Wondering what to wear snowshoeing? Many people dress for it as they would for downhill skiing — wearing heavy ski jackets and pants. That’s a big mistake! Snowshoeing is a lot more physically demanding than skiing, so wearing heavy layers is a sure way to end up overheating.
As with trekking, you’re better off with lots of light layers so that you can adjust your temperature more easily. Here’s what other guides and I would wear and carry for a day of snowshoeing:
What to wear snowshoeing
- Thermal top and bottoms (on cold days)
- Avalanche transceiver to be worn over the layer closest to your skin (read about avalanche safety when snowshoeing)
- Soft shell jacket
- Soft shell trousers
- Hat and gloves
- Waterproof walking boots
- Gaiters (to stop snow from falling into your boots)
- Snowshoes and poles (read our snowshoe buying guide)
In your bag
A top tip is to get a bag that’s big enough to carry any removable layers that you’re wearing. What’s more, you can even strap your snowshoes to your bag if the first part of your hike isn’t covered in snow.
- Shovel and probe (for avalanches)
- Goretex jacket (works as windproof and waterproof layer)
- Goretex trousers
- Spare warm layer such as a down jacket to stop for lunch
- Warm hat
- Spare gloves
- Goggles (if the weather comes in, you will be glad to have these!)
- Food and water
- Map and compass
- GPS (always nice to have in case of poor visibility)
- Emergency shelter
- First aid kit
- Mobile phone
And that’s our ultimate guide on what to wear snowshoeing! Did we leave anything out? If so, comment below to tell us what else you like to take with you.
Now that you know what to wear snowshoeing, you’re ready to get into the mountains. If you’d like to join us for excursions in the Alps, check out our Swiss Alps Winter Adventure. We’d love to see you there!
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8 Replies to “What to wear snowshoeing: advice from a professional mountain guide”
Your information regarding shoes I love the most. Thanks for this kind of information.
I’ve been doing this since 1978. If you are not hardcore, the advice is the same but perhaps a bit less expensive. The new tech fabrics have really made things better since I started.
After a lot of experimentation and If you are a day hiker (ten or fewer miles), I recommend a base layer of thin bottoms and tops. I’ve ended up with a brand called 32 degrees for top and a brand called Weatherproof for bottoms (Costco) with REI silk base layer socks (the best) and Smart wool oversocks in a set of Vasque snow boots with 400 grams of thinsulite and gator hooks. Boots are key. These are good three season boots, any conditions.
You must have a layer of Primaloft in the mix and I personally have sweatshirt layers that I decide on prior to an excursion, distance and temperature based usually below zero. These two layers are removable with the Primaloft easily stuffable in a well chosen small back pack during a trip and weighing practically nothing. I pray to the people that invented Primaloft. I’ve found that the Patagonia bivy with a deep half zip and a hood is perfect. Almost as good, is an LL Bean version slightly lighter Primaloft silver with the hood, 1/3rd the price on sale. Both have nice zip pockets and hand pockets for glove temp storage while adjusting on the trail. The LL Bean version is about a third the price. I never pay full price for anything. Both are very nice. I am old school Anorak style, so like quarter or half zip fronts that can cool you off fast or zip up quick. The final layer is a thin weather resistant anorak with a hood and zip pockets. LLBean has the best one and not expensive, packable, great. These layers are thin soft, packable, lots o pockets, and adjustable to conditions. I, personally don’t like full zip coats. Some might.
Now, we live in Montana and most of our snow is powdery and we seldom have wet conditions so that is not a concern, but Goretex is the way to go for wet, not very packable. I just don’t go in wet.
Depending on distance, conditions, I wear jeans (yes, I know its cotton) and some Oregon Research pants or, more common is a pair of thin Northface Summit snow/ski pants I got for about 60% off as those things cost a fortune but are perfect. Not the big thick ones. Shop in the spring for those kinds of pants on sale, they are nice. I go with the thinner gloves, Black Diamond, Rossignol, Head, Spyder which run from really thin to thicker padded BUT all allow for dexterity, and can be doubled up if necessary, essential for back country, snow shoe adjustment etc. I also have a couple of beanies running from wool to polyester and alternate between scarves or neck wraps that pull over your head. I carry different ones that stuff easily in pockets or backpack.
The backpack is the small kind, REI I believe, that is easily accessible, covers the back with two large
smaller pockets and places for a multi-tool, swiss army knife, first aid, one thick pair and various gloves (see above), chemical hand warmers and a quart thermos with hot chocolate/peppermint snaps…and throws easily over one shoulder.
Our temps run from 25 to single digit below and this set up will cover it all and fits in small packages.
Adding to previous. For regular daytrippers, I say go with Boa binding snow shoes, plastic decks. Garneau Everests are my choice. There are others. Ease of use, broad capabilities are my key points. We have many different kinds but they sit now. My set up works perfect for cross country skiing also. We go with Rossignol BC 65’s for a range and in track activities.
Karl, yes, you know what works! Thanks for sharing.