1. From backyard strolls to backwoods epics, the Backcountry was our favorite all-purpose snowshoe. Its frame is really two pieces of aluminum alloy held together at the toe and heel by sturdy, flexible plastic, so the deck self-adjusts to tricky terrain. The inner tail is streamlined to allow a more natural stride on casual strolls but leaves enough float for overnighting with a pack.
2. Like the traction control on a car, two aggressive, pivoting crampons near the toes deliver more grip to the inside or outside of the boots, wherever it's needed most. Despite all the moving parts, testers reported a snug, secure fit that gave them confidence even when traversing steep hills. The binding's contoured padding comfortably locks in your boots, and a pivot-stop keeps the tips from banging your shins midstride.
3. All the little extras add up, too. A heel pull-tab makes getting these shoes on and off hassle free, even with gloves. Testers said the bouncy, shock-absorbing plastic heel pad sprung them into each stepand they loved that the shoes are 80 percent recyclable, though they're clearly built to endure many hard seasons. Bummer: Several testers lamented the lack of a heel lifter, which would have helped reduce fatigue on steep climbs.
(2 lbs; 21'', 25'', 30'') $260 eastonsnowshoes.com