How Snowshoes Work

Snowshoe Safety
Getting a good workout AND a good conversation!
Getting a good workout AND a good conversation!
Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images

Getting the right size snowshoe is a key aspect of snowshoe safety, not to mention snowshoe enjoyment. Before buying or renting snowshoes, ensure that they're adequate for your body weight plus any gear you may be carrying. Check your snowshoes for any signs of wear and tear before heading outside.

Since snowshoeing is a winter activity, dressing properly for the elements is key. For snowshoeing, you'll want to dress in several layers, rather than simply pulling on a big snowsuit. That's because snowshoeing is an aerobic activity, and you'll heat up quickly once you get going. Wearing layers will allow you to remove layers as you get warm, yet you'll still have them handy once you stop for a rest.

Other things you'll want to have handy include a bottle of water so that you can remain hydrated throughout your workout. You'll also want to take along some snacks and a flashlight, in case an afternoon of snowshoeing ends up lasting longer than anticipated. Don't count on just following your tracks back out of a remote forest -- you should bring along a map, compass or a GPS system. A first aid kit, sunscreen, sunglasses and duct tape for repairs should also make your packing list.

Many people like the peace and quiet that snowshoeing provides; it's a good way to get up close and personal with undisturbed parts of nature. Yet it can be dangerous to snowshoe alone, so stay with a group if at all possible. A group of people will come in handy during one of the most strenuous parts of snowshoeing: breaking new ground. Be sure to take turns when pushing through freshly fallen snow so that one person doesn't become too fatigued. And even though the opportunity to break new ground sets snowshoeing apart from an activity like skiing, it's still important to be careful of where you go. Snowshoeing is relatively easy, and instructors say that snowshoes can take you anywhere there's snow, but it's still important to be aware of your abilities, limitations and environment.

For other ways to have winter fun, see the links on the next page.

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