Thinking about your first snowshoe trip?
It’s true. Snowshoeing can be easy to learn, inexpensive, and great exercise. Depending on your fitness level and interest, it can occupy an afternoon or a week-long backpacking trek into the wilderness. If this year is your first time out on snowshoes, there are just a few items you’ll need to have ready for your first snowshoe trip.
With these things pulled together, you’ll be ready to head out the door as soon as the snow flies.
Yukon Charlie’s snowshoes come in two different types: recreational, and backcountry. Each type has different characteristics aimed towards specific goals.
For the beginner or occasional hiker, recreational snowshoes are the best. Basic in design, they provide what you need to enjoy an afternoon of activity on mostly flat terrain.
For the more adventurous hiker, backcountry snowshoes are designed to offer special features that support the extra weight of a backpack as well as give traction for ascents and descents. Usually built of lighter weight & stronger materials, they withstand long days on the trail in steep mountains. If you’re planning to pull a snowshoeing sled behind you to carry extra gear, these are the best choice as well.
If you are pulling your snowshoes out of storage, inspect them well for cracks and chips in the frame, stress in the bindings, and holes or rips in the flotation material. You don’t want to be stuck in the wilderness with a broken frame or binding that won’t stay on.
Adjustable poles are ideal as they can be changed to accommodate the trail. They should have a snow basket on the end to help with better traction, and to be sure they don’t sink too far into the snow. Generally, your pole should be adjusted so that your arm forms a ninety degree angle, but adjustable ones can be lengthened or shortened to provide better balance in hilly conditions.
Poles that have been stored should be checked to make sure they still lock tight, that the strap is in good condition, and the basket isn’t broken or loose.
Good footwear is essential for snowshoeing. Boots should be waterproof with thick soles and a high padded neck. Insulation is important to keep toes from freezing. Rubber uppers tend to be better but leather will work as well if it is well waterproofed.
Check stored boots for wear and tear on eyes, splits in the sole, and broken laces. Reapply waterproofing if necessary before heading out on your first snowshoe trip.
Gaiters are waterproof sleeves that fit over your footwear and pants and keep snow from filling your boots and soaking your socks. They are important if you will be trekking through deep snow or if you are running and might throw snow up in the air.
They should be free of rips and tears and the elastic and ties should be in good condition.
Clothing needs will vary depending on your activity level. While it seems logical to dress in as many clothes as you can to stay warm, you should actually dress in a few layers that can be removed or added to along the way. Snowshoeing exerts a lot of energy and your body will be warm and sweating.
- A first layer that wicks away moisture is a must. Both synthetics and wool offer warmth when moist. Socks must be wool or synthetic when snowshoeing.
- An insulating layer, like synthetic fleece, should come next.
- Finally, you need an outer layer to keep moisture out and add more warmth. It should be waterproof and wind resistant. You will want both a jacket and pants if you are planning long hikes.
- And don’t forget your hat and gloves.
In Case of Emergency
Always carry a first-aid kit, snacks, water, a fire starter, and extra clothing. Accidents happen and you should be prepared to spend a night in the cold.
Replace anything missing from your first-aid kit and make sure medications are up-to-date before you head out on your first snowshoe trip.
All the Extras
- A map or GPS locator
- Clips for your belt to hang gloves or car keys
- A backpack for emergency gear
- Duct Tape
BONUS TIP: We’ve got a handy downloadable gear list for you HERE too, so you’re sure to remember everything important.
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Great introductory article for those considering getting into snowshoeing.
Marcia Sandberg says
Interesting! I live in Sonora,ca and have been thinking about getting into this.