You've probably read about how snowshoeing is the fastest growing winter sport. I have two things to say about that: (1) It's true; and (2) Who cares.
Snowshoes give adults a good reason to go running through the snow. You may have forgotten how much fun it is to do that. Plus, the workout you get from snowshoeing is incredible.
Who makes snowshoes? Well, there are several popular snowshoe manufacturers, arguably the top three are Tubbs, Atlas and MSR. Other top makers include Redfeather, Baldas, GV, Havlick, Little Bear, Crescent Moon, Yuba, Northern Lights and TSL.
Snowshoes come in various shapes and sizes and the model that is right for you is dependent on your body size, what particular kind of snowshoeing you will be doing and where you will be doing it.
First, the size of the individual will help dictate the shape of the snowshoe. Essentially the larger the person, the bigger the snowshoe.
Second, snowshoes are also designed to perform better for different kinds of activities.
There are snowshoes designed for extended hardcore backcountry expeditions, casual afternoon excursions and for dedicated winter running.
Lastly, you should consider where you will be using them. Most snowshoes will do a good job in most parts of the country. However, if you will only be using them in very deep, dry powder areas, such as up in the mountains, your snowshoe may need to be wider to help support you in the light stuff.
You'll probably end up paying between $125-$300 for a good pair. They should last for years. Consider it an investment in your physical and mental health.
The poles that you'll be getting aren't as expensive as cross-country skiing poles. Snowshoe poles are thinner, they aren't designed to support your weight or to aid you in pushing off like cross-country ski poles, rather they are designed to assist you in balancing your awkward warm-weather frame as you plunge through the white stuff. They also come in handy when the person in front of you is starting to slow you down.
Other than the shoes and the poles, you'll want to get an inexpensive bag to transport and store them. Many shops will have package deals where you can get all three items. These packages are almost always a bargain.
You can buy snowshoes locally at some walk-in sporting goods retailers, but often times they will have a limited selection. If there isn't an REI or a good snow sports shop in your area, you may have to order online.
Ordering online is not a problem, there are several good
shops such as REI and Moosejaw that almost always have several models available that would be perfect for you. They will probably have about 25 models to choose from, you just have to select the one that is the best fit for your needs. Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour online to browse the selections at these stores. Don't worry, snowshoes are much easier to buy than snow skis or regular footwear.