How to Dress for Snowshoeing
By Chris Gorski
Snowshoeing is similar to other winter sports when it comes to dressing, and if you have ever skied or snowboard, you know how important dressing properly is. When snowshoeing, you may encounter a range of temperature, so it is important to dress in layers so you can adjust. Being able to add or take away layers as you get hot or cold will make your snowshoeing experience far more enjoyable. Additionally, each layer has a special purpose in temperature regulation. This article will explore the proper way to dress before heading out into the snow!
The base layer is the layer of clothing that goes directly against your skin. A common misconception about the base layer is that it is designed to keep you warm. This is not entirely true! The primary function of the base layer is to wick, or remove moisture from the skin. As you snowshoe, your body sweats, and sweat is what makes you cold. By pulling the moisture off your skin, the base layer keeps your skin dry, and therefore warm. We suggest a set of synthetic long underwear such as polypropylene. These will do the trick and are extremely comfortable. The most important thing to remember about your base layer is: NO COTTON. Cotton is the worst possible under layer because it holds moisture in and will make you wet and cold. This means no t-shirts or sweat pants!
The primary job of the second layer is insulation and warmth. It should be comfortable and not to bulky, as this will inhibit mobility. The best second layers are fleeces or sweaters, as they keep warmth in well and are not bulky. Fleeces are preferable over sweaters because many fleeces have wicking and even wind-stopping properties. This means they will insulate well.
The job of the outer layer is to protect you from the elements. This means it should do a good job keeping heat in and wind, water, and snow out! They are also designed to let moisture out. Outer layers can be insulated or just shells depending on how cold it is when you plan on heading out. Remember that shells provide very little insulation, and are designed primarily as a way to keep the elements out. The main features you want to consider when picking out an outer layer is breathability, wind-stopping power, and the degree of waterproofing. The higher the degree of any one of these feature, the better the outer layer is, and the happier you will be. Outer layers may have number of nice features such as under arm ventilation, or “pit zips”, which are designed to allow you expel heat without having to take off your jacket off, plenty of extra pockets, and powder skirts to keep the snow out. So do your research when picking out an outer layer, we promise it will pay off.
There are two approaches you can take when snowshoeing. If you plan on doing mostly urban snowshoeing in sunny weather, a pair of running leggings should be just fine. If you plan on tackling colder weather and deeper snow, you will need something waterproof. Begin with a wicking base layer like you have on top. Next you will have to pick out a pair of snow pants. The method for picking out snow pants is very similar to picking out a jacket or outer layer. Make sure you research the pants breathability, wind stopping power, and degree of waterproofing. Remember, the higher the degree of any of these features, the more comfortable you will be.
Hats and Gloves:
Hats and gloves are important items with snowshoeing. Even if it is nice and warm when you head out, it can quickly turn cold, so always carry a hat and a set of gloves. Hats help keep in almost more body heat than any other item of clothing. You lose close to 20% of your body heat through your head. This is heat that is used to warm your extremities such as fingers or toes. That means that If you find yourself with cold fingers to toes, put a hat on! Gloves are equally important. If you plan on snowshoeing in relatively warm weather, try a set of lightweight fleece gloves. These will keep in warmth but let some of the cooling air through. If you are snowshoeing in cold or snowy weather, make sure you get a good pair of insulated, waterproof gloves; they can make all the difference.
By following these few rules when dressing to hit the trails, you can ensure you will stay warm and comfortable. And believe us, staying warm and comfortable make the sport of snowshoeing far more enjoyable.