how to dress for snowshoeing

How to Dress for Snowshoeing: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking to get out and enjoy the winter wonderland that is a snow-covered landscape, snowshoeing is a great option! But, before you head out, it’s important to know how to dress for snowshoeing.

When it comes to snowshoeing, having the right gear is essential to having a good time.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to wear snowshoeing in order to stay warm and comfortable.

From choosing the right base layer to picking out insulated boots, we’ve got you covered!

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How to Dress for Snowshoeing: The Ultimate Guide

What are snowshoes?

Snowshoes have come a long way since their invention, and are now specialized pieces of winter outdoor gear that attach to the bottoms of your boots.

They use to resemble tennis racquets in both looks and shape, but they have been modernized now.

Snowshoes distribute your weight over a larger surface area, so you don’t sink into the snow.

They also provide traction for difficult slopes and crossing icy patches.

How to Dress for Snowshoeing: The Ultimate Guide

What to wear snowshoeing?

You may be wondering what to wear snowshoeing? One of the most important things to consider when dressing for snowshoeing is layering.

For any winter activity, you’ll want to dress in layers that can be easily removed if you start to get too warm.

Start with a moisture wicking base layer of synthetic material or wool next to your skin to wick away sweat; then add an insulating mid layer, and top it off with a waterproof/windproof outer layer.

A pro tip on layering: On very cold days, wear a second pair of socks over your 1st pair for extra insulation (and to prevent blisters). Wool socks work great for this.

In addition to your base, mid, and outer layers, you’ll also want to pack some extras just in case.

How to Dress for Snowshoeing: The Ultimate Guide  What to wear snowshoeing
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Snowshoeing: The base layer

Your base layering system is going to be your first line of defense against the cold temperatures. It’s the layer of clothing that is in direct contact with your skin.

It’s important to choose a base layer that will keep you dry and warm, as this will help to regulate your body temperature.

You’re going to want something that will wick moisture away from your body and keep you warm.

Be sure to consider the fabric, fit, style, and weight of the base layer when making your choice.

Base layer: materials

There are three main types of base layer materials: synthetic, wool, and silk.

Synthetic fabrics

Thermajane Long Johns Thermal Underwear for Women Fleece Lined Base Layer Pajama Set Cold Weather (2X-Large, Royal Blue)

Synthetic materials are typically made from polyester or nylon, and are designed to wick moisture away from the body.

Wool fabric Merino Wool Baselayer Womens Set - Midweight Merino Wool Thermal Underwear For Women Top and Bottom (X-Small, 250 Black)

The natural wicking and odor-resistant features of merino wool thermal underwear make it the ideal fabric to absorb moisture, ensuring you feel dry and comfortable all hike long.

Wool is a great option to keep you warm, even when wet, but may feel itchier to some, than synthetic materials.

Merino wool, from the merino sheep, is a very popular fabric. Merino wool is thinner and softer than normal wool, making it lighter and more comfortable.

Silk fabric

Terramar Women's Thermasilk Pointelle Scoop (Black, X-Small)

If you’re sensitive to wool, opt for a synthetic or silk base layer instead

Silk is lightweight and breathable, but isn’t as effective at wicking moisture away from the body.

When choosing a base layer for snowshoeing, it’s important to consider the temperature and conditions you’ll be hiking in.

If it’s going to be cold, choose a base layer that is thicker and will provide more insulation.

If you’re expecting to sweat, go for a base layer that is designed to wick moisture away from the body.

Base layer: style

Once you’ve chosen the right base layer material, it’s time to decide on a style. There are lots of options out there to suit your personality.

There are two main types of base layers: Shirts and tights.

Shirts typically have long sleeves and come in a variety of necklines, from crew-neck to mock-neck to half-zip.

Tights are form-fitting pants, similar to long underwear, that cover the entire leg. They can be worn on their own or under a pair of snow pants.

Base layer: size and fit

When it comes to choosing a base layer for snowshoeing, it’s important to find one that fits well.

If it’s too loose will not provide the insulation you need, and one that is too tight will be uncomfortable and restrictive.

Choose one that provides a snug, comfortable fit.

How to Dress for Snowshoeing: The Ultimate Guide

Base layer: weights

Also, many base layers come in different weights: lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight.

As noted in the names, lightweight base layers will be your thinnest fabric, midweight is middle of the road, and heavyweight is going to be made of your thickest, bulkiest fabrics.

Choosing bulkier fabrics will result in having to wear fewer layers.

Typically, midweight base layers will suit most conditions.

The insulation layer or mid layer

Next up is your insulation layer. This is where you’ll want to add a little bit of warmth without adding too much bulk.

A fleece-lined jacket or vest is a great option for mid-layers.

Down is also a popular choice for insulation, as it’s lightweight and very effective at trapping body heat.

However, down does have some drawbacks. It’s not as effective at wicking moisture away from your body, and it can lose its insulating power when wet.

Your choice of mid-layer is going to depend on the conditions you’ll be snowshoeing in.

For example, if it’s going to be cold and windy, you might want to opt for a thicker mid-layer like a down jacket.

But, on a warm day, a thinner fleece or wool layer will suffice.

Some other things to keep in mind when choosing your mid-layer include breathability and moisture-wicking properties.

You want something that won’t make you sweat too much, as that will just make you colder in the end.

Finally, make sure it’s comfortable to move in. Snowshoeing can be a bit strenuous, so you want to make sure your clothing won’t restrict your movement.

