Grab a pair of snowshoes and get outside! Snowshoeing is easy, great exercise, inexpensive, and just all-around fun.
Too icy to go for a run? Get running snowshoes. Snow too deep? Get recreational snowshoes and go on a day hike. Want to cross the Presidential Range in January? Get really warm boots and some burly snowshoes. Skiers and riders: do you covet that line in the backcountry? Snowshoes are a great way to ascend steep slopes and are compact enough to strap on your pack for a quick descent. Snowshoes are the SUVs of winter sports and can tackle all kinds of terrain.
Involve the entire family!
Anyone can snowshoe, from kids to adults - there's not much of a learning curve. Take the whole family out of the stuffy house or hermetically-sealed office. Grab an animal track book and have the kids figure out what critters are bounding around the woods. Avoid cabin fever and start exploring the winter wonderland by snowshoe.
Choose the right size
There are two major factors that influence your snowshoe choice: your weight and snow depth. The more you weigh, the bigger the snowshoe needed. And the deeper the snow, the larger the snowshoe needed. To find the best size, consult our snowshoe size charts online or in the store.
Choose the right style
A snowshoe style/model is generally affected by your activity/sport as well as snow conditions. Eastern Mountain Sports sells several types of shoes by activity.
Recreational: If you're planning to get out in the yard, on the road, or hike a flat trail, recreational models are the best value and require no maintenance.
Backpacking/Mountaineering: Access the backcountry, or tackle steep and icy summits and unmarked trails. These snowshoes have aggressive crampons and are ultra tough.
Fitness/Racing: Get an aerobic low-impact workout that burns fat and builds strength. Runners, give pavement-pounding a rest. Cyclists, develop biking-specific muscles on hill workouts
Also check out the product features, especially the bindings, which secure your boot to the snowshoe. A fixed binding excels at crossing steep terrain or backing up yet can kick snow on the back of your legs. A pivot binding sheds snow more easily and reduces leg fatigue when walking but can be awkward when climbing or backing up.
Dress to match your activity
Match your clothing to your activity, be it hiking, backpacking, or running. Dress in layers. Start with wicking long underwear to stay dry. Wear wind-resistant outerwear, and bring insulating layers as needed. If you are running or hiking steep hills, bring a day pack so you can bring an extra base layer and add or remove layers as needed.
Match boots to your activity
Wear boots that match your activity, whether it's waterproof hiking boots or trail-running shoes. A mountaineer can use plastic boots like Koflach® or Scarpa®. If you're telemarking or snowboarding, you may be able to wear your boots, but it depends on the binding design. Get wool or synthetic socks with wicking liners to avoid sweat and blisters, plus gaiters to keep snow out of your boots.
Bring the right accessories
Trekking poles are handy for balance, negotiating steep terrain, or adding an extra element to your workout by using your upper body. Bring the usual suspects: hat, gloves, extra pair of gloves, sunglasses, plenty of water, and energy snacks (Pop Tarts® sort of count), animal track book, day pack. Don't forget heat packs for the cold-blooded folks in your party. And bring headlamps if it's early or late in the day. Check your stuff before you go. Are the snowshoes in good repair and bindings OK? Are your favorite hiking boots still waterproof?
Pick your trail - or create one
Snowshoeing isn't confined to established trails. Try the local golf course. Snowmobile trails are great, but do not assume the snowmobile drivers can see you - especially at night. If you want to try racing, visit some snowshoe company websites, such as Tubbs or Atlas. If you see cross-country ski tracks, do not walk over them. Unfamiliar with the area you want to snowshoe in? Find a local outdoor shop and ask the staff.
As you start ascending hills, you'll want to use the toe of your boots to dig into the snow. Your snowshoe has crampons underneath your bindings that will grip the hill. When you descend, plant your feet firmly and avoid leaning back, so your toe crampons get traction (unless you have mountaineering snowshoes which also have heel crampons).
Take your first steps
To snowshoe, just step in and go! It can help to stretch out your hips and hamstrings once you've warmed up a bit, as you use a wider stance on snowshoes and long steps - which may cause sore muscles at first. Your poles also give you support and help you stay balanced.
Stay safe, hydrated, energized
Bring plenty of high-energy food and water because snowshoeing burns through both quickly. Instead of stopping for a half hour to eat and getting cold, try stopping several times for shorter periods. Bring along a small thermos with hot liquid.
If the snow is deep, take turns breaking trail, kind of like drafting on a bike. If you're in the backcountry, get avalanche training - people usually trigger avalanches themselves. Tell someone where you are, and always know the weather. Bring a small emergency kit with duct tape for patching holes, and wire or tie-wraps for securing broken straps. If you're using poles, just duct tape your little kit to the bottom.
Now go have fun! Or as we say in snowshoeing, float on!