Best Sustainable, Eco-Friendly, and Environmentally-Friendly Snowshoes

Snowshoeing is a great hobby to explore nature and connect with the natural environment.

However, there isn’t much research into whether snowshoeing is actually good for the environment.

This article will explore the carbon emissions of manufacturing snowshoes along with learning about environmentally-friendly snowshoeing practices.

Additionally, this page will cover some of the most sustainable snowshoe brands such as Crescent Moon, MSR, and Fimbulvetr.

What is the environmental impact of snowshoeing?

Winter sports in general are not always the most sustainable. In particular, dedicated winter resorts for skiing and snowboarding put tremendous strain on local habitats, and use vast amounts of water resources for snowmaking production.

 Also, airline travel to winter destination resorts and areas creates enormous carbon emissions, contributing to global climate change.

However, snowshoeing may be a great low-impact alternative to skiing/snowboarding. While the sport can introduce people into getting out into nature during  the colder months, it’s still important to respect nature.

Leave No Trace Principles for Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing can actually be less impactful to the environment than hiking, since snowshoers are not disturbing the ground-level soil found on trails buried beneath a layer of several inches of snow.

Snowshoers should follow the 7 “Leave No Trace” Principles when winter hiking:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Sources
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Others

What are the carbon emissions of making snowshoes?

A 2017 study from Mountain Safety Research (MSR) found that the “cradle-to-gate” CO2-equivalent (CO2e) emissions of producing a single pair of snowshoes was 24.7 kilograms. 

The specific product studied in this report were the Men’s Lightning Ascent 22 snowshoes, a popular model of backcountry snowshoes. 

This product life cycle assessment study measured the total environmental impact across the entire supply chain, including the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and packaging/distribution of products to the end customer.

Another important finding from this study was that the majority of these carbon emissions (89%) used to produce the snowshoes resulted from the use of materials including aluminum, plastics, and steel.

In particular, aluminum snowshoes were found to be less sustainable, since aluminum production was the most significant driver of carbon emissions. This was largely due to the coal mining processes used for the extraction of aluminum.

What are the most sustainable snowshoe brands?

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon is one snowshoe brand that is dedicated to sustainable practices. For example, according to their sustainability page, the company:

  • Uses a minimum of 85% recycled aluminum and steel in manufacturing 
  • Supplies 100% of energy needs by wind energy
  • Uses recyclable plastic materials and avoid potentially toxic chemicals such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and plasticizers 

Crescent Moon emphasizes the 3 R’s: reducing, reusing, and recycling. The company offers the “Take Me Back” recycling program where customers can send in worn down snowshoes and the company will recycle the construction materials. 

They also recommend that customers donate unused snowshoes to schools or camps so they can get a second life.

In 2020, Crescent Moon also recently invested in an innovative Eco-Plastic foam used in snowshoes such as the Eva and Luna models. This new type of material is made from non-edible food products such as corn and potato starch and allows the company to make a more environmentally-friendly product.

MSR

As indicated by the MSR carbon emission study previously mentioned, this is another snowshoe company committed to sustainability. 

MSR produces an annual Manufacturing and Social Responsibility report particularly focused on best practices for environmental sustainability across their company’s entire manufacturing processes and other operations.

For example, in the 2019 report they committed to using a higher proportion of recycled aluminum within their manufacturing process, no doubt informed by the findings related to snowshoe production.

Also, the company’s manufacturing facility and offices in Seattle, Washington are almost entirely powered by sustainable energy – primarily hydroelectricity.

Fimbulvetr

Fimbulvetr, another producer of foam snowshoes from Norway, lives up to the Scandinavian reputation for environmental sustainability. Like Crescent Moon, they also produced foam snowshoes such as the Fimbulvetr Rangr.

In 2017, Christian Brunsvig, the Co-Founder/CEO and Kjetil Winther Lokke, Co-Founder/Brand Director of Fimbulvetr gave a talk at the “Forward Thinking: Summiting with Sustainability” seminar at The Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture.

They talked about the company’s technological innovations for designing products with minimum footprints. For instance, they strive to create efficient manufacturing processes that reduce the possibility of gear failures, resulting in lesser need for disposable products. 

Conclusion

Snowshoeing, like many other winter sports, relies on natural snowfall. Climate change caused by human impacts of carbon emission is threatening winters, reducing annual snowfall, and shortening the length of the winter sports season.

Therefore, it’s in the best interest of all snowshoers and winter sports enthusiasts to adopt sustainable practices and environmentally-friendly consumer habits.

  • Consider buying sustainable suppliers that produce environmentally-friendly models of snowshoes 
  • Research sustainable practices, like finding snowshoe trails close to home.
  • To learn more or get involved with projects, one great organization is Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit organization and collection of snowsports enthusiasts dedicated to organizing collective action to reduce the impacts of climate change.