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Of all the winter snow sports, snowshoeing is by far the most family friendly (though skiing is still my favorite). Snowshoeing is a fairly simple sport, has a small learning curve, is cheap, and doesn’t require a special resort or trail to go.
Here are a few family snowshoe tips to get you started snowshoeing with your family:
What To Wear Snowshoeing With Kids
When choosing what to wear snowshoeing, the most important thing to remember is to dress in layers. Snowshoeing with kids is definitely an aerobic activity, so plan to work up a sweat.
Since it is winter you will cool down very quickly when you stop, so make sure to have layers available when you are snowshoeing with kids.
Base Layers for Snowshoeing: Avoid cotton if you can since it does a poor job of wicking moisture away. Wool and synthetic fibers are a good choice for base layers that will keep you warm while still allowing moisture to wick away. If you’re not sure what to wear, make sure to read our article comparing the best kids base layers.
Mid Layers for Snowshoeing: Choosing a good mid layer to wear snowshoeing is incredibly important. We typically wear a fleece or a light puffy jacket, since they’re lightweight and also do a great job of insulating.
Eye protection is also important when snowshoeing in the winter since the sun reflecting off of the snow can easily damage your eyes. Choose sunglasses or ski goggles with UV protection.
What Shoes Should You Wear Snowshoeing?
Snowshoeing can be done in almost any type of shoes from sneakers to boots. We prefer to wear waterproof heavy-duty hiking boots or snow boots since they both offer increased warmth and support.
If kids want to wear snow boots snowshoeing, make sure that they lace up tight (not the moon boot or pull on style of boots), since a tight fitting boot will stay on better. We’ve compared the best kids snow boots in this article. Boots for snowshoeing are a great idea, especially if the snow is deep, or you plan to take your snowshoes off to play.
Layer by wearing wool socks underneath.
What To Bring Snowshoeing With Kids
Snowshoeing is unique among winter sports in that it requires relatively minimal gear. Typically just plan on wearing whatever you would to play in the snow (hat, gloves, coat, pants, boots), add snowshoes and you’re set.
Poles For Snowshoeing: Although not required, poles make snowshoeing easier and help with balance and when climbing hills.
Many people wonder “when is the best age to introduce poles to kids while snowshoeing?” We let our kids start using poles while snowshoeing around age 3-4. Since proper technique isn’t essential, we give out kids snowshoe poles when we know they can hold onto them for the whole hike.
Ski poles can be used for snowshoeing, though many people prefer adjustable trekking poles when snowshoeing.
Carry Water While Snowshoeing: Remember, that it is just as easy to get dehydrated during the winter as it is in the summer. I find that using hydrations packs for our kids helps them to stay more hydrated and keeps their water from freezing (we keep their pack and hose under a jacket).
Along with that, make sure to pack lots of energy filled snacks (check out our top healthy snacks for kids), and BRIBES (those come in handy with kids or your buddy who’s just really slow).
Bring A Sled Snowshoeing: If you have a baby or small child with you, consider pulling them in a sled or carrying them in a backpack. We typically take a sled snowshoeing whenever we take kids, since they love to ride downhill in a sled while snowshoeing. Thankfully, a sled is really lightweight and easy to pull, so even the kids can take turns doing it.
While you’re outside, be extra careful to keep young kids and babies warm. Remember that while you’re moving around and sweating, they are holding still and getting cold. Check their warmth every few minutes, paying extra attention to cold hands, feet, and faces.
Do I Need an Avalanche Beacon While Snowshoeing? When out in the backcountry or in avalanche territory, be sure to bring an avalanche beacon that you know how to use as well. If you’re unsure about the safety of where you are snowshoeing, check Avalanche.org for local conditions.
Practice Snowshoeing Before You Hit The Trail
Practice. Although snowshoeing is just as easy as hiking, it does take a little while to get used to. We recommend practicing in your backyard before you hit the trail.
Snowy days are a great time for kids to practice their snowshoe skills so that when you do take them on the trail, they will be more comfortable and able to go farther. Also, keep in mind that although basically anyone who can walk can snowshoe, it is slower and takes more work than just walking down the sidewalk.
Often when you are snowshoeing, you will be breaking a trail or trudging through deep snow, both of which are very exhausting. Snowshoeing is basically really slow hiking (especially with kids).
