Snowshoeing is an increasingly popular snow sport that allows you to explore snow-covered trails and terrain with ease. Whether you are a beginner or someone experienced in the snow, snowshoeing can be a lot of fun and immensely rewarding.
What Is Snowshoeing?
Snowshoeing is a unique and exciting outdoor activity that has grown in popularity over the years.
It is an environmentally friendly way to enjoy nature by traversing through snow-covered terrain with lightweight footwear that provides added stability and balance.
Snowshoes are essentially an updated version of the traditional wooden frame shoes worn by many cultures for centuries, most notably in North America.
Snowshoeing offers numerous benefits for you if you are open to exploring the outdoors during winter months.
For one, it is surprisingly easy to learn and requires minimal equipment.
All that is needed to get started is a good pair of snowshoes, poles, warm clothing, and appropriate footwear for the conditions.
By providing increased surface area, snowshoes make it possible to walk across deep snow with relative ease.
This makes them ideal for those who wish to explore more remote areas of the backcountry without the need for a heavy sled or cross-country skis.
Snowshoeing is an excellent way to stay active during cold winter months, as it offers a low-impact workout suitable for people of all ages and abilities.
It’s also an excellent way to take in the beauty of the winter landscape, as snowshoes allow you to walk over pristine snow-covered trails in relative silence and at your own pace.
Despite its growing popularity, snowshoeing is still a relatively unknown activity among many outdoor enthusiasts.
What Equipment Do I Need for Snowshoeing?
It’s important to have the right equipment to stay safe and enjoy your snowshoeing experience. Note that you can often rent some of this equipment so you do NOT need to buy all of these items.
The most obvious item is snowshoes as without them, snowshoeing isn’t possible!
Make sure the snowshoes fit properly, with enough width and length for your size and weight. It should also be made of sturdy material so it will last for years of use.
You can normally hire snowshoes so you should not need to buy any snowshoes if you are snowshoeing at a winter sports center.
Snowshoe poles are essential for helping you balance while snowshoeing.
Make sure you choose adjustable poles that fit your height and make sure they have snow baskets on the tip to keep them from sinking in the snow.
These can also normally be hired if you are snowshoeing with a guide.
Investing in appropriate outerwear is also important when snowshoeing, as this will help keep you warm and dry.
Look for jackets and pants that are waterproof, windproof, and breathable so you can stay comfortable even if the weather turns sour.
4. Insulated boots
A good pair of insulated boots is a must-have for snowshoes; otherwise, your feet will get cold quickly! The boots should be waterproof, with thick insulation to ensure maximum warmth.
5. Hats, gloves, and mittens
To keep your head and hands warm while snowshoeing, you’ll need to invest in a quality hat and a pair of insulated snow-proof gloves or mittens.
Look for materials that are waterproof and windproof so they will provide adequate protection from the elements.
Gaiters are a great investment as these attach over your boots to help keep snow out and warmth in.
Make sure the gaiters fit properly around the ankle area to ensure maximum protection when snowshoeing.
Protect your eyes from snow glare by investing in a good pair of sunglasses.
Polarized lenses are ideal for snowshoeing.
Also, look for sunglasses that have a snug fit and are designed to stay in place even when you’re snowshoeing over rough terrain.
8. Small Backpack
A quality snowshoe backpack will help store all your gear, including food, water, and extra layers of clothing.
Choose a pack with enough capacity for the items you plan on bringing along on your snowshoe outing.
9. Map and Compass (If Going without a Guide)
If you are snowshoeing by yourself, then always bring a map and compass with you when snowshoeing.
This will help you stay on track if you get lost or turned around in unfamiliar terrain.
Make sure the map is waterproof so it won’t be damaged by snow or rain.
10. Emergency Kit
If you go snowshoeing on an organized tour then the tour leader with usually already carry an emergency kit.
Otherwise, make sure you have one and include basic items such as a flashlight, extra batteries, flares, and first-aid supplies. This will help keep you safe in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.
With the right equipment, snowshoeing can be a fun and enjoyable way to explore snow-covered terrain.
Benefits of Snowshoeing
Not only is it a fun activity for all ages, but it also offers numerous health benefits that make it an ideal exercise choice. Here are five key benefits of snowshoeing:
1. Low-Impact Activity
Snowshoeing is a gentle and low-impact exercise that puts minimal strain on the body.
Because it’s a weight-bearing exercise, snowshoeing can help strengthen and tone muscles while helping to reduce the risk of injury due to impact on joints.
2. Cardiovascular Workout
Snowshoeing can provide an excellent cardiovascular workout as it increases heart rate and strengthens the lungs.
It’s a fun way to improve your fitness level in a manner that seems natural and fun.
3. Stress Relief
Snowshoeing is a great way to improve stress levels and relax your mind while experiencing the great outdoors and nature.
Being out in nature can help relax and restore the mind, while physical activity helps release endorphins that make you feel good.
4. Social Activity
As we found out on our trip to Norway, snowshoeing can be a fun social activity and is great for meeting other people such as when you do a snowshoeing holiday.
You can also quite easily enjoy this activity with friends or family members of all ages and abilities.
5. Cost Effective
Snowshoeing doesn’t require a lot of expensive gear or equipment, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to get out and enjoy winter activities.
Snowshoeing Questions Answered
How hard is snowshoeing? Is snowshoeing a hard workout for beginners?
Snowshoeing is really quite easy but as a beginner, if you are with a group, you are best off going further back in the line.
If you are at the front and if the snow is deep, then it can be more demanding.
As a beginner, I would recommend avoiding deep snow or going on an organized trip to get used to it.
Is snowshoeing harder than skiing?
Snowshoeing is very different from skiing, but yes, I would say from trying both, that snowshoeing is much easier.
If you do not enjoy downhill skiing but love the snow and the great outdoors then I highly recommend snowshoeing.
Is it hard to walk with snowshoes?
It is not hard as long as you have the right-sized shoes.
I personally made the mistake the first time to wear snowshoes that were not wide enough and as a result, I found myself sinking too easily if I walked at the front of the group.
The second time, with wider snow shoes I was fine.
Do you sink when snowshoeing?
You do a little bit but the point of snowshoeing is that the shoe is wide and thus it absorbs the weight.
When treading deep snow though, you will sink slightly, especially if at the front of a group, i.e., if you are the one making the path for the others behind you.
What are the risks of snowshoeing?
Like every winter sport, there are naturally some risks with snowshoeing, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the terrain or conditions.
Potential hazards can include the risk of avalanches, falling out of control on steep slopes, and slipping on ice and snow-covered rocks. These risks though are minimal if you are snowshoeing in a relatively flat location as we did at Venabu Mountain Hotel Resort in Norway.
Hypothermia is also a serious risk if you become lost in cold weather without adequate protection or warm clothing.
It is important to be aware of the potential dangers before heading out and to wear appropriate safety gear, such as an avalanche beacon and a helmet.
Is there a technique for snowshoeing?
Snowshoeing is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries by many cultures, but it’s still a popular and fun way to explore the outdoors in winter.
There are several techniques for snowshoeing that can improve your overall experience.
One of these techniques is known as “flotation” or “skating”, which involves lifting your feet and pushing off with the toe of the snowshoe to move forward.
This allows for greater flexibility in navigating difficult terrain and is especially helpful when crossing rivers or streams.
Additionally, alternating between strolling upright and crouching low can help improve balance and reduce fatigue during longer hikes.
Finally, keeping a steady rhythm can help conserve energy and increase speed.
With the right technique, snowshoeing can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience!
How do you get in shape for snowshoeing?
If you do general fitness you should then be fit enough to do snowshoeing.
We tend to often use the cross-trainer in the gym or sometimes do a 5 Km run and we found that we thus already had good enough fitness to quite easily do snowshoeing.
If you are not so fit, then you could focus on strengthening your legs and core as well as improving your cardiovascular endurance.
Leg strength will help you power through deep snow and up hills while a strong core will help you maintain good balance and posture.
If you enjoy swimming, running, cycling, or using a cross-trainer, these are great ways to build up your cardiovascular endurance and this will can only help make it easier for you when snowshoeing.
Is snowshoeing hard on the hips and knees?
(Note: If you have hip and knee issues you might first wish to consult your doctor first)
Snowshoeing does not require a high impact on the hips and knees, making it an ideal activity for you if you suffer joint issues or are looking for a low-impact form of exercise.
Many snowshoe enthusiasts say that snowshoeing is easier on their joints than running or even walking in regular shoes.
The use of poles also helps to reduce the strain on the hips and knees as they provide extra stability while walking over uneven terrain.
Wearing appropriate layers of warm clothing will help protect your joints from cold weather conditions.
Additionally, it is important to practice good technique when snowshoeing, as using improper form can increase wear and tear on your joints.
To reduce strain on the hips and knees, keep your feet parallel with each other instead of angling them outwards which can cause extra stress on the knee joints.
Additionally, take short steps and use a slight bend in your lower leg to absorb shock from uneven surfaces.
With proper form and attire, snowshoeing can be a great way to stay active while also protecting your hips and knees.
5 Places to Try Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is a great way to explore the snowy parts of Europe and discover its beauty in winter.
It’s an easy activity that people of all ages can enjoy, with plenty of places to try it throughout the continent.
Here are five top spots to head for those seeking snowshoeing adventure:
1. Venabu Norway
Venabu is where we went snowshoeing and we combined it with cross-country skiing and dog-sledding.
It’s a great resort that is family-run and with great instructors, it was great socially, and a cozy hotel. We highly recommend Venabu Fjellhotell and their experience packages.
2. Dolomiti Paganella
Known as the ‘Alpine ski paradise of Trentino’, this area in Northern Italy offers fantastic snowshoeing trails through stunning mountain scenery.
It’s a great option for those who want to combine their snowshoeing experience with some luxurious pampering at one of the top-notch resorts located here.
This mountain range, which forms the border between France and Spain, is a great place to try out snowshoeing.
There are several popular resorts along the slopes of the Pyrenees, offering excellent snowshoeing trails with plenty of spectacular views.
This northern region of Finland is an ideal spot for snowshoeing, with its pristine forests, rolling hills, and wild animals.
The resorts here offer high-quality equipment and experienced guides that can take you into the heart of this winter wonderland.
This Swiss mountain resort offers some of the best snowshoeing trails in the world.
The unique beauty of Matterhorn Mountain with its glaciers and snow-capped peaks makes for a truly memorable experience.
The resorts here offer plenty of options for those looking to make their snowshoeing trip even more special, from dog sled tours to overnight stays in igloos.
Sports Travel Booking Resources
Traveling around the world to watch & experience sports, I tend to always use the same resources for booking trips. These are the ones I use most frequently and that I find to have great customer support and competitive prices.
- Sports Event Tickets – Tickets for all sporting events
- Get Your Guide – is an excellent site as a one-stop shop for booking attractions, local tours, activities, and excursions. Great customer service and an easy-to-use site.
- Booking.com – The best site I have found for hotel and accommodation bookings.
- Flights – are also now offered by booking.com and as I love the brand this is my first port of call now for flights.
- Safety Wing Travel Insurance – I love Saftey Wing as they cover everything I need to be covered and they have a simple-to-use site, and again, I have found their customer service very good, when I needed to ask questions.
- Hostelworld – Book backpacker hostel rooms around the world with Hostel World.