Lots of people love to ski or snowboard in the winter. After all, gliding down a mountain can be great fun. But not everybody can do it.
First of all, you need a certain level of coordination, skill and some training to be able to downhill ski or snowboard. Second, you have to buy or rent all of the necessary gear (and there can be a lot of it). And third, you generally have to travel quite a distance to a mountain and a ski area where you can actually participate.
Maybe that’s why the fastest growing winter sport is snowshoeing. Unlike skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing does not require tremendous coordination, physical ability or equipment, plus a person can snowshoe almost anywhere there is enough snow.
Most people can get the hang of snowshoes the first time they try them. To get a picture of what snowshoes are like, imagine having weights on your feet while you walk or walking along the beach with swim fins on. It is a similar sensation.
Learning is easy, but you will quickly find out that walking around with your snowshoes on is a great workout. You will get warm fast even on the coldest afternoon. You will get a good cardio workout and your legs will be sore the next day.
Snowshoes are wide and they take the user’s weight and spread that weight over the entire surface of the shoe. By spreading the weight out over a larger portion of the snow, they allow the user to stay on top of the snow versus sinking into it.
At first glance snowshoes look similar, but they do vary quite a bit based upon the manufacturer’s style and what the snowshoe is made for. Even though all snowshoes are built to walk on the snow, they will vary based upon the user’s weight, what kind of snow the user will be in and what activities the user wants to perform while wearing them.
Almost all snowshoes will work with any kind of boot or shoe. A few specialty models will require a unique boot, but most will accommodate whatever you have. That being said, you are going to be out in the snow in the winter months, so you need the best insulated boots you can find. The workout will keep your upper body warm, but you need your boots to keep your toes warm.
Although you don’t really need anything else to start snowshoeing, you may want to get some trekking poles and a carrying bag. The poles will help you balance on slopes and uneven terrain and will help you get out of the snow when you occasionally sink in a bit. They also give your arms something to do and you can use them to poke at things you find along the trail.
Your bag will carry your shoes when you’re not using them. Your snowshoes are bulky and they are usually wet and hard to carry, plus you need someplace to store them during the warmer months, so getting a bag is a good choice. Many online retailers will have package deals that will include a bag and maybe some poles.
Finally, know you’re personal limits and remember to be safe. Don’t just drive to the nearest national park and start trekking off into the wilderness by yourself. Snowshoe with other people. Make sure somebody knows where you are going and when you should be coming back. Bring lots of water with you along with some high energy snacks. A brisk hike can take a lot of energy out of a person.
Enjoy yourself, but be sensible.
There are several great snow sport activities to do this winter, but be sure to try out snowshoeing.