Columbia Women's Benton Springs II Long Hoodie, Black, X-Small

This fleece jacket is designed with a modern classic fit and crafted from a soft, lightweight fabric. Its two way zipper provides you full flexibility for outdoor activities.

The outer layer

For your outer layer, you’ll want something that will protect you from the elements while still allowing your body to breathe.

Make sure your outer layer is waterproof and windproof to protect against the elements.

A water repellent and breathable softshell jacket or softshell pants is a good option for this layer.

If you tend to get hot easily, look for a jacket with pit zips or other vents that will help you regulate your temperature.

Ski pants, snowboard pants, or even a rain jacket and rain pants made of Gore-Tex make for great water resistant outer shell.

Whether it’s a short hike or a long winter hike, you don’t want your layers getting wet.

Little Donkey Andy Women’s Softshell Jacket, Ski Snowboarding Jacket with Removable Hood, Fleece Lined and Water Repellent Dark Blue M

This water resistant hooded soft shell jacket is crafted with high-quality, lightweight material that effectively traps heat and keeps you warm while in the cold windy weather.

How about cotton for snowshoeing?

One of the most important things to keep in mind while thinking about what to wear snowshoeing is that you’ll want to avoid cotton.

Cotton can easily become soaked and lead to you feeling chilled.

Instead, opt for synthetic or wool materials that will help wick away sweat.

In terms of clothing layers, it’s always a good idea to dress in (non-cotton) layers during outdoor activities.

Snowshoeing footwear- boots for snowshoeing

When it comes to your footwear, snowshoes adjust to fit pretty much any type of boot or shoe.

So as long as you’re wearing something that will keep your feet warm and dry, you should be all set.

Insulated hiking boots, winter boots, or any waterproof boots can be used as snowshoeing boots.

If you’re using hiking boots for snowshoeing, wear extra thick socks to avoid cold feet.

However, for maximum comfort and support, consider the following when deciding what type of footwear you should use.

Choose footwear with good ankle support, insulation, and waterproof.

If you’re planning on hiking in deep snow, you may also want to invest in a pair of gaiters or snow pants.

Gaiters help prevent snow from getting into your boots and can keep your feet dry and comfortable all day long.

Columbia Women's MINX™ SHORTY III Boot, nori, pacific rim, 7.5 Regular US

With the waterproof, breathable membrane construction of these Columbia boots, you won’t have to worry about your feet getting wet or cold while snowshoeing.

What to wear snowshoeing, gaiters.
Gaiters are great when the weathers nice enough to not wear snow pants.

IDAND Leg Snow Gaiters Waterproof Snow Boot Gaiters Hiking Accessories for Snowshoeing, Hiking, Hunting, Running, Motorcycle Anti-Tear Oxford Fabric, TPU Instep Belt Metal Shoelace Hook for Outdoor

 These snow gaiters are waterproof, windproof, and abrasion resistant. 

Sunscreen while snowshoeing!? Yup!

Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Moisturizing Face Sunscreen Lotion With Broad Spectrum Spf 60 & Prebiotic Oat, Weightless & Refreshing Feel, Paraben-free, Oil-free, Oxybenzone-free, 2.0 ounces

Protect and hydrate your skin while out on the snowshoe trails.

Don’t forget your sunscreen! Even though you’re mostly covered up, snow reflects the sun’s rays and you can still get burned.

It’s still possible to feel cold, yet get a sunburn.

Sunglasses and sunscreen will protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. Snow reflects sunlight, so you can get sunburned even on cloudy days. I know, weird right?

Choose sunglasses that wrap around your head to prevent light from coming in from the sides.

Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, and consider using a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher for extra protection.

Snowshoeing poles-trekking poles

LEKI Khumbu Lite - 100-135

These sturdy and lightweight aluminum poles from Leki feature speed locks for easy adjustments, even when wearing gloves.

Trekking poles help you maintain balance and distribute your weight more evenly as you walk.

They also make it easier to climb hills and cross streams or other obstacles.

Look for poles with adjustable straps that fit snugly around your wrists.

How to Dress for Snowshoeing: The Ultimate Guide

Winter essentials: Protect your extremities

Carhartt Women's Quilts Insulated Breathable Glove with Waterproof Wicking Insert, Black, Large

These warm waterproof Carhartt gloves will keep your fingers nice and warm.

A hat and gloves are essential for keeping your extremities warm.

Fleece gloves are also a great option to use as a glove liner on those colder winter days.

If the weather forecast calls for really cold temps, consider adding a neck gaiter or face mask.

NovForth Winter Neck Warmer Men Ski, Neck Gaiter Face Scarf Women, Fleece Scarf for Men Gaiter Mask, Thick Windproof Scarves

This neck gaiter effectively guards against wind while providing a soft and comfortable fit. Furthermore, it is quick-drying with sweat absorbing capabilities.

Final thoughts

When it comes to what to wear snowshoeing, layering is key. Be sure to choose the right base layer, insulation layer, and outer layer for the conditions.

Remember: Don’t forget about your feet – a good pair of insulated boots will go a long way in keeping you comfortable during those beautiful, crisp winter hikes.

Now that you know what to wear snowshoeing, it’s time to hit the trails!

With a little planning, you’ll stay warm and comfortable all day long, and have a great time exploring the winter wonderland in any weather. 

Happy snowshoeing!

Related snowshoeing articles

21 Essential Snowshoeing Safety Tips You Need to Know .

Want To Stay Fit This Winter? Try Snowshoeing

How To Store Snowshoes In The Off-Season

How To Put On Snowshoes: Step By Step Guide

Snowshoe Poles: Everything You Need to Know

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