snowshoeing basics

If you are looking for a hobby to keep you active during the winter, snowshoeing is a great option.

snowshoeing basics

Snowshoeing was first invented several thousand years ago by the indigenous people to transport through the harsh winter months. The snowshoes would allow them to distribute their weight over a larger area, preventing them from sinking through the deep snow while also helping them hunt in deep snow without making much noise.

Now, snowshoeing isn’t more of a recreational sport than a survival tool. Not saying you can’t use them to your advantage for hunting, but most people use them as a way to get outside during the cold months. So, why should you consider snowshoeing?

First off, snowshoeing is excellent exercise. Not only will trekking up and down snowy hills get your body temperature up, but you will be surprised how it works the leg muscles.

Secondly, snowshoeing is an inexpensive hobby to get into. For beginners, basic winter clothing and beginner snowshoes will be enough to get you started. When you compare it to other winter sports like skiing, snowmobiling, and ice-fishing, snowshoeing is a rewarding hobby with a low entry cost.

Plus, you can’t beat getting out in the beautiful outdoors, right?

It’s also a great sport to get into for anyone because of its low learning curve. Immediately after you strap on your shoes, you can start making strides. However, it does take time to get used to the width of the snowshoes as it is easy for beginners to step on the shoe frame.

While it is a more straightforward sport to learn, beginners will need practice when learning how to trek through different terrains and what to do in certain situations. Over time you will learn how to go uphill, downhill, traverse, and pick yourself out of the deep snow after a fall.

Before you head to your local sporting goods store to grab a pair, it is important to know what basic gear you will need.

Snowshoeing Gear

Snoeshoe basics

If you live in a region where abundant snowfall is normal, you might already have some gear that will work fine for snowshoeing. Here is the basic items you will need to get you started:

  • • Good winter boots that are insulated and waterproof.
  • Snowshoes that fit you appropriately in size and weight.
  • Layers of warm clothing such as merino wool, and quality winter gloves and head covering.
  • Adjustable poles, preferably with snow baskets.
  • Backpack equipped with food, water, and emergency supplies.

This will be enough to get you out there! It’s recommended for beginners to wait to buy expensive gear to first see if they enjoy the sport. As you get more experience and are ready for more challenging terrains, it is wise to look for more advanced snowshoes and safety gear.

Best Snowshoe For Winter

For beginners who are just getting their feet wet or frosty, as we should say, the MSR EVO snowshoe is an inexpensive ($139.95 on REI) and durable choice. They are made out of plastic, making some people question their reliability, but the EVO doesn’t feel cheap and holds up well on the snow.

They don’t have a heel lift, so on climbs, your calves will feel the burn. But for beginners, they are perfect for getting you comfortable while winter walking.

The EVO snowshoes are a unisex design and three adjustable straps. The straps have a long range, so they can be adjusted to fit most people. Once you decide to upgrade to more advanced snowshoes, keep the MSR EVO’s around for guests to use. Never know who you will get to fall in love with snowshoeing next.

If you don’t want to buy snowshoes right away, renting is also a great way to go. Not only can you get advice from the people at the snow shop but you also get a chance to try different kinds of snowshoes. This will help you find what works best for you before making a purchase.

Best Overall Snowshoe

best all around snowshoe
Lightning Ascent

As we mentioned above, snowshoeing isn’t as easy as strapping them on and strolling through a winter park. Different terrains and snow conditions take various techniques to walk over. Getting a snowshoe that can handle powder, slush, ice, and steep pitches will give you confidence wherever your adventure takes you.

The MSR Lightning Ascent is a solid choice that can handle all of the snowy conditions. They are more expensive at $319.95 on REI, but it is worth the investment for people looking for a snowshoe that can do it all.

The Lightning Ascent has a durable aluminum frame ringed with small teeth for extra traction on ice. As you step, the steel toe crampon grabs the ground, and the two underfoot traction bars stabilize the snowshoe, giving ultimate traction even in the toughest situations.

Unlike the MSR EVO, the Lightning Ascent has a heel lift making climbing a breeze. The bindings are comfortable and forgiving for long treks. If you plan on using your snowshoes often under various conditions, the Lightning Ascent is a top choice.

Best Places To Snowshoe

If you are looking for places to snowshoe, you will be happy to know that there are an endless amount of places to go. Starting with your hometown is a great place to begin. Local parks, snow-covered golf courses, and even the city streets are perfect places to get out for a winter stroll.

Here are some ideas for places to snowshoe outside of your hometown:

Ski-in, ski-out cabins, and lodges.  Snowshoe from your front door.
Ski resorts. Many ski areas have dedicated snowshoe trails, and they can be a ton of fun.
Open backcountry areas. Great for exploring, but always do your research on avalanche danger.
National and state parks. A perfect way to use our national parks during the quieter winter months.

It may seem like a good idea to snowshoe on hiking trails that you know, but it is recommended to avoid them. Narrow and rocky trails are difficult to snowshoe and can be dangerous. Falling into a tree well or getting caught in an avalanche is always a risk in deep snow areas.

What Remember When Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is an amazing sport because it’s great exercise, great for all ages, easy to learn, and inexpensive to get started. Beginners and even advanced snowshoers always need to keep in mind safety protocols when venturing out in winter conditions.

Do Your Research

Before going to a new backcountry area, be sure to do your research. Not only could you get yourself in a dangerous situation such as an avalanche, but you could also find yourself in a restricted area. Ski resorts, national parks, and state parks have different guidelines for people who want to snowshoe, so be sure to check with them before your trip.

Respect The Land and Fellow Snowshoers

When you are snowshoeing, it is fine to go off of the trail to adventure other areas. If you do come across an area with plants poking through the snow, avoid those areas to help preserve the vegetation.

In addition, follow the simple rule of if you pack it in, pack it out. Don’t be the guy who leaves his granola bar wrapper in the snow.

Lastly, be sure to respect other snowshoers. The faster snowshoer always has the right away, so if you have people approaching behind you, move to the side and let them pass.

Prepare For The Worst

During the winter season, the weather can go from a bluebird day to a wind-chilling snowstorm in a matter of seconds. Since snowshoeing is often done in open areas, it is easy to lose visibility and get lost.

Always bring a pack with you with cold weather gear that can stand up to a harsh change of conditions. This includes but not limited to:

• Flare
• Firestarter
• Extra food and water
• Extra clothing, such as a dry baselayer
• First aid kit
• Headlamp
• Knife (Swiss army knife is best)
• Map
• Shovel, along with an avalanche beacon if you are in an ungroomed mountainous area
Winter gloves and hat that can stand up to moisture and precip

It is recommended to always snowshoe with a partner in backcountry areas. If you decide to go snowshoeing on your own, make sure you tell somebody exactly where you are going and when they should expect to hear from you. This way, if something does happen, they can immediately call for help in that area.

Have Fun!

snowshoeing basics

Whether it is snowshoeing or any other activity, remember to have fun! Snowshoeing is a great sport for families and adrenaline junkies alike. Rent some snowshoes and give it a try; you just might be glad you did!

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