Snowshoeing is one of the most popular winter activities for fitness and recreation that a lot of people tend to enjoy, and it’s not without its fair share of history. However, before you embark on your winter adventure of a lifetime though, be aware that what you wear will greatly influence your experience. Since these are harsh weather conditions we’re talking about here, having proper snowshoeing clothing and footwear is of the utmost importance.
We’ll go through a few useful things that you should know so that you are able to properly dress for some on-snow recreation.
What to Wear
When it comes to snowshoeing, these are the two most important things you need:
- Moisture-wicking clothing layers (clothing that pulls moisture away from the body)
- Suitable footwear
The winter means quick-changing weather, so you need to make sure that you’re both comfortable and safe. The best way to do that is dressing in layers. Now, your snowshoeing clothes should allow you to move comfortably and freely, without restraint while keeping you warm and dry at all times.
The best materials for outdoor activities are synthetic, silk, and wool. Aside from your outwear, you need to take care of mid and base layers as well. Following a proper dress code will ensure preparedness, comfort, and warmth. Therefore, layer your clothing so that you can easily adjust it to the weather and your activity.
We discuss three layers below, but depending on temperature all three may not be needed. On warmer days (not actively raining or snowing), your mid-layer can serve as your outer layer.
Baselayer: closest to the body
- Synthetic or wool socks
- Synthetic briefs and sports bra
- Long underwear top and bottoms (mid-weight)
- Fleece or polyester pants
- A wool sweater or fleece jacket (if zippered can let you regulate body heat)
- Inner shell down jacket
Avoid cotton since it dries slowly due to absorbing moisture (sweat) from your body. Instead, go with polyester, as it’s just perfect for making an excellent insulating mid-layer. Polyester is great at retaining heat when wet, which will come in handy, and it allows your skin to breath during your exercise.
- Waterproof and breathable pants
- Waterproof and breathable insulated parka or outer shell jacket, such as a windbreaker
The jacket and pants need to be both waterproof and breathable to fend off wind and, most importantly, keep you dry and warm.
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Whether you’re running, climbing, backpacking or walking, always try to match your snowshoeing style. Just like with your snowshoeing clothing, footwear also requires a bit of special attention.
Since boots are obviously the best choice, you need boots that are both waterproof and insulated, with leather or rubber uppers and thick soles. Waterproof leather hiking boots will do great as well.
You need synthetic or wool socks with wicking liners as this will help promote dry and warm feet, which is incredibly important for snowshoeing.
Gaiters are also recommended because they help keep snow from getting into your boots. The last thing in line is that your boots should be lightweight for some additional comfort.
Your hands and head should be covered at all times, not only to prevent body heat loss or protect you from sunburn but to keep your head and hands warm. Therefore, to supplement your snowshoe clothing layers, a hat and gloves are a must. This is also where synthetics or wool do the best work. A balaclava, headband or an ordinary hat will do just fine at retaining heat.
Mittens or gloves should be waterproof as this is paramount for keeping your hands warm and dry. When it comes to accessories, it all depends on what you intend to do. Typically sunscreen, sunglasses, nutrition, and hydration are the top four things to think about.
Having a small day pack with snacks and water is highly recommended, as snowshoeing burns a lot of calories per hour.
Also, a first aid kit, lighter or matches, as well as a multi-tool for repairs, might just come in handy in case of an emergency. Now that you know what to wear and take with you, it’s time to get started. When it comes to snowshoeing, it’s always better to come prepared.
Read More: Basic Safety On The Trail