As winter sets in, now is the time to learn how to snowshoe. All it takes is snowshoes, a pair of hiking poles and a good day pack to stow your extra gear.
First lets talk about what you need to know when buying new snowshoes. For the most part they are all very similar unless you get into some of the specialty kinds. They make special shoes designed for running, back-country treks and even wooden snowshoes.
Make sure to stop by the snowshoe reviews page to get some insight as to what shoes would work the best for you. Used snowshoes are also a good way to go, and can be found at some rental places when they get in new ones.
After you have gotten your gear together you can find places to go on our Colorado Trails page.
Check out the video for a short introduction to snowshoeing!
Did you enjoy the video? Make sure to stop by our snowshoe stories page and tell us about your favorite trip!
Need to see what's out there on the market for snowshoes? Click on a manufacturers name below to see what they offer.
Snowshoeing is just hiking with big floppy metal or plastic baskets strapped to your feet. The hardest part is making sure they are strapped on tight so your heal does not move around in them. Also finding a good rhythm while walking will help you not trip over your own feet. Check out our Snowshoeing Tips page to see what information and tips we found out while learning how to snowshoe.
Good waterproof shoes are the key. If you venture off the trail, you will sink. Make sure they are comfortable, waterproof and will keep your feet warm. The first boots I tried were giant, waterproof snow boots with extra heavy linings that I used to shovel the driveway. My feet were way too hot and the boots were too heavy to make it fun. Get a hiking boot that is light and waterproof. Hi-Tec makes a good boot for around $69. Remember that cold, wet, sore feet make for a miserable day.
Something else to keep in mind are poles. Poles can come in handy when going up and down hills and are useful for balance and transferring weight. I have heard some people say that they tend to get a little more exhausted when using them on flat, packed trails. If this is the case for you, strap them on your pack where they are easily accessible. More than likely if you're like me you'll end up off the beaten path, fall, then your friends will laugh at you when you can't get up. In this case they will help you get out of that snow hole. You can pick up a good set for around $30. And remember you can use them in the summer for hiking and backpacking.
Hopefully, you already have a good pair of snow pants from skiing. What kind you needs depends on how well you deal with the cold. When we first learned how to snowshoe the pants i wore were just liners so I wear my Patagonia mid weight thermal underwear every time I go. My wife does not deal well with the cold and has thermal lined pants plus thermals. A nice function you should look for in pants is zippers on the legs to let air in because as you get moving snowshoeing can burn up to 1000 calories an hour! As your learning how to snowshoe the hardest part will be getting the temperature right. When you get out of the car to put on the shoes you will freeze, as you get moving you will sweat and when you stop to eat lunch you will freeze again. This is where the concept of layering comes into play.
A waterproof coat is a good idea but not necessary if your warm enough in a fleece jacket. It can start snowing while your out and if you get damp, you will get very cold and fast. In the past I have worn my thermal top, a fleece sweater and my ski jacket. I find though while moving the fleece does not breath enough and I tend to get sweaty. This means the second I stop moving I get cold again. I looked into a down or synthetic jacket as my second layer because of its ability to regulate body temperature better. I found out that down is better for warmth but synthetic keeps the heat when wet. Check out this down vs synthetic insulation guide from Sierra Trading Post to help decide which one is best for you. Both give good insulation without the bulk and breathe better then fleece.
And now the fun part,besides the shoes, is picking hats and gloves. Make sure when picking a hat that it covers your ears. In the mountains the wind is the hardest part of the trip to deal with and most of your body heat is lost through your head. A hat is an easy piece to remove for a minute to cool off so make sure it's warm. Gloves have been a struggle to get good ones to keep my wife's hands warm. I find a pair of convertible mittens work the best. If it is comfortable you can fold the mitten part back and just use the fingerless gloves. If it gets really cold the mitten part is an easy place to stash a warming pack. When learning how to snowshoe the hardest part will be getting the temperature right.
Now that you know how to snowshoe, stop by our snowshoe stories page and tell us about your first time!