How do snowshoes help you walk on snow?
Snowshoes help you to walk on snow by distributing your body weight over a large surface area – this reduces the pressure exerted on the ground, which in turn enables you to walk across the snow without sinking. Snowshoes also have excellent grip, which is especially useful when walking across slopes in snowy conditions.
So, what is snowshoeing?
Snowshoeing is a popular and easy-to-learn activity that is perfect for anyone looking to explore away from the beaten track. With their firm grip and effective weight distribution, snowshoes enable those wearing them to follow designated trails that lead to areas of the mountain impassable to snow-grooming machines, skiers and winter walkers.
What should I wear for snowshoeing?
Besides the snowshoes themselves, no special equipment is required. However, it’s important to dress for the conditions:
- Waterproof walking boots
- Waterproof & windproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers (or gaiters), plus walking trousers
- A breathable base layer and additional warmer layer
- Wool or fleece hat
- Thermal gloves
- Good-quality woollen or synthetic socks
As you will be walking in fresh snow, to keep the bottom of your legs dry we recommend wearing waterproof walking boots and waterproof trousers or gaiters. A hat, warm socks and thermal gloves are essential, as is a good waterproof and windproof jacket. Layers will also come in useful – even if it's chilly when you set out, you might find that you become quite warm, as snowshoeing is an aerobic activity. You should also wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun and snow: even on duller days, the snow can be very bright. Similarly, it is advisable to wear sun-cream, including in cloudy conditions.
Where can I go snowshoeing in Europe?
The snowshoeing opportunities in Europe’s winter destinations are extensive, with Austria in particular having established an enviable reputation for its hundreds of kilometres of trails. The Swiss Alps and Italian Dolomites are both home to many superb hikes, while snowshoeing amid the snow-laden landscapes of the Norwegian Highlands or Finnish Lapland is always a very rewarding experience.
As we’ve said, snowshoeing is a great way to explore a little farther from the beaten track. But don’t just take our word for it – Inntravellers regularly get in touch to tell us how snowshoeing was one of the highlights of their trip: “This was the first time I'd ever attempted snowshoeing,” wrote Mr Wise after his holiday to Ylläs. “Never knew it would be so easy and the woods so beautiful. There’s a special beauty that one only encounters when snowshoeing.”