Snowshoeing can be seen as an extension to hiking. In simple terms, it involves walking over snow with the assistance of snowshoes, a type of outer footwear that features a wide frame to distribute the weight of the person over a larger area. The reason for this design is to be able to ’float’ on the snow, preventing the foot from sinking in.
Snowshoes are made with a frame and connecting fabric straps or lacing to allow for better manoeuvrability. Designed to fit over your shoes or boots, they are an easy add-on for anyone who already enjoys hiking. The frame at the bottom, often made of lightweight plastic or metal, is what deters snow accumulation and displaces weight across the snow. The use of trekking poles aid in stability and permit a more sure foot on uneven terrain.
People of all ages and physical abilities can take part in snowshoeing as it requires less technical skill or experience than sports such as skiing or snowboarding.
The technique of walking in the snow using snowshoes may date back as far as around 6,000 years ago. Snowshoes were first developed in Central Asia and the very first designs were modelled on the tracks of animals which could easily travel around in the snow. Over the centuries, they have played a vital role in survival in the remote mountains.
The traditional shoe form was first crafted from hardwood and latticed rawhide. Today, the shoe design has modernised. The frames are now made of plastics or lightweight metals, and they are connected together with synthetic fabric straps or Velcro bindings. The toes of the modern day snowshoe are also raised for better mobility and athletic appeal.
A major benefit of snowshoeing is the great opportunity to get out in the clean air and enjoy the scenery as you enjoy a full body workout. This sport is very beginner-friendly and injuries are less frequent and less severe.
Snowshoeing is a great anaerobic activity which improves cardiovascular fitness, aiding in weight loss while allowing a high calorie burn! According to studies the average person snowshoeing burns around 600 calories per hour. This can be brought up to 1000 calories per hour with steeper terrain or a faster pace.
Using trekking poles makes it a full body workout and burns even more calories all while toning your arms, shoulder and back. Muscular endurance is also improved with quads, hamstrings and glutes being continuously activated and the use of trekking poles activates your upper body, including your core.
Snowshoeing is fairly easy to get started with – it will help to watch some tutorials before you leave home and to book a lesson before you venture out on the snow for your first attempt.
These are the basics for your first-time snowshoeing: