Snowshoeing for Beginners
One of the reasons many outdoor enthusiasts stay put during the winter months has nothing to do with the cold; rather it is the difficulty in getting from point A to point B that prevents them from venturing far from home. But the answer is a simple, time tested one – snowshoes. Snowshoes have been used for centuries across the globe by hikers, trappers and campers who do not wish to be trapped by winter weather conditions.
Snowshoeing is not as difficult as it may appear. Other than a slight learning curve when it comes to keeping your balance in deeper snow and getting accustom to having big feet it’s not much different than walking, certainly not as hard to learn as skiing. Just as with any outdoor activity the key to early success is having the correct equipment and being properly prepared. Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Snowshoes – there are 2 basic types of shoes – recreational and backcountry. The recreational style is most commonly used for day treks and short trips while the backcountry model is best suited for long distance hikes or when you will be carrying a large pack.
2. Boots – warm, durable boots are a must. Select a pair with thick soles, padded uppers, waterproofing and the appropriate level of insulation for your local conditions. If you choose leather boots remember they will require regular waterproofing and will wear quicker especially where binds sit.
3. Poles– ski style poles with a snow basket tip are essential for keeping your balance and testing trail conditions. Standard ski poles will work well on flat terrain but if you are covering rough, uneven areas I recommend adjustable poles.
4. Gaiters– this is an optional piece of equipment and many people snowshoe without ever purchasing a pair. However, their main advantage is keeping snow out of your boots which means a warmer, drier adventure. I recommend spending a little bit of money and getting a pair of gaiters from the beginning. Your feet will thank you!
5. Extras – there is always something that you wish you had, especially when the unexpected happens miles from the trailhead. I recommend adding a small back with sunglasses, sunscreen , GPS unit or map/ compass, duct tape & multitool ( for emergency repairs), small first aid kit, flashlight, snacks and extra water.
Once you get used to doing it snowshoeing is an effective means of easily moving even in deep snow, plus it is an excellent winter exercise routine.