How to Get Started Snowshoeing

A first time guide to introduce you to the fastest growing winter sport in the world.

By: Women Who Explore + Save to a List

Snowshoeing, it’s been around for a long time and is incredibly easy to do! So why isn’t everyone taking up this inexpensive and easy winter sport? Perhaps you just need a push in the right direction and a little more info on the fastest growing winter sport in the world. Discover the first timer’s guide to snowshoeing.

Why Snowshoe?

Snowshoeing is inexpensive and easy to learn, whether you are a kid or adult and poses little risk of injury. As well as it burns plenty of calories, keeps you active in the winter and lets you explore new places.

Photo: Jason Hatfield

What Snowshoes? 

We suggest trying before buying, as there are many different snowshoe companies that offer a slew of styles. Nowadays many companies are making gender specific snowshoes, kids snowshoes, deep snow snowshoes and athletic snowshoes. Renting a pair of snowshoes is easy from many outdoor companies, retailers, ski and snowboard shops and ski hills. We have a few of our favorite snowshoes reviewed here.

Some of our recommended snowshoe brands include the following:

Atlas Snowshoe
Dedication to the winter journey motivates Atlas to deliver the most technically advanced, high performance snowshoes avail­able today. With 19 patents and counting, Atlas continues its quest to design superior snowshoe products for the outdoor enthusiast.

Crescent Moon Snowshoes
Colorado snowshoe maker produces several styles of snowshoes and also a strap-on traction system for your normal hiking boots.

Dion Snowshoes
Vermont manufacturer builds snowshoes for hiking, racing, backpacking, and recreation and fitness.

Made in Norway.  Traditional snowshoes typically have many breakable parts, feel detached and limit movements. Fimbulvetr sets out to create stronger, lighter, more durable and ergonomic snowshoes. The result is a whole new snowshoe experience, best described as a natural extension of the foot.

GV Snowshoes
A leading North American manufacturer of traditional snowshoes as well as modern aluminum and injected molded models.

Mountain Safety Research 
Makes the Denali Classic and Denali Ascent snowshoes, as well as the Hiker and Tyker models

TSL Sport Equipment
Manufactures a wide variety of outdoor gear including a selection of snowshoes and walking poles.

Tubbs SnowshoesTubbs makes popular snowshoes in roughly four categories: Hiking and backpacking, recreation and fitness, running and aerobic, and kids.

What to Wear?

As with any winter sport, we suggest layering up when you go snowshoeing. Considering you burn a lot of calories in this sport, chances are you will be sweating. We suggest starting with a base layer, Patagonia makes an incredible onesie that we happen to love. Layers that are easy to take off are essential here, so zippered tops are a great idea.

If the weather warrants snow-pants, we suggest one with vents so your body can breathe. Snowshoes often kick up the snow so make sure if you aren’t wearing snow-pants you are wearing gaiters. Hillsound makes a great gaiter that ensures your legs and feet stay dry.

A breathable jacket is a must, and don’t plan on anything too heavy, stick with a light down such as the Stio or Big Agnes, or if its warm enough the Uberlayer Hooded Jacket is perfect.

Socks and boots are also important when it comes to dressing appropriately. We suggest a nice warm pair of wool socks and a pair of KEEN boots.

Photo: Jason Hatfield

Where to Go?

The beauty of snowshoeing is that you get to break your own trail, head off the beaten path and providing their is enough snow, there is no limit as to where you can go.

Many nordic centres and ski resorts now offer snowshoe trails, as well as many conservation areas, hiking trails and national parks. One thing to keep in mind when you snowshoe is to make sure to stay off the cross country ski trails as snowshoes can ruin the track set.

Many snowshoers like to head into the backcountry and although this can be incredible, it is imperative to be trained in avalanche awareness and safety before you do this.

As snowshoeing continues to grow in popularity, there are many events that are held throughout North America including snowshoe races, events and retreats.

You can always check on The Outbound for great snowshoeing adventures near you.

What to Bring?

Packing for a day out on snowshoes isn’t much different than packing for a day of hiking. We suggest a hiking pack such as the Mountainsmith Mayhem filled with plenty of water, snacks, extra socks and extra layers.

It is recommended you use poles while snowshoeing.  Poles help stabilize the upper body, establishing a rhythm to your walk as well as improving your balance and stability on difficult terrain. Using poles also reduces stress on your knees, ankles and feet, and gives a more full-body workout by including upper-body movement. It also helps when you face those massive hills to climb up!

We hope this guide will help you take the leap and get outside on those snowshoes. After all, its inexpensive, a workout and most importantly it’s fun. 

Cover photo: Jason Hatfield

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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