Snowshoeing may look difficult, but the reason it is becoming so popular among people of all ages, from children to senior citizens, is that it is easy to learn and do. There are no specific technical skills required as there are in skiing or snowboarding. Snowshoeing provides a comparable workout like you may have at your local gym, and you don’t have to go to an expensive ski resort to engage in the sport. Snowshoeing can be enjoyed just about anywhere there are trails or open spaces to explore.
Although there is no learning curve with snowshoeing, the first few adventures may require building up your stamina before taking extended walks. It’s also smart to be prepared by dressing properly for the cold, damp conditions, reviewing a safety checklist and, most importantly, having the right equipment on your feet depending on where, when and how long you are planning to enjoy the activity.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
– Take it easy at first.
– Take frequent breaks to enjoy the scenery.
– Stay hydrated; drink lots of water.
– Dress properly in layers of good performance apparel with wicking and warming layers. If you stay warm and dry, you’ll enjoy your outing much more.
– Carry a small backpack with safety items and extras such as water, snacks, an extra fleece, warm mittens, hat, compass, map, first aid kit, cell phone, GPS and a small repair/multi-tool kit.
– Always let people know where you are going and when you are expected to return.
– When snowshoeing as a group, especially a family (which is the most fun) let the fittest teenagers break the trail, since it will slow them down a little and allow the rest of the family to keep up. The activity can be a multi-generational outing with the little ones and grandparents at the end of the line on a trail that has been well packed down.
L.L. Bean (800-441-5713, llbean.com) retails many top manufacturers’ snowshoes, as well as accessories needed for snowshoeing like walking poles, and clothes for cold weather. The company also offers its own L.L. Bean-branded snowshoes and equipment, including the Winter Walker snowshoes and packages for everyone from adults to kids.
MSR (206-505-9500, msrgear.com) also offers snowshoe models for men and women, including its Lightning Axis snowshoe named for MSR’s innovative Axis binding technology. The Lightning Axis snowshoes allow up to 22-degrees of bilateral binding adjustment to compensate for a step that’s toe-in or toe-out.
Redfeather Snowshoes (800-525-0081, redfeather.com) offers the Arrow model, a modified round-tail design that makes travel across snow easy. They have also enhanced the Hike Series, specifically designing a version for a woman’s stride, which is generally shorter and narrower than a man’s.
For More Information
How to choose snowshoes – advice from REI: www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/snowshoes.html