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Snowshoeing for Beginners: 10 Tips to Get Started

Here at JJ's Rentals, we think that snowshoeing is one of the best (not to mention most affordable) ways to get outside and stay mentally and physically active during the winter. If you're renting from us, chances are this may be your first time. So, we've compiled 10 snowshoeing for beginners tips to help you learn the ropes. Let's go!

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snowshoeing for beginners

Reasons to try snowshoeing

Before we get to the tips, let's start off with 5 reasons you should try snowshoeing!

More affordable - Skiing and snowboarding can cost over a thousand dollars for equipment plus lift tickets can cost over $100 per day. Snowshoeing on the other hand is super affordable and most trails are free. We rent snowshoes for just $10/day.

Good exercise - Snowshoeing is similar to hiking but you have the added weight of the snowshoes, the effort of plowing through the snow, and taking wider, more deliberate steps. It can really burn some calories!

Great for mental health - Getting outdoors in nature has many mental health benefits. It's proven to improve your mood, reduce stress, reduces depression, and much more. And snowshoeing is a great way to stay active while it's cold and snowy outside.

Bonding time with friends & family - We think any sport or outdoor activity makes for fun family bonding, but with snowshoeing, it's just you and the solitude of the trail so you have a chance to have long conversations.

No lessons required - Unlike other winter sports, snowshoeing is so easy that you can just read a few pointers on snowshoeing for beginners, grab some snowshoes and off you go.

snowshoeing for beginners

Now for the tips!

1. Equip yourself with the best snowshoes for beginners

Renting gear is the best way to get started if you're a snowshoeing beginner. You can rely on your local rental shop (like us here at JJ's Rentals) to get you set up. Snowshoes are sized according to weight, but don't just think about your own weight. Consider the weight of your backpack or child carrier as well. We rent the Alptrek snowshoes from Cascade Mountain Tech. They come in small (up to 150 pounds), medium (up to 200 pounds) and large (up to 250 pounds).

snowshoeing for beginners

2. Snowshoeing for beginners - start on flat terrain

Snowshoeing on flat terrain is relatively intuitive and doesn't require any special technique, except to keep your stride a little wider than usual to avoid stepping on the inside of the snowshoe frames.

3. Adjust your poles to the proper height

Poles aren't necessary on flat terrain but do come in handy for maintaining balance as you go up and down hills. The poles that come with your snowshoes are adjustable and need to be adjusted according to your height. Simply grip the pole and put the tip on the ground, then adjust the height until your elbow is at a 90-degree angle.

4. Learn the techniques for snowshoeing uphill and downhill

How to snowshoe uphill - On the ascent, rely on your toe-side to get traction. In powdery snow, you can use the kick-step technique to go straight up hill. Or you can create a zig-zag pattern and traverse your way up the hill.

How to snowshoe downhill - On the descent, keep your body weight on your heels while keeping your poles planted in front of you for balance. If you start to slip, just sit down.

snowshoeing for beginners

5. Learn how to get up after falling in deep snow

Most falls occur on the descent if the hill is steep. If you feel yourself starting to fall, try to fall uphill so you can use the slope of the hill to push yourself back up. Otherwise, turn your body until you can do just that. Another option is to use your poles to push yourself back up. First, take your hands out of the straps. Make an 'X' with the poles and use it as support to push yourself back up.

6. Dress in layers

The name of the game in snowshoeing is layers! You'll start out cold but eventually work up a sweat and will want to shed some layers.

Base layer - Do not wear 100% cotton as a base layer for snowshoeing because it will absorb it and make it very hard to stay warm once you cool off. You'll need a lightweight, moisture-wicking base layer like these long johns.

Mid layer - The mid layer is all about staying warm and insulated, so get some good softshell pants or sweats and a fleece pullover.

Outer layer - For your outer layer, you'll want something lightweight and waterproof, and preferably with ventilation zippers to help you cool off when needed. Try this North Face jacket or this Marmot waterproof jacket for a more affordable option.

7. Keep your feet warm and dry

Boots - You have two options for boots but either way make sure you have something waterproof, or you could get very cold very quickly if snow gets inside your boot. One option is to wear waterproof winter boots like these Columbia boots. The other option is to wear waterproof hiking boots like these with some gaiters to keep snow out.

Socks - You'll want to wear knee-length compression socks like these Stance ski socks. They're designed for cold weather, so no need to double up on socks or buy those uncomfortable heat packs. One pair of these ski socks and your feet will stay dry and warm the entire time you're out snowshoeing.

8. Protect yourself from the sun

Sunglasses & sunscreen are a must when snowshoeing! You probably won't need ski goggles unless you're planning on snowshoeing in inclement weather. But if it's a sunny day, don't underestimate how badly your face can get sunburned. The sun reflects off the white snow and can burn more quickly than you'd expect out in the cold.

snowshoeing for beginners

9. Be prepared for emergencies

There are risks with snowshoeing mainly related to the weather, avalanche danger, wildlife, and the potential to get lost. So always check the weather forecast and check for avalanche danger on the day you go. Let someone know where you're going and when to expect you back in case something happens so they where to send search & rescue. And get in the habit of bringing the Ten Essentials as well as an emergency blanket. Always prepare for the worst when venturing into the outdoors in the winter.

10. Know the best place to go snowshoeing for beginners in Utah

JJ's Rentals is based in Lehi Utah and we love to go snowshoeing in the winter, especially to stay active and get outside when it's cold. Utah has some fantastic snowshoeing for beginners and experts alike, so we did a roundup of the top 8 snowshoe trails for beginners in Utah.

  • Sundance Nordic Center

  • Solitude Nordic Center

  • Alpine Loop Road

  • Battle Creek Falls

  • Pine Hollow Trail, American Fork Canyon

  • Millcreek Canyon

  • Donut Falls, Big Cottonwood Canyon

  • Stewart Falls

Click here to read the details!

snowshoeing for beginners

If you need to rent snowshoes in Utah, we can get you set up! Click here for snowshoe rentals in Lehi.

Happy trails and thanks for reading!

--JJ's Rentals 🤘🏻


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