Strapping on a pair of snowshoes and stomping out into the cold wilderness is a wonderful activity that guarantees sparkling views of pristine white and clouds of foggy breath. No wonder snowshoeing is so popular: the feeling of floating on deep snow, coupled with serene quiet and crisp air make winter come alive. If you are planning on trying out snowshoeing for the first time this winter, here are some tips to make it a great experience.

photoSylvia Dekker

Purchase the right gear

When purchasing snowshoes, make sure to check out the weight rating to choose the right snowshoe for you, and factor your average backpack weight into the maximum for the pair you choose as well.

Test out your snowshoes in your backyard or park in advance. Lean how to tighten them properly and get an idea how walking in them feels before embarking on a trail.

Try using your poles! A lot of people find poles awkward the first time they use them, whether hiking or snowshoeing. But the extra balance, grip and force is very helpful in slippery situations and when going down steep slopes, in both hiking boots and snowshoes.

photoSylvia Dekker

What to Bring

Wear multiple layers and warm clothes. Snowshoeing is more work than plain walking, and after stomping for a bit you might want to remove a layer.

Don’t forget to bring (and drink) water. Even though it’s cold, you need to stay hydrated, and since snowshoeing takes a bit more effort than regular hiking, you probably will sweat. Snacks are a good idea to add to your backpack and will help boost energy and warmth.

Keep your hands warm—especially if you are using poles—with a good pair of gloves or mitts! A thin wool glove under a warm mitt is a great system. Under my mitts I wear wool gloves that can be used with a touchscreen, so I don’t have to expose my hands to the frigidness when there are snow covered trees and ridges to capture.

Wear warm, sturdy boots. You will be traipsing through the snow and although snowshoes help you float, your boots will still get covered. Warm, waterproof boots are essential. Sturdy boots are best for snug strapping and to prevent injuries.

photoSylvia Dekker

Where to Go

Find a doable walk for your first-time snowshoeing—nothing too hard or steep. Those trails can be tackled when you’re used to moving with the extra width on your feet. Kids love snowshoeing, so pick a time of year with plenty of snow, when snowshoeing is most fun. Be wary of where snowed-in lakes are located.

Many dedicated snowshoe trails parallel or wind through cross country ski areas, so be cautious of stepping onto the groomed trails. Your snowshoes can ruin a smooth run.

As with any foray into the wild—and especially in the winter—bring some friends and tell someone where you are going.

photoSylvia Dekker

Snowshoeing can reveal a myriad of wonders in a forest that seems to be blanketed and quiet. The snow makes wildlife tracks very obvious and they’re fun to examine. Hopping tracks from squirrels, birds, rabbits, cats and tunnels from mice are common in the snow, disappearing up trees and into drifts.

Depending on the length and grade of the hike, you might be a little sore afterwards. Walking in snowshoes results in more of a straddled gait. You might feel as if you just got off a horse, but it’s nothing a break by a fire can’t fix!


Are you planning on snowshoeing this winter?

Have a great, safe, epic adventure!


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