How to Use Snowshoes

How to Use Snowshoes
While snowshoes may seem intimidating to a beginner, they're quite easy to walk in if you're wearing the appropriate size. Each size of snowshoe is designed to carry a specific weight range, so before you purchase snowshoes, you should know how much you weigh, plus the weight of anything you intend to carry, such as a pack. Check the tags on the snowshoes--sometimes this information is written on the snowshoes, too--to find a pair that will adequately support your weight plus the weight of your gear.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Boots
  • Zip ties or cordage
 
Step 1
Place the toes of your boots into the toes of the snowshoe bindings. Lift the heel straps of the bindings into place around the backs of your boots. Fasten your boots into the snowshoe bindings by fastening any buckles present--often there is one for each strap.
Step 2
Cinch down the straps of the snowshoe bindings, toes first and heels last, by pulling the loose end of the webbing strap threaded through the buckle. After this step, your boots should be totally secure within the bindings so that when you move your foot, the binding moves with it immediately, not slipping at all.
Step 3
Secure any loose straps left over from cinching the bindings down by either sliding them through rings that may be provided on the bindings, tying them to other parts of the bindings, or tucking them underneath part of the bindings.
Step 4
Walk as you normally would, although you may have to widen your gait a bit to keep from crossing your snowshoes over one another.
Step 5
Stomp your feet as you walk, when necessary, to help the crampons on the bottoms of the snowshoes grip steep or icy surfaces. Not all snowshoes have crampons, but most do.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
You can wear any type of boots for snowshoeing as long as they aren't too big for the bindings on the snowshoes. Usually, however, the warmer the boots, the more comfortable you will be. Consider using trekking poles with snow baskets to help you maintain your balance in steep terrain or when crossing obstacles like fallen trees. Always carry zip ties or cordage as emergency repair supplies for your snowshoe bindings. Consider walking sideways down steep hills. Sometimes going down toes-first will result in "skiing" down as the snow slides under your snowshoes.
 
You can wear any type of boots for snowshoeing as long as they aren't too big for the bindings on the snowshoes. Usually, however, the warmer the boots, the more comfortable you will be.
 
Consider using trekking poles with snow baskets to help you maintain your balance in steep terrain or when crossing obstacles like fallen trees.
 
Always carry zip ties or cordage as emergency repair supplies for your snowshoe bindings.
 
Consider walking sideways down steep hills. Sometimes going down toes-first will result in "skiing" down as the snow slides under your snowshoes.
 
Snowshoes make it easy for beginners to enter the backcountry, which may expose you to avalanche terrain and hazards. Avalanches are not random--they're caused by a predictable combination of conditions and triggers--so make sure you know how to evaluate and avoid avalanche hazards before entering avalanche terrain.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.