Essential Clothing and Gear for Snowshoeing

As part of our snowshoe series we’ve talked about the history of snowshoeing, why to snowshoe, how to select a pair of snowshoes, and where to buy snowshoes. Today we’re discussing some of that extra stuff, like what to wear snowshoeing and what gear to bring along.

snowshoeing clothing

We dress for snowshoeing just like we do for cross-country skiing or winter hiking. Because it’s such an aerobic activity layers are crucial.

What to wear:

We start with a good baselayer of merino wool, or other warm, moisture wicking synthetic material, add a midlayer of fleece and top it off with an outerlayer consisting of a breathable, but waterproof shell. When I’m snowshoeing I like a midlayer with a neck zip to help regulate my body temperature.

What to wear snowshoeing

Next comes the footwear.

Since snowshoeing requires charging through snow or on top of snow, what we put on our feet is vital for a fun day on the trails.

We start with a good sock, Ausangate or Smartwool are our brands of choice. Then, depending on where we’re going and the weather we will either wear our sturdy leather hiking boots or insulated winter hiking/snow boots. A good pair of boots is worth the investment, my leather hiking boots cost more than my snowshoes.

Footwear for snowshoeing

If we’re snowshoeing through deep snow we top off our boots with gaiters to keep the snow out of our boots. I like tall gaiters because here in Wyoming we never know what kind of drifts we’re going to have to take on.

Next step…accessorize!

Then we top it all off with an assortment of hats, headbands, gloves, mittens, balaclava’s and sunglasses depending on the weather and how fast or slow we plan on moving


Just like with cross-country skiing, I like to keep a dry shirt, pair of socks, and hat in my car that I change into for the drive home.


Gear for snowshoeing is pretty minimal.

Snowshoes, of course are required. A daypack is important (we’ll talk about what to put in your daypack when you’re snowshoeing next week) and poles, sleds, shovels, avalanche beacons & probes are all optional depending on where you’re headed.

A few things about poles.

A lot of snowshoers prefer telescoping poles and some will even adjust the poles to make them shorter on the uphills and longer on the downhills. Telescoping poles have the added advantage of being able to adjust so the height of the snowshoer doesn’t really matter-this is great for families with growing kids and you can collapse them down and strap them onto the back of a daypack.


But, telescoping poles don’t always work perfectly, we have a pair that refuse to stay latched and are constantly collapsing on us. I actually prefer to snowshoe without poles so I have arms free to deal with kiddos or with arm-pit length cross-country ski poles.

Gear to bring the kids along

When we snowshoe with our kiddos (6 months and 2 1/2 we carry the baby in our Ergo baby carrier and pull our two year old in an orange plastic sled from Kmart or our Chariot with ski attachments. We throw our toddler on snowshoes and let him snowshoe when he doesn’t feel like riding.

Safety Gear

If you’re headed deep into the backcountry it’s important to always check avalanche conditions and be prepared with safety equipment like avalanche beacons and probes, a shovel, and to have a good plan. While this equipment is important it’s vital to remember that everyone in the group needs to know avalanche safety and how to use the equipment. We like to keep it simple and stick to areas with minimal avalanche danger.

What do you wear and what gear do you think is important for snowshoeing?

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  5. Stan |

    Smartwool Socks are great! The times I’ve used them for hiking I’ve not had any blisters. For skiing they are comfy. For just cold days in general, they are great.

    Great article! Thanks for all the advice.

    • Rebecca |

      Glad you like the article, we’re fans of Smartwool socks too. I agree about the blisters part too, it’s amazing what a good pair of socks can do to prevent blisters!

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