Winter isn’t just for the skiers and snowmobilers. Snowshoeing is another fantastic winter sport that the whole family can enjoy together. I tried it for the first time last winter and loved it.
It’s Beginner Friendly
Snowshoeing is a beginner-friendly sport. You can try it by borrowing or renting gear. The techniques for walking in snowshoes are simple. You can begin on the easy terrain of the Rail Trails.
It’s Great Exercise
Snowshoeing is an excellent winter exercise. Being too sedentary during the cold months is a challenge. I know lots of you can probably relate. Exercise videos indoors weren’t cutting it because I wanted to breathe fresh air.
Snowshoeing is a social activity. The Rail Trail association for the D&H organizes group walks near me all winter. They have the gear to borrow and a guide for the trail. It’s easy to gather a group of friends for a walk in fresh powder.
Snowshoeing is relatively inexpensive. When you consider the cost of skis to buy or rent plus your lift ticket and other gear, snowshoes are a steal. Get a decent pair of men’s or ladies’ snowshoes on Amazon for about $50-120. A youth pair will run about $50-80. Then add another $20-25 for poles.
The right size snowshoes for you will be rated to carry your weight. Most pairs that you can find easily on amazon are rated up to 200-260 lbs.
Boots and Socks
The proper footwear for snowshoeing is waterproof boots and a good pair of socks. The ones you wear for sledding or shoveling snow are likely fine. My favorite wool socks are SmartWool and Darn Tough Socks from Vermont.
Cotton is the enemy. Stick to synthetic or wool. Because cotton does not wick moisture, you will get colder as it dries. I regretted my cotton leggings on my first snowshoe walk. You need a base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer. Top it off with your accessories such as mittens, hat, and scarf.
It is not necessary to have trekking poles, but they add stability and help you walk with a steady cadence on your snowshoes. They help with hills too.
You should always have water, a small protein snack, first aid, and a change of socks when you hike.
I enjoyed going on a guided snowshoe walk for my first outing because I got some basic lessons on how to walk in the snowshoes. Here is some of what I learned.
Your stride will be slightly wider to keep your snowshoes from stepping on each other. Your feet will be slightly wider than your hips. As you lift your foot, let your ankle be flexible so that your toe hangs toward the ground. The rest of the snowshoe will move naturally around your feet. Step down with the ball of your foot.
Your poles will move opposite your feet. Step forward with your left foot and move your right-hand pole. When you step with your right foot, move your left-hand pole. Be conscious of your stride because it is easy to fall into moving the same foot and pole.
Next week I’ll have more tips and techniques for snowshoeing and some trail etiquette. It’s always important to be conscientious of others on the trail.
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