One of the oldest forms of snow travel is still one of the most versatile, whether you're running groomed trails, exploring the backcountry, or anything in between. Just don't mistake old for old-school. This season's best snowshoes have advances like piranha-sharp teeth and new binding technology that's easy on cold fingers. Don't know what the day will bring? Take the Gear of the Year-winning Atlas 12 Series, a shoe with tenacious grip, excellent stability, and a natural stride. Bonus: We've paired the rest of our top snowshoe picks with optimal footwear in order to help you create the perfect system.
Atlas 12 Series (4.1 lbs; 25", 30", 35") $260 atlassnowshoes.com
1. Atlas's signature Spring-Loaded Suspension helps underfoot crampons bite into hard snow and ice for maximum traction. Offset rows of aggressive teeth have exceptional lateral stability and grip to keep you from sliding sideways while traversing. During a heinous descent of Vermont's exposed Sunset Ridge Traila mix of rock, ice, and snowthese snowshoes always felt secure.
2. Say goodbye to annoying shin bang. The suspension encourages forward momentum for a natural, smooth stride and allows you to back up without burying your tails. It also reduces both shoe drag and snow kick-up. The binding's auto-locking straps tighten or release with one finger: In Canada's Selkirks, we were able to adjust binding tension without taking our gloves off.
3. It's built to last. The Duratek decking (read: lightweight and bulletproof plastic) was unfazed by rocky stretches of trail. The aluminum frame is elliptical, shaped for maximum stiffness at the lightest possible weight. Components and deck rigging are indestructible. And the sturdy quick-flip heel lift locks securely up for climbing and flips down easilyit never jammed.