How to plan a snowshoe hike

When it comes to snowshoeing, proper planning can make the difference between a good day on the mountain or a lousy day of freezing cold misery.


We’ve talked about packing for outdoor adventures before, you can check out an entire post about it here, but as part of our Wednesday winter blog line-up It’s important to mention a few tips when planning a snowshoe hike.

Plan to keep your feet warm and dry.

The first big thing we do is think about our feet. I don’t know if it’s just me but when I snowshoe my feet tend to get colder than usual. I think it’s a combination of my feet getting sweaty because snowshoeing can be a pretty aerobic and the fact that when I snowshoe my snowshoes sink a little bit if I’m out on soft powder. So I pay close attention to my choice in socks, boots and gaiters and adjust at the trail head if needed.

Plan for a warm, dry change of clothes at the trailhead.

I like to put on a dry shirt, hart and pair of socks after I’m done snowshoeing before I drive home. Dry clothes are awesome after a day on the trails, even if you just have a minute to put on a dry hat or shirt at the trailhead.

Plan to explore a place that has suitable terrain for your skill level.

Let’s be honest, basic snowshoeing doesn’t take a whole lot of skill. We’ll go into this later but if you can walk you can snowshoe. It’s even easier than learning how to cross-country ski. But some terrain, especially terrain in high avalanche risk area is best left for the experienced with backcountry and avalanche know how.

Plan on contingencies.

I try to always ask myself, what happens if I don’t make it back to my car at the trailhead before dark, what if the batteries in my GPS die, what if I get to my car at the trailhead and the darn thing won’t start (been there), what if the shit really hits the fan and I don’t have cell service? It seems like the situations where we forget to ask these hard questions and prepare for the unexpected are the times when disaster really strikes. If disaster strikes in the middle of nowhere on a cold winter day it can fatal.

Always tell someone your plan.

When Al and I were in the Army there was always this emphasis on having a “battle buddy” or someone who knew where you were at all times. This was especially important during a deployment when things were chaotic and personnel accountability was crucial. So, find someone who you can tell your plan to and who can trusted to help you out if you get into trouble. We’ve got more information about this here.

Often we feel rushed like when need to hurry up and get out on the trails and it’s easy to forget the importance of having a good plan. It’s worth it to take a few minutes, slow down and be prepared, just in case.

How do you plan and prepared for a snowshoe adventure? Do you find that you are more cautious for winter activities than for summer recreation?

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