Snowshoeing is an easily accessible winter activity

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The onset of winter also means the resumption of many winter hobbies. In this blog post, we take a look at snowshoeing, which is a very approachable winter activity for practically all ages and levels of fitness.
Snowshoeing in Finnish Lapland

Snowshoes allow you to explore untouched nature

The winter snow cover smooths out the different forms of nature and creates favorable conditions for exploring its beauty. One of the best ways to get to know nature is to put on snowshoes, after which it is practically possible to go in any direction.

What makes snowshoeing a particularly great hobby is that practicing the sport is possible for virtually anyone who is able to walk. Another good aspect of the activity is that the level of requirements is very easy to adjust to suit you. Large altitude differences, prevailing snow conditions and speed of movement greatly adjust the challenge of snowshoeing. Snowshoeing is also really easy to combine with other activities such as nature photography.

With snowshoes, it is possible to move in virtually any terrain. However, the steep and mountainous terrain, which varies in height, is the best possible terrain for snowshoeing. However, you can go snowshoeing in a swamp or water area, for example.

Most of the nature trails and other marked routes at the various Excursion Destinations are also used for snowshoeing in winter. There are also official marked routes in some areas, which Metsähallitus is responsible for marking. Getting to know the winter sport on such routes is both easy and safe.

Snowshoeing equipment

Lumikengät ja sauvat
You can also use poles when snowshoeing | © Juho Kuva | Visit Finland

Unlike many other winter hobbies, snowshoeing can by no means be called a sport that requires lots of equipment. You can get really far with just a pair of snowshoes and clothes designed for winter outdoor sports. Unlike normal sweat exercise, snowshoeing is also possible with normal winter clothes, although it is worth investing in layering whenever you go out in the winter.

The most important equipment in snowshoeing is, of course, snowshoes specially designed for the sport, which are largely available today due to the popularity of the sport. In recent years, various sliding snowshoes have become very popular, which differ from traditional models in terms of both their features and appearance.

The most important single feature in snowshoes is the size of the shoe’s surface area relative to the snowshoeer’s weight. The purpose of large shoes is to support the wearer when riding in soft snow. However, when snowshoeing on ready-made tracks or on finished trails, the shoes may be smaller on the sole. The same applies to a situation where a snowshoeer is lightweight.

An important feature is also found in the form of ice spikes at the bottom of snowshoes. The purpose of the spikes, as the name implies, is to ensure grip on icy platforms as well as on steeper terrain.

Unlike many other winter sports equipment, snowshoes are worn over your own shoes and fastened with ties. When it comes to shoes, it is important that they fit well on your feet, are sturdy and suitable for winter use. A high quality winter boot is a good choice for this purpose.

In addition, separate poles can be used as an accessory for a snowshoe trip, which both enhances the movement and gives the snowshoe more support. The larger poles used in cross-country skiing work best in open terrain and submersible. The more modern ski pole, on the other hand, wants to sink too effectively through the snow layer.

Dressing for a snowshoe trip depends largely on the type of sport you plan to play. For light snowshoe trips in the flat terrain, you can also wear normal winter clothes without paying more attention to the subject. In the case of an excursion made on longer trips and in more challenging conditions, it is worth investing more in this matter.

When I was a guide in the winter season of 2017, I usually wore the same clothes in the warmer weather as during the cross-country ski runs, and in colder weather I liked to wear a thick winter jacket designed for sledding on top of a normal pair of clothes.

Safety factors

Orienteering can be challenging in the white winter scenery | © Jari Romppainen

Many winter fitness enthusiasts prefer snowshoeing because, for example, the risk of falling and being injured, which is familiar from skiing, is considerably lower. For this reason, snowshoeing can also be considered a fairly safe winter activity for people of all ages and skill levels.

However, going to the wilderness is never completely safe and there are a few things to consider during both the planning phase of the trip and the implementation itself.

The biggest danger in snowshoeing is probably the possibility of getting lost. Namely, people very often go to a place where they have no other traffic or settlement. There are still relatively few marked snowshoe routes, and navigating in the winter terrain can be challenging, especially in low light or dark weather. Compared to summer time, however, the good thing is that when snowshoeing, getting lost is pretty easy to get back to the starting point by following your own steps.

However, if, for one reason or another, the conditions are such that it is no longer possible to return to the place of departure on your own, the Rescue Department’s 112 application is a good partner for a safe snowshoe trip. The same goes for fire making equipment, which can even save lives during the winter.

Active exercise in cold conditions also consumes a lot of energy, and it is a good idea to book a snack and a drink, especially for longer snowshoeing trips.

When moving along waterways, it is important to pay special attention to your own safety. Falling through the ice, thereby freezing and even drowning, is one of the biggest dangers in the Finnish winter. When moving in very steep and heavy snow areas, there is also the possibility of an avalanche.

Combine snowshoeing with nature photography

Kaamosaika ja tykkylumimaisema Lapissa
The winter in Lapland is at its best during the polar night season | © Jaakko Posti | Visit Finland

As I said above, snowshoeing is also a great hobby because it is easy to combine with other winter activities as well. During the trip, it is nice to stop, for example, to heat up and fry the sausage in the shed or go ice fishing for perch in a remote pond. A leisurely snowshoe trip is quite easy to customize, even an all-day nature experience.

Snowshoeing is also a great way to find good spots for nature photography: snowshoes on the foot are very easy to reach in untouched terrain that would not otherwise be easy to reach. This in turn opens up great opportunities for photographing snowy landscapes or northern lights, for example. Wintery nature photography is possibly at its best at the end of the year, when the polar night season is on in Lapland.

Lähteet ja aiheesta muualla: National Parks | Snowshoeing

Main image of the article: © Jani Kärppä | Visit Finland

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