Snowshoeing may not send you airborne over a snowy peak like its feisty counterparts, skiing and snowboarding, but it’s still a fun, calorie-scorching winter activity you can enjoy with less of a chance of breaking your neck.
What once was a forgotten sport is now a growing industry. Since 2008, snowshoeing participation has grown 40.7%, according to data by the Outdoor Industry Association. Why? Because if you can walk, you can snowshoe! The hardest part is selecting your gear, which we discuss below. Our favorite feature is that it helps you burn more than 600 calories per hour. The Snowsports Industries America says you can burn more than 45% more calories than walking or running at the same speed. Nice!
There are three forms of snowshoeing, and each type has its own style of snowshoe and boot. The size of the snowshoe you need depends on your weight and the snow/trail conditions you will be experiencing. Snowshoe Magazine says that the cost for a pair of snowshoes is generally inexpensive. Look to spend on the low-end around $100 and on the high-end around $300 (sometimes higher depending on the manufacturer).
Rediscover the beauty of your local park in the winter while enjoying some much-needed fresh air. It’s great for beginners since it’s done on simple, flat terrain. Don’t forget to bring along a camera! Recreational snowshoes generally feature an oval, symmetrical frame shape that evenly distributes your weight for greater stability and balance. Built-in crampons — i.e., “teeth” that dig into the snow — on the snowshoe’s frame maximize traction. Wear insulated or rubber boots to keep your feet warm and dry .
When running in the snow with your expensive sneakers is not an option, try running with snowshoes! If you decide to go fast, be sure to find a trail where the snow is packed and basically flat. These snowshoes tend to be smaller and lighter than other styles of snowshoes. Some running/aerobic fitness snowshoes also have an asymmetric shape, allowing for more clearance and a natural, more efficient stride. Use an older pair of running shoes, along with a heavy pair of socks and gaiters — i.e., waterproof coverings for your lower legs to keep snow out of your socks. Feeling the burn? Try competitive snowshoe racing! It’s kind of like a 5K, except you’re running on snow, with big contraptions of your feet.
Want to put more power behind those steps? Hiking/backpacking includes making steep climbs and descents with varying snow and terrain conditions. These snowshoes are generally the most durable, and are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and use. They usually feature highly supportive binding systems, built-in toe and heel crampons for maximum traction and durable decking materials. Waterproof, insulated hiking boots work well for this terrain.
Snowshoe Magazine warns that snowshoeing by yourself can be dangerous, so bring a buddy and a GPS and/or a compass to help better navigate remote and wooded areas. And, like any other winter sport, dress appropriately and stay hydrated!
If you do get bored, liven up your trek with a few snowshoe face plants like these guys did in the cheeky video below: