Snowshoeing is awesome. Period. But like many types of adventures your experience will be better if you're properly outfitted and know the best tricks. This post is about some of the little things that will make your trip out more comfortable and enjoyable.
This post is not about the basics like layering or survival but rather about the creature comforts. This post is about solving first world problems. For some of the basics I would recommend checking out some very informative posts from REI.
Hand and Foot Warmers
These little gems fit inside your gloves or boots and typically last for several hours. They don't add a ton of heat so you typically won't get too warm. From my personal experience as well as conversations with others these warmers take you from feeling cold to not feeling anything at all. Just make sure you look at the directions on where to place these when you put them on.
Sock and Glove Liners
Ok… so this is kind of getting into basics but I think it's worth talking about as there is a difference between what you need and what will make you the most comfortable. An alternative to little heating pads is to use glove or sock liners.
Liners are thin, tight fitting inner gloves or socks that add some extra warmth and also help wicking if you start to sweat. If you generally have sweaty hands or feet then these will be a huge help since most cold weather gloves aren't great at wicking moisture. If your hands get wet they will get extra cold.
For those unaware, Buffs are “multifunctional headwear”. They are stretchy cloth tubes that have no seams and can be arranged in a number of different ways depending on your needs at that moment. I frequently use them as neck warmers as that tends to be a problem spot for me.
The reason I like using Buffs instead of addressing my problem with a jacket or other clothing is because they are so easy to take off or adjust. When I get warm I often move it from my neck to my head to serve as a light weight beanie and then possibly into my pocket if I keep getting warmer.
Just about every outdoor company now makes something almost exactly like a Buff but the Buff brand has a ton of designs and the cost differences are minimal. They also have an assortment of cloth types. I actually wear one designed for sunny weather use because I tend to run warm, but they sell three types that I would generally recommend:
With something delicious in it.
Hydroflasks (or something like it) are great at keeping things warm. Having a delicious cup of hot coco, stew or even just coffee can make the half way point of your snowshoeing trip a nice little break. Vacuum insulation can keep food or drinks warm for the better part of the day.
Remember that snowshoeing is an amazing way to burn calories but you don't want your body getting too worn out when you're in deep snow a few miles from civilization. Eat calorie and nutritionally dense foods.
Hydroflask makes two types of products that I would recommend for cold weather use.
- Widemouth bottle – The wide mouth will give you more flexibility on how you use it. If you bring a long spoon you can easily use it for something like soup without bringing a bowl.
- Food Flask – Not everything you would want to eat is liquid but a lot of solid foods contain enough water that you want to avoid having them freezing. Things like fruit or meat will have issues with the cold, jamming them in here solves part of that. I don't recommend that you take those kinds of foods but if bringing them makes you happy, insulate them!
Trekking Poles with Snow Baskets
I don't think everyone needs trekking poles but without a doubt they are one of the easiest ways to increase your enjoyment when snowshoeing. Balance can be a problem in deep snow and poles with snow baskets are a huge help. You can also use ski poles if you already have them.
Don't spend a ton of money on trekking poles. A good inexpensive pair are from Cascade Mountain Tech. They sell these at Costco as well and they come with an interchangeable set of baskets, including snow baskets.
Whatever you do don't get cheap poles with twist locks, they are almost certain to break. The quick lock type (linked above) are less prone to breaking. If you are buying really high quality poles you'll probably be fine but it's an unnecessary luxury.