Some of the best New Year’s Resolutions aren’t about moving the scale or drastically altering habits. They’re about challenging yourself to try new things. And what better way to embrace the winter elements by strapping on some snowshoes and going for a hike or run?
Nationally ranked snowshoe racer Eric Sambolec was an avid runner who dreaded the long and snowy winters in upstate New York. But when he discovered the snowshoe running community, he found a way to stay on the trails and remain fit year round, regardless of the weather.
“Snowshoeing makes me look forward to winter,” Sambolec says. “You get to see the outdoors, the mental benefits are great, and it’s a great total body workout. It’s also surprisingly simple and easy to do. The learning curve is pretty small, especially compared to other winter sports.”
Here are Sambolec’s tips to help get you started:
- Start small. “If you are just beginning, it’s good to start by walking around in the backyard and getting
comfortable,” Sambolec says. Next, try walking a wide, well-packed, or groomed trail before you graduate to jogging, running, or serious hiking in snowshoes.
- Pick the right gear for your preferred snowshoeing activity. If you want to focus on hiking, be sure to bring warm layers, trekking poles, and snowshoes with a larger surface area constructed for deeper snow. If you want to focus on racing and running, opt for lighter layers, packed trails, and lightweight snowshoes to pair with your regular running shoes.
- Dress the part. “It’s important to wear a warm, dry base layer and to avoid materials that hold water,” Sambolec says. “Snowshoeing can kick up a lot of snow, and that can melt once it’s on your body. It’s surprising how quickly your heart rate can get up. You can break out into a sweat even when the air temperature is below zero.”
- Choose a goal. Ask yourself why you want to snowshoe. Is it to get out into nature, work on your cardio, or keep in shape for non-winter sports? Is it some combination of the three? If you want to explore the mountains or
simply get outside for some fresh air, look for a local club or nearby outdoor school for organized snowshoe activities. If you want to get competitive, check out the U.S. Snowshoe Association to learn about racing eventsnear you.
- Stay safe. Snowshoeing often involves leaving civilization behind and embracing harsh conditions. Be sure to snowshoe with a friend and stay on designated trails. Always check the weather before embarking on a trip and dress for the conditions. Educate yourself about common winter sport dangers, including tree wells and avalanches. If you’re leaving well-populated trails, bring a whistle, map or GPS device, and a cell phone (if the area has service).
Gear Up For Your Goal
When you’re ready to learn how to hike or run in snowshoes and to commit to keeping active during the coldest months of the year, here’s what you need to get started.
- Snowshoes. You may wish to choose snowshoes that are durable enough to handle hiking in deep snow, but
lightweight enough to wear jogging on a snowy trail. We like: the Atlas Men’s Rendezvous Snowshoes and the Atlas Women’s Rendezvous Snowshoes.
- Trekking Poles. If you plan on hiking on varied terrain, trekking poles are a must, especially when climbing or descending. Easton Mountain Products Trekking Poles are great for all weather conditions. They include interchangeable summer and winter baskets, and are easy to adjust even when wearing gloves or mittens.
- Thermal Jacket. Designed to keep runners warm and dry, the Nike Men’s Dri-FIT Thermal Full Zip Running Jacket and Nike Women’s Dri-FIT Thermal Full Zip Running Jacket have raised collars to keep out wind and snow. If you’re running in your snowshoes, you can wear the jacket as an outer layer. If you’re hiking, you can layer it under something heavier.
- Thermal Leggings. A warm base that wicks away sweat is vital to snowshoeing comfortably. Tight-fit leggings provide insulation from the cold and pull moisture away from the skin. Try Under Armour Men’s ColdGear 2.0 Baselayer Pants or Calia by Carrie Underwood Women’s Cold Weather Tight Fit Leggings.
- Warm Socks. Snowshoeing requires warm, dry, and well-fitting socks. SmartWool Ski Medium Knee High Socks work perfectly, providing a reinforced heel and toe, a ventilation system, and a flat-knit toe seam.