It’s a beautiful day and the sky has cleared to winter-blue after dumping eight more inches of fresh powder on your favorite trails. You’re loading up your snowshoes, gaiters, and boots before the weather report has ended, but don’t run out the door without all the essentials for a challenging and enjoyable snowshoe.
Healthy snacks and proper hydration ensure you’ll have enough fuel to finish your snowshoe route – whether you’re out for one hour or five. With a little pre-planning, you can avoid getting caught in the cold with an empty stomach and too much trail left to cover.
Drink plenty of water throughout your workout. Athletes who use hydration bladders such as a Camelback to carry water (instead of water bottles) typically drink more water during exercise. If you’re working out for longer than an hour, you’ll also want to hydrate with a sports drink to replenish electrolytes, energy, and fluid.
+TIP: Get an insulated hydration hose for cold winter snowshoeing so your water doesn’t freeze.
+TIP: Pack a light cup or empty water bottle and some sports drink powder separately. After each hour, mix the powder with water from your camelback into your cup. (See the June nutrition article for hydration recommendations.)
Eat a hearty, warm breakfast. Include a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat – such as a bowl of oatmeal with milk, fruit and walnuts, or two eggs with veggies and lowfat cheese, juice, and a slice of toast.
+TIP: Sit down and enjoy your breakfast instead of eating it on the run. Eating slowly promotes better digestion. You’ll want at least an hour between your breakfast and your workout.
Having nutritious food with you on your snowshoe could make all the difference. If you’ll be out for longer than three hours, pack a meal in addition to snacks.
+TIP: Depending on the weather at your lunch or snack spot, you’ll want foods that are satisfying and nutritious…and easy to eat with mittens on.
+TIP: Choose foods that won’t leak or spill (i.e. avoid goopy dressings, tomatoes, mayo), and make wraps instead of sandwiches. Also, choose foods that won’t freeze in your pack.
+TIP: You can still incorporate fruits and vegetables on a hike or snowshoe. Look for those you don’t have to peel with minimal waste to carry back down.
*Fruit: Apples, pears, grapes, whole dried fruit (prunes, figs, dates, apricots).
*Trail mix: Choose unsalted, unroasted mixes with more nuts than fruit (cut up dried fruit with sugar added will turn hard/freeze in cold weather).
*String cheese: Already opened so you don’t have to struggle with cold hands.
*Crackers: They’re lightweight and good to have in your pack. Try whole-grain varieties such as ak mak Sesame, Kavli, or Triscuits.
*Baby carrots: Pack them in a snack ziplock to reduce weight in your pack.
*Homemade cookies: Only pack one or two small cookies per person or other cookies (try Newman’s Own or Health Valley).
*Energy Bars: Convenient and full of energy. Choose bars that won’t freeze like ClifBar and LaraBar (look for whole food ingredients versus mostly sugar ingredients).
*Something hot: Having a hot liquid in a small thermos can really make a cold day more enjoyable. Hot chocolate, hot chai tea, or hot cider all warm you up and provide calories. Look for a thermos that is lightweight and durable.
*Good old PBJ: Use natural peanut butter and all-fruit jam- or substitute sliced banana for the jam. Use whole grain bread or wrap it up in a whole-wheat tortilla.
*Wrap fat-free refried beans in a whole-wheat tortilla with red pepper, spinach, and low-fat cheese.
*Lean protein wrap: Turkey, ham or roast beef in a tortilla, with lettuce, mustard, and low-fat cheese.
*Soup. Really want to go in style? Pack hot soup (full of beans, meat, rice and/or veggies) in a small thermos and throw in some crackers and cheese. Now that’s a winter meal!
*Remember: Don’t eat too much at lunch or you won’t want to snowshoe back. Keep your meal relatively small and snack later if you are still hungry. Research shows that eating 100 to 250 calories for each hour you are exercising (after the first hour) can increase stamina and performance. And, even when you’re off the trail your body prefers to eat every three to four hours. Whether you’re a recreational snowshoer or a competitive athlete, preplanning nutritious meals and snacks for your adventure will get you farther.
*Carry foods inside your pack, but away from your body. Foods carried outside the pack or in mesh openings are more likely to freeze. Foods carried next to your body are more likely to melt off body heat or become squished.
*ALWAYS have emergency food on hand. Pack extra trail mix and bars especially if you’re out for the whole day. It’s always better to come home with leftover food than to run out on the mountain.