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Snowshoes, Snowshoeing, Winter Exercise and Calorie Burn

Updated on April 24, 2016
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Chris has spent most of the last 50 years participating in physical activities such as running, biking, hiking, swimming and weight lifting.

By checking bindings occasionally, you can avoid mishaps associated with loose bindings. Note: The blue tint in my photos is due to grey skies and the fact that it was snowing.  I'm still pretty new at photography, so I have to work that bug out.
By checking bindings occasionally, you can avoid mishaps associated with loose bindings. Note: The blue tint in my photos is due to grey skies and the fact that it was snowing. I'm still pretty new at photography, so I have to work that bug out. | Source

Snowshoeing and Physical Fitness

How would you like to burn off a thousand calories or more in just one hour? Sounds good doesn’t it? If there is some white, fluffy stuff outside where you live then you’re in luck. Snowshoeing is the best calorie burner of all winter sports. According to 50 Plus Senior News, snowshoeing burns more than twice the calories as walking at the same pace. By the way, you can snowshoe in the warm south too. It just isn’t really necessary and might get you a few strange looks.

Here are some calorie burning statistics for snowshoeing. This information is from the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

If you weigh roughly 130 pounds: 472 calories burned snowshoeing per hour
If you weigh roughly 155 pounds: 563 calories burned per hour
If you weigh roughly 180 pounds: 654 calories burned per hour
If you weigh roughly 205 pounds: 745 calories burned per hour

My son and I took off for a couple of hours today and trekked through some beautiful terrain. I’ll share some of the photos with you.


Northern Michigan is a winter wonderland.
Northern Michigan is a winter wonderland. | Source

Snowshoeing is Easy to Learn

If you can walk, you can snowshoe. You don’t really need anyone to show you how to do it. You will teach yourself in no time. If you’ve never snowshoed before, here are a few suggestions for the first couple of outings.

  • Rent snowshoes until you know what bindings you like.
  • Stay on flat terrain.
  • Try to avoid obstacles such as fallen branches.
  • Take it slow and easy.
  • Try using ski poles or walking poles to help with balance.
  • Etiquette tip: Cross country skiers appreciate it if you don’t track up their groomed trails.

If you go out for very long, you might consider taking water and a snack. You will be using a lot of energy and the calories from a healthy snack will replenish your energy. I like to take homemade Larabars or homemade trail mix.

Snowshoeing is the most intuitive of all winter sports.  If you can walk, you can snowshoe.
Snowshoeing is the most intuitive of all winter sports. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. | Source

Snowshoeing Gets You Close to Nature and Wildlife

One of the great things about snowshoeing is that you can get to places in the winter that are otherwise inaccessible. You can break your own trail into the deep woods where it is peaceful and where wildlife is sheltering from the weather. There were deer ahead of my son and me today. They kept moving as we proceeded. Finally we came to where the ground fell away to a cedar swamp and we could see the deer still running through the trees below. Sadly, they were too far away and hidden by trees for me to get a photograph.

The forests of Northern Michigan are beautiful after a snowfall.
The forests of Northern Michigan are beautiful after a snowfall. | Source

Snowshoeing Statistics

Here are some statistics from the Outdoor Industry Foundation for the growth of the sport of snowshoeing over the last several years.

Snowshoeing increased by 17.4% from 2008 to 2009 equaling 3.4 million.

That was followed by an 11.4% increase from 2009 to 2010.

Snowshoeing is a healthy sport and something anyone can do. Get a group together, or go for a solo jaunt. You will be rewarded physically, emotionally and spiritually.

One of the nearby inland lakes viewed from the top of a glacial moraine.  This is Shell Lake, where I spend a good deal of time in the summer fishing for bass, bluegill and perch.
One of the nearby inland lakes viewed from the top of a glacial moraine. This is Shell Lake, where I spend a good deal of time in the summer fishing for bass, bluegill and perch. | Source

Atlas snowshoes from Amazon

ATLAS 1025 SNOWSHOE
ATLAS 1025 SNOWSHOE

I have had my atlas snowshoes for twenty years. They come with a lifetime warranty, but I haven't had to use it. I have put these snowshoes through some tough years. They are an outstanding product.

 
My son's hand crafted snowshoes.
My son's hand crafted snowshoes. | Source

Snowshoeing Gear and Supplies

Here are some suggestions for gear and supplies when you go for a snowshoe hike.

  • SmartWool socks or equivalent.
  • Firm winter boots. By firm I mean something that won't scrunch up when you pull the bindings tight.
  • Gaiters. These are worn over the boots to keep snow out and to keep feet warm and dry.
  • Snowshoes. Rentals should be used until you find the kind of bindings you like. Some brand names to look for are Tubbs, Atlas, Black Diamond, MSR, Columbia, Easton, Itasca, K2, Trek, Yukon and Red Feather.
  • Walking poles. They should have a basket near the bottom end made for snow conditions.
  • Snow pants. If these are too thick, you may have trouble getting the gaiters around them.
  • Layered garments for the upper body. If you get too warm, you can take a layer off.
  • Mittens. Mittens tend to keep hands warmer than gloves by trapping body heat.
  • Hat or hood. Something to cover the ears is best if the temperature gets very cold.
  • Compass. Take one if you think it is even remotely possible to get lost.
  • Water and healthy snacks.

