Beginner’s Guide To Snowshoeing

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What You Need To Know Before Your First Snowshoeing Adventure

We took the kids on our first snowshoeing adventure last week while on vacation up in Vermont.  Everyone had a wonderful time and it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  I was honestly so surprised at how easy it was.  I expected the snowshoes to be heavy or cumbersome, but they were lightweight and super easy to walk in.  Check out our beginners guide to snowshoeing before your first snowshoeing adventure.


What To Wear Snowshoeing

This really depends on the weather conditions.  You’ll want to dress in layers and wear outerwear that will keep you dry and warm.  We chose to wear our base layers and snow pants and ski jackets since the weather called for cold temperatures and snow throughout the day.  Waterproof gloves or mittens and a warm hat.  Snowshoes will work with basically any type of shoe, but you’ll want to wear something that will keep your feet warm, dry and be comfortable enough for the long distance.  We chose to hike in our ski socks and snowboots, but waterproof hiking boots would work well too.  Lightweight wool socks like ones used for skiing will keep your feet warm and dry without adding too much bulk to your boot.  If you don’t have these just wear what’s comfortable.

how to snowshoe

What To Bring Snowshoeing

Like any hike, make sure you bring water and a few snacks.  We have the older kids bring their travel backpacks and carry their own water bottles and snacks to help lighten our load. A trail map is always helpful if you have one since cell service in the mountains can be spotty.

Where To Go Snowshoeing

If you’re newbies, we suggest heading to a cross-country ski resort or ski center where you can rent the equipment and snowshoeing trails are clearly marked.  While up in Vermont we went to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont.  The staff at their outdoor center was super helpful with getting our family in the right rental gear and answered any questions we had about the different trails.

If you have your own equipment or have found rental equipment, you can also go snowshoeing at state or national parks or wherever you would go hiking.

How To Put On Snowshoes

You want to make sure that you are choosing the correct snowshoes for your weight and height. If you’re renting equipment, the rental facility will definitely help you out in that department.  The largest difference is between the snowshoes for smaller children and older children or adults. For younger children, they have snowshoes that do not bend with your foot. They are one solid piece that is slightly larger than their boot.

Because the snowshoes for the little ones don’t move, you don’t have to worry too much about where the toe of their boot is on the snowshoe when you’re securing it to their boot.  Just make sure that it’s tight enough to stay on there.

For the older kids and adults the snowshoes also attach directly to your boot, but your heel is able to move up away from the main frame of the snowshoe while you walk.  When attaching these snowshoes to your boot you’ll need to leave enough room at the toe of your boot for the toe of your boot not to touch the front of the snowshoe while you are walking.

There are usually three straps on the snowshoe.  Two over the top of your foot and one around the back of your foot.  First line up the toe of your boot with enough room so your boot won’t hit the snowshoe while you’re walking.  Tighten the toe strap.  Then tighten the strap around the back of your boot.  Finally secure the second front strap over the top of your foot. Make sure that the straps are tight enough.  My son’s snowshoe strap kept popping loose and the rental place said that usually meant that we didn’t have the straps in the back or at the toe tight enough.

How To Select The Correct Size Snowshoeing Poles

Whether you’re renting or buying equipment, you’ll want to make sure to select the right size snowshoe poles for your height.  While wearing the snowshoes, flip the pole upside down and grasp one hand below the basket (or circle disk at the end of the pole).  Your arm should be at about a 90 degree angle to the ground. A lot of the snowshoeing poles are adjustable so they can be shared or adjusted to different heights based on personal preference.  A lot of times you can find trekking poles that allow you to use them for snowshoeing by adding a basket to the end of them.  This pair for example gets thousands of raving reviews, and comes with detachable ends for use on different terrain.  Most snowshoe rentals also come with poles.

how to snowshoe

Have Fun

We hope that our beginner’s guide to snowshoeing helped you plan your next winter adventure. Get out there and have fun.  We all loved our snowshoeing adventure through the woods and we are definitely looking forward to our next.

Check out some of our other helpful winter family travel tips like What To Pack For A Family Ski Trip.

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