Snowshoe Series – Getting Started!

As we get closer to the holiday’s, with the temperature dropping and winter  approaching, it’s that time again to prepare for the snowy winter months ahead.  Don’t let the cold weather and snow force you indoors, there’s plenty of winter adventures to be had!!   

One of the easiest Snowshoeing is one of the most enjoyable and inexpensive outdoor winter Sports, the perfect way to stay healthy and happy through the winter months! 

Snowshoeing the grape vinyards with "Nature's Fitness"  Renting shoes is a great option

Snowshoeing the grape vineyards with “Nature’s Fitness” Renting shoes and going with a group is a great option for getting started.

VIDEO  –  FIRST TIME GUIDE (SNOWSHOEMAG.COM)

One of my favorite winter sports is snowshoeing and here’s MY top 5 reasons why:

 

1.  It’s relatively inexpensive.   I put this one on the top of my list,  since my budget is tight and I don’t always have the disposable income needed for other winter sports that are gear intensive, such as downhill skiing, snowboarding, fat tire riding or even skate skiing.  Aside from the proper layering of clothing, you can get into snowshoeing for $60 to $400 dollars. 

2. It’s a great way to take a break from the other sports to – and have some FUN.   snowshoeing on average burns twice the calories of walking and depending on what type of snowshoeing I do, I can get the same cardio that I would from running the trails in the summer, plus when I use my poles I work the upper body, all while having fun and finding adventure!

3. It’s easy and convenient.    I keep my snowshoes in my car all winter so I can get in a quick workout, enjoy the beauty of some local woods and de-stress.   In less than 10 minutes I can be out enjoying nature at it’s finest!   There is virtually no learning curve when it comes to snowshoeing, if you can walk or hike, you can snowshoe and it’s something that the whole family can enjoy.

4. I can explore new areas of local parks and woods.    In the summer months there’s typically a lot of underbrush and growth in the areas off the beaten path or trail.  In the winter, with the snow cover, I can explore areas that I normally couldn’t get to during the summer months.  The same park or woods that I frequent in the other seasons, now offers a whole new adventure!

5.  It keeps me in the outdoors.   I know that not everyone likes the cold weather and snow and many dread the long months indoors, running the treadmill, spending more time at the gym, or even plopped on the couch in front of the tv, basically waiting for spring to arrive again.   I can’t spend too much time indoors, I avoid it like the plague and do whatever I can to spend time outdoors.  Snowshoeing offers me that opportunity all winter long, day or night, to get some exercise, meet new people and enjoy the winter months.

Snowshoeing the Roads and Trails in UP Michigan!  Renting Shoes from a local sporting goods store!

Snowshoeing the Roads and Trails in UP Michigan!  Renting Shoes from a local sporting goods store!

Where to Start?

With the internet today, it’s easy to”Google” Snowshoes and get all the information that you could possibly ingest, even to the point that it could start to become confusing.   

Just like biking, kayaking, skiing or any other outdoor sport, there’s a bike, kayak,  ski and yes, SNOWSHOE, for every type of terrain, or style of that particular activity.  

So whenever people ask me what type of snowshoes they should buy or get started with, I always respond by asking  a few basic questions:

 Have you snowshoe’d before?

What type of hiking  do you want to do on snowshoes?

Where do you want to go?

Most people typically respond by saying that they just want to go locally with their spouse or friends, get in some exercise and have some fun outdoors in the snow. 

I usually tell people starting out, not to spend a ton of money on their first pair of snowshoes if they just want to get out to enjoy walking in the local parks or woods, for some fun and fitness with friends and family. 

  • For those just starting out snowshoeing, I  suggest renting  a pair OR borrowing a pair from someone you know and get out in your backyard or local park and try it.    Borrowing or swapping snowshoes with  friends, is also a great way to try different brands of snowshoes, that might have different bindings or cleats so you can better understand what works best for you.  Joining a  group that offers hikes into some local parks as well as providing the snowshoes is, to me, one of the best ways to get into the sport, meet some new friends and discover some backyard adventures that you may have otherwise known about.   Two companies that offer this service in my area are EcoTrek Fitness and just to the South, Nature’s Fitness
  • Some prefer to buy a pair right away, in that case, you can find package deals at Sam’s Club, Costco, or other discount stores, that include  snowshoes, poles and carry bag for  around $60, sometimes less through a sale.  Most of the discount stores carry Yukon Charlies, which in my opinion offers a  perfect starter snowshoe that have descent, easy to use bindings and will last years if you only get out 5 to 10 times a year.   Craigslist is also a great option for finding  lightly used snowshoes from people who are cleaning out closets.   I’ve seen some great deals on high-end, quality shoes on Craigslist for a steal.  If you buy used, just be sure to give the shoes a good inspection before buying, most times the shoes will be like new.  My favorite pair of snowshoes, I bought used from and outdoor retailer that was selling their rental shoes for a fraction of the price that I would have paid for new ones.    

 

  • If you want to get into the history and art of making traditional snowshoes, take a class from your local nature center or state park, both usually offer classes at the beginning of the season.   My first pair of snowshoes,  I built and used for two seasons.    Granted, the snowshoes of today are made from much higher tech materials, with  dependable, durable and super easy quick release bindings, but there’s something spiritual about getting out on a pair of wooden snowshoes that YOU crafted with your own hands, like the early explores and Native Americans did, years ago.   I highly recommend taking a class, it fun!!!

The main thing when starting out, is to just get out and try it and later on if you start climbing up mountains or hilly terrain, backpack through the deep northern backcountry snow, or start running trails, then you’ll want to spend some money on more specific snowshoes.  For most terrain, especially here in the midwest, a basic package deal of a shoe is perfect.

 I’ll be posting more on specific types of snowshoes including running snowshoes in the next weeks.

The links below offer some good advice on how to choose the right Snowshoe.

First Timers Guide To Snowshoeing.

ORS Snowshoes Direct – choosing the right Snowshoe.

REI – Expert Advice on find the Right Snowshoe.

 Don’t spend this winter indoors, instead get out and find YOUR adventure, Snowshoeing!!!

JJ

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