Don’t let winter keep you trapped inside, winter can be one of the most beautiful times to really get out and enjoy our natural world. If properly prepared you can truly enjoy a winter in the woods, the mountains, or in your very own backyard. Below I’ve provided some information to help you get started and prepared for a winter snowshoe outing.
When put together properly, your clothing system can keep you surprisingly warm and comfortable in the cold harsh conditions of winter. It all starts with your base layers.
- Base Layers: Base layers come in many different shapes and forms. The most important things to consider when choosing base layers are: the material, the fit, and the ‘weight’ of the layer.
- Top Base Layer
- Hooded or Non-Hooded
- Bottom Base Layer
- Light Weight
- Medium Weight
- Heavy Weight
Brands that make base layers I’d recommend: (I have no affiliation with any of these brands)
- Socks: Extremities are the first part of you to get cold, this means its important to have the proper socks and footwear. In general Wool is the way to go, the recommendations I make are all wool or wool blends.
Brands for socks that I recommend: (I have no affiliation with any of these brands)
There are several key pieces of gear you’ll need other than the actual snowshoes themselves. Necessary items include: Gloves/Mittens, Boots, Hats, Jackets, and Pants. Other items you might consider are: Goggles, Gaiters, Micro Spikes, and Trekking Poles.
Your hands are another extremity, along with your feet, that will get coldest first. It’s important to make sure your hands stay warm enough to function. If you’ve ever had your hands get so cold they won’t work properly then you know what I’m talking about.
Gloves perform better when dexterity is needed. Liner gloves are a great option to where inside a mitten.
If dexterity isn’t necessarily needed, mittens will be the best choice when hand warmth is concerned.
Brands I’d recommend when it comes to Gloves and Mittens: (I have no affiliation with any of these brands)
- Outdoor Research (one of the leading companies when it comes to this category)
- Black Diamond
Eye protection can not be dismissed when it comes to snowshoeing. On a sunny day the light from the sun and its reflection off the snow can be so bright that in extreme cases you can burn your retina’s, this is known as snow blindness. Sunglasses are my minimum recommendation for snowshoeing. You may also consider Glacier Glasses, these special type of glasses offer even more protection and can include side shields and even a nose cover to further protect you from the sun and the suns reflection off the snow. Goggles are a great piece of gear if and when the wind picks up. High winds can cause snow to blow, this blowing snow can sting the face like needles. Having goggles protects your eyes and allows you to best see during a period of blowing snow.
- Provides protection against sun, and the suns reflection off the snow.
- Choose sunglasses that wrap around, and block out as much UV rays as possible
- I like these sunglasses by ROKA for running, hiking, and maybe for some snowshoeing
- Provide more protection than standard sunglasses, blocking out most all UV rays.
- Often come with side shields and even a nose piece.
- JULBO is a “go-to” brand for glacier glasses. I’ve never owned a pair, but when I get some, they will be JULBO’s.
- Great for protection against high winds and blowing snow.
- Most come with interchangeable lens.
- I currently own and recommend a pair of Smith’s as far as goggles are concerned.
Gaiters may be a piece of gear you haven’t given much thought about, or even have heard of. This piece of gear is essential for travel in deep snow. When it comes to snowshoeing its purpose is to prevent snow from going up your pant legs, or into your boots. Some ski/snow pants have built in gaiters that cinch around the boot, otherwise an external pair of gaiters that go overtop the pant leg and boot do the trick. There are also boots that have gaiters built into them, so options abound!
One of the best companies to look at for Gaiters is Outdoor Research, I have their Crocodile Gaiters and use them quite a bit in winter.