There’s nothing quite as fulfilling as getting out in the sun and feeling a warm breeze on your face. All while stopping to appreciate the beautiful green landscape surrounding you too, of course.
The spring and summer seasons come with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Yet, the winter months might leave you feeling cooped up inside your house — but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Snowshoeing is one of the best ways to soak up the natural beauty of the winter season. Today we’re going to give you everything you need to know to get the most out of your first snowshoeing experience.
1. What is Snowshoeing and Why Go?
Snowshoeing is a form of hiking — but with snowshoes on! The snowshoes distribute your body weight evenly across the surface of the snow, preventing your feet from sinking in. This makes it much easier to walk through deep snow without having to wade like you’re walking through the ocean.
As with many hiking forms, snowshoeing is a fantastic exercise option for people of any age and ability. It’s a low-impact activity, meaning it’s easier on your body than something like trail running or CrossFit. This makes it suitable for folks who may have joint pain or for anyone wanting to get out of the house and walk around.
Since all you need is a pair of snowshoes and some basic winter gear, this outdoor activity is great for your wallet too!
2. Where Can I Snowshoe?
Since snowshoeing requires lots of snow, it’s best to go during the peak of the winter season.
State & national parks are a great place to go out for a Saturday snow-walk. Just make sure that the park is open during that time of year.
Some other great options include:
- snow-covered golf courses
- any open or backcountry space
- your own backyard or city streets
- in and around ski resorts
- mountain lodges or hotels
All you need is a lot of snow, some space to walk, and to follow some basic safety guidelines. Get creative and take yourself snowshoeing just about anywhere you’d like!
3. What Gear Do I Need To Bring
This may seem obvious, but you’ll need to bring a pair of snowshoes. A pair of warm and waterproof boots are also essential to an enjoyable walk through the snow.
Aside from the rest of your winter clothing, we recommend you bring these outdoor essentials (especially if you’re going out into the woods):
- Compass or navigation tool
- First aid kit (for blisters, cuts, and scrapes)
- Sun protection (like a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen)
- Headlamp & extra batteries
- Something to start a fire
- Emergency shelter
- Dry change of clothes & socks
- Extra food/water beyond the minimum expectation
You might go on your entire snowshoeing adventure without touching a single thing on that list, but we promise it’s better to have it and not need it!
4. What Should I Wear While Snowshoeing?
First things first — never wear cotton. Cotton holds water, which is the last thing you want your clothes and socks to do when you’re trying to stay warm!
Wool socks will hold more water than cotton, but they keep their insulating properties well beyond that of a pair of cotton socks. So they might get wet, but your feet will still feel warm for much longer afterward.
When it comes to dressing for a hike through an icy landscape, you need to think in layers:
- Under/thermal layer
- Middle fleece layer
- Insulated jacket
- Outer waterproof shell
You’ll need pants made for the snow. Fleece-lined hiking pants are a great option, and if you don’t have those, a pair of ski pants will do just fine.
5. How to Select the Right Snowshoes
Selecting the right snowshoes isn’t as difficult as you might think. Snowshoes for flat terrain will have fewer crampons and cleats for gripping the ice than ones for mountainous terrain.
If you’re planning to snowshoe in the mountains, we recommend finding a pair with plenty of traction. If you’re just taking a stroll through a golf course, you won’t need to worry about this as much.
You can find a sizing chart online to determine what size snowshoe you’ll need. Before looking at that, you should decide how much you weigh with all your gear on (boots, clothes, backpack, water, etc.).
6. How Do I Snowshoe?
Walking on flat terrain with snowshoes is pretty straightforward. Just make sure your feet are a little wider apart to avoid stepping on your snowshoes.
Uphill/Kick Step Technique
When walking uphill, you need to always plant your feet firmly in the snow and ensure there’s enough traction to push yourself forward.
This is where the kick-step technique comes into play. If the snow is loose and powdery, you should kick into the snow to compress it under your snowshoe and create a solid surface to support your weight.
How To Snowshoe Downhill
Going downhill is simple too. Just keep your weight leaned slightly backward, and plant your heel first before stepping forward.
If a hill seems too steep to go straight up or down, you can traverse it using the same basic techniques explained above.
How To Get Back Up After a Snowshoe Fall
Every once in a while, you might fall, but getting back up is easy. All you have to do is roll over until you can get up onto your knees, use your hiking poles for balance, and stand up one leg at a time.
7. Snowshoe Safety for Beginners
Whether you’re going snowshoeing, hiking, or anything outdoors, always make sure your gear is functional and ready to go.
Some simple navigation skills will go a long way in the outdoors. Check out some tutorials on basic land navigation techniques online before heading out, and don’t forget the compass!
Know avalanche safety and be aware of the dangers associated with trekking through the wilderness. The more you know, the better off you’ll be!
Stay warm (obviously), and stay hydrated. Drink just as much water as you would on a hot summer day. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need the water. Dehydration in a cold environment can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening, so drink up!
If you’re looking for something fun to do during your weekends this winter, you should definitely consider snowshoeing.
Follow these simple guidelines (along with some wildlife/safety research) and you’ll have a fantastic snowshoeing experience!
Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Evolve South Bay with five years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Evolve South Bay the place to call home.