in Colorado, snowshoes are often a necessity. The Rocky Mountains are blanketed in a thick layer of snow, sometimes into June or July. Especially for areas below tree-line, a good pair of snowshoes will help you stay above the snow and avoid post-holing (sinking into the up to your knee, thigh or waist). A lot of people new to the mountains ask me what I think are the best snowshoes for 14ers. Here’s a few things to consider, along with my four recommended options.
How to Pick the Best Snowshoes for 14ers
When picking a pair of snowshoes for 14ers, you want to consider a few important things. First, look for a pair that has good traction with crampons or teeth to help you keep your balance on steep, slick slopes. Second, you want a pair that includes a heel lift. They save you a ton of tension on your leg muscles during uphill sections. Third, lighter snowshoes are best, though they often come with a premium price. Finally, consider the binding types, as more expensive options are more comfortable than others. The best showshoes for 14ers meet all these requirements.
The Four Best Snowshoes for 14ers: My Picks
The best showshoes for 14ers are all called backcountry snowshoes. They have all the features you need to stay afloat in deep mountain snow. I think the best snowshoes for 14ers are all made by MSR and Tubbs, two of the best makers of mountaineering and outdoor recreation gear. I walk through each of the four options below.
The Revo Ascent snowshoes are a relatively newly released pair of snowshoes, a significant improvement to the Evo Ascent shoes they replace. With good crampon teeth and a better binding system than their predecessor, they’re a great first pair of snowshoes that work great for any 14er. Their biggest downside is their weight, which is a big heavy thanks to their durable plastic construction. I wouldn’t use these for extremely long treks where that weight becomes a burden, but they’re great for short day trips.
Tubbs is another great snowshoe brand that has several contenders for the best showshoes for 14ers. Their Alp backcountry snowshoes have a flexible design that’s supposed to provide better stability and balance on the snow. A touch crampon and heel-rest also help for steep hiking and climbing up the high peaks. They’re a bit lighter than the Revo Ascent but aren’t the lightest option either.
When it comes to the best snowshoes for 14ers, there’s no better option than the MSR Lightning Ascent. With the same grip and features as the Evo Ascent, the Lightning version is made with a lightweight carbon material that cuts significant weight from these snowshoes. This makes the going much easier for more technical and extreme adventures. These are simply the best snowshoes for 14ers, though they’re also the most expensive.
Tubbs produces a number of different snowshoe options. Their Flex VRT shoes are made with a special DynamicFit binding that provides more comfortable support using an air cushion. It’s slightly more expensive than their ALP model but is better for technical situations thanks to their advanced binding features. It’s a good choice for mid-length trips up steep slopes.
Consider Optional Add-Ons Like Flotation Tails
Once you have a good pair of snowshoes, consider if you need anything else to make the most of them. For example, snowshoeing is much easier with trekking or ski poles, especially if you’re just getting started. If you’re on the heavier side, you may also want to buy a flotation tail. These are small plastic sections you can add to the end of your snowshoes to increase their surface area, providing you even more flotation in especially loose snow. There are also storage bags and systems for securing your snowshoes to your backpack.
Enjoy a Winter Hike with the Best Snowshoes for 14ers
There are a lot of great snowshoes out there for hiking and climbing in the Colorado backcountry. When picking out a pair of the best snowshoes for 14ers, you should pick an option that has crampons and traction, a heel-lift, and good bindings. Regular snowshoes are cheaper, but will not provide the traction you need on steep mountain slopes. These four options here are just a few of the many snowshoes available online, but they’re all a solid choice for the fourteeners. I hope you enjoyed this gear review on the best snowshoes for 14ers. Save travels on the trail!
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About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.
best snowshoes for 14ers