Snowshoeing For Beginners: Everything You Need To Know 

Are you snowed in? Are you planning a winter getaway? Then, you should consider snowshoeing as a winter pastime. Snowshoeing might seem complicated, especially when taking the first steps, but have no fear; we will make it easy! 

The snowshoe is the backbone of winter hiking and a valuable tool while camping in the snow! Imagine floating atop the snow on your way to a winter wonderland. Here is a beginner's guide on the "how to and why" of snowshoeing.  

Person Snowshoeing

How to Get Started With Snowshoeing

Taking the first steps in your snowshoeing adventure might seem like a lot of work. However, once you learn the basics and get out there, you will see how easy snowshoeing is and how much fun it really is! Here are the most critical factors to look out for when purchasing snowshoes and how to get started with snowshoeing. 

Why Snowshoe?

Snowshoeing is a winter recreation activity. The basic idea is to walk across snow-covered terrain on specially designed platforms that attach to winter boots and provide traction where it's icy.

The benefits of snowshoeing are numerous. First, anyone can enjoy it, regardless of age or fitness level. It's an easy way to get out outdoors and get some exercise while you're at it!

It's also a great low-impact workout for anyone who has limitations on what they can do. Snowshoeing is easier on your joints than running or other high-impact activities like downhill skiing, which makes it perfect for people recovering from injuries.

Snowshoes give your body a break from more intense workouts like running but still burn the calories. Bonus, you get previously inaccessible fantastic winter views.

Where can I Snowshoe?

Snowshoeing is a popular winter sport in the mountains, or anywhere there is snow. The sport is casual yet rewarding and is an excellent alternative to skiing. You can snowshoe on almost any terrain covered in snow, regardless of the elevation or slope. 

snowy forest

Here are some ideas for where one can go snowshoeing: 

  • Local parks 
  • Maintained trails
  • National parks
  • Hiking trails 
  • Anywhere in nature

Choosing Snowshoes

Most traditional snowshoes were designed for flat terrain and heavy loads. As a result, their sides were wide with minimal traction. This design made them hard to use on steep inclines or traversing. Modern designs offer customizable straps that accommodate most footwear, spreading your weight evenly across the surface you're walking on. Modern snowshoes also have integrated crampons to help with traction when you're going up hills or traversing rugged terrain. With a narrow profile design, you can keep a more natural stride. 

 When picking snowshoes, there are several things to consider. Such as: 

  • Weight of the person using them
  • Terrain and incline
  • How often you will be using them
  • Design (wide vs. narrow, poly-carbonate aluminum)
  • How much gear you will need for your outings

There are many different snowshoes on the market made for various conditions and terrain. No matter which you choose, it is essential that they fit your needs and match the landscape.

Snow Shoeing


Snowshoe Size and Weight Recommendation

Snowshoes help distribute your weight over a larger surface area and provide better traction than just your boots. Snowshoe weight recommendations are designed to ensure that you are comfortable wearing the snowshoes and not falling through the snow when walking. Therefore, the weight recommendation tells the user how much weight a snowshoe can carry. 

This weight includes your body weight and the weight of your gear. The weight recommendation should accommodate freshly fallen snow on the trail. While on more groomed trails, this is less important.

Types of Snowshoes

There are three different types of snowshoes:

  • Recreational snowshoes - Offer minimal features while affordable and light, perfect for snowshoe beginners, ideal for flat terrain, come in men's, women's, and youth
  • Technical snowshoes – They are more expensive but offer more features and better materials. They are perfect for experienced hikers, durable in build. They are designed for steep ascents and deep snow. Technical snowshoes come in male and female models. 
  • Fitness snowshoes - Meant for active runners, for light snowfall on groomed trails, not for deep powder or steep ascents.

snow shoe

305/325 ORIGINAL

 Look for snowshoes that match the weight, type of snow you are expecting, terrain, and type of footwear. When thinking about weight recommendations, look for snowshoes that suit your weight and intended activity. 

 The design of your snowshoes plays a crucial role in choosing the best snowshoes. This means:

  • Narrow snowshoes are for a steep incline
  • Wide snowshoes are for flat terrain
  • Poly-carbonate snowshoes are typically heavier, more durable, and affordable
  • Aluminum snowshoes are lighter, more feature-packed, and can be pricey.
  • Size should match your weight.


What you Need for Snowshoeing

Other than your snowshoes, there are some essentials for your snowshoeing adventure.

Snowshoeing Clothes

Here is a list of clothes to bring and wear when snowshoeing: 

  • Baselayers
  • Mid layer
  • Outer shell
  • Hat
  • Socks
  • Boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves

You should be prepared with a pair of comfortable boots. These boots are made from leather or synthetic material. High-top boots are preferred worn with wool or synthetic socks, never cotton. 

 You should have a hat, beanie or balaclava as well as sunglasses. Keep at least two pairs of gloves with you. Your base layer should include wool or synthetic top and bottom, while the mid-layer or insulating layer should be fleece, polyester, or down. Your outer layer should be durable and windproof. Waterproof if the climate and weather require it. 

Snowshoeing Gear 

Here is some extra gear you may need when snowshoeing: 

  • Gaiters
  • Poles
  • Backpack
  • Water
  • First aid
  • Snacks/Food
  • Headlamp 
  • GPS or map with compass

Don't forget gaiters that keep the snow out of your shoes, as well as poles that can help you get out of the powder if you fall. You will need a backpack that can hold your food, water, first aid, and other gear. 

Understanding Snowshoes: How to Use Snowshoes

The snowshoe's webbed surface causes less stress on the snow, allowing the person to walk more easily on top of it. In addition, Snowshoes are used with trekking poles to help maintain balance and an upright posture while walking in deep snow.

There are a few different ways to put a pair of snowshoes on, depending on what type of design you have and your personal preference. There is no "right" way to do this, but many people prefer the following way:

Check if your snowshoes are universal, if not, match the left and right shoes to your feet

  1. Adjust the binding of your snowshoes to fit your boots.
  2. Tighten all straps on the snowshoe.
  3. Make a few test steps to check if everything is alright.
  4. Tuck in any excess bindings or straps.

Being efficient and fluid with your movements takes a little getting used to. In addition, you will need to develop your stride when snowshoeing. After you finish using your snowshoes, brush off any snow left on your snowshoes, and once you are home, wipe them off. This way, no corrosion will form on your snowshoes.


Whether you are renting, ready to buy your first pair of snowshoes, or purchasing an upgrade, you need snowshoes that match your weight and load you are carrying, winter clothes, and gear. The next thing you have to do is find a partner, and off you go!

Snowshoeing for beginners and experts alike is a fun, low-impact exercise. We hope this article helps you with most issues you might face in the powder or maintained trail.

Snow Shoe Rentals in Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction 

Summit Canyon rents snowshoes from both of our locations in Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.


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