Snowshoeing Gear

Pictured are Atlas snowshoes (mine, 20 years old and still in great condition), poles, Merrell Ice Jam winter boots, Mountain Hardware gaiters.
Pictured are Atlas snowshoes (mine, 20 years old and still in great condition), poles, Merrell Ice Jam winter boots, Mountain Hardware gaiters. | Source

The Snowshoeing Poll

How does/would snowshoeing benefit you most?

See results
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(click on the next thumbnail to the upper left of this photo) And when you are in the woods........and you think no one is watching........you can do fun things, like making your own personal snowstorm.
(click on the next thumbnail to the upper left of this photo) And when you are in the woods....
(click on the next thumbnail to the upper left of this photo) And when you are in the woods.... | Source
....and you think no one is watching....
....and you think no one is watching.... | Source
....you can do fun things, like making your own personal snowstorm.
....you can do fun things, like making your own personal snowstorm.
One of five small, inland lakes in the immediate area.  This one is called Narada.
One of five small, inland lakes in the immediate area. This one is called Narada. | Source
My son Dan, the Great Outdoorsman....really.
My son Dan, the Great Outdoorsman....really. | Source
Years ago, these open areas were the fields that belonged to the nearby farms.  There are several within a square mile of this location.  They are owned by the National Park Service.
Years ago, these open areas were the fields that belonged to the nearby farms. There are several within a square mile of this location. They are owned by the National Park Service. | Source

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    • seraphic profile image

      Seraph 2 years ago from Canada

      Great hub! Voted up!

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      chef-de-jour, I can't imagine not having snow for at least four months of the year. And snowshoes is one of the things that makes winter so much fun. That and a good camera. Thanks for stopping in. and thanks for the vote.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Lovely hub. Trees were made for snow - as are your snowshoes!

      I must admit for a Brit snowshoes come from a different planet but - I could have used a pair when I went up Ben Nevis in Scotland last year! Started off in mild sunshine but near the top was wading through a foot of the white stuff! Good job mi boots were waterproof.

      (Can I mention the single malt warmer I had when I got down?)

      I'll vote his hub up

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Will, my son made his own snowshoes a couple of years ago, and I helped out. It is quite a process. I'm going to post a photo of his here on this hub. Yes, the new ones are more efficient, but there is something earthy missing with them.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      As kids in Iowa, we made our own snowshoes as Cub Scouts, and had a blast after a heavy snow. The commercial ones look a lot more efficient!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Hi Deb, For some reason, several years ago, I gave up cc skiing for snowshoeing. But skiing does give a great workout. I'm heading back out right now with the snowshoes and camera. Thanks for stopping in. I've got to get back over to do some reading on your profile too.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      We used to snowshoe in Maine, along with cross-country skiing, which burns some serious calories, too.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      I agree Randy, I'll take snow anytime over those nasty tornadoes. I grew up in Indiana, so we had our share. The snowshoes might be in the way if you tried to shuffle through a whole half inch of snow on them. Thanks for stopping by.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Eric, I'm glad this brought back some good memories. I helped my son make a pair a couple of years ago. It is quite a process. Thanks for sharing those thoughts.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks Cam. I loved this sport. Thanks for the update. My first pair I built in about two weeks. Shaping the wood lamanent took that long, as did perfectly "curing" the rawhide. Then cutting the long thongs for the bindings. I could never "proof" my boots with fat, wax and oil, so my feet always froze.

      Recently I saw a get up of all plastic with foot heaters and adaptions to make them skiiable.

      Thanks a lot again, I just sat back with my tea and remembered, the pictures helped.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 4 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Great pics, Chris! Of course, I've only seen snow on the ground here a dozen or so times in my lifetime, and then only for a day or so. Heck, the schools all let out down here if it snows a little bit. But if I ever need to use snowshoes I'll consult this hub. lol!

      Had a tornado barely miss my home on Wednesday night though! Give me snow anytime......

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      billybuc, Yes, this is Northwestern Lower Michigan. Michigan is shaped like a hand, palm up. Detroit is down around the thumb. I live in the center of the little finger. How's that? I love snowshoeing. And I love living where I can see the most beautiful things nature has to show us. Thanks for visiting Bill. And get those Snowshoes on and hit the snow!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Where is this, Chris? Michigan? Cool pics. My wife and I do quite a bit of snowshoeing in the mountains nearby; in fact, my snowshoes are hanging on my writing studio wall about two feet from me right now, a constant reminder that I need to strap them on and get back up to the mountains soon. Great exercise! Nice job of selling the activity.

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