The hardest part is getting started: Snowshoeing

Knowing where to begin is usually the hardest part to getting started. So why it took me so long to get out on a pair of snowshoes is beyond me!  Having lived my entire life in Northern Michigan most are quite surprised to learn that I had never been snowshoeing a day in my life until just about three years ago.

The journey was long but in hindsight totally inevitable. It all began when I started connecting online with other outdoors enthusiasts through Social Media.  I quickly learned that there was a huge outdoors community that often met through twitter chats. A twitter chat is a regular online meeting of people who chat back and forth about various topics by following a unique hashtag i.e. #Hikerchat. It was through #Hikerchat that my journey began and my passion for Snowshoeing grew. It wasn’t long before I was strapping on a pair of snowshoes myself and dragging my husband along to explore our favorite hiking trails in the middle of the winter. Fast forward three years and we are now “those people” who annoy most by looking forward to and embracing winter each year!

So how can you also become someone who looks forward to and embraces the winter? Snowshoeing of course! In an effort to help make your journey into Snowshoeing sooner and to get you off on the right foot (or Snowshoe 😉 ) I have put together a list of tips to help get you started:

Snowshoeing

Just ask!
If you are already on Twitter, just ask anyone by using the hashtag #HikerChat. Someone from the #HikerChat community will quickly respond and be more than happy to answer your questions and offer great tips. Next, head out to your local outdoors retail store and start asking questions! Investigate what brands and types of snowshoes are available. Most sales associates are happy to talk to you about Snowshoeing and will help get you into the right pair snowshoes based on your gender, weight and type of terrain you plan to adventure on. Online find out which snowshoe is right for you with the Tubbs Snowshoes finder: Snowshoe finder

Try before you buy!
If you are unsure about investing in a pair of Snowshoes right away, rent a pair! Google: “Snowshoe rentals” in your local area. Many local sporting goods stores and even ski resorts often offer snowshoe rentals. Grab a friend and rent some snowshoes and give it a try!  Grab your loved one and make it an outdoors date!

Gear up!
Make sure you are properly geared up for snowshoeing. Nothing is worse than getting outdoors and being unprepared. It is not only no fun but also very dangerous, especially in the winter! You are out there to have fun and make memories, be dressed appropriately and make sure you have the right supplies for emergencies,  just in case!

Essential gear:

  • Snowshoes
  • Poles
  • Daypack
  • Headlamp for low light or nighttime
  • Sunglasses or Goggles
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Food and Water
  • First Aid Kit
  • Pocket Knife
  • Fully Charged Cell phone for emergencies!

what do i need for snowshoeing

What to wear:

  • Base layer top/bottom: Moisture wicking, breathable materials (avoid cotton!)
  • Mid Layer top/bottom: An insulating (fleece type) material.
  • Outer Layer top/bottom: A waterproof, windproof shell type jacket.
  • Warm lined hat.
  • Warm gloves with glove liners for extreme cold.
  • Gaiters (optional)
  • Waterproof insulated hiking type boots.
  • Warm hiking socks.

Just for FUN!

  • Camera
  • Thermos type insulated beverage vessel or flask filled with your favorite hot drink!
  • Bring the dog! Our pets love to spend time with us and love the outdoors, plus it’s a great way to exercise him (and you).

The Basics
For the most part snowshoeing is easy to learn. Most will tell you that if you can walk, you can snowshoe! Start by strapping on a pair of snowshoes and try walking around your yard. Stay on the flatter areas and avoid hills until you maneuver the “Snowshoe stride”, a slightly wider and longer stride to avoid hitting the snowshoes together. Use your poles to help with balance until you adjust to the new stride.

Next, try going uphill and downhill. Continuing with the snowshoe stride, start uphill by crouching ever so slightly as you walk. Most snowshoes have metal teeth on the bottom called Crampons that bite into and grab the snow and ice that will assist you in going uphill or downhill and keep you from slipping. Don’t be afraid to grab onto nearby branches or trees to help guide you and be sure to give a helping hand to a friend that may be following along behind you.

Snowshoeing is quickly gaining in popularity and for many great reasons. It is easy to do for nearly anyone at any age, it requires less gear and is generally less expensive than most other winter sports, and it is a winter sport that you can do right out your own back door! No expensive lift tickets or travel required, although I am sure once you get started you will soon be traveling near and far to explore all of the amazing snowshoe trails that are available to you! Be sure to check your local tourist and convention bureau for awesome snowshoe trails in your area. They may even know of some snowshoe groups or tours! Get outdoors and explore and embrace the winter this year!

Happy Trails!

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A Northern Michigan native, Kimberly Ciesla has gained a deep-seated passion for the outdoors and all that is Michigan. She loves to travel and make memories with family and friends, enjoying life’s daily adventures while pursuing her dreams and passions one breathtaking moment at a time.