Snowshoeing Articles

Snowshoeing 101
12/7/2011 | Sheryl McGlochlin

Article image: Snowshoeing 101

Snowshoeing is a low-impact activity that allows you to burn between 420 and1,000 calories per hour...

depending on whether you are walking or running, on packed snow or powder. It's great cardiovascular conditioning and excellent winter cross-training for runners and cyclists.


More Snowshoe Benefits

  • Excellent aerobic workout
  • Incredible winter beauty
  • Lifts your spirit/soul
  • Breathe fresh mountain air
  • Escape valley inversions
  • Witness bright blue skies
  • Think more clearly about your problems
  • Peace and Quiet
  • Strengthen your entire body
  • Make friends
  • Gain confidence in knowing that you can do "hard things"!
  • Feel gratitude when observing how beautiful nature is on a cold winter day
  • Avoid cabin fever by getting outside often
  • Great Family Recreation
  • Easy to learn – for all ages
  • Learn and practice valuable emergency preparedness skills
  • Inexpensive and affordable to enjoy often


What to bring

  • Camera and/or Video Camera
  • Bottle of Water
  • Sunglasses
  • Healthy Snack i.e. Fruit, Trail Mix, Granola Bar, PB & J Sandwich, Beef Jerkey
  • Poles
  • Snowshoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Lip Balm

Dress in layers and bring along a lightweight pack or waist pack with some high-energy foods such as fruit and energy bars, plus water or a sports drink. Don't forget to bring and use sunscreen.


How to dress

  • Be prepared to "Layer up and peel off"
  • Priority:  Hiking Shoes and "Smart Wool" Socks
  • Hiking shoes: Lightweight waterproof and water resistant
  • Socks: Smart wool and similar brands, avoid Cotton socks!
  • Avoid cotton clothing
  • Cotton retains and absorbs water.  NOT a good wicking fabric
  • In order to stay warm in all kinds of weather, you need to stay DRY
  • Think like an onion: Wear THIN layers of clothing and be prepared to peel off clothing after a few minutes
  • Nylon outer layer necessary



Staying safe

  • Avoid snowshoeing in the backcountry wilderness area alone, unprepared or unexperienced
  • Stay with experienced snowshoe groups that are familiar with the terrain
  • Learn about safe snowshoe trails online, from local outdoor retail stores, guides, etc.
  • Pay attention to weather and snow conditions and adjust your plans accordingly
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return
  • Learn about Avalanche Danger and how to stay safe, go to:


My Favorite Snowshoe Trails in the Wasatch Mountains

  • Spruces - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake County
  • Jordan Pines - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake County
  • Guardsman Pass - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake County
  • Solitude Nordic Center, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake County
  • Millcreek Canyon – several trails to choose from, Salt Lake County
  • The Sinks - Cache County
  • Aspen Grove (behind Timpanogos), Sundance – Utah County
  • Tibble Creek Reservoir - American Fork Canyon – Utah County
  • Big Springs Hollow, Alpine Loop Road - Utah County
  • Mormon Pioneer Trail - East Canyon
  • Mueller Park - Davis County
  • Wheeler Creek Trail - Weber County
  • White Pine Touring, Swaner Nature Preserve, Lost Prospector Trail - Summit County
  • Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course, Midway, Utah - Wasatch County
  • Soapstone Basin, Mirror Lake Highway - The Uintas



What to look for in a quality snowshoe

  • Traction/Teeth
  • Durability
  • Binding
  • Easy to get in and out of



Who can snowshoe

  • Great exercise for ALL ages
  • If you can walk, you can snowshoe



Your Guide To Snowshoeing

Strap on a pair of lightweight aluminum snowshoes and you'll quickly see why snowshoeing has become one of the fastest-growing winter sports. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. People are using snowshoes for a variety of activities — everything from hiking into pristine wilderness and aerobic conditioning to pure recreation with family and friends. They're using snowshoes for discovery and adventure, whether in far-off mountains or their own backyard.

Even though snowshoeing is easy to learn, it can still seem intimidating to first-timers. First-timers can be overwhelmed by new technological advances and the variety of equipment choices. This guide is designed to give you some basic information that will help you get started snowshoeing the right way.

Skip to:

  • Gear Up — should you rent or purchase, three types of snowshoes
  • Measure Up — what size do you need, what kind of shoes to wear, whether to use poles, and what kind of snow you'll be walking on
  • Get Going — how to take that first step

Gear Up
Before renting or purchasing equipment, ask yourself a few questions:

How much do you think you'll be snowshoeing?

Will you be snowshoeing only on a vacation or also near where you live?