Choose the right snowshoe. Choosing the correct snowshoe for your outing can easily make all the difference in your experience. Snowshoes are typically rated for their activity, so choose an appropriate model. I recommend one that has a tear-drop type of shape since they make walking much easier and more natural.
You will quickly notice that there are two main types of snowshoes – plastic snowshoes and metal snowshoes.
Childrens snowshoes that are completely plastic work well for younger kids, but not for older kids and adults. For adults and older kids, if you buy plastic snowshoes, make sure that they have metal crampons on the bottom that can flex with your foot.
Metal snowshoes tend to cost a bit more, but the quality is generally better. Typically, if you find kids snowshoes that are made of metal, they are smaller versions of adult snowshoes and often have more features than plastic kids snowshoes.
What Is The Best Shape of Snowshoes?
If you want to get longer snowshoes, make sure that they are teardrop shaped. This will allow you to take longer steps, and snowshoe with a gait that is similar to walking.
Oval snowshoes are the most popular shape of snowshoes, but if they are too wide, you can end up feeling like you need to walk like a duck, so make sure to buy the proper size of snowshoes.
Since all you need to have to pick up the sport of family snowshoeing, the only real cost is to buy family snowshoes for everyone.
How to Choose Snowshoes for Kids
When you are looking to buy snowshoes for kids, you need to consider a few things:
- Age of the child.
For really young kids, there are not a lot of toddler snowshoes or snowshoes for preschoolers. Most kids snowshoes are plastic, though as kids get older, choose snowshoes with metal crampons for increased traction. If your child is 5 or over, they need snowshoes for kids with metal crampons.
- Distance you will be hiking.
If you will be hiking long distances, you will want snowshoes that are more teardrop shaped.
For the best prices on kids snowshoes, buy snowshoes that are a hybrid of both plastic and metal. These budget snowshoes for kids will be more affordable snowshoes and allow you to stretch your dollar farther.
Best Snowshoes for Toddlers and Best Snowshoes for Preschoolers
One common problem when getting snowshoes for young kids is that they often step on their snowshoes, since young kids naturally have a more narrow stance. While there is no perfect solution for this, just know that as your kids get older, this aspect of snowshoeing kids gets easier. Plastic snowshoes are the only options that we’ve found for kids under the age of 4.
We like these snowshoes for preschoolers and toddlers because they have a sturdy plastic design. While there are not metal kids snowshoe crampons, the plastic teeth on the bottom will be sufficient for most toddlers snowshoeing. Our family has used Tubbs snowshoes for years, and have been really impressed with the quality, so you know you’re buying good kids snowshoes with these.
These child snowshoes are great snowshoes for the backyard, but not too much beyond that. The claws at the front of the snowshoes for kids can be great at making monster footprints, but also present a safety hazard on the trail, since they can easily get snagged on roots or branches. These are great snowshoes for backyard play.
Best Snowshoes for Kids
These snowshoes for kids are wonderful, metal kids snowshoes designed for ages 6 up to 100 pounds. The metal construction makes them extra durable, while the easily adjustable binding makes them easy to get on and off. The bindings on these kid snowshoes can be sized from a kids 11 up to an adult size 6.
We have been using these lightweight snowshoes for kids for the last several years and really love them. The molded plastic snowshoe design makes them really easy for kids, yet the metal crampon helps them to be used even on steeper terrain. The quick release binding makes these kids snowshoes especially easy to take on and off. These snowshoes for kids are excellent for kids ages 4-8 years old.
Best Snowshoes for Youth and Best Teen Snowshoes
These snowshoes for older kids are really excellent snowshoes. They have a metal frame for extra durability, and have a weight rating of 80-150 lbs. These easy snowshoes are great for walking in since they have a narrower stance, to help teens on snowshoes have a more natural gait. These are also some of the most affordable high quality snowshoes.
These snowshoes for teens are technically small adult snowshoes, but they should work great for older kids. These snowshoes have a molded plastic design so they are lightweight and easy to maneuver with. Perhaps the best thing about these teen snowshoes is the binding. With several areas to secure the bindings, as well as aggressive toe and heel crampons, these snowshoes are designed to stand up to the energy of teens on snowshoes.