Stay with me here, guys.
I know that snowshoeing is sometimes treated like the red-headed stepchild of winter activities. I’m a red-headed stepchild myself, so I don’t throw the term around lightly.
Snowshoeing is slow, deliberate, and often done as a means to an end: a way to traverse terrain so you can do something more conventionally adrenaline-fueled, like snowboarding.
But it’s not fair to write off snowshoeing as something that’s “just for old folks,” or to scoff and say, “why snowshoe when you can backcountry ski?” Snowshoeing is cool, imaginary strawman! Don’t be a jerk.
Anybody can do it
It may surprise you to learn that most outdoor winter activities are expensive. Shocker, right?
Seriously, though, not everybody has the cash lying around to buy a ski setup and a lift ticket. Hell, while I’m talking about snowshoes, not many people have the cash for a decent pair of those, either. They are more attainable though.
Snowshoeing also doesn’t have the steep—pun not intended—learning curve that makes skiing and snowboarding intimidating for newcomers. You just need pull up to a trailhead, put your snowshoes on, and put one foot in front of the other.
So, snowshoeing is cool because it’s got a pretty low barrier to entry. You don’t need a ton of money to do it, and you don’t need lessons or a hefty time commitment to get into it either.
It can be just as hardcore as anything else…
Snowshoeing has the reputation of being pretty slow-paced. You hike up a mountain and, instead of being able to slide down, you hike down too.
That doesn’t mean that snowshoeing is inherently less fun, or that it doesn’t have its place in an adrenaline junkie’s wheelhouse. In fact, the sheer versatility of snowshoes make them something that every outdoors-person should keep in their gear quiver.
Snowshoes can get you to an otherwise inaccessible (even for skis) backcountry ice climb, to your favorite backcountry winter camping spot, or to the top of a snow-covered mountain. Their light weight and slim form factor make strapping them to your pack a breeze, which makes them perfect for hiking at elevations where the snowpack can vary.
And speaking of hardcore snowshoeing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wide variety of running snowshoes on the market. Strap a pair of these teardrop-shaped, ultralight snowshoes on and you can trail run all year long. Now that’s hardcore.
…But it doesn’t need to be
But maybe you just want to get out and enjoy a fresh snowfall without making a big production of it. If that’s the case, snowshoes are your best friend. They’re the ultimate ‘get-out-and-go’ pieces of gear, from just strapping on a pair at your backdoor to hitting your favorite nature trail. There’s no muss, no fuss.
And that calls to mind the biggest reason snowshoeing is cool—for me, anyway. It’s contemplative. It takes the zen-like focus and relaxation that you get from hiking, and amplifies it ten-fold just by virtue of it being winter. The muffled, tranquil silence of the backcountry as you break trail in a pair of snowshoes, the crisp, cold air, and the easygoing mindset you’ll find yourself in as you marvel at nature’s winter wonders is rejuvenating.
So the next time you want to get out into the backcountry, or just stomp around in the woods behind your house, give snowshoeing a fair shake. You might be surprised at just how cool it is.