Native peoples in Canada and elsewhere made their own snowshoes and used them to get about in winter. Then, early settlers adopted this form of transportation. In the early 1900s people started using snowshoes for sport and it became quite popular. By the latter half of the 20th century, however, snowshoeing gave way to other winter activities and became less common. Recently, though, outdoor enthusiasts have rediscovered the joys of walking in the woods in the winter and, with new materials and innovative designs, snowshoeing has been reborn!
You’ll love it
There is really nothing to it – if you can walk, you can snowshoe. You don’t have to be super fit or fast. Enjoy getting out for fresh winter air, walking on picturesque trails cut through forests heavily laden with beautiful white snow! The peace and quiet of the winter forest, friendly birds looking for treats and fabulous winter scenery will be yours when you join your RA companions on one of our snowshoe outings.
Forget the traditional snowshoes. Modern, hi-tech snowshoes with good crampons have made snowshoeing so much easier and so much more fun. Currently, the most popular snowshoes with our members are the basic MSR Evo snowshoes, which are also much more durable than the traditional ‘babiche’ and are reasonably priced. For many snowshoers, poles help with balance and going up any slippery slopes but extras such as heel-lifts and flotation extensions will probably not be worth their additional cost. A snowshoe bag, that can be easily identified, will keep your snowshoes safe during transport.
Occasionally, after freezing rain, hard packed and icy trails will be unsuitable for snowshoes. However, you can still enjoy such conditions if you also have hiking crampons – such as Kahtoola microspikes or Hillsound Trail crampons. Get equipped and come along to enjoy this wonderful outdoor activity.
What to bring, what to wear
You’ll need to dress in layers. Wear a hat, scarf and mitts, as usual. Bring a day-pack with food and something to drink. You should have comfortable low-heel winter boots which will fit right into the harness attached to the snowshoes. On milder days you can even use hiking boots for snowshoeing. However, your feet will be cold and uncomfortable in running shoes and high-heel boots. Gaiters are a great help in keeping deep snow from entering the tops of your boots and making your socks wet. Ski poles or hiking poles are also recommended to help with the undulating terrain!
You might want to bring a small extra bag to leave on the bus with a change of clothes for the ride home. Don’t forget some seeds and nuts to feed the birds. Most of all, bring an open spirit and enthusiasm for enjoying a great new outdoor hobby!