Five Reasons to Go Snowshoeing

January 12, 2016

  • by
  • Peter Reese

Banish the image of the grizzled trapper, laden with hides, plowing through the blizzard.  Snowshoeing, in a way not so different from fly fishing, can redefine the outdoor experience.  Pick your favorite reasons and strap in; sooner rather than later.

Reason #1:  Access

Windblown ridges to trout-rich canyon rivers, a moderately-sized snowshoe gets you to the action.  Scout a line, capture a frosty formation in pixels or wet a frozen line with little impairment.  Backcountry skiers and riders take note; shoeing can replacing skinning in some conditions, earning a few pounds of extra weight.

Insider tip: Snowshoes represent equal – or greater – avalanche-triggering surface pressure and vibration as skis and boards. Don’t think you’re floating idyllically when the risks remain present.

Product recommendation: Tubb’s Women’s Flex VRT Snowshoe is a climbing machine capable of making good time across the flats.  Active Junky applauds the BOA closure system and snow-shedding deck design. At 4lbs and 22” long, VRT suits winter athletes of most weights.  A men’s version offers 24” and 28” options.

Reason #2:  Cross Training

Rhythm.  Balance.  Quad and calf strength.  Snowshoes infuse the winter regimen with a combination of power and endurance.  Don’t refuse poles, as upper-body conditioning is a bonus, preparing you for winter and summer endeavors alike.  A combination of on- and off-trail exploration rounds out your program.

Insider tip: Start with a moderate load on your back, increasing over 6-8 weeks to 20lbs. to activate different muscle groups.  Check your form before packing it on to avoid back pain from poor posture.

Product recommendation: Camelbak’s Pursuit 24 proved a worthy big mountain companion in the Andes this summer (their winter).  Easy access, quick loading and body-hugging fit are a killer value at under $150 for a four-season trooper.  An overflow pocket, side stretch pockets, 4-point compression and a well-matched waistbelt come standard.

Reason #3:  Competition

Active Junky, based in Colorado, is close to one of the centers of uphill mountain racing.  Here, ski mo and randonee athletes have nothing on snowshoers clawing skyward on closed downhill runs.  Speed and distance events around the country mirror the challenges of ultras and Tough Mudders as courses range from icy, tracked runways to drift-filled forests.

Insider tip: Decide what category of comp fits your interests and capabilities.  Learning to relax, find your pace and manage exertion (and recovery) periods are crucial; create your own race-replicating practice challenges before entering events.

Product recommendation: Active Junky can’t get enough of the Run from Atlas.  While lighter models reward more serious competitors, this shoe triples as a solid training model and late spring speedster.  The LightSpeed Binding delivers superior tracking without bogging Run down; crampons defy icy hills in this unisex model.

Reason #4: Group Adventure

For most, snowshoeing is the great equalizer; few have the experience, form and equipment to break trail through 14 inches of fresh.  With inexpensive rental rates and snowshoes starting at $75, everyone’s in.  Plan on no more than five miles on well-groomed trails or two miles through moderate backcountry to keep everyone smiling.

Insider tip: Warm footwear and drinks from an insulated container go a long way to preserving energy during frequent stops.  Carry lightweight midlayers to throw on during breaks of more than five minutes.

Product recommendation: LL Bean puts years of fun on the line with Winter Walker Boxed Sets for men and women.  Rugged to resist missteps and years of recreational use, Winter Walker handles rolling terrain as three-section aluminum poles steady your stride. Don’t forget to consider their Mad Bomber Hat to wear from trail to lodge.

Reason #5:  Solitude

Snowshoeing is seen as an in-touch winter experience for good reason.  Wildlife tends to be less threatened and even small changes in weather are felt.  As with any outdoor pursuit, being equipped for fluctuations in temperature, precipitation and trail conditions is essential; repairing snowshoe bindings is not uncommon.  Let friends know your plan before you get free, even 50ft from the parking lot.

Insider tip: Go out in a group of two to four for starters, leaving plenty of space between you.  Take turns breaking trail to allow each snowshoer to experience the exhilaration of fresh snow plus the relaxation of cruising on a packed-down trail.

Product recommendation: MSR makes it tough to choose an all-terrain, mountain-capable shoe with the EVO and REVO lines.  Evo Snowshoes are an easy buy, capable of most terrain and conditions at well under $150.  Going higher and stronger suits the 25” Revo Ascent model, proven in harsh conditions in Chile’s Andes.  Pair either with the Deploy TR-2 Adjustable Winter Poles featuring one-hand length adjustment up to 130cm (140cm in the Long model).

Five reasons.  One amazing winter ahead.  Overcome your resistance to a new, old way of traveling and join us outside on snowshoes.

Check out some the Best Snowshoeing Destinations in North America.

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