A Few Tips On Getting Around On Your Snowshoes
The most important thing to remember is to keep your stride natural. Don’t try to modify or exaggerate your gait. Walking or running should feel natural, and in either instance the terrain will dictate your stride. You will have the easiest time learning on gentle, flat, or rolling terrain, but the steeper and deeper the terrain gets, the more challenging and intense your hike or run will get!
Another point to remember when beginning snowshoeing is that your snowshoes have a larger “footprint” on the snow than you are probably used to. You might feel awkward for a few hundred yards, but soon your slightly wider stance will feel natural. The solution is to simply concentrate on spreading your feet a bit further apart throughout your stride this helps you avoid knocking your snowshoe frames together and possibly tripping.
The following are some thoughts to keep in mind: remember to lift those knees, think about a wider stance, and avoid dragging or shuffling your feet to prevent the crampons from catching on firm snow. Using a set of poles when snowshoeing will make all of these things come together, all on their own.
When you maneuver up steep slopes, a good technique involves aggressive use of the front crampons. Get your knees up and dig the front points of the crampons into the snow. Remember, the fastest way to the top is straight up – but a more practical method is to cross the slope diagonally.
When you are traveling downhill, avoid leaning backwards onto the tails of the snowshoes whenever possible. Try to keep your weight upright and over the center of the snowshoe, and let the front crampons (located under the ball of your foot) grip the snow to prevent sliding. When you are traversing slopes, stay upright and lean into the hill with each step. Keep your weight forward and your crampons beneath you. Short, even strides, as well as traveling with a set of poles, will help avoid slipping and ensure safety.
Lift your knees and shorten your stride. Your snowshoes are not designed to completely float above the snow, so you will find that you sink a little bit with each step. If you are traveling most often in deep drifts or light, fluffy powder, you may find that getting the next largest size snowshoe will improve your floatation. When in deep snow it is important to tread lightly and pace yourself.
The intensity level of snowshoeing is infinitely variable. From a slow walk you can increase intensity by going faster, running, using poles, going uphill, and/or by going through deeper and softer snow. The ease with which you can change the intensity level of snowshoeing is one of the keys to its great value in having fun and as a fitness option. At a minimum, snowshoeing will be a bit more intense than walking or running at any given pace or level due to the cold, weight of the snowshoes, resistance of the snow, etc.