I went snowshoeing for the first time over the Christmas holidays! As snowshoes aren’t too expensive, I wanted to buy my own pair rather than rent. I thought it’d be difficult to find a specialty item like snowshoes that fit me, particularly last minute. Fortunately, it was way easier than I expected! There are quite a few petite friendly options so you can hit the trail and feel comfortable too.
I’d suggest starting at a local store that sells both kids and adults snowshoe sizes, and wear whatever pair of boots you plan to use on your hike (for me, it’s a pair of size 6 lace up waterproof Timberland boots with room for thick socks). Try REI and L.L.Bean in the US, or Canadian Tire and MEC in Canada.
Next up - start checking the weight range on the shoe tags. I tried on two pairs - one slightly too small for my weight (19 inch length and 60-90lbs capacity), and one just above my weight range (25 inch length and 110-160lbs capacity). Slip a foot into the buckle system and do them up comfortably tight (many operate like a roller blade or rental ice skate buckle).
Check for an indicated area where the heel of your foot should land, such as a drawn triangle or metal markings. My heels were no where near the marking on the shoe that was just above my weight range. On the smaller shoe, my foot landed exactly on the marking. When I lifted a foot up, the bigger shoe felt bulky and heavy, while the smaller felt much more manageable.
I decided the smaller range was right for me, which was - surprise - labelled as a kids shoe. From there, I picked the snowshoe design I liked best that fit that range (try to avoid a pattern that looks too kiddish). I also went for a bundle version that included a carry bag and poles. A word of caution on kids sizes - the poles were definitely usable but a tad too short for me (bend your elbow 90 degrees to your body to see where the pole grip should be). On a small hike you might be fine without poles altogether, but a carry bag is invaluable!
If you are 5 feet tall/100 lbs/size 6 shoes and up, you may find an adult size snowshoe fits you best. Any less and I’d recommend checking out the kids versions. If you need to shop online (Amazon for example), your best best bet is to go by the weight range. Weight is important as you don’t want to sink through the snow while snowshoeing!
Rounding down slightly (top of the weight range was a few pounds less than I weigh) worked best for me though, as a beginner recreational hiker not going into crazy deep snow, with particularly small feet. Plus, I liked the lighter feel so I could carry them more easily. Just be sure to dress warm when you go enjoy the trails!