Snowshoeing – it’s for everybody! Just add snow
By Vince Winkel
Consider this is the fastest growing winter sport in the world, because it is.
It's a great way to get outside in winter, get a workout, a refreshing hike, and not worry about sinking in snow that's knee-deep or too deep.
The sport is easy to learn, inexpensive (compared to other winter sports), poses little risk of injury and is a great way to jam on some energy during the cold winter months.
Why go snowshoeing? What started thousands of years ago as a mode of transportation has evolved into a popular winter activity for recreation and fitness.
It's fun: Snowshoeing extends your hiking or running season into winter. It lets you enjoy winter solitude but can be a social activity. All ages and ability levels can enjoy the sport together.
It's easy: As the saying goes, "If you can walk, you can snowshoe." The learning curve is much shorter than that of skiing or snowboarding. A few techniques worth practicing: widening your stance (to avoid stepping on snowshoe frames), going up and down hills, traversing slopes and pole usage.
Here’s some gear that will help you stay warm and dry while hiking through the snow.
When it comes to winter activities, especially aerobic ones like snowshoeing, think in terms of layers.
Next to your skin you want Merino wool – it wicks sweat away keeping you warm and dry, and fights odor naturally.
Don't forget gaiters to keep snow from sneaking inside your boots.
Down jackets are the ultimate insulation to hold in heat and keep cold away.
When it snows and blows our storm jackets block wind, snow, and sleet.
It's cheap: Required gear includes snowshoes, appropriate footwear and clothing, and (probably) a pair of poles. That's it! No lift ticket is required. Hey Red Fox even rents snowshoes, so give it a test ride.
It's a good workout: Snowshoeing offers low-impact, aerobic exercise that helps you stay in shape during the winter. It's easier than post-holing in deep snow, but you still need to step high in soft snow, sort of like a stairmaster without the boredom.
It's versatile: You can go easy or go hard. Plus, you can snowshoe many trails that you can't ski due to tight trees or low-snow conditions.
According to research provided by Snowsports Industries America (SIA), 40.8 percent of snowshoers are women (a number that is increasing rapidly), 9.4 percent of snowshoers are children (ages 7-11), and 44.2 percent of snowshoers are ages 25-44.
The cost for a pair of snowshoes is generally inexpensive. Look to spend on the low-end around $100 and on the high-end around $300.
Where to go?
- Find a nearby state or national park and inquire about the best trails at the visitor center
- Check out the centers/members of the Colorado Cross Country Ski Association, many of which also allow snowshoeing and offer snowshoeing tours
There are three types of snowshoes ….
- Flat terrain: Designed for easy walking on flat to rolling terrain; ideal for families. Includes entry-level models that offer good value.
- Rolling terrain: Best for hiking on rolling to steep hills; suitable for all but very steep or icy conditions. Good for hiking off the beaten track.
- Mountain terrain: Built with crampons for icy, steep terrain. Aimed at those who blaze their own trails for hiking or backcountry snowboarding.
Get out there, whether you are 7 or 70, you can snowshoe!