Snowshoeing is the ultimate winter crowd-pleaser. It’s easy, fun, and a great way to bond with friends! Just rent some snowshoes, and you’re good to go for an easy, fun day playing in the snow. Learn why snowshoeing with friends rocks and how to start snowshoeing with friends!
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Six Reasons Snowshoeing is the Ultimate Winter Crowd Pleaser
If you want to learn how to start snowshoeing, see why it’s the ultimate crowd-pleaser for people!
1. Snowshoeing requires little to no skill.
Anyone can snowshoe. But, on the flip side, you can’t just grab a group of friends and take them skiing for the day without a lesson or some training.
2. Snowshoeing doesn’t have to require an excellent level of fitness.
Choose a flat trail, ideally well packed down, and you’ll be able to bring all your friends (and even their kids) with you.
3. Snowshoeing is a sport all ages can enjoy.
My mother goes snowshoeing every week with her seniors’ outdoor group. They choose easy trails, and they happily get outside all winter long without worrying about falling, losing their balance, or having to be coordinated on a pair of slippery skis.
4. Snowshoeing is a fun family sport!
Bring sleds, have a snowball fight, stop to build a snow fort at your destination, take turns playing snow-a-lanche (think avalanche while knocking snow off the trees on one another,) and bring lots of yummy hot chocolate. Snowshoeing is all about playing in the snow for kids, so don’t forget to make at least one snow angel too.
5. Snowshoeing allows you to hike year-round.
For many people in the Canadian Rockies, cross-country skiing isn’t something they were raised with in the Canadian Rockies. On the other hand, hiking is very popular. A pair of snowshoes is a cheap investment with a great reward for hiking through the winter months.
6. It’s affordable!
Buy the snowshoes, and you’re done. There are no lift tickets and no additional boots to pair with skis, and you also won’t have to buy new gear for constantly growing children. Most kids will use the same snowshoes for many years (with their regular winter boots).
How to Start Snowshoeing & Plan A Group Day with your Friends
Snowshoeing with friends can be a blast! Keep these tips in mind to ensure a pleasant outing for all.
First, let’s assume your friends don’t regularly go snowshoeing and will need to rent gear.
To start snowshoeing, you can go snowshoeing at a Nordic centre where they have rentals on-site (though you may have to pay trail fees), or you can just rent in the city before heading out. Renting is usually the cheapest option, and many places let you pick your gear up the night before, so you’re good to go the next day.
Another favourite method for outfitting friends with gear is to borrow from other friends. Chances are there’s somebody not able to come along but who has snowshoes you could borrow.
Dressing The Part Of A Winter Hiker
Second, give your friends a list of what they should be wearing (like these recommendations for first-timers) to stay warm and comfortable. Chances are they won’t have any fancy technical gear, but hopefully, they have a pair of snow pants and a warm winter jacket.
While it would be ideal for everybody to be wearing base layers and non-cotton winter clothing, a simple pair of fleece pants and a fleece sweatshirt will work in a pinch under their snow pants and jacket. (Especially if you aren’t doing a long hike.)
Ensure everybody is bringing waterproof gloves or mittens and a warm hat for their heads. In addition, a scarf or tubular wrap (like a Buff) to wear over their face is advised for frigid weather.
Finally, please encourage your friends to wear the warmest winter boots they have. Think bulky Sorel-type boots and not city fashion boots with a heel! And stress good warm socks. Ideally, wool socks or something that is not cotton would be best.
If they enjoy other winter sports (downhill skiing, for example), chances are they have clothing that will work, even if it doesn’t look as high-tech as what most people are wearing on the trails.
Packing Your Bags
I’ll never forget the year we took a bunch of newbie outdoor friends into a backcountry hut for a weekend (with zero guidance on what to pack). Once we got there, let’s say their backpacks were weighty (with items they didn’t need) but lacked some important stuff.
Before starting your snowshoe adventure, you’ll need to pack appropriately. Below is a list of some of the basics you’ll all want to pack.
- Hand and foot warmers, which could be something you pack in case your friends need them
- A first aid kit (at least one per group) and any other emergency gear you’d usually pack for a day hike. Headlamps (like this one), for example, might be needed if you get a late start.
- Bear spray, depending on where you live. It’s never a bad idea to have at least one can per group, especially early season.
- Lunch, snacks, a hot drink in a thermos, and warm drinking water that will cool down to the right temperature quite quickly
- Spare mitts, socks, and a hat – in case you get wet (again, something you the leader could pack extras of)
- Sunglasses and sunblock if the sun is intense and a bright day. These items are essential for spring snowshoeing especially.
- A map or clear directions is crucial. Even a photo of your route on a cell phone can help if your phone doesn’t freeze.
Choosing the Trail
If your friends don’t usually make a habit of tromping around in the snowy wilderness, make sure you take it easy on them. Don’t choose a mountain summit as your destination.
To start and get them snowshoeing, pick a relatively flat trail. For example, a maximum of 1000 feet (305 m) of height gain is recommended if your friends are fit and do a lot of walking.
I also recommend halving the distance you’d typically choose for a summer hike. Five miles (8 km) is the most you’d likely want to tackle round trip.
Finally, scenery usually matters for people that don’t hike a lot. Choose a scenic mountain lake as your destination or a beautiful viewpoint. Alternately, some forests can be incredibly scenic and breathtaking when they look like a winter wonderland. I’m partial to snow-covered bridges.
Making It FUN
Below are a few suggestions for ways to make your first snowshoeing hike fun:
- Be playful! Encourage your friends to have a snowball fight. Shower snow on your friends from trees you pass under (and encourage retaliation), and stop to make snow angels.
- Bring sleds or crazy carpets (especially if you have children). It can be a great way to descend the trail after reaching your destination. And I always suggest helmets if you think you’ll be coming down a twisty, windy, luge track.
- Bring candy (yes, even for adults,) hot chocolate (perhaps with some added Baileys for the adults,) and other fun treats
- Keep the pace relaxed. Stop to take lots of photos, to play in the snow, and to enjoy the scenery.
The All-Important Après-Snowshoe Activity
We have favourite coffee shops and pubs that we love to visit after spending a day hiking in the mountains. Sometimes I think this is the real highlight of the day and the reward you work for on the way.
Introduce your friends to your favorite watering hole, that awesome coffee shop you’ve discovered, or choose a new place together. And I can assure you even children look forward to a treat at the end of an adventure.
Also, other fun après-snowshoe activities (especially if your hike is short) could include ice-skating, sledding, or even shopping in a local mountain town if you’re out with your girlfriends for the day.
Read More: Apres Snowshoe: A First-Timer’s Guide
Have you taken your friends snowshoeing and exposed them to the sport? What recommendations do you have for how to start snowshoeing and taking new snowshoers out for the first time? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
This article was first published on December 21, 2018, and was most recently updated on February 13, 2022.