How to Attach Snowshoes to a Backpack

The Valdez is purpose built to carry heavy metal climbing and mountaineering tools

I’m often asked about the best way to attach snowshoes to a backpack.

There are basically two ways: You can attach them to the sides of your pack (top photo) or hang them off the back, either stuffed in a shovel pocket, as shown below or just attached using shock cord to the back of your pack.

Personally, I think it’s best to way to carry snowshoes is to attach them to the sides of your pack so that they’re positioned just over your hips. This gives you much better control over the weight and keeps it close to the plane of your core muscles, which are surprisingly strong.

Attaching them to the sides of your pack requires that you have compression straps or shock cord loops running along the front edge and back edge of the sides of your pack, so you can slip your snowshoes under them. Unfortunately, a lot of the packs produced by Osprey, Gregory, or Deuter, don’t provide these attachment points, unless you buy one of their heavier high-end packs.

Snowshoes stuffed into the back pocket of a backpack.
Snowshoes stuffed into the back pocket of a backpack.

The reason I don’t recommend hanging snowshoes off the back of your pack is that they will pull you off balance and will feel a lot heavier. However, you can get away with using a shovel pocket on packs that have them, if the main compartment of your pack is not full.

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  1. Thanks for the well written advice. I’ve just purchased some 25inch MSR Lightning Explorers for short 3-4 day backpacking trips. Looking forward to getting out and about.


    Since my Osprey lacks suitable side-compression straps (the Exos 48 has that maddening zigzag cord that merely makes using the side pockets impossible), would it suffice to get strapping that goes around the entire bag, squeezing the ‘shoes into place that way? Or am I missing something as I plan this out in my head?

    • I agree zigzag compression straps suck for snowshoes. If you can find anchor points for your own cordage on the sides, I’d use them. Use non-elastic with a cord lock so it doesn’t get caught on adjacent shrubbery. Or you could run two tiers of cord over the front stretch pocket, rendering it useless too.

      Now you know what to look for, for winter use, when you buy your next backpack….

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