Snowshoeing is a fun winter activity that requires proper technique and equipment to be successful. The proper equipment can make or break the excursion, so it is critical to know how to properly prepare for snowshoeing. The essentials keep the snowshoer above the snow, balanced and perhaps most importantly, warm! Since snowshoeing is done in cold climates, it is important to bundle up when snowshoeing or you will be uncomfortable during your trek.
Learn more about the equipment used for snowshoeing in this list below.
The Ten Essentials are a collection of ten items that are necessary for any backcountry excursions such as hiking or snowshoeing. The original Ten Essentials list was assembled in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, an organization from Seattle for climbers and outdoor adventurers. The list was made in order to help people be prepared for emergency situations in the outdoors. The original list included a map, compass, sunglasses, sunscreen, extra clothing, a headlamp, flashlight, first-aid supplies, fire starter, matches, knife and extra food. The list has changed over the years and consists today of navigation, headlamp, sun protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water and extra clothes. The ten essentials will be discussed individually below.
A balaclava is similarly designed to a ski mask. It is a great accessory for snowshoeing or any winter activity as it protects the face and entire head and neck area from the cold that will be experienced during these activities.
Insulated, waterproof boots are the best for snowshoeing. It would be a miserable excursion if all the snow was soaking into your socks. Having dependable boots will keep your feet warm and make your snowshoeing experience as fun as it should be. For extra warmth and to protect against blisters, pair the boots with warm, thick socks.
Going snowshoeing without an insulated, waterproof coat would be a bad idea. A waterproof parka or a thick ski jacket are excellent coat options for snowshoeing. A smaller, insulated jacket should be worn underneath the coat to trap as much heat as possible.
Make sure to dress in layers to stay warm and brave the elements. Better to have extra clothes and not need them than need extra clothes and not have them!
Snowshoeing excursions can be long, so having extra food is always a good idea. Energy bars, dried fruits, nuts, or any items that do not take long to prepare or require an intense amount of heat are excellent options to pack while snowshoeing.
Snowshoeing is an excellent winter activity for cardio. Snowshoeing burns between 420-1,000 calories per hour, twice as many calories as walking at the same speed. It is important to stay hydrated when snowshoeing because it can be a strenuous activity.
This simply means a fire starter, such as a lighter or a box of matches. Snowshoers face some frigid temperatures, so being able to make a fire if they get stuck is important. A lighter is recommended over matches as matches can get wet and flimsy.
First aid kits are essential to snowshoeing as accidents may occur on the trip. Every first aid kit should have treatments for blisters, band-aids of various sizes, gauze pads, adhesive tape, disinfecting ointment, over-the-counter pain medication, pen, and paper. Nitrile or latex gloves should also be included.
Snowshoeing would be a miserable experience without gloves. Having a thick, insulated pair of gloves to keep the hands warm will make your snowshoeing experience a much more pleasant one.
Nobody wants to be lost in the wilderness in the dark. Having a headlamp is an excellent light source and unlike a flashlight, it frees up the hands so that you can perform other important tasks such as holding the trekking poles.
Knives are very versatile in their benefits to a snowshoer. They can be used for gear repair, food preparation, first aid, cutting wood and other emergency needs. Knives come in many different varieties and each one comes with its own set of benefits, so make sure you pick out a knife that best suits your needs when snowshoeing.
When snowshoeing, make sure to have some type of navigation equipment handy. Whether it be a map, GPS, personal locator, or iPhone, use an item with the type of technology needed to not get lost in the wilderness. An altimeter watch is a handy tool to have as it provides the elevation which is a good indicator for those snowshoeing up a mountain of how high up they are.
Having shelter to protect from the elements is always a good idea. Wind and rain are common weather one might encounter when snowshoeing. Common forms of shelter include a tarp, a space blanket, or even a large plastic bag.
Snow pants are an essential part of any activity in the snow. They prevent against the snow seeping into the underneath layers of clothes as well as keep the legs insulated to provide heat. Skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and any other person participating in a sporting activity in the snow will be wearing snow pants as a way to keep warm and dry for a better experience. Wearing long johns or fleece pants as a base layer underneath the snow pants is recommended.
Snowshoes are the first item to pack when snowshoeing. The snowshoes make it possible to walk through the snow without sinking too deep as they are designed to float across the snow. Snowshoes should be picked based on the height and weight dimensions of the person snowshoeing, similar to normal shoes.The earliest snowshoes date back over 5,000 years ago and were constructed out of flat piece's of leather attached to wooden blocks. There are three types of snowshoes: terrain use, mountain use and running use. When selecting which snowshoe to choose, two things to keep in mind are what type of terrain your snowshoeing excursion will occur in and what type of experience you have snowshoeing, beginners tend to use the trail snowshoes.
When Snowshoeing, people are exposed to snow and ice for prolonged periods of time. The sun's reflection off of snow or ice can be damaging to the eyes. Wear sunglasses or dark goggles as goggles will shield the eyes from harsh winds.
Trekking poles are important for balance and taking pressure off of the legs when snowshoeing. Trekking poles help in just about every terrain while having certain modifications for each surface. Beginners should be using trekking poles, but it is smart for all snowshoers to use them.
Having a warm winter hat is essential when snowshoeing as well. A winter hat will keep the head and ears warm. Winter hats can be paired with balaclavas, gaiters and ski masks to provide extra warmth.