Snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors, get some exercise and enjoy the unique landscape of nature during winter. It doesn’t take much equipment or skill and it’s great for you, so let’s go already.
It all started as a practical way to get around outside and get work done during the winter. Snowshoes provide a way to ‘float’ over the snow without sinking down through the powder. Going snowshoeing is essentially walking or hiking in shoes that keep you on top of the snow. It’s also a great workout: you can burn over 600 calories an hour hiking around in snowshoes.
What You’ll Need: Equipment
First things first, you need some snowshoes. If you’re not sure if you’ll like this sport or you want to be able to try some different brands and styles out then go rent some snowshoes for a day or a weekend. You can find snowshoe rentals at many ski and snowboarding shops as well as general sporting goods stores. There are only a few sizes of snowshoes and they are fit based on weight. You’ll need the right size shoe to keep your bodyweight ‘floating’ above the snow. You may also want to rent or use poles for extra balance. If you already have trekking poles or ski poles you can use them.
You will be outside in the cold so you’ll want to wear some boots that can keep your feet warm and dry. Snowboarding boots, snow boots or hiking boots that have been water-proofed are all ideal. If you’re going to be heading out into the backcountry or deep powder you may also want to wear gaiters to keep snow out of your pants and boots.
What to Wear:
Layer, layer, layer. The goal is to wear clothing that will keep you warm and dry. As you get going and working harder you’ll start to warm up and sweat so you’ll want to be able to take off and add layers as needed. Next to your skin you want a moisture wicking fabric (not cotton) to wick away the sweat. On the outside you want something that is waterproof both pants and a jacket. Finally, you need some gloves and a hat and some sunglasses or goggles.
Where to Go:
You can snowshoe just about anywhere there is snow. You can go to a Nordic center and snowshoe on their marked trails. Many states have cross country skiing trails that also allow snowshoeing. You can look for state, city and county parks, national forest trails, snowed over golf courses or just explore around your neighborhood. Anywhere there is snow and open land. The great thing about snowshoeing is that you don’t need a trail. You can snowshoe up and down hills, across snowy meadows and even over frozen ponds.
How to Snowshoe:
So you’ve layered up and dressed for the winter weather, you’ve got your gear and found a great spot to explore. Now what? Another great benefit of snowshoeing is that you don’t need lessons or an instructor, just put on your snowshoes and give it a try. You will feel very awkward at first walking around in snowshoes. They are longer and wider than regular shoes and take a little getting used to. Walk with a slightly wider gait or a little bow-legged to leave room for your snowshoes. As you get more comfortable, try to achieve a normal walking pace. There are cleats on the bottom of the snowshoes that will help you climb and descend hills without sliding. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, it just takes a little practice to get more comfortable.
Snowshoeing is the fastest growing winter sport for many reasons. It’s easy and inexpensive to get started and you can enjoy snowshoeing anywhere there is snow. Snowshoeing is a great way to get outdoors during the winter and a great way to get some fun exercise. There is something amazing about hiking over a frozen pond and enjoying the quiet winter scenery. Go give it a try!