The inspiration for launching Cold Outdoorsman was my resolution to find ways to beat the cold so I could teach my kids first-hand about the beauty of the outdoors. It’s hard to do that if you never leave the house in winter. Snowshoeing sounded like a great entree for the family, but finding a nice pair of kids snowshoes seemed daunting. Plenty of companies offer adult snowshoes, but kids outgrow gear pretty quickly. I looked toward the Yukon Charlies youth aluminum snowshoes, which offer a nice balance of quality, ease of use and affordability.
A quick audit of the youth snowshoes landscape turned up all sorts of plastic gear. I wanted to find something that they could potentially use for years without fear of breaking them. That actual “use” was a big consideration, too; if they were too hard to get on and off or manage, the kids would revolt, making everyone’s snowshoeing trip a disaster. And then the magical question: could I find all that in a package that wouldn’t break the bank?
Answer: yes. I first encountered the Yukon Charlies youth aluminum snowshoes at the 2016 Outdoor Retailer – Winter Market, which certainly had no shortage of outdoor gear on display. The first thing that stood out was their metal construction. If ever the phrase “just like the real thing, only smaller” held true, it’s with these Yukon Charlie’s snowshoes. With an aluminum frame and coated-steel crampons, the snowshoes are durable enough for extended snowshoeing through a variety of settings and conditions. We took them through powdery backcountry conditions and on groomed trails with a bit more ice, and each time the kids navigated just fine.
Since snowshoeing is a relatively new activity for our family, it wasn’t surprising that sledding was also on the agenda for each outing. As a result, we had a single pair of Yukon Charlies youth aluminum snowshoes that our six-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son alternated using while the other one sledded. (Our son wore the purple snowshoes a bit begrudgingly.) The reason they could alternate use was because the Yukon Charlie’s snowshoes support kids up to 100 pounds. Although our 40-pound daughter is a tad low on the ideal usage size, she handled them all right, and our 60-pound son seemed right in the snowshoes’ sweet spot. Fortunately, considering the snowshoes’ weight limit we have plenty of years of usage ahead of us.
I’m confident they’ll continue to get used, too, because they’re very easy for even the kids to use. My adventures this winter involved the Tubbs Boundary Peak snowshoes, while my wife used the Atlas Elektra Treeline snowshoes. One of the features I most enjoyed about the Tubbs was the quick-release leather strap — and that’s basically how the Yukon Charlies youth aluminum pair work in their entirety. There’s a single adjustable heel clip in the back, but the bulk of tightening/loosening is done with a glove-friendly release strap on top. Push down on the cords, and the foot straps tighten. Pull up on the cord and the straps loosen. It’s really that simple. That simplicity is great for parents, because it’s workable with gloves on and doesn’t require a lot of time. It’s also great for kids, because they can do it themselves. I suppose that’s also a benefit for us parents….
The only hiccup is the lack of toe straps on the front of the binding, which means you have to really crank the straps down to keep kids’ feet from moving forward. It only happened a few times on our adventures, and had that front “stopper” been there it would’ve removed made the snowshoes a bit less easy to use for the kids. But it is worth pointing out as something that could be improved.
From construction to use, though, the Yukon Charlies youth aluminum snowshoes exceeded my expectations. Their affordability did too. The MSRP for these snowshoes is just $59. That’s a great price for any winter gear, but especially for a pair of snowshoes that your kids will be able to use for years. Adult snowshoes, and maybe a few youth snowshoes, may offer more complexity and features, but kids don’t necessarily need them. And to be honest, I can’t think of anything else my kids would even want.
The Yukon Charlies youth aluminum snowshoes were provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.