If you can walk, you definitely can snowshoe, which proves that this recreational activity is one of the easiest in the whole world. Plus, it’s also pretty much inexpensive. As such, it’s been considered “the fastest growing winter sport in the world” and is set to even grow even further and faster in years to come.
However, no matter how easy snowshoeing can be, without the proper preparation, you’re likely to miss enjoying it at the fullest level possible. To ensure your snowshoe hiking adventure will be a thoroughly enjoyable one, make sure you got the following tips covered.
Pick the Right Snowshoe
Generally, there are 3 kinds of snowshoes – recreational, competition, and hiking. The ones for hiking are generally designed to be sturdier and appropriate for long-distance travel over challenging terrain. Some classifications are based on the terrain – flat, sloping, and steep.
The ones used for flats are perfect for beginners or those new to snowshoeing as these are shorter and simpler. The ones for sloping terrain are those used in backpacking or hiking in the snow. These can also handle icy conditions and steep landscapes. The steep terrain snowshoes are for backcountry hiking and are most suitable for steep, icy inclines, thanks to the strong grip of its crampons.
Aside from picking a pair based on the terrain to be hiked or your skill level, you should also consider the size or length. You can get help from store assistants on this or from people you know who have considerable experience in using snowshoes.
Dress Right and Gear Up
If you’re traversing the highest points of the Swiss Alps, you should bundle up with insulating, warm outerwear. If you’ll be going through glacier, layer the appropriate types of clothing so you can withstand the chill. Don’t forget the sunglasses to cut the glare from the white snow and earmuffs. Or if you can get a hat that can also cover your ears, that will be good, too. Avoid using cotton apparel as this material will trap moisture – go for those made with moisture-wicking material.
You also should get waterproof boots so you won’t be dealing with chilly and soggy feet while hiking. Use wool socks and waterproof pants, too. Make sure you also got your snowshoe poles handy as these will help you maintain your balance, especially in the more challenging parts of the snowy trail.
Boost Your Physical Fitness
Although snowshoes are easy to use, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare your body for this experience. You also have to consider the distance of your trek and the load you’ll be carrying the whole time. Then there’s the weather to factor in, too. When taking all of these in consideration, you’ll understand why it’s necessary to get fit (or fitter) for your snow-laden trek.
One way to prepare is to simply go hiking in the weeks leading to your snowshoe hike. Get outdoors and get walking, whether to the supermarket or through a hiking trail in your area. You can also engage in other types of cardio-based activities, like cycling, aerobics, or circuit training. The key is to get your heart pumping and for a considerable period of time (30 minutes to an hour) so that your body learns to adapt from these exertions. When the actual trip happens, the trek will be even easier for you.
Strengthening your core and legs also helps you a lot in making the hike an enjoyable one as you have more energy to enjoy the view and the experience, rather than focusing on the next resting stop or thinking about the parts of your body that are aching. Do planks, squats, lunges, and burpees to help strengthen your abdominal, back, and leg muscles.
Further, if you’re new to snowshoeing, you’ll also benefit from practicing using your snowshoes before the trip.
Pick the Appropriate Trail
What type of scene do you want to enjoy? Is it a bird’s eye view of a valley below or is it a great expanse of meandering glacier? Do you want to do a day’s hike or just half of that? Do you prefer overnight hikes? Base your choice on your preference and also on the level of snowfall in the area or trail you are keen on exploring. You can check out these options, for example.
Keep Tabs on the Weather
Check the forecasts on the week of your trip and in the days leading to the actual date of your hike. Keep monitoring the weather so you can prepare appropriately and avoid danger.
Are you preparing for an upcoming snowshoe hike? Tell us about it in the comments!