How Deep Do Snowshoes Sink

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Snowshoes are made differently than regular shoes and thus, are your best bet for walking through the snow. However, even a pair of snowshoes does not mean instant superpowers to skim across snowy surfaces. Depending on several factors, your snowshoes will sink into the snow. How deep the snow is determined by how far snowshoes sink into the snow.

While the size of the shoe and the weight of the person wearing it greatly determine how deep snowshoes sink, the type of snow you’re walking on also matters. Snowshoes will easily sink in freshly fallen generally between 6 inches to 12 inches.

How Snowshoes Work

The science behind snowshoes keeping you from sinking in the snow is quite simple. Snowshoes have a larger surface area than the bottom of regular tennis shoes or boots. the larger surface area does the work of evenly distributing your weight on the surface of the snow.

They’re bulkier, but the bulk provides their flotation ability. Snowshoes are made to help you float. Plus, they offer better grip in slippery conditions. Snowshoes are necessary when the snow is deeper than 12 inches or more and loose. They make it easy to travel in deep snow.

Choosing the Right Snowshoes

The kind of snowshoes you buy depends on several factors. These factors include the snow conditions, the weight of the user, and the intended activity. Whichever you end up going for will be decided by these factors. Recreational snowshoes are best suited for beginners and flat terrains and are less expensive. Running snowshoes are best suited for runners and cross-racers and are used on groomed trails.

Wooden snowshoes or modern snowshoes are other options. Modern snowshoes require less maintenance and less effort to put on compared to the more traditional snowshoe. They are also more suited to the backcountry, especially if you’re going on a backpacking trip.

Although a standard pair of snowshoes are built to be more snow-supporting, they require much more maintenance because of their wood frames and design. They are not ideal for the backcountry as you may not have adequate time to spend cleaning them out.

You can pore through a snowshoe magazine to see different snowshoes, make an informed choice, and buy the best pair of snowshoes that meet your needs.

Snow Conditions

Snow conditions refer to snow density. When it comes down to it, we have over three categories of snow density. Icy snow is hard-packed snow that’s frozen solid. You won’t sink on this type of snow, but you can expect to skim and skid across the surface of this type of snow.

Fluffy snow or powdery snow is loose and not very dense. Mostly, it is freshly fallen snow and the type you’re most likely to sink in. On fluffy snow, you may sink between 6 and 12 inches or more if you break the trail.

Heavy snow is usually wet snow. It is not as loose as fresh snow and offers more support when you’re snowshoeing. You can sink between 6 and 8 inches in this kind of snow.

Body Weight

The weight of the person wearing the shoes also matters. A person with more weight will require a larger snowshoe than lighter people. Snowshoe size and your weight are related because snowshoe size is determined to a large extent by weight. Heavier people require bigger snowshoes as they put more pressure on the sow than less heavy people.

Winter Activity

Snowshoes can be for regular use or any exciting winter sports. It’s easier to decide on the type of snowshoes to buy when you decide what you’ll use them for.

For instance, an Alaskan snowshoe is your best choice if you’re going skiing since it’s already shaped like a ski. Aerobic snowshoes are ideal for snowshoe racing but aren’t a good idea if you want to break trail in powdery snow.

Factors that Determine Floatation

Flotation is determined by overall body weight and shoe size. If you want more flotation, wear shoes that balance perfectly with your body weight. Although some snowshoes come with tail extensions that provide greater surface area, most snowshoes don’t come with them, which is why you need to pay attention to weight.

As a general rule, smaller snowshoes will go down a few inches deeper than a larger one but is ideal for ice snow because you require a lot less surface area. Longer snowshoes are ideal for deep snow that is lightweight. The large bottom offers more floatation and keeps you closer to the surface layer.

Snow conditions also contribute to flotation. There are no chances of sinking on a packed trail compared to deep powder. Sinking is easier when snowshoeing in three feet of fresh snow compared to 12 inches. Consider this when choosing snowshoes since location often determines snow density, e.g., New England with its packed trails.

Snowshoe Safety

One important safety tip to bear in mind when snowshoeing is not to go over the recommended weight limit. If you’re going hiking or on a snowshoeing trip, pay attention to the amount of gear you pack so that you don’t overpack. It’s important because you may sink more than is normal if you’re carrying too much gear.

If you’re new to wearing snowshoes, a bit of practice always comes in handy since a snowshoe is bulkier than regular footwear. You can start with an older pair and walk a few feet at a time. Don’t bother walking poles if the snow is just a few inches deep. Doing this will prepare your foot for snowshoeing, as your foot will be sore at the end of the day.

As you practice snowshoeing, please don’t forget to bundle up in layers to keep warm. Always ensure that you pick the perfect size for your feet. It could mean the difference between life and death in a tricky situation.


How deep your snowshoe sinks in the snow depends on snow density, overall weight, and the size of your snowshoes. A bigger snowshoe will make hiking on powder much easier and stress-free. Once all three are in harmony, you’ll stay as close to the surface as possible.

Snowshoeing is a fun activity to enjoy in winter and a very good reason to splurge on a fabulous pair of snowshoes. It’s easy to learn and an excellent way to put snowshoes to use.