Determining your projected commitment level will help you decide whether to rent or to buy equipment.

Your equipment options include

  • Renting equipment at your local outdoor or snow sports shop. You can usually rent equipment by the day or week. This is recommended for your first time.
  • Buying used equipment at a local shop or ski swap. Stay away from garage sales and be careful at swaps because you may wind up with gear that is outdated and inappropriate.
  • Buying new equipment.

In general, modern snowshoes are made of a lightweight, aluminum frame with durable synthetic decking materials for flotation, and an easy-to-use, supportive binding system to hold your feet in place. Snowshoes can also be made of plastic or composite materials, while traditional snowshoes have a wood frame with rawhide lacing.

3 categories of snowshoes, designed for different activities.

  1. Recreational hiking/fitness/walking: This includes winter walking, casual hiking and family outings. Snow conditions are primarily packed or broken snow trails over rolling terrain. These snowshoes generally feature a "bearpaw" or Western-style frame. This oval, symmetrical frame shape evenly distributes your weight for greater stability and balance. Built-in crampons ("teeth" that dig into the snow) on the snowshoe's frame maximize traction.
  2. Running/aerobic fitness: This includes winter running and fitness training, usually on packed or groomed trails. These snowshoes tend to be smaller and lighter than other styles of snowshoes. Some running/aerobic fitness snowshoes also have an asymmetric shape, allowing for more clearance and a natural, more efficient stride.
  3. Hiking/backpacking: This includes making steep climbs and descents. Snow and terrain conditions are variable, including powder snow on unbroken trail sand wind-packed snow. These snowshoes are generally the most durable, and redesigned to withstand extreme weather conditions and use. They usually feature highly supportive binding systems, built-in toe and heel crampons for maximum traction and durable decking materials.

Measure up
Snowshoes are usually measured in inches. The size of the snowshoe you need depends on your weight and the snow/trail conditions you will be experiencing.

The type of snow you will be snowshoeing in can determine what style and size of snowshoe to use. Wet or icy snow conditions, often experienced in North America in the Northeast and Northwest, call for smaller snowshoes with grip-enhancing crampons. Plastic composite snowshoes can also be a good choice for these conditions because of their molded-in treads. Lighter, drier snow or fresh powder calls for a larger snowshoe with greater flotation. In general, keep in mind that unpacked snow will require a larger snowshoe.

Depending on the type of snowshoeing you are doing, the weather and the snow conditions, you have a choice of footwear. For casual recreational hiking and walking, insulated boots or rubber boots should be fine. For running anaerobic conditioning on packed snow, some athletes use running shoes. In powder snow, waterproof hiking shoes or boots are recommended. For hiking and backpacking,use waterproof, insulated hiking boots. If you're hiking in fresh powder, you may also want to wear a gaiter, which will keep snow out of the top of your boots.

Many snowshoers use poles to help with their balance and rhythm. You can choose alpine, cross-country, or backcountry ski poles, which are made from fiberglass,aluminum, graphite or some combination of the materials. Backcountry poles are collapsible and height-adjustable, advantages that many snowshoers prefer.

Get going
You can either sign up for a short clinic (inquire at your local snow sport or outdoor shop) or just strap on the snowshoes and head out. Modern snowshoes,with their compact, streamlined frames, allow you to have a natural stride in varying snow conditions. You'll soon learn the proper technique to make the most of your new snowshoes. Not only is snowshoeing fun and easy to learn, but you also can do it in your backyard or local park.


January: National Learn a Snow Sport Month

Mark L. Reece senior editor | Dec. 31, 2008

What better way to make — and keep — a New Year's resolution than by having locals help out the locals.

Our good friends at Ski Utah are telling us that January is "National Learn a Snow Sport Month."

Utah's 13 alpine resorts are offering residents special packages for anyone wanting to learn to alpine ski, snowboard, cross-country ski or snowshoe.

Alpine resorts, Nordic centers, state and national parks in 23 states across the country are participating in this fun, educational and healthy recreational endeavor.

"Utah has served as a leader in this initiative and will once again be offering great beginner deals with its Lucky 13 promotion," Ski Utah officials state.

"All 13 of Utah's alpine resorts have put together special packages for state residents that are fun and affordable. Whether learning for the first time or simply brushing up on unpracticed skills, these offers are the jackpot for people looking to improve their skills on the slopes this January."

For more information on the January National Learn a Snow Sport Initiative, and to find a participating resort in your home state, visit


During the 2010 - 2011 Winter Season we had 258% more snow than the year before and in the Provo watershed we had 350% more than the year before.

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