The only thing needed for a successful snowshoeing adventure is the right kind of clothing and gear. In the following article we’ll focus on how you should dress for snowshoeing.
What to Wear for Snowshoeing
Your entire snowshoeing activity depends on appropriate clothing, and if you are not wearing them, then the outing can be ruined. However, what you should wear for snowshoeing greatly depends on the snow and weather conditions and on the length and difficulty of the trek.
Let’s start with some key ideas you should always keep in mind:
- Wear layered clothing to be able to accommodate to any circumstances.
- Choose your clothes wisely: While most people might fear getting cold, overheating your body could prove just as dangerous. Find clothes which help you cool down and get rid of the extra heat.
- On the other hand, your extremities always need extra protection. Get the best footwear, hats and gloves for your trip!
Layered Clothing for Snowshoeing
It is important that you dress in layers, particularly because that allows you to control the change in climate and temperature during your snowshoeing trip. With layers, you can take some off when you feel less cold, like at midday when it is relatively warm due to the overhead sun.
Snowshoeing is also a heavy aerobic activity that produces body heat, so you need to consider that, too.
The first layer is the base layer. This is the layer closest to your body and it needs to have the ability to wick away any moisture from your skin.
It includes the underwear, a close fitting shirt and tights. Their main aim is to keep you dry and warm.
Some common materials for this layer are:
- and wool.
Keep in mind that the fabric you choose depends on your body requirements. Some people have a cold body, so merino wool is a good option since it is an insulator that can naturally regulate temperature and is not itchy.
Meanwhile polyester and other synthetic materials offer similar moisture-wicking ability, but they lack the insulation of merino wool. As the base layer’s primary purpose should be to get rid of the moisture your body generates, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Base layers also have different weight categories such as heavyweight, lightweight, and mid-weight. Lightweight is the thinnest fabric, whereas the midweight base layer is neither too heavy nor too light and might be the best option for snowshoeing.
One thing you should always look out for: avoid choosing anything cotton-made as a base layer.
A mid-layer is worn above your base layer and its main role is to act as an insulating layer between the moisture-wicking base layer and the outer third layer.
The mid-layer is a crucial part of layered clothing even if you do not have any plans of hiking and the day is warm, you must bring a mid-layer along with you just in case.
Some common fabrics for mid-layers include:
- and synthetic insulation or down.
Like your base layer, the mid-layer fabric also depends on your personal preference and the temperature of your body. For example, you can use synthetic material on freezing days, fleece on moderate days, and polyester layers on warm days.
The outer layer or outer jacket is the last layer and helps provide protection from rain, snow, and wind. It is ideal for wearing in the freezing temperature.
The outer layer needs to be waterproof and have windbreaker qualities since its main purpose is to fend off outer elements.
Meanwhile, outer jackets and pants should also provide enhanced breathability (again, not to overheat) and durable, water-repellent properties.
If it’s not unbearably cold outside, a breathable softshell jacket is what you need, whereas if you are going snowshoeing in the real cold of winter, then a hard shell outer layer will provide you the protection you need.
Moreover, for extra insulation along with the outer layer, you can go for a down jacket as well.
Hats and Gloves
Apart from putting on all the layers of clothes, you also need to cover your hands and head. This allows you to prevent loss of heat from your extremities and also protects you from sunburn.
The ideal material for these are wool or synthetics, or a combination of those. Both your hat and gloves should have proper insulating and waterproof properties.
Waterproof mittens or ski gloves should help keeping your hands dry and warm. For warmer days, you can go for light fleece gloves, wool liners, or simple glove liners as well, while on colder trips, you should use a combination of glove liners and warm, waterproof gloves.
It’s also a good idea to keep a backup waterproof pair with you just in case.
As for hats, a wide-brimmed hat or a simple ball cap will not only keep you from losing heat through your head, but it will also protect your eyes from the sunshine reflected from the snow.
Never forget socks when going snowshoeing in the winter. Woolen socks help keep your toes warm and make your activity fun. If you do not wear the right kind of socks, then moving from one spot to another will soon become burdensome rather than a fun activity.
Here, your best option is definitely to choose wool over anything else. They might be pricier than other materials, but keeping your feet warm and dry is essential to any winter sports.
Make sure you avoid cotton socks since they’ll absorb moisture and make your feet incredibly wet. It is also smart to keep one or two extra pair of socks with you so that in case of heavy snowfall, you can change your socks if they are wet.
Footwear for Snowshoeing
Another thing to focus on is the footwear you are planning on wearing. You can opt for winter hiking boots or even ski boots, but relatively warm conditions and flat terrain could even allow warm winter shoes.
However, one thing must be uncompromised. Whatever footwear you choose, it should be warm, comfortable and waterproof.
Even though you will strap snowshoes over your boots, they will be covered in snow since the front side of the snowshoes is open. This hole present in the deck will give you the movement and flexibility you need on your boots when you walk.
Finally, it’s a common question between many beginner snowshoers:
Do you need gaiters for snowshoeing? Although while many experienced snowshoers start trekking through snow without a gaiter, I’d definitely recommend novices to have a pair of gaiters over their shoes.
Gaiters have one purpose, to keep snow out of your boot. For deep and heavy snow, you need gaiters with a high style that have breathable and waterproof fabric as well.
There is a surprisingly lot of variety among gaiters, however, the length is what matters; for deeper and heavier snow conditions, you must have longer gaiters, whereas, for low snow, you can go for normal-sized gaiters.
What to Bring Snowshoeing
If you’re done getting your matching set of clothes for your snowshoeing trip, you should definitely focus on what you want to pack.
To make it easier for you, we compiled a nice list of what you should bring to snowshoeing, and what you should leave at home.