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A Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing (And Why It's Good for You)

Susan enjoys writing on a variety of topics. She loves exploring Michigan outdoors, and in the winter, she can be found donning snowshoes.


The Perfect Winter Pastime

Snowshoeing continues to grow in popularity, and it is easy to see why. It is a great way to hike in the winter, whether for a short workout or an afternoon excursion. You can go out with a small group of friends or alone, and there are many health benefits.

In this article, you will find the basics, so get ready to strap on your snowshoes and enjoy the great outdoors.

10 Benefits of Snowshoeing

  1. It's inexpensive. The only requirement is snowshoes.
  2. It's easy. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.
  3. It's good for novices and experts alike. As you learn the sport, you can challenge yourself.
  4. It lets you explore places you normally could not go.
  5. It lets you enjoy nature.
  6. You will get fresh air.
  7. It enhances community. You can do it alone or with a group
  8. It's quiet. Snowshoes make very little noise in the snow.
  9. It's time-friendly. You can make it as long as you would like—you choose.
  10. It's fun!

Snowshoeing Is Great for Your Health

There are many health benefits to snowshoeing. It is an excellent cardiovascular workout. It can burn an impressive 500 calories an hour—twice as much as walking and about the same as an elliptical machine or swimming laps. It is a low-impact sport for those suffering from knee or back issues and builds muscles and endurance. It is also great for balance, strength, and agility.

It also helps fight the winter blues. The winter blues, better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is real. Symptoms can be depression, low energy, higher anxiety, and hopelessness (Mayo Clinic, 2021). While this is not medical advice, it has shown that outdoor activities impact our mental health and overall state of mind. Along with this, even though the winter sun appears different, it still aids in the making of our Vitamin D. (Jogue, 2021). Snowshoeing indeed is a great way to improve our health.

Starting Out: Purchase or Rent?

Often we like to try it before we buy it. With the growing popularity of snowshoeing, many ski resorts, conservation areas such as the local nature centers, and sporting outfitters offer rentals for as little as $10.00.

These places will also provide groomed snowshoeing trails or give you recommendations on where to go for your adventure. The facilities also offer suggestions on purchasing your equipment. So for your first adventure, try renting equipment, and your investment will be more effective.


What to Wear: Layering

As in any winter sport, the goal is to stay warm and dry as you are out in the elements. It is recommended to wear three layers of clothing: a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. When snowshoeing, you also need to consider your boots; this is where the snowshoe straps onto.

Base Layer

This layer will be used to wick moisture away from your skin and dry quickly. They are often called a thermal layer or Long-Johns. They are worn tightly against your skin and aid in keeping your body temperature regulated.

Middle Layer

This layer uses your body heat to keep you warm. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester fleece are ideal because they resist moisture and retain heat. Another popular option is down vests or jackets.

Note: Cotton, wool, and other natural fibers will not protect you from moisture build-up, so if conditions are wet, these will be useless.

Outer Layer

This consists of both a top layer and a layer for your legs or lower extremities. The outer layer is designed to repel wind, water, and freezing temperatures.

It would help if you looked at a thickness that is not only wind and waterproof but also breathable, so your middle layers don’t begin to sweat or “steam up,” causing you to become chilled.



Don’t forget your extremities—you will want warm socks. I use a wool-blend hiking sock, waterproof gloves, and a warm hat. Also, remember boots; your snowshoes will strap onto them. I use a higher-top hiking boot and use gaiters to keep the snow out of them. These will keep you warm from head to toe.

Snowshoeing is one of my favorite winter activities. It allows me time alone when I need it and plenty of family fun. If you are an avid snowshoer or enjoy the sport, leave your tips or fun stories below.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Susan Sears