Q: Who can snowshoe?
A: Anyone. Snowshoeing can be as easy as walking and fun for all ages
and fitness levels. Snowshoeing gives you a great low-impact, heart-healthy
workout that can also be used for rehabilitation and cross-training.
Q: How durable are snowshoes?
A: If used properly, modern snowshoes should last through many
seasons of snowshoe adventures. Wooden frame and laced style snowshoes do
require more care to assure long service. A simple cleaning after each use
will help extend the life of all styles of snowshoes!
Q: What type of footwear do I need?
A: Warm, waterproof and supportive hiking boots are best. Most modern
snowshoes fit a variety of boot styles and sizes including soft pack,
hiking, and winter boots. It is a good idea to test the fit of your boots with your
snowshoe bindings before renting, buying or fabricating your snowshoes!
Q: Do I need Snowshoe Poles?
A: While snowshoeing does not require poles, using them offers
improved stability on steep and variable terrain and helps incorporate
the upper body for a total body workout. Adjustable lenght poles are more
expensive and in general cannot be homemade but can be the most help when
snowshoeing around a slope. Lengthen the downslope pole and shorten the upslope
one to get the most natural stride!
Q: How easy are the bindings?
A: The bindings on all snowshoes are intended to fit simply, but some
styles are more simple than others! The easiest (and most expensive!) are the
snowboard style ratchet bindings. The most common are straps with quick release
or slide buckles. Homemade shoes may even use ropes, relying on your knot tying
skills to fasten the bindings securely. Regardless of the binding style, all
bindings must be properly adjusted to ensure a secure fit. Always begin by placing
the snowshoes on flat ground. Verify that you've got the left shoe matched to your
left foot (modern snowshoes are not symetrical!). Loosen all straps and laces and
place the ball of your foot over the rotation strap/bar of the snowshoe. Center
your heel over the snowshoe. Next snug the heel strap around the back of your boot.
Next, pull up on the straps or laces to take out any slack. Tighten the straps or
laces at the buckles. Retighten the heel strap if needed and securely tuck away any
loose strap ends.
Q: Will I sink in the snow if I don't buy a large shoe with lots of
A: The amount of flotation you need depends on your total weight
(with gear) and snow conditions in the primary area of use. Certain snow
(e.g., powder) offers less density, requiring greater surface area for
increased flotation. Packed trails offer increased snow density decreasing
your need for flotation. It's important to remember that added flotation
usually equals a larger shoe, decreasing ease of maneuverability and increasing
overall shoe weight. Some snowshoe models now offer removeable 'tails' to
adjust the length of your shoe to snow and total weight conditions, though
these tend to be the more expensive models. (Check out our Snowshoe FACTs page for details.)
Q: How much snow do I need to go snowshoeing?
A: Snowshoeing in thin cover is not recommended as sharp rocks and
branches can damage your snowshoes, however you can
be sure that your snowshoes will be among your first pieces of winter
equipment out of the closet. From packed granular to deep powder, snowshoes
can take you outside with just 6"- 8" inches of snow.
Q: What are the fitness benefits of snowshoeing?
A: Snowshoeing is an excellent cross-training sport for athletes
of all levels. Low-impact and versatile, snowshoeing reduces the chance
of repetitive motion injury while it builds up endurance levels and strengthens
quadriceps, hip flexors and extensors. The use of poles can help incorporate
the upper body for a total body workout. Snowshoeing has been estimated
to use 45% more energy than walking. On a packed trail, approximately
450-550 calories are burned per hour, going uphill in unpacked snow conditions,
snowshoeing easily burns 1,000 calories per hour. (For more information,
visit the section on the Fitness
Benefits of showshoeing.)