Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing

Why go snowshoeing

What started thousands of years ago as a mode of transportation has evolved into a popular winter activity for recreation and fitness. Below are 5 reasons you should give snowshoeing a try, some tips on dressing for success when playing outside in winter, and some suggestions on places to go with your snowshoes to experience the great outdoors in Maine right in your backyard.

It's fun: Snowshoeing extends your hiking season into winter and is also a great way to experience the outdoors and exercise in the winter. It lets you enjoy winter solitude and can be a social activity. All ages and ability levels can enjoy the sport together.

It's easy: As the saying goes, "If you can walk, you can snowshoe." The learning curve is much shorter than that of skiing or snowboarding. A few techniques worth practicing: widening your stance (to avoid stepping on snowshoe frames), going up and down hills, traversing slopes and pole usage.

It's inexpensive: Required gear includes snowshoes, appropriate footwear and clothing, and (maybe) a pair of poles. That's it! No lift ticket is required.

It's a good workout: Snowshoeing offers low-impact, aerobic exercise that helps you stay in shape during the winter.

It's versatile: You can go easy or go hard. Plus, you can snowshoe many trails that you can't ski due to trees or low-snow conditions.

What to Wear

Always wear suitable boots and moisture-wicking clothing layers for snowshoeing. Our suggestions:

Footwear

Insulated, waterproof boots are best. They have thick soles, rubber/leather uppers and insulation.

Wool or synthetic socks with wicking liners promote warm, dry feet.

Gaiters keep snow out of your boots. For deep powder, consider a knee-high style with waterproof/breathable lowers.

Clothing

Layer your clothing so it can be adjusted to your activity level and the weather. Avoid cotton.

Base layer: Synthetics and wool retain warmth even when wet. Wear long underwear that wicks away moisture, insulates well and dries quickly. Choose from microlight, lightweight or midweight versions based on the temperature and your activity level. A zippered top lets you adjust body heat as you stop and go.

Insulating layer: Polyester fleece makes a good insulating mid-layer since it retains heat when wet and breathes as you exercise.

Outer layer: A waterproof, breathable shell jacket and pants keep you dry and fend off wind.

Hat, Gloves and Accessories

Keep your head and hands covered to prevent loss of body heat and to protect from sunburn.

A wool or synthetic hat, headband or balaclava retains heat; a wide-brimmed hat or a ball cap can shade your eyes on sunny days.

Waterproof ski gloves or mittens are a must to keep your hands dry and warm. On cold days, combine shells with fleece mittens or gloves. In milder conditions, glove liners may be all you need.

Sunglasses and sunscreen will protect you from burning UV rays which are especially intense when reflected off of snow.