Snowshoe Checklist, Trails and Paddles

With the recent dump of snow, I know some of you will be rushing to the mountains for some frolicking. I know we can’t wait to get out there and enjoy some of this powdery white goodness! So I thought I would put together a list to remind you of some much-needed steps before you head out for a chilly adventure. Of course, this will depend on where you are going, duration of the adventure and weather, but there are some basics that tend to cover most trips.

Check the forecast

First things first, know what the weather will be like! Prepare for the worst of course but its smart to have a good idea of what to expect. Also check for avalanche warnings for the area you are going.

Properly Fitted Equipment

There are a variety of snowshoe types depending on activity and body size. Be sure you have done your research ahead of time to make sure they can support your weight and reflect the terrain you are traversing. Most poles are adjustable but there is a difference between some summer and winter poles so be mindful of that. We always like to bring extra snowshoe straps as well in case any break.

Snowshoe Checklist, Trails and Paddles

Warm Layers

Dressing appropriately is so important. We like to wear a sweat-wicking base layer, mid-layer like a fleece and activewear pants, then snow pants and a down vest or jacket along with gloves, hat and face cover. Warm socks and snowshoe friendly boots are a must! Remember its better to layer down if you get too hot than to be cold and not have enough clothes with you to stay warm.

Snowshoe Layers, Trails and Paddles

Backpack and Accessories

There are winter-specific backpacks that are made for more rugged, cold conditions so depending on your adventure’s level of difficulty that is something to consider. Leave the hydration pack at home, it will freeze, and bring a water bottle instead. A thermos of warm hot chocolate is always a great idea! Snacks are a must, you will be burning many calories. And be sure to pack the usual emergency items (matches, string, knife, etc.), especially emergency space blankets in case you become stranded and need to build a shelter and keep warm. PS the sun CAN burn you in the winter, so I always wear sunscreen or a cc cream that is SPF 30. Winter sunburns are just awful.

Navigational Equipment

Finding a trail is much harder when its covered in snow. And often snowshoers don’t follow a trail because the snow enables you to wander over brush that would normally be impossible. So it’s very important to bring a map and compass or GPS with you. You should also do some research about the area/route you are taking ahead of time to note any landmarks, geological features, trail markers you can. Don’t rely on following your tracks out because they can get covered up or confused, leading to a very lost snowshoer. Who wants to spend a cold, dark night in the forest?!  Not this guy.

So if I was to put this on a list for a day trip it would look like this:

  • Snowshoes/poles/extra straps
  • Warm layers/hat/gloves/face-cover
  • Extra socks/boots
  • Backpack
  • Water bottle/snacks/hot chocolate/booze to go in said hot chocolate
  • Emergency and survival items/first aid kit
  • Camera
  • Chapstick/sun skin protection/sunglasses
  • GPS/map/compass/extra batteries for GPS/notes about area and weather

Snowshoe, Trails and Paddles

So really you just need to do a little homework and preparation before you rush out to the gorgeous snow-covered mountains. It will definitely pay off if you do! If you have any questions or have more suggestions about preparing for a snowy adventure we would love to hear in the comments.


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