What is Snowshoeing?

snowshoeing

While acting as an excellent form of cardio and providing beautiful sights, snowshoeing has evolved over thousands of years to become a popular winter sporting activity. Snowshoeing works by creating a larger surface area over the snow so that your feet do not sink in as far as with normal boots.


History

The history of snowshoeing dates back thousands of years to present-day central Asia, where the ancestors of the Native Americans migrated from Asia to America. These ancestors created the earliest snowshoes to help them cross the land bridge and trek through the snow on their migration. The snowshoes consisted of modified slabs of wood and created a wider surface area to make walking over the snow easier than walking through it.

Playing Surface

snowshoeing playing surface

It was not until thousands of years after the great migration that snowshoeing became more recreational than a means of transportation. It was not until the 1970s that snowshoeing became the fun winter activity it is today. A nice winter terrain makes for the perfect snowshoe experience. Hard snow is typically better than deep powder snow but the snowshoes are designed to float over the snow regardless.

Snowshoeing Equipment

Snowshoeing Equipment

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 prepare. When snowshoeing it is essential to prepare for the elements you might face in outdoor colder climates

Here is the essential snowshoeing equipment you should have:

  • Balaclava
  • Boots
  • Coat
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Hat
  • Snowshoes

Objectives

Snowshoeing is a fun winter activity, so the number one objective is to enjoy yourself! Other than having fun, there are plenty of reasons to go snowshoeing. It is a great way to stay in shape during the winter and is a low-impact aerobic activity that lets you extend your hiking and running season to a year-round experience.

Rules and Regulations

snowshoeing rules and regulations

While snowshoeing may be a simple activity, there are sets of rules and regulations when in competition. The World Snowshoeing Federation has a set of competition rules.

Here are the most important snowshoeing rules you should know:

  • All competitors must begin the race at the designated start line.
  • All competitors' snowshoes must be behind the start line.
  • If a competitor falls during the race they may stand up and finish the race.

Techniques

Here are the most important Snowshoeing techniques you should know:

  • As you climb hills, use your toe for traction.
  • In powdery snow, use the kick-step technique by kicking your toe into the snow to create a step.
  • Keep your poles in front of you for balance and traction when snowshoeing downhill.

Lingo

Snowshoeing Lingo

Here is the common terminology and slang in snowshoeing:

  • Backcountry: Refers to being off the trail in a place with no designated trails.
  • Binding: The device that secures your foot into the snowshoe.
  • Crampon: The sharp, toothy device on the bottom of the snowshoe that creates traction.
  • Decking: The flat surface of the snowshoe that evenly distributes the weight and allows the snowshoe to float.
  • Frame: The outer edge of the snowshoe where the decking attaches.

Players

snowshoeing players

As it is a global sport, the United States has its own national snowshoeing team for men and women under the United States Snowshoe Association (USSA)

Here are the most famous snowshoeing players you should know:

  • Eric Hartmark
  • Scott Gall
  • Josiah Middaugh
  • Jeffrey Devries
  • Cole Crosby
  • Jackie Hering
  • Michelle Hummel
  • Samantha Lewis
  • Amber Kranz
  • Amber Ferreira

Events

Snowshoeing is a global activity with events that occur all over the world. Snowshoeing competitions are referred to as championships.

Here are the most popular tournaments in Snowshoeing:

  • United States National Snowshoe Championships: Located in Cable, Wisconsin, these championships are both marathon and half-marathon with participants from all over the country.
  • World Snowshoe Championships: Hosted all over the world, it is the world's largest snowshoe event.
  • The La Ciasapolada Snowshoe Race: Hosted in Italy, this race has over 6,000 registrants, making it one of the biggest races in the world.

Olympic Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a popular sport in the Winter Special Olympics as well as the Arctic Winter Games. It became established as a part of the Special Olympics in 1997 and while it has not yet broken into the Winter Olympics yet, it is a major part of the Arctic Winter Games. Snowshoeing at the Arctic Winter Games consist of four events: long distance, short/middle distance, relay, and a combined event consisting of three shorter distances.

How to Choose Snowshoes

The great part about snowshoeing is its ease and simplicity. Experience doesn't matter in the world of snowshoeing; if you can walk, you can snowshoe. While there are a variety of options, choosing the right snowshoes is very important. The most common types of snowshoes are recreational snowshoes. These snowshoes have many different designs, so you can choose the one you like best, but they all share the same features. Recreational snowshoes are great for flatter terrains. They have simpler webbing and less-aggressive traction systems and are the perfect choice for beginners.

FAQs

Is snowshoeing harder than hiking?

Snowshoeing is a great cardio activity and can actually burn more calories than hiking. Trudging through the snow builds muscles in the legs and can get your heart rate up higher than if you hike for the same distance.

Is snowshoeing expensive?

Snowshoes are built to be durable. With that being said they can become pricy but will last you a long time and can be a worthwhile investment if you plan on becoming an avid snowshoer.

Is snowshoeing the same as cross country skiing?

While snowshoeing and cross country skiing are similar in the sense that they are slower paced snow activities, they have their differences. Snowshoeing is more of a walking motion while cross country skiing is similar to skiing or skating as you're pushing off your feet to glide over the